By NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippian Morgan Freeman, whose remarkable acting career already included an Oscar, was cited Sunday night by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with its honorary Golden Globe for lifetime work as an entertainer – the Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Freeman, who was born in Memphis but spent a major portion of his childhood and adolescence growing up in Mississippi, has become a resident and major supporter of investment in the Mississippi Delta, especially Clarksdale, and promotes our state’s status as the birthplace of the Blues and the homeland of its greatest stars.
The award presenters Sunday night were Sidney Poitier, the iconic actor who was one of Freeman’s childhood idols and inspirations, and Helen Mirren, the Oscar-winning actress who was his co-star in the movie, “RED.”
Morgan, like many other Mississippians who have achieved greatness in their professions and fields, rose from a modest background in which money was not abundant, but with a family whose major players encouraged his ambitions.
He persevered, working in lots of jobs that were not his ultimate goal, perfecting his art all along the way.
He immortalized himself with many Mississippians and other Southerners in his role as Hoke Colburn, the chauffeur and personal assistant to Mrs. (“Miss”) Daisy Werthan, a 72-year-old upper-class Jewish widow in Atlanta, in “Driving Miss Daisy.” Miss Daisy was portrayed by the late, acclaimed Jessica Tandy.
Hoke and Miss Daisy navigate the stresses of life in the changing South of the 1950s and 1960s, including the racism and anti-Semitism that bound their situation and friendship.
He was nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor, but he did not win that year, 1989. He won in 2005 – Best Supporting Actor in Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby.”
In 2006, Freeman was honored at the first Mississippi’s Best Awards in Jackson, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his works on and off the big screen, and he holds an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts and Letters from Delta State University.
Freeman also helped raise $30 million in relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina when he hosted a three-hour special, “Mississippi Rising,” broadcast from the University of Mississippi and organized by Sam Haskell, an Amory native who is a celebrated impresario.
In addition, Freeman holds a lifetime achievement award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
Freeman’s hard work in the long term sets the right example for all Mississippians who have defined life goals.
“If you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” he said Sunday night.