At 78, MacLaine is still going strong. Along the way, she's starred with some of the industry's greats; her latest role is opposite Jack Black in "Bernie," with Ben Stiller on the horizon in a remake of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
When asked why she thinks she is still current in today's movie industry, she joking blamed a flirtatious attitude.
"I like boy toys. I like having experience over the boy toys," she said.
AFI celebrated Shirley's significant contributions to cinema by making her the seventh women in 40 years to receive its Life Achievement Award. Her significant contributions include her role as a mother caring for her dying daughter in "Terms of Endearment." It won her the best actress Oscar.
She was also nominated for her leading roles in four other movies: "Some Came Running" in 1958, "The Apartment" opposite Jack Lemmon in 1960 and three years later in "Irma La Douce," also with Lemmon. She was also nominated for 1977's "The Turning Point."
"The fact that she's been able to maintain this career and maintain her own integrity all these years? That's something to be very proud of," said Peter Fonda.
From "Two Mules for Sister Sara," to "Steel Magnolias," and "Postcards from the Edge," she's done more than 50 feature films.
She thinks her worst movie ever is "Two Loves," and considers "Terms" her best.
MacLaine is outspoken, fun and honest, especially when it comes to love. When asked how many leading men she's fallen in love with in real life, she couldn't have answered with more candor.
"In real life? I haven't got enough fingers. I can't count," she said.
The AFI salute to Shirley MacLaine will air on TV Land later this month.