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August 18: Happy Birthday Madeleine Stowe and Edward Norton

0818StoweNorton

We have three WTHH subjects with birthdays today, which requires a bit of thinking about who to put in the headline–decisions, decisions.

Madeleine Stowe began acting while a student at USC in the late 1970s, appearing in various TV movie and guest-starring roles.  In a bit of irony, one of her roles was in a TV movie adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer.  Her feature film breakthrough came in the 1987 thriller Stakeout (she was the one being staked out).  A few years later, she got what was almost certainly the best film role of her career, Cora Munro in Michael Mann’s adaptation of another Fenimore Cooper novel, The Last of the Mohicans, where she and leading man Daniel Day Lewis had some pretty explosive chemistry:

The next few years were busy for Stowe.  She appeared in Short Cuts, one of Robert Altman’s ensemble cast “hyperlink movies,” reunited with Stakeout costar Aidan Quinn for the romantic thriller Blink, and was the female lead in Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi noir Twelve Monkeys.  However, as lebeau’s WTHH article notes, her star faded, partly due to box office failures like the girl power Western Bad Girls, partly to Stowe’s own choices about putting her family before her career at times.  She has continued to work, though—in We Were Soldiers she was a staunch army wife who could have walked in from a John Ford movie, and more recently she received a Golden Globe nomination during her four year run on the ABC series Revenge.  Today we wish her a happy 58th birthday.

Edward Norton, who turns 47 today, made his film debut in 1996 in Primal Fear, winning a Best Supporting Actor nomination as a murder suspect with apparent multiple personality disorder.  His WTHH article covers all the details of his career, with its various ups and downs.  A high point was the 1999 drama American History X, where he won a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of the eventually repentant neo-Nazi, Derek Vinyard:

Norton has often played dark or unconventional characters, as witness both of the films already referenced, along with Fight Club, Red Dragon, and even Kingdom of Heaven, where he played the leprous King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.  His falling-out with Marvel got a lot of press, but it’s hard to see it as really affecting his career—aside from The Incredible Hulk, the only time he’s ever taken on a standard, PG-13 film lead role was in The Illusionist.  Recently he has been seen in critically acclaimed films like Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel and, most notably, Birdman, which brought him his third Oscar nomination.

Our third WTHH subject celebrating today is Christian Slater, born the same day as Edward Norton.  Slater began acting as a child, appearing in soap operas, and making his Broadway debut before he turned 11, playing Winthrop Paroo in the 1980 revival of The Music Man.  He made his bigscreen debut in The Legend of Billie Jean, starring alongside Helen “she’s not his sister” Slater.  His role in the cult classic Heathers began to elevate him towards stardom, especially in “bad boy” parts.  Slater had some major lead roles through about 1996, such as True Romance and John Woo’s Broken Arrow, but his escalating legal troubles, especially after a 1997 assault conviction, have largely relegated him to a lot of direct-to-video or minimal release features.  He has recently been a regular character in the critically acclaimed USA Network series Mr. Robot.

All this and we’re just now getting to the biggest film star born on August 18.  Robert Redford turns 80 today.  After paying his dues for much of the 1960s, Redford emerged as a major star in the hugely successful Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, teaming for the first time with Paul Newman.  Redford was one of the top leading men of the 1970s, when his signature roles included the title role in Jeremiah Johnson, Johnny Hooker in The Sting (re-teaming with Newman), Joe Turner in Three Days of the Condor, and Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men.  As the 1980s began, Redford began moving into directing and producing, winning the Oscar for Best Director for Ordinary People and being nominated for both directing and producing Quiz Show.

Denis Leary, who turns 59, was the co-creator and star of the FX series Rescue Me.  Over the show’s run he was nominated for three Emmys and a Golden Globe.  On film he has had a wide variety of mostly supporting and character roles, and voiced Diego the smilodon in the various Ice Age animated films.  Craig Bierko celebrates his 52nd birthday.  I film and on television he normally plays supporting parts, but it’s another story when he appears on Broadway.  He was a Tony nominee for playing Professor Harold Hill in the 2000 revival of The Music Man and played Sky Masterson in a 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls.  Here is a sampling of the former role:

Some others who are celebrating today include Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show and Malcolm McGee on Malcolm & Eddie—he turns 46.  Saturday Night Live veteran and Golden Globe winner Andy Samberg, currently seen on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, celebrates his 38th birthday.  Sarita Choudhury, the Anglo-Bengali actress known for several films with director Mira Nair, turns 50 today.  Former Bond Girl Carole Bouquet turns 59; she was Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only, and still works in French film and theater.  Actor and comedian Martin Mull celebrates his 73rd.  And Maia Mitchell, who plays Callie Jacobs in the ABC Family/Freeform series The Fosters, turns 23.

Rafer Johnson, the 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the decathon, turns 81.  After the 1960 Olympics, Johnson had an intermittent acting career, including roles in two Tarzan movies and one James Bond film, Licence to Kill.  Former First Lady of the US Rosalyn Carter celebrates her 89th birthday.

Shelley Winters (1920-2006) was a two-time Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress, for The Diary of Anne Frank and A Patch of Blue.  She also had Golden Globe and Emmy awards on her mantle.  Patrick Swayze (1952-2009) was another actor who never made it all the way to the A-list, but he was a successful leading man for close to a decade in a variety of films, and belied his hunk image with three Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor (Dirty Dancing, Ghost, and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar).  Alan Mowbray (1896-1969) was a British stage actor who became a busy character performer in Hollywood for about 25 years; I remember him best as Godfrey’s old friend Tommy Gray in My Man Godfrey, and as Granville “Mr. Shakespeare” Thorndike in My Darling Clementine.  Folk singer Cisco Houston (1918-1961) spent many years playing and singing with his great friend, Woody Guthrie.  Although not in Guthrie’s class as a songwriter, Houston wrote songs like “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and “Bad Man’s Blunder,” and with his pleasant baritone voice he made a good partner for Guthrie.

Finally, Marcel Carné (1906-1996) was one of the greatest directors from France (which has had quite a few very talented filmmakers).  Among his classics are Port of Shadows, Daybreak, The Devil’s Envoys and Children of Paradise (to give their titles in English).

P.S.  Some readers may not the absence of another director, still living, from this article.  That is not an oversight, it is intentional.  I am simply following my mother’s advice (and that of millions of mothers all over the world): “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

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.

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Posted on August 18, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. On my way in to work this morning, they did one celebrity birthday on the radio. Out of all these heavy hitters, they named Malcolm-Jamal Warner!

    Any day we have a WTHH birthday is a good day in my book. A WTHH trifecta is unprecedented. I suppose it will become more common as more and more articles are added to the series. If anyone is interested, Cinema Parrot Disco has named her top 10 Christian Slater movies to coincide with the actor’s birthday.

    All this and Robert Redford!

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  2. In a way ruffalo owes his career towards norton. Had norton not been difficult on hulk set ruffalo would not have been hired for avenger it would not have gave a huge boost to his career like it did. Mark career is currently hot

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    • I think “owes his career” is an overstatement. Ruffalo was already an established actor with critical acclaim for films like You Can Count on Me and The Kids Are Alright, and I don’t think his being cast in more recent films like Foxcatcher and Spotlight was entirely due to his playing the Hulk. It was a nice break for him when the role opened up, but let’s not exaggerate.

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      • Career Resurrection

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CareerResurrection

        Mark Ruffalo with Avengers Assemble. He was never derailed, but had remained forever on the B-list in the 2000s. There even used to be a trope called ‘Mark Ruffalo Syndrome’, about an actor who is eternally stuck in secondary roles. However becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe made him more famous than he ever was – and has led to him taking leading roles in films such as Begin Again, Foxcatcher, Spotlight and netting critical acclaim for The Normal Heart. He’s earned two Oscar nominations since.

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  3. Hey Norton! Norton, get over here so I can wish you a Happy Birthday! (special thanks from Eddie Murphy’s old stand-up routine, and my father once thinking I was talking about Ed Norton the CHARACTER instead of the actor).
    Speaking of comedians, I listened to Denis Leary’s “No Cure For Cancer” album quite a bit in the 1990’s awesome stuff.
    Happy Birthday Madeleine Stowe! I also wonder how Brian Benben is doing, how he’s been been.
    Of course Happy Birthday to Christian Slater, and I’m glad he’s finally on a show that’s doing well after so many false starts. I don’t know if he’s gleaming the cube or pumping up the volume, but something’s going right.
    Robert Redford is still plugging away, still effective (all that good work, and he also helped get the independent film industry in motion). Happy birthday!

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