July 29: Happy Birthday Martina McBride and Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton

Today’s birthdays include a country music singer and the self-professed King of the Nerds.  Regular readers won’t be surprised that I decided to give the geeky guy the headline.  Wil Wheaton starred in Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Stand By Me.  After that, he landed a regular role playing Wesley Crusher on the syndicated sci-fi series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Unfortunately, Wesley was one of the most irritating characters in all of Star Trek lore.  As an adult, Wheaton reinvented himself as an author and connoisseur of all things nerdy.  Geeks everywhere celebrate as Wheaton turns 44.

While I know a thing or two about Star Trek, I am less well-versed in country music.  I know just enough to recognize the name of Martina McBride who turns 50 today.  Here’s the video for her latest song, “Reckless”, which debuted at number 2 in the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart.

How I Met Your Mother star, Josh Radnor, turns 42 today and Rush rocker Geddy Lee is still living on a lighted stage at 63.  I had a roommate in college who played Rush’ greatest hits on repeat for an entire semester, so I’m not quite ready to play a clip.  Sorry, Rush fans.  Maybe next year.

Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn is making it work at 63.  And Allison Mack from the long-running CW series, Smallville, turns 34.  English actor and bad guy in just about every movie ever made, David Warner, is still classy as hell at 75.  Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns turns 63.

Also born on this day were silent film star Clara Bow (1905) and Italian dictator and Donald Trump tweet-writer Benito Mussolini (1883).  News anchor Peter Jennings was born on this day in 1938.

If today is your birthday, congratulations on sharing your big day with these notable names.  Birthday wishes to everyone celebrating a big day today.  Come back tomorrow for more celebrity birthdays.


Posted on July 29, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Hey! What the Hell Happened to Josh Radnor?


  2. I also heard he wants to take the ron howard route and start directing more. The only actors on the show that seem to have a chance for huge career is jason segal and Neil patrick harris who all had some hit movies during their run on the show


  3. Happy Birthday to all celebrants!

    A few other noteworthy July 29 birthdays:

    -Along with Clara Bow, another big silent star, Theda Bara, was born on July 29. The two had some things in common. Both were known by short, catchy nicknames–Bara was “The Vamp,” and Bow was “The It Girl.” Both chose to retire from film at early ages, Bara at around 40 and Bow before she was 30. And both are less well known than they might be because a great deal of their respective filmographies are lost–in Bara’s case, almost all of it due to a fire at the Fox studio in 1937.

    -While some silent film actors had a tough time transitioning to sound, William Powell was a three time Best Actor nominee; Roger Ebert said of him that Powell was to spoken dialogue what Fred Astaire was to dance–he made it seem effortless. He was known for real-life romances with Carol Lombard and Jean Harlow, but onscreen he was inevitably paired, it seemed, with Myrna Loy. They made 14 films together, including the Thin Man series, and were the template for every time you see a film or TV couple who are incessantly bantering and bickering as a way of showing that they are deliriously in love.

    -The tragically short-lived Thelma Todd was becoming a major comic actress, playing opposite the Marx Brothers in two films, before her death of carbon monoxide poisoning at 29.

    -Budd Boetticher was a director for over 40 years, often in independent projects. He is known to all Western fans for the “Ranown” series he made in the late 1950s, a series of films starring Randolph Scott (of “you’d do it for Randolph Scott!” fame). Burt Kennedy usually wrote the screenplays and all but one were produced by Scott and his business partner Harry Joe Brown (hence “Ranown”).

    -Chris Marker was a photographer, critic/essayist and documentarian who was a major figure in the French New Wave.

    -Leslie Easterbrook is remembered as the kickass cop Debbie Callahan in the Police Academy series.

    -Finally, Patty Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen’s longtime backup singer, and nearly as longtime wife, celebrates a birthday today.


  4. Wil Wheaton jokingly declares his birthday national Don’t Be A Dick Day. I’m celebrating by being a real c*nt.


  5. Wil Wheaton hosted this really cool show on TechTV (later G4tv, later nothing) called Arena back in the early 2000’s that focused on competitive gaming; good action. Like much about that network, a lot of stuff behind the scenes was bungled (like not having faith that audiences would view hours & hours on either tech or video games, and instead going with programming like “Cops”, “Cheaters”, and “Street Patrol”. Good Bad Flicks has a real good video on the history of that channel), and it sounds like Wheaton did the right thing walking away when he did.
    Peter Jennings; real solid.
    Leslie Easterbrook; yeah, she’s definitely best known for her role in the string of “Police Academy” films, and I also know her as the voice of Randa Duane in the “Batman: The Animated Series” two part episode, ‘Heart of Steel’.
    I’m not a big country guy, but I’ve heard a few Martina McBride songs and thought they were good.


  6. Whenever I think of Wil Wheaton now, I immediately refer to his appearance on “Family Guy”:



    This is what he told People magazine in 1997: “You know what you are going to hear in a year? Wil Wheaton, the overnight comeback.”


  8. DeaderThanDisco / Country

    Martina McBride. After a failed first album for RCA Records in 1992, she broke through in 1993 with “My Baby Loves Me”, a cover of a song originally released by Canadian singer Patricia Conroy, which got to #2 on the ”Billboard” country charts. The corresponding album, ”The Way That I Am”, also produced the 1994 hit “Independence Day”, about a woman who avenges an abusive husband. While the song only reached #12 due to some stations refusing to play it, “Independence Day” came to become one of her signature songs. Her chart presence was up and down for a while afterward, although she scored her first #1 hit in 1996 with “Wild Angels” and had consistently strong sales. But it was 1998’s ”Evolution”, particularly its second single “A Broken Wing”, that appropriately saw her move into her Signature Style of lushly produced ballads that showed off her powerful soprano voice while portraying topical issues such as domestic abuse, suicide, cancer, and poverty, mixed with more widespread themes of empowerment and the joys of family life. This was also the point that she began her crossover to pop and AC territory, starting with her collaboration with pianist Jim Brickman on “Valentine”. Throughout the Turn Of The Millennium, her hit streak only got hotter and hotter, with more of her songs entering Top 40 on the Hot 100 and even notching the AC charts, such as “Wrong Again”, “I Love You”, “Love’s the Only House”, “Blessed”, “Concrete Angel”, “This One’s for the Girls”, and “In My Daughter’s Eyes”. Naturally, she scooped up plenty of major awards from the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association in this time-span.

    Despite this, some fans began to feel that she was going through a nasty case of Issue Drift (“When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” being the lone bastion of levity) while becoming overly reliant on her belting. After a brief detour in 2005 with the covers album ”Timeless” (whose singles bombed despite the album going platinum), she went back to the “issue” well ”yet again” with “Anyway” in 2007. While that song did hit #5 at country, #32 on the Hot 100, and #14 on the AC charts, these peaks seemed to be almost entirely due to initial buzz that quickly dropped off. Her next few albums continued to ride the Issue Drift wagon ”yet again”, with songs such as “How I Feel”, “Ride”, and “I Just Call You Mine” beating the “I’m so happy to be with my family/husband/whatever” tropes that she had already worn thin with “Blessed” back in 2002. Once again, fans began to deride her as a one-trick pony with a tired repertoire of material. It also didn’t help that by this point, Carrie Underwood had begun to dominate the genre, bringing similar vocal gymnastics while also showing a much wider variety of material and singing styles. Other than “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” (which was about a woman surviving breast cancer), she continued to have diminishing returns on the country charts; her swan song with RCA was a cover of Train’s “Marry Me” recorded as a duet with their lead singer Pat Monahan, which stalled at #45. After an independently released covers album in 2014, she released another covers album independently which made no noise. Since then, Martina is remembered almost entirely as an artist who stuck with the same style for way too long, recording over-wrought, issue-laden songs that felt more suited for a Lifetime original movie, as well as an annoying over-reliance on belting to the point that her songs seem to Emphasize Everything (which certainly can’t be kind on the vocal cords of a woman who turned 50 in 2016) — in other words, little more than a punchline about narmy country-pop.


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