Obama awards Medal of Freedom to baseball star Banks, Oprah

WASHINGTON Thu Aug 8, 2013 4:37pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - From Bill Clinton to Ernie Banks to Loretta Lynn, some of the most famous figures in American sports, politics and music were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday by President Barack Obama.

The award is the highest U.S. civilian honor and to mark the 50th anniversary of the medal, Obama chose to honor a group of people who are household names to Americans.

These are among the notable names on the president's Medal of Freedom list:

Clinton, president from 1993-2001, was cited for his work at the Clinton Foundation and its global effort to promote health and strengthen economies.

Banks, famously dubbed "Mr. Cub" for his 19 years on the Chicago Cubs, played in 11 All-Star games, hit more than 500 home runs and has been in the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1977.

Lynn, a country music singer who was raised in the coalfields of Kentucky, was the subject of the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" and was one of the genre's first major female stars in the early 1960s.

Ben Bradlee was editor of The Washington Post during the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon in the 1970s. The Post was in the news this week when Amazon's Jeff Bezos purchased the struggling newspaper.

Oprah Winfrey, best known for creating the "Oprah Winfrey Show," the highly rated talk show, is also an actress who starred in the "Color Purple."

Others on the list included former Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the late Hawaii Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, feminist Glorida Steinem, civil rights leader Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, jazz artist Arturo Sandoval, chemist Mario Molina and the late astronaut Sally K. Ride.

(This story was refiled to delete extraneous word from headline)

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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