December 13: Happy Birthday Christopher Plummer and Dick Van Dyke


Our two headliners today have in common that each starred with Julie Andrews in a box office hit.  Plummer played Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music, the biggest hit of 1965 and the third biggest, adjusted for inflation, of all time.  Van Dyke was Bert, as well as the elder Mr. Dawes, in Mary Poppins, which was “only” the third biggest film at the box office in 1964.

Christopher Plummer turns 88 today.  The Canadian actor began his career on stage, making his Broadway debut in 1954, in a play that closed after its opening night.  His subsequent Broadway ventures have gone better—he has won Tonys for Best Actor in a Musical, in Cyrano, and Best Actor in a Play, for Barrymore.  His Broadway career has also included several Shakespeare roles—Iago in Othello and the title roles of Macbeth and King Lear.

Plummer also began his television career in the early fifties, but didn’t make his feature debut until 1958, and when he was cast in The Sound of Music, it was only his fourth feature role.  However his subsequent film resume is so full that it’s only possible to hit a few highlights.  Plummer has played a number of historical figures, such as Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King, the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo, Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, and in an acclaimed performance, as journalist Mike Wallace in The Insider.

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Jeff Daniels: Still in Buisness

Jeff Daniels has been in lots of Hollywood movies, but he’s never “gone Hollywood.”  For most of his career, Daniels has lived in Michigan where he owns and operates a non-profit theater where he produces his own plays.  Despite the distance, Daniels has enjoyed a long career as a movie actor.  In this profile from the December 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Daniels talks about how he has managed to stay in the business so long.

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December 12: Happy Birthday Connie Francis and Edward G. Robinson


Concetta Franconero, better known as Connie Francis, turns 79 today.  As a child, she performed as a singer and on the accordion in talent contests and neighborhood gatherings in the Newark, New Jersey area where she grew up.  In the early 1950s, she appeared on NBC’s Startime Kids, and later in the decade she provided Tuesday Weld’s singing voice in Rock, Rock, Rock.  She was signed to a recording contract by MGM Records, and after a couple of false starts, her career took off when her recording of “Who’s Sorry Now” became a big surprise hit in early 1958.

Francis had a great run of success from 1958-1962, with fourteen Top Ten singles.  Two of them were #1 hits, “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own,” and “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You.”  However, her signature tune was a single that, while it “only” reached #4, also became the theme song for the first film she starred in.

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Kevin Bacon: Bacon Bounces Back

Was Kevin Bacon ever a movie star?  Without hesitation, he described himself that way in this profile from the December 1992 issue of Movieline magazine.  After having spent a few years in independent movies, Bacon made the decision to return to mainstream Hollywood fare in order to have his work seen by a larger audience.  Writer Stephen Saban walks Bacon through his filmography to date collecting anecdotes along the way.

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James Cameron: Fantastic Voyage

Twenty-five years later, it’s easy to forget that Titanic was expected to sink at the box office.  Following a wave of negative press over the movie’s ballooning budget and the need to push Titanic off the summer schedule, many expected James Cameron’s period drama to fail.  Of course, we all know that the movie exceeded any and all expectations.  Cameron was still finishing post-production on Titanic when he was interviewed for this article from the December 1997 issue of Movieline magazine and success was anything but guaranteed.

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December 10 & 11: Happy Birthday Teri Garr and Victor McLaglen


Teri Garr is turning 73 today.  She got into movies through a friend, choreographer David Winters, who got her several parts as a dancer in 1960s films, including several Elvis Presley musicals.  She also began making TV guest appearances in the mid-sixties.  Over the years she made memorable guest appearances on Star Trek, MASH, and Friends (as Phoebe’s mother).  She was a regular on the short-lived CBS series Women of the House, a Designing Women spinoff.

Garr had her first speaking feature film role in 1968, but her breakthrough came in 1974, when she played Gene Hackman’s girlfriend in The Conversation, and Gene Wilder’s assistant in Young Frankenstein.  Over the next decade or so she had major roles in a number of films, including Oh, God!, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Black Stallion, and Mr. Mom.  Her biggest fame came from her Oscar-nominated role as Sandy Lester in Tootsie.

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Gillian Anderson: The Malibu File

At its peak, it seemed like The X-Files would go on forever.  The show has certainly endured.  Stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have reunited more than once with an eleventh season starting in a few weeks.  In the intervening years, the show’s popularity has waxed and waned.  The downturns have been more steep than anyone would have imagined when the TV show was still a pop culture phenomenon.  When Anderson graced the cover of the December 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, she had just won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of FBI agent Dana Scully.  She was also filming the first X-Files movie and was looking forward to life after the show.

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Weekly Recap: More Nonsense Than Usual

The Last Jedi has the potential to be the darkest Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back (not counting the one last Christmas where everybody died…)  And yet, Lucasfilm still found a way to squeeze in the adorable and highly merchandisable (not a word?  don’t care) Porgs.  What’s a porg?  No one knows.  But They are already flying off the shelves of toy stores everywhere.  Secretly, I hope they turn out to be like the cute bunny rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  After an especially bloody encounter with a big-eyed monster, all the Jedi flea screaming “run away!”  If that sounds like something you’d like to see, this is definitely the site for you!  Let’s take a look at the other nonsesnical topics we discussed last week.

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December 9: Happy Birthday John Malkovich and Felicity Huffman


John Malkovich is turning 64 today.  After studying theater at Illinois State University, he became a charter member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  He won an Obie Award for Steppenwolf’s Off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s True West in 1983.  In 1984 he made both his feature film and Broadway debuts.  The former was as the blind boarder Mr. Will in Places in the Heart, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination; the latter was as Biff Loman in a revival of Death of a Salesman.  Malkovich won an Emmy for a 1985 TV movie of the latter, in the same role.  Later in the 1980s, he appeared in films like The Glass Menagerie (as Tom Wingfield), Dangerous Liasons (as Vicomte de Valmont), and Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.

In 1993, Malkovich appeared as the would-be Presidential assassin, Mitch Leary, in In the Line of Fire, and received his second Oscar nomination.

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The 100 Smartest Things Hollywood’s Done Lately

Previously, Movieline magazine published lists of the 100 Dumbest Things Hollywood’s Done Lately.  So it may seem like the staff adopted a positive attitude when they put together a list of the 100 Smartest Things Hollywood’s Done Lately for the December 1997 issue.  Not so much.  This list is just as snarky and sometimes as mean-spirited as you might expect.  With the benefit of twenty years of hindsight some of these decisions turned out not to be so “smart” after all.

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Why’s It Remembered?: “All-Star”-Smash Mouth

JefftheWildman wonders why we still can’t get Smash Mouth’s “All Star” out of our heads.

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December 8: Happy Birthday AnnaSophia Robb and Kim Basinger


AnnaSophia Robb celebrates her 24th birthday today.  She began working as a child actress in 2004 with a guest appearance on Drake & Josh, and made her feature film debut a year later in the lead role of Because of Winn-Dixie.  She played Violet Beauregarde later that year in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and in 2007 starred as Leslie Burke in the film of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia, winning a Young Artist Award.  She played surfer Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer, and has starred in indie films like Have Dreams, Will Travel, The Way, Way Back, and Jack of the Red Hearts.  She has also had two regular roles on television, playing the young Carrie Bradshaw on The Carrie Diaries, and more recently Alice Green on PBS’s Mercy Street.

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Lego Dimensions: Fun With Fun Packs: E.T. and Beetlejuice

So this is it.  As Christmas looms, I am taking my last look at Lego Dimensions.  For the final two Fun Packs, I have chosen two characters who pack a nostalgic punch.  In terms of game utility, neither Beetlejuice nor E.T. brings all that much to the table.  But if you grew up on the movies of the 80’s, you’re going to want to add them to your collection anyway.

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