Ellen DeGeneres and other stars are set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor.
The medal recognizes people who have made “especially meritorious contributions” to the United States, the White House said.
President Barack Obama will honor the 21 people at a ceremony on November 22.
The president said the medal was a “tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better”.
“From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”
Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Diana Ross and Robert Redford are among the other honorees from the entertainment world.
Bill and Melinda Gates and SNL producer Lorne Michaels will also be recognized.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to people who have contributed to the security or national interests of the US, the White House said.
It also rewards people who have contributed to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Honorees from the sports world include basketball players Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, along with veteran sports broadcaster Vin Scully.
Architect Frank Gehry, attorney Newt Minow, designer Maya Lin, polymath physicist Richard Garwin, mathematician and computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton and Eduardo Padron, and president of Miami Dade College in Florida will also receive the medal.
Posthumous honors will go to Native American advocate Elouise Cobell and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.