Ellen DeGeneres and Bruce Springsteen are among the stars set to receive the highest US civilian honour.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognises people who have made “especially meritorious contributions” to the US, the White House said.
President Barack Obama will honour the 21 people at a ceremony on Tuesday.
He 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.”
Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Diana Ross and Robert Redford are among the other honourees from the entertainment world.
Bill and Melinda Gates and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels will also be recognised.
The medal 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 endeavours.
Honourees from the sports world include basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, along with veteran sports broadcaster Vin Scully.
Designer Maya Lin, polymath physicist Richard Garwin, architect Frank Gehry, attorney Newt Minow, mathematician and computer scientist Margaret H Hamilton and Eduardo Padron, and president of Miami Dade College in Florida will also receive the medal.
Posthumous honours will go to Native American advocate Elouise Cobell and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.