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 WhispererScott Caan, son of James, turns 40 today, and is currently playing “Danno” Williams on the CBS revival of Hawaii Five-0Joanne Froggatt, who celebrates her 36th birthday, is a three time Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner for the role of Anna Bates on Downton AbbeyAndrew 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 , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. River Phoenix is one of my favorite actors of all time. He was one of the few actors who always gave an outstanding performance no matter what movie he was in. My favorite River movie is “Stand By Me”, (still a classic after 30 years) but I also enjoy “My Own Private Idaho” (which River should have won and Oscar for), “Running on Empty”, and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. God, I miss him so much.

    RIP River on your birthday. In the words of Alphaview, you’re forever young.


  2. Confession time. One of my teenage crushes was Shelley Long. My wife is mystified by this because she says Long looks like a bird. I can’t remember if I saw her first on Cheers or Night Shift (which I somehow saw on cable at a young age). But I liked her in both. After she left Cheers, most of her movies were awful. I think Hello Again was the tipping point for me.


  3. Unfortunately, Springfield’s acting career in soaps and other lightweight fare tended to undercut the ‘street cred’ that is necessary sometimes for pop musicians. If you delete his acting career and just look ay his discography you’ve got a pretty decent pop rock act with 17 top40 hits, including 5 that got into the top 10. Another favorite of his was this straight-ahead and catchy song written by Sammy Haggar-

    Of course if you delete his acting career maybe he doesn’t get the opportunities or visibility that he did in music.


  4. As much i loved diane chamber i have to say i prefer rebecca howes character better. The shows humor changed but much funnier. It became more goofy with a lot more over the top slapstick as opposed to shelly long show where it had dry sarcastic humor and occasional sentimental moments which still in its own right funny but the later version of cheers better. Even some of the character changed sam malon went from a street smart guy who outsmarted diane a few times to a dumb naive jock. NOT complaining aobut the change just an observation. He even had a heart of gold early cheers seaosn his relahtsip with diane was genuine . With rebeccaa a lot of episodes had him try to weasel his way into her pants. He did not truly have feelings for her it seemed like he was attracted to her becuase she rejected him. I am happy they did not end up dating like diane and continue to will they or wont . they ended up freinds. Plus the latter cheers episodes focused more on ensemble and less on will they or wont they.


    • I think they had run out of ideas for her character, and the Sam/Diane storyline had run it’s course. The relationship between her and Sam worked for a couple seasons but it’s gotten really tired and redundant. The only place to go would have had them as a bickering married couple… Shelly Long leaving was perhaps the best thing to happen to Cheers at that point. It forced them to re-examine the show and made it more of an ensemble. Before that, so much of the show centers around everyone accommodating Diane and she was always meddling in everyone’s business.


      • I actually did a whole Cheers marathon on Netflix not too long ago. Since I would just watch a few episode here or there it took me almost a year to finish. Watching the show chronologically I came to the conclusion that while Shelly Long was wonderful as Diane Chambers and those early years were great, she happened to leave at the right time. Maybe not the best career move for her personally – Cheers finished it’s 5th season as the 3rd highest rated show of the year so it was already a ratings powerhouse when Shelly left – but I honestly don’t think the show would have lasted 11 years and maintained its big ratings if we just had Sam and Diane continue to make-up-and-break-up. Bringing in Rebecca Howe mixed things up and gave new life to the show. What impressed me during my Cheers marathon was how the show maintained a level of greatness over 11 years. Not a weak episodei in the bunch.


  5. I had huge crush on chyna. She came to sing autogrpahs at a bar in my home town and i missed her by 5 minutes next month i found she passed away 😦


  6. “You gotta love somebody…”, Wow, I didn’t know Rick Springfield turned 67; I figured him for 60, but I didn’t know his early career in Australia.
    I could say the same think for Shelley Long, as I had her a few years younger too. Yeah, I remember Lebeau mentioning before about that back in the day Shelley Long crush. Looking back, I think she had a certain girl next door appeal.


  7. i cant say there was not a weak episode of the bunch. 1st season of cheers was boring. 2nd season episodes where decent. Not bad or good but soso. 3rd season is when it really got funny. I say cheers was strongest from season 3-11.


  8. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Jay Mohr Anymore

    In the late ’90s and early 2000s, comedian and actor Jay Mohr was a prolific performer appearing in movies, TV shows and on the stand-up comedy circuit. After emerging as a featured player on Saturday Night Live in the early ’90s as a masterful celebrity impressionist, Mohr landed roles in projects as disparate as Jerry Maguire and Ghost Whisperer, as well as hosting and producing the comedy competition show Last Comic Standing. But apart from the stand-up comedy stage, where has Mohr been lately?


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