Old Sturbridge Village honors actor Sam Waterston
More than 200 people attended the benefit, which raised approximately $28,000 for the museum.
The Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award is presented jointly by Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village each year to an individual who has made a significant impact on the arts through projects related to history. Last year’s award was given to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and the 2009 award went to actress Laura Linney in recognition of her portrayal of Abigail Adams in the HBO series John Adams. Old Sturbridge Village presented the first lifetime achievement award to Ken Burns himself in 2008 in honor of his many award-winning documentary films.
Although he is best known for his role as district attorney Jack McCoy on NBC’s Law & Order, Waterston is one of the industry’s most versatile actors, winning Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for his role as a journalist in the 1984 film The Killing Fields. Waterston portrayed Abraham Lincoln in the Tony Award-winning play, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, in Gore Vidal’s miniseries, Lincoln, and he voiced the role of Lincoln in Ken Burns’s acclaimed documentary, The Civil War, which was recently rebroadcast on PBS to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of that war.
Burns, whose many other documentaries include the PBS series Baseball, The War, and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, made his first film about Old Sturbridge Village as a college student in 1975. Burns is currently producing and directing a number of projects, including the much-anticipated PBS series Prohibition, set to debut in the fall of 2011.
Waterston’s distinguished career has included appearances in such varied presentations as Shakespeare in the Park to Saturday Night Live, giving him the opportunity to perform a wide range of roles.
Burns, who has been making films for more than 30 years, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker in the country. According to the late historian Stephen Ambrose, “more Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”
Burns’s films have received dozens of major awards, including 12 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations. His 1990 series The Civil War captured the nation’s imagination, and as noted by the Los Angeles Times, “gave people a new way of looking at still photographs, which freeze a moment in time but which he animated by zooming in, or scanning over them, the technique now called the “Ken Burns effect.”
Burns notes that his first film, a 28-minute work featuring Old Sturbridge Village entitled Working in Rural New England, inspired him to pursue other historical subjects throughout his career.
“I still remember every shot of that film. In the very last scene, I did a pan across a painting and literally found what I would spend the next 36 years doing. I began my professional life with that project. It’s how I learned how to write a proposal, stay on budget and speak in public. My interest in history was born at Old Sturbridge Village.”
Old Sturbridge Village, one of the oldest and largest living history museums in the country, celebrates New England life in the 1830s. The museum, famous for its costumed interpreters, has 59 historic buildings on 200 acres, three water-powered mills, two covered bridges, a working farm with heritage breed animals, and a stagecoach that visitors can ride. For details go to www.osv.org or call 1-800-SEE-1830.
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