August 2: Happy Birthday Kevin Smith and Edward Furlong

Kevin Smith

Today’s birthdays include a guy who used to direct movies and a former child actor whose career was derailed by personal demons.  Writer-director Kevin Smith became famous overnight when his ultra-low-budget comedy, Clerks, became an indie hit in 1994.  Smith seemed poised to conquer Hollywood as the voice of Gen X.  But like a character in one of his movies, the director was content to slack off with his buddies instead leaving some fans (myself among them) to feel betrayed.  These days, Smith is more of a personality than a filmmaker.  The podcaster, lecturer and TV host celebrates his 46th birthday.

Perhaps the saddest tale in the entire What the Hell Happened series is the story of Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong.  Furlong was from a broken home, living with an aunt, when James Cameron discovered him and cast him as John Connor in his blockbuster sequel.  Few are prepared for that level of fame and fortune to be thrust upon them at such a young age.  Making matters worse, Furlong’s onset tutor became his live-in girlfriend.  The young actor spiraled out of control which lead to rehab and a series of arrests.  In 1996, Furlong spoke with Movieline magazine about the state of his career.  And as of today, Furlong’s 39th birthday, he has his own gallery.  Get well, dude!

That guy who was in Avatar… um… what’shisname?  Oh right.  Sam Worthington turns 40 today.  Mary-Louise Parker, star of Fried Green Tomatoes and Weeds, turns 52.  And Apollonia Kotero of Purple Rain fame turns 57.  Former Saturday Night Live cast member and current crazy person, Victoria Jackson, is 57.  And Joanna Cassidy, known for her roles in distinctive films like Blade Runner and Who Framed Roger Rabbit and for the short-lived but critically acclaimed TV series Buffalo Bill, celebrates her 71st birthday.

Myrna Loy was half of one of the most successful screen couples of all time.  She and William Powell starred in 14 films together, including the six Thin Man pictures as well as Libeled Lady, I Love You Again, The Great Ziegfeld and several others.  They are the template for all playful, bickering happily married couples of the large and small screen ever since.  Loy was also Clark Gable’s leading lady several times.

Sir Peter O’Toole was nominated eight times for the Oscar for Best Actor without winning (he did get an honorary Oscar in 2002).  He was nominated for historical epics like Lawrence of Arabia, dark comedies like The Ruling Class, and outright fun comedies like My Favorite Year.  He was even nominated twice for playing the same historical figure in two different films, portraying King Henry II of England in Becket and The Lion in Winter.

Legendary horror director Wes Craven was born on this day in 1939.  Carroll O’Connor, the actor who made America love TV bigot Archie Bunker, was born in 1924.    Character actor Gary Merrill, once married to Bette Davis, was born in 1915.

Finally, another truly sad tale is that of Helen Morgan.  A talented singer-actress, Morgan created the role of Julie LaVerne in the classic musical Show Boat when it premiered on Broadway, and also played Julie in the 1936 feature film.  Sadly, like her most famous character, Morgan struggled with alcoholism, dying of cirrhosis of the liver at only 41.

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 August 2, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. It only makes sense that those who have passed away sometimes outshine those who have lived to celebrate a birthday. Peter O’Toole and Wes Craven are both legends in the film industry, and I hope if we’ve got readers who are young enough or early enough in their film fandom not to know who they are, they will go have a look.


  2. I want to give a shout-out to Jestak (or jestak2 as his new registration with WP reads). He officially started pitching in with this article with an eye towards taking over birthday duty once we burn through the backlog I have already written. I’m expecting the byline to change a week from today with the Aug 9 birthdays if everything goes as planned. But he’s already contributing as of today.

    Welcome aboard, jestak2.


  3. Kind of a bummer birthday deal here; Edward Furlong is enough, but the mention of actress Helen Morgan is tough too (a read about her some time back). Peter O’Toole & Wes Craven lived full lives, but still…:-(
    I guess Kevin Smith can be a bummer to some too, but I think he just ran out of things to say in his films, and maybe his vision was narrow (but as Tubbs said in “Miami Vice”, “but also very clear”).
    Well, at least there Joanna Cassidy’s great laugh (I thought she stole the show in the 1991 film “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”, which I think is a lot better than its title).


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