There was a stellar turnout at this year's Kennedy Center Awards in Washington DC on Sunday as a roll call of showbiz favourites including Motown queen Diana Ross and funnyman Steve Martin were honoured at the White House for their contributions to American culture. Cameron Diaz, showing off her tan in a white strapless dress accessorised with an armful of bangles, was among the glamorous guests helping recipients celebrate at an evening gala.

Vanessa Williams, Yolanda Adams and Ciara all sang tributes in honour of Diana, former lead singer of Sixties girl group The Supremes. Menawhile, Meet The Parents actor Robert De Niro spoke of his admiration for winner Martin Scorsese who directed him in numerous films including Mean Streets and Taxi Driver.

"You still have the same passion, drive and intensity you had when we were starting out together," he told Martin. "And as for me, well, I'm doing comedy. But don't worry Marty – I still have enough misery in me for us to do a few more pictures together."

Father Of The Bride actor Steve Martin, meanwhile came in for some ribbing from fellow comic talent Martin Short. Asked what he thought about the Kennedy Center honour for his pal he quipped: "It's fantastic. It's amazing what bribery will do."

Other winners include Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, whose music was described by Art Garfunkel as "this unique, crazy creation, a mix of rock'n'roll and heartfelt prayer". Pianist Leon Fleisher, 79, who lost the use of his right hand at one stage in his career due to a rare neurological disease but fought to return to two-handed playing, was also honoured.

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Steve, Leon, Diana, Brian and Martin picked up their prestigious awards at the White House before heading for a celebratory gala dinner at the Kennedy Center for Performing ArtsPhoto: © AFP
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A glowing Cameron was among the glamorous guestsPhoto: © AFP