August 6: Happy Birthday M Night Shyamalan and Vera Farmiga

M Night Shyamalan and Vera Farmiga

Among today’s birthdays, we have two Oscar nominees.  M Night Shyamalan was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for The Sixth Sense in 1999.  In both categories, he was beaten by American Beauty which took home Best Picture and Best Actor.  Ten years later, Vera Farmiga was nominated against her costar Anna Kendrick for Best Supporting Actress for Up in the Air.  Both actresses lost to Mo’Nique who was nominated for Precious.

Shyamalan was white hot after the surprise success of The Sixth Sense.  But he went from a celebrated wunderkind to a laughing stock over the next decade and a half.  After several critical and commercial disasters, Shyamalan became a regular nominee for Worst Director at the Golden Raspberry Awards and a “What the Hell Happened” subject.

With two Worst Director Razzies, Shyamalan is tied for the most wins in the category.  Michael Bay and John Derek have also won twice each.  Shyamalan scored his first nomination and victory in 2006 for the fantasy flop, Lady in the Water.  He was nominated again in 2008 for The Happening, but lost to Uwe Boll.  His second win came in 2010 for The Last Airbender.  And most recently he was nominated for the fourth time in 2013 for After Earth.

Since then, Shyamalan has enjoyed a bit of a comeback.  He is an executive producer on the kitschy sci-fi TV show, Wayward Pines and directed the decent found footage horror flick, The Visit.  The latter earned Shyamalan a nomination for the Golden Raspberry’s first-ever Redeemer Award which he lost to Ben Affleck.  But still, things are looking up for the guy as he celebrates his 46th birthday.

Vera Farmiga has followed up her Oscar nominated performance with movies like The Conjuring.  She also plays Norman Bates’ mother on the A&E series Bates Motel.  Today, she turns 43.

One of the biggest stars of Asian cinema, Michelle Yeoh celebrates her 54th birthday today.  The former Miss Malaysia began her career in action/martial arts films, including the cult classic The Heroic Trio.  Mainstream American viewers probably know her best as the most kickass of all Bond Girls in Tomorrow Never Dies, and as one of the stars of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

While an actress like Michelle Yeoh would often do her own stunts, many actresses get lots of help from the likes of Monique Ganderton, one of the busiest stuntwomen in the industry these days, who turns 36 today.  At close to 5-11, she seems to be one of the go-to stunt doubles for tall, Caucasian actresses.  A partial listing of the actresses she has doubled would include Karen Gillan, Daryl Hannah, Famke Janssen, Nicole Kidman, Mandy Moore, Rachel Nichols, Charlize Theron and Sigourney Weaver.

Also celebrating birthdays today, Ginger Spice, aka Geri Halliwell celebrates her 44th birthday.  Halliwell (along with the other four Spice Girls) won Worst Actress in 1998 for the movie Spice World.  Punky Brewster star, Soleil Moon Frye turns 40 today and the first winner of the reality series America’s Next Top ModelAdrianne Curry, turns 34.  Curry was married to former Brady kid, Christopher Knight, from 2006 to 2012.  Melissa George, star of the cancelled TV show Heartbeat, is also 40 today.  And Catherine Hicks, who played a time-traveling marine biologist in Star Trek IV before getting the role of mom Annie Camden in 7th Heaven, turns 65 today.

Retired baseball star Andy Messersmith is best known for an off the field achievement.  His grievance against the Major League Baseball owners in 1975 resulted in the end of baseball’s “reserve clause” and brought in the era of free agency in professional sports.

TV legend Lucille Ball was born on this day in 1911.  While there were other stars in the early days of TV, it’s safe to say that she was television’s first superstar.  When CBS aired the “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” episode of I Love Lucy on January 19, 1953 (the one where Little Ricky was born), the viewing audience was estimated at 44 million people–over 70% of the households in the US with a television tuned in.  By contrast, on the following day, it’s estimated that fewer than 30 million people tuned in for President Eisenhower’s inauguration.  Ball was also a successful businesswoman; during her presidency at Desilu Studios, they produced series like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible.

Louella Parsons, born this day in 1881, was the first journalist to recognize that, for some people, gossip about celebrities, mixing fact, speculation and opinion, constituted news.  She parlayed that insight into a long career as the first celebrity gossip columnist, known for her lengthy feud with rival Hedda Hopper.  And Andy Warhol who famously predicted that everyone would eventually have their 15 minutes of fame was born in 1928.  The implication of his prediction, of course, is that everyone would someday be a fit subject for the likes of Louella Parsons to write about.

British director Charles Crichton was born on August 6 in 1910.  He was best known for some of the Ealing Studio comedies like The Lavender Hill Mob, and for that comic masterpiece A Fish Called Wanda.

Finally, Robert Mitchum was born on this day in 1917.  Mitchum’s long career in film spans over 50 years and includes over 100 films and television series.  He was perhaps best known as one of the definitive film noir protagonists, for films like Out of the Past, Crossfire, His Kind of Woman and the 1970s retro noir Farewell, My Lovely.  He also made plenty of Westerns and war movies.  After becoming established as a heroic lead, he turned around and gave us two iconic villain performances, as Max Cady in the original Cape Fear, and before that as “Preacher” Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter–a role which also let Mitchum show off his singing talent:

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 6, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Vera Farmiga, I like her; she’s in my top five of actresses for sure (if I really have such a list). As soon as I caught her role in “The Departed”, I’ve kept a lookout for her.
    Robert Mitchum, wow, yeah, great actor, and from what I’ve heard, quite a character.
    I live relatively close to where Lucille Ball was born, and her birthday is a pretty big deal every year, and for good reason.
    Soleil Moon Frye? Sure, I remember “Punky Brewster”; fun stuff.
    I think from Andy Warhol’s world begat that whole phrase “It girl”, which is a saying I’m sure some could take or leave (especially the performer, since not much good has come out of it really). I think Warhol’s factory setup seemed interesting though. Man, he died kinda young though.


    • One interesting story I’ve come across about Mitchum, that ties in with the video clip i put into the article. Charles Laughton directed Night of the Hunter, but he found it very hard to work with Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce, who played the two children at the center of the story. So, according to Laughton’s widow, Elsa Lanchester, it was Mitchum—whose character spends much of the film frightening, even terrorizing the children—who became Laughton’s interface with the two young performers, to the point of effectively directing them in some of their scenes.


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