Star Wars creator George Lucas and writer Joan Didion were among the 24 people honoured with presidential medals at the White House on Wednesday (10Jul13).

Paying tribute to the newlywed filmmaker, who received a National Medal of Arts, U.S. President Barack Obama told the media and dignitaries that Star Wars had amazed him.

He said, "I remember when I first saw it. There's a whole generation that thinks special effects always look like they do today. But it used to be you'd see, like, the string on the little model spaceships."

Obama also handed out medals to sportswriter Frank Deford, musician and music mogul Herb Alpert, playwright Tony Kushner, opera star Renee Fleming, jazz great Allen Toussaint and 78-year-old author Didion, stating, "Decades into her career, she remains one of our sharpest and most respected observers of American politics and culture."