MacLaine, 77, will receive the award at a black-tie gala June 7 in Los Angeles. The ceremony is to air on TV Land later in June.
"Shirley MacLaine is a powerhouse of personality that has illuminated screens large and small across six decades," Howard Stringer, chairman of the American Film Institute's Board of Trustees, said in a statement Sunday. "From ingenue to screen legend, Shirley has entertained a global audience through song, dance, laughter and tears, and her career as writer, director and producer is even further evidence of her passion for the art form and her seemingly boundless talents. There is only one Shirley MacLaine, and it is AFI's honor to present her with its 40th Life Achievement Award."
MacLaine's film credits include "The Apartment," "The Turning Point," "Terms of Endearment," "Steel Magnolias" and "Guarding Tess."