LOS ANGELES (USA TODAY) - Hollywood turned out in force to honor four of its brightest lights at the fifth annual Governors Awards ceremony Saturday night.
Angelina Jolie received the Jean Hersholt Humantarian Award, while Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury and costume designer Piero Tosi received career-honoring Oscars at the emotion-filled ceremony in front of an audience that included Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hanks, George Lucas, Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg.
Jolie, 38, told USA TODAY she was "humbled to be accepting" the award, which has been presented to iconic names such as Paul Newman and Oprah Winfrey, adding, "I take it to mean I am on the right track."
Jolie, who has been highly active in various charities and the United Nations, sat in a seat of honor with fiancé Pitt on her right and son, Maddox, on her left.
Actress Gena Rowlands, her co-star in 1998's Playing By Heart, commended Jolie's busy career - noting that the star had just flown in from directing her latest film in Australia to be at the event.
"How does she have time to do all this?" asked Rowlands. "She acts, writes and directs and she has a large family, about 20 at last count. And she has to keep that smile on Brad's face. I take my hat off to her."
Lucas presented the award to Jolie, calling her "an artist whose humanitarian efforts continue to touch and inspire the world." An emotional Jolie took to the podium and thanked her family and "my love" Pitt.
"Your support and guidance make everything I do possible," she said, before focusing on her 12-year-old son, Maddox. "Mad, I'm not going to cry I promise. I'm not going to embarrass you. You and your brothers and sisters are my happiness. There is no greater honor than being your mother."
Jolie then went on to thank her own mother Marcheline Bertrand, who died of ovarian cancer in 2007, for urging her to make a difference in the world.
"I will do as my mother asked and do the best I can with this life to be of use. To stand here today means I did as she asked," said Jolie, her voice quivering. "If she were alive, she'd be very proud.
Martin's award presentation brought out comedy from two friends and presenters, Martin Short and Hanks.
Even after Short roasted his Three Amigos co-star, he turned serious at the end of his introduction calling Martin, 68, "a breathtakingly brilliant, staggering original, who has and continues to inspire all of us Steve Martin wannabes. Congratulations, amigo, thank you for the million laughs."
The consummate professional Martin turned unusually emotional during his speech, at one point fighting back tears as he thanked his wife, Ann Stringfield.
"I knew I wasn't going to make it through this speech. I read it to my dog this morning and wept," Martin said.
The three-time Oscar host and star of classics such as The Jerk, Bowfinger and Shopgirl (based on his novel) gave thanks to the "amazing gift" that his film career has brought - friendship.
"Something wonderful and magical and its impact in my life is profound. Friends," he said, pausing with emotion, "Fascinating, funny and lifelong."
Geoffrey Rush introduced three-time Academy Award nominee Lansbury, 88, pointing out her varied roles on stage, screen and television after her legendary film performance in 1944's Gaslight.
"Are you the living definition of range?" asked Rush from the stage. "When they talk about the Golden Age of Hollywood are they just talking about you? These are rhetorical questions."
Lansbury pointed out that movies "took a backseat" to her Tony-winning stage career and television roles such as Murder, She Wrote.
"You can't imagine how happy and undeserving I feel to receive this golden chap," said Lansbury, holding her Oscar.
Costume designer Tosi, 86, could not leave his native Italy to attend the awards ceremony. But actress and collaborator Claudia Cardinale passed on Tosi's thanks for the "unexpected honor."
Jeffrey Kurland, a member of the academy costume designer's branch, said the five-time nominee Tosi was "a giant in the world of film design."
"With us tonight are some of the best of the best in our field," said Kurland. "We all agree that Pierre Tosi is the greatest of the great."