“There are lots of bad movies left to make,” quipped Robert De Niro while accepting the Friars Club Icon Award for Entertainment at a gala held in the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. And with prior recipients including only Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Tom Cruise, the event marked De Niro’s entrance into a very exclusive entourage.
Shortly after cocktails were served, the crowd of 1,300 including Tony Bennett, Christopher Walken, Frankie Valli, Sharon Stone, Edward Norton and Orlando Bloom were treated to a series of starry performances. Bloom introduced Sting, who sang “Every Breath You Take.” Aretha Franklin also took the stage, but not without first apologizing: “Forgive me,” she said. “I was out shopping last evening, pounding the pavement over on Fifth Avenue. I caught a bit of a cold.” As the night came to an end with Stevie Wonder‘s mini-concert of hits such as “Superstition” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” the entire room got up to dance. The Motown legend’s only beef with De Niro? “You never put me in your movies,” he joked.