The five-time Tony winner revealed the new honour caps a career on Broadway that began with the Theatre Wing 70 years ago.
She told the audience at Radio City Music Hall, "Would you believe 70 years ago, I arrived in New York with my mother and twin brothers, evacuated from war-torn London?
"Because we did not have the means for me to continue my training as an actress, the American Theatre Wing of the British War Relief Effort arranged for me to have a scholarship to study at a dramatic school here in New York. The training I received eventually led to a wonderful career."
The Theatre Wing helps struggling young actors and actresses get a start on Broadway.