Aug 23: Happy Birthday Shelley Long and Rick Springfield
Our two headliners for today were both born this day in 1949 and are both celebrating their 67th birthdays today.
Shelley Long dropped out of Northwestern University to pursue an acting career. She joined The Second City comedy troupe, while also hosting a Chicago area television program. In the late 1970s she began to get regular guest spots on television shows like The Love Boat and M*A*S*H.
Long’s big break was in 1982. She appeared in the quirky romantic comedy Night Shift opposite Henry Winkler (although they were both a bit upstaged by a supporting player named Michael Keaton), and later that year began a five year run on television, playing a graduate student who is forced to take a job as a cocktail waitress at a certain Boston bar after her fiancé abandons her:
Long won an Emmy and two Golden Globes during the first five seasons of Cheers. It may be hard for those who were not following the show back then to grasp how deeply important the ups and downs of Sam and Diane’s relationship were to fans of the show. She also returned for the series finale and made a number of guest appearances, as Diane Chambers, on the spinoff series Frasier.
During the 1980s her film career was also fairly successful. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Irreconcilable Differences and was in financially successful comedies like The Money Pit and Outrageous Fortune. Her most prominent role since then has probably been as Carol Brady in the two Brady Bunch feature films of the mid-1990s.
Rick Springfield started his musical career in his native Australia, first as a member of a group called Zoot, then as a solo performer. He moved to the US in the early 1970s. He had mixed success for the rest of the decade, and also started an acting career. In 1981, he hit the big time when he released the Top Ten album Working Class Dog, which had two singles that reached the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100, one of which became the only #1 hit of Springfield’s career and brought him his only Grammy as well:
“Jessie’s Girl” spent much of the spring and summer on the Hot 100, and over the years it has definitely shown some legs—in a strictly musical sense, of course—being included in the soundtracks of the movies Boogie Nights and 13 Going On 30. It was also covered by the late Cory Menteith during the first season of Glee. Springfield’s acting career also continued, as he began playing the role of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital, which he has returned to periodically through the years. He also starred on the syndicated series High Tide for three years in the mid-1990s, and was recently added to the cast of Supernatural for the upcoming season.
The French composer Alexandre Desplat, who turns 55 today, is one of the busiest and most talented composers working in film today. He has received 8 Oscar nominations for Best Original Score (winning for The Grand Budapest Hotel), 8 Golden Globe nominations in the same category (winning for The Painted Veil), 7 BAFTA nominations for Best Music (winning for The King’s Speech and The Grand Budapest Hotel), and 8 Cesar nominations for Best Music Written for a Film (winning for The Beat My Heart Skipped, The Ghost Writer, and Rust and Bone). Among his nominated but non-winning scores are Girl with a Pearl Earring, Argo, The Imitation Game and The Danish Girl.
Barbara Eden, who celebrates her 85th today, had a long film and television career, but is remembered almost exclusively for portraying the title character of I Dream of Jeannie–a 2000 year old genie found by an astronaut when his space capsule lands on the deserted island where the bottle she lives in somehow wound up–for its five season run. Eden received two Golden Globe nominations for the series. Vera Miles, who turns 86 or 87 depending on which source you refer to about her year of birth, is likewise known for only a few films in a career of over 40 years. Specifically, she was the female lead in two Hitchcock films, The Wrong Man and Psycho, and in two John Ford films, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Actor, comedian and radio host Jay Mohr turns 46 today. He was featured in seasons 2 and 3 of Ghost Whisperer. Scott Caan, son of James, turns 40 today, and is currently playing “Danno” Williams on the CBS revival of Hawaii Five-0. Joanne Froggatt, who celebrates her 36th birthday, is a three time Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner for the role of Anna Bates on Downton Abbey. Andrew Rannells, who plays Elijah Krantz on Girls, turns 38 today. He is also a Tony nominee and Grammy winner for the musical The Book of Mormon. Korean director and writer Park Chan-wook is best known for the three films known as the Vengeance Trilogy; he turns 53. And NBA star Kobe Bryant, a key player on five Los Angeles Lakers teams which won the NBA title, celebrates his 38th birthday.
Folksinger and songwriter Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) is best known as the composer of the folk standards “Little Boxes” and “Turn Around,” and the children’s song “Morningtown Ride.” Marian Seldes (1928-2014) was best known as a stage actress. She was a five-time Tony nominee, winning the Tony for Best Actress in a Play for 1967, for Edward Albee’s play A Delicate Balance.
There are a pair of sad notes for today, for two men who died young. Keith Moon (1946-1978) was the drummer for one of the greatest bands of the British Invasion, The Who, from his teens until his death at 32, from an overdose of a drug he was taking to combat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. River Phoenix (1970-1993) was in the process of transitioning from a talented teen actor to adult roles at the time of his death at 23, from drug-induced heart failure.
Now, let’s end on a somewhat happier tone.
Probably the greatest entertainer of all born today was Gene Kelly (1912-1996). Kelly started his career on the stage, most notably as the lead in Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey, and sometimes acted in non-musical films like the 1948 remake of The Three Musketeers. But he will always, indelibly, be associated with the movie musical. In particular he will be remembered for his success in incorporating ballet into movie musicals and for the trio of MGM musicals he starred in, and in two cases co-directed, from 1949-52: On the Town, An American in Paris, and the movie musical often considered the best of all:
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 23, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Alexandre Desplat, Barbara Eden, Gene Kelly, Keith Moon, Rick Springfield, River Phoenix, Shelley Long, Vera Miles. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.