Sesame Street is the first television show to be honored at the event.
Sesame Street characters Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie and Bert, Cookie Monster and Abby were also in attendance.
The massive yellow avian's appearance held a particular resonance as Caroll Spinney, Big Bird's original puppeteer, died earlier Sunday at age 85.
During a welcome speech at the dinner, Pompeo seemed to acknowledge his lack of popularity by quoting Ronstadt's 1975 song "When Will I Be Loved". "But I'm glad we're all together".More news: Barr told Trump he was not being well served by Giuliani
The president of the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, John F., released its list of honorees on 5th December 2019. "It's not about being the flavor of the month", she said. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump did not attend the event after missing the past two installments.
"We've been here for Republican presidents and we've been here for Democratic presidents", Hanks said according to the Associated Press.
"You can't play any Earth Wind & Fire songs without Maurice's DNA being on it, so he's always here and we're always celebrating him and his vision", Johnson told Billboard before the show started.
Last year's ceremony contained very few overt political references.
Linda Ronstadt, who was honored Sunday night as part of the latest group of recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in the arts, took a shot at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the night before during a reception dinner. Mike Pompeo attended instead and at one point asked asked aloud when he would be "loved".More news: Banksy draws attention to homelessness in street art Christmas piece
The post Linda Ronstadt rips Mike Pompeo to his face: "Stop enabling Donald Trump" appeared first on outcome of Sound.
The crowd at the Kennedy Center gave Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, a standing ovation when she was recognised after intermission.
Underwood, who arrived on the red carpet in a stunning metallic Fouad Sarkis ballgown, took the stage to honor Linda Ronstadt with a moving rendition of the singer's 1977 hit "Blue Bayou" and "When Will I Be Loved".
"And Linda owned each and every genre she explored", Henley said.More news: The road-legal McLaren 620R promises GT4 racer performance | GRR