Academy Award winner Kevin Kline honored at Chicago International Film Festival bash

Academy Award-winning star of stage and screen, Kevin Kline, was called a "national treasure" by both Robert Downey, Jr., and Siguorney Weaver at the 50th anniversary of the Chicago International Film Festival's Summer Gala where he was honored with a Career Achievement Award.  Kline, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "A Fish Called Wanda," received his award before a film-loving crowd of nearly 400 at the Four Seasons Chicago recently.

Bill Kurtis, legendary newsman, served as emcee at the gala held on the Gold Coast.  A highlight of the event was a Q & A with Kline.  During the hour long interview, some of his high-powered co-stars and directors offered video tributes.

Lawrence Kasdan directed him in "Darling Companion" with Diane Keaton.  "You're one of the greatest actors that ever lived from Hamlet to Sophie's Choice to A Fish Called Wanda to Big Chill,  you've shown that there's no part you cannot master," said Kasdan.  Robert Downey, Jr.'s tribute included an invitation to appear in Ironman 99 and had the crowd in stitches.  Other video tributes came from Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman, Susan Sarandon, Mary Steenburgeon, Siguorney Weaver and directors Ang Lee and Jon Turteltaub.

Co-chairs Jeanne Malkin and Penelope Steiner introduced Festival founder Michael Kutza who presented Kline with his Career Achievement Award as the crowd gave him a rousing standing ovation.  A true family man (Kline is married to former actress Phoebe Cates), he thanked his wife.  "I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my wife Phoebe.  She gave me a life so she gets the lifetime achievement award while I get the career achievement because I wouldn't have had a career without her or a life," said Kline.

Proceeds from the Summer Gala benefit the year-round free educational outreach programs of Cinema/Chicago, the parent organization of the Festival, which brings thousands of Chicago Public School students to film screenings.  (Photos by MILA SAMOKHINA)

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