The Oscar-winning actress received an accolade at the 34th annual ceremony in Washington, D.C. along with Neil Diamond, actress Barbara Cook, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
A number of guests spoke on behalf of the honourees and Streep enjoyed tributes from some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
After a series of clips showing her stellar big screen career, Streep’s The Deer Hunter co-star De Niro joked, “My first thought was, I was amazing in Deer Hunter. Meryl, you are the very best. I love you.”
Hathaway, Blunt and Stanley Tucci then spoke about working with the actress on the set of The Devil Wears Prada, with Blunt saying, “In every scene, she’s actually doing at least two jobs.
“First, her own character, who is always so complete, so natural, you forget that somewhere in there is Meryl Streep. Then the second is stabilising the other actor who is having a nervous breakdown because they’re in a scene with Meryl Streep.”