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Aug 25: Happy Birthday Sean Connery and Blake Lively

0825ConneryLively

Sir Sean Connery, who turns 86 today, got his first credited film role in 1957, and for several years he frequently had supporting parts, as in Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, or villains, as in Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, where he met his end at the hands of Gordon Scott as Tarzan.  But that changed in 1962, when Connery was cast in the role that, for better or worse, or a little of both, defined his career:

Connery played the role of Ian Fleming’s James Bond in seven films—counting the non-canonical Never Say Never Again—but eventually tired of the role and of being typecast.  For much of the 15 years or so after his final Eon Productions Bond film, Connery seemed to struggle to escape the shadow of Bond, even when he starred in excellent films like John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King.  That changed in the late 1980s, when a BAFTA-winning turn in The Name of the Rose, followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Untouchables, established his credibility as an actor who could do more than say “My name is Bond.  James Bond.”  But while he escaped the shadow of Bond, he seemed unable to escape his Edinburgh accent. 🙂

Blake Lively, who celebrates her 29th birthday today, began her film career while she was still in high school, as one of the four leads in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  Other film roles followed, but starting in 2007, Lively was best known for a television role.  She was cast as Serena van der Woodsen in The CW’s series adapted from Cecily von Ziegesar’s book series Gossip Girl:

While on Gossip Girl, Lively also continued her feature film career.  She received critical acclaim for her performances in films like Elvis and Annabelle, The Town and Savages.  She took a little time off after Gossip Girl wrapped its final season, getting married and giving birth to a daughter.  She was top-cast in last year’s The Age of Adeline and this year’s The Shallows, stars in Marc Forster’s upcoming All I See Is You, and had a smaller role in Woody Allen’s latest.  I would say that the door is still open for her to become a major star.

Director, producer and writer Tim Burton turns 58 today.  Burton got his start working as an artist on Ralph Bakshi’s animated The Lord of the Rings, and put himself on the map as a director in the mid-eighties with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, before having a huge commercial success with Batman in 1989.  Burton always seems to have a taste for making films with at least a little bit of the offbeat or bizarre to them—Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, etc.

English novelist Frederick Forsyth turns 78 today.  He is the author of some of the most popular espionage thrillers of the last 50 years, such as The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War, and The Fourth Protocol; many of his books also have a significant political element.  Four of his novels have been adapted into feature films while several others have been turned into TV movies or miniseries.

John Badham, who turns 77 today, was the subject of this post, one of our many which are pulled from the Movieline archive.  The director of Saturday Night Fever, WarGames and Short Circuit has worked recently on TV series like Supernatural and ArrowTom Skerritt, an Emmy winner for Picket Fences, turns 83.  He is also known for roles in films like Alien (as Dallas) and Top Gun (as Viper).  Regis Philbin, longtime television talk and game show host, celebrates his 85th birthday.  He is best known as the host of Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee (later Kelly).   And Monty Hall, the longtime host of Let’s Make a Deal, turns 95.

Blair Underwood, who celebrates his 52nd birthday, was a regular on L.A. Law for seven seasons and a Golden Globe nominee.  Rachel Bilson, who starred in The O.C. and Hart of Dixie, turns 35.  Marti Noxon, who turns 52, is a writer and producer best known for her work on seasons 2-7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which included becoming the showrunner for the final two seasons.  Christine McGlade, who is 53 today, was the host of the Canadian series You Can’t Do That on Television, a sketch comedy show featuring teen and preteen actors, for eight years.

Alexander Skarsgård, who turns 40, was recently seen on movie screens as the first live-action, bigscreen Tarzan in nearly 20 years—considerably longer if you discount Tarzan and the Lost City, which disappeared from theaters after only about a week in 1998.  Simon McBurney, who celebrates his 59th today, is known to film audiences for roles in movies like Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation, but to theater followers as the founder and artistic director of the award-winning company Complicite.  Also seen in Rogue Nation was stage and screen actor Tom Hollander, who turns 49 today.

A number of major names in music celebrate birthdays today.  Punk rock pioneer Elvis Costello turns 62 today.  Gene Simmons, the co-lead singer and bass guitarist of the hard rock bank Kiss, celebrates his 67th.  Billy Ray Cyrus, known for his string of country hits in the early 1990s and for a somewhat famous daughter, turns 55.  And Scottish folk-rocker Amy MacDonald celebrates her 29th birthday.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a major figure in American music for over 40 years, from the day back in 1943 when he substituted for an ailing Bruno Walter conducting the New York Philharmonic.  He went on to become the Phiharmonic’s first American-born music director from 1958-69, and then had a long association with the Vienna Philharmonic (among other orchestras).  Almost anyone who follows the classical world would, I think, rank him among the past century’s greatest conductors.  As a composer, his greatest achievements were in music for the theater—his operetta Candide and his musicals On the Town, Wonderful Town (both with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) and West Side Story (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) are all permanent parts of the repertoire.

Ruby Keeler (1909-1993) made her name in a series of Warner Brothers musicals in the 1930s like 42nd Street (she’s the character at the receiving end of the speech “Sawyer, you’re going out there a youngster, but you have to come back a star!”).  She retired from the industry for several decades but made a comeback on stage in 1971 as one of the stars of a revival of the musical No, No, NanetteVan Johnson (1916-2008) was a mid-level star for MGM in the 1940s and 50s, occasionally a lead in major films, but more often a second-feature lead or a supporting player in major films (e.g., backing Tracy and Hepburn in State of the Union).  Johnson also had some musical ability, which stood him in good stead as the guest villain The Minstrel on the Batman TV series.

Another guest villain on that series was Michael Rennie (1909-1971) as the Sandman.  Rennie is best known as the alien Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood StillAlthea Gibson (1927-2003) was sort of the Jackie Robinson of tennis—her victory at the 1956 French Open made her the first African-American, and first person of color, to win a Grand Slam event.  She won a total of eleven Grand Slam titles in her career, five in singles and six in doubles.

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 25, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Actually a friend of mine recently gifted me with The Man Who Would Be King, which I had never seen before. Such a great movie, it really is one of Connery’s best films. I loved it and am sure I will be returning to it over the years.

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  2. 54 years of Bond films, 7 different film actors, and luckily all of the Bond actors are still alive.

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  3. Sean Connery is an icon. What’s left to say about the man? Maybe that I wish his last movie wasn’t League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Still the best Bond.

    I always feel like I am missing something with regards to Blake Lively. Maybe it’s because I didn’t watch Gossip Girl. She seemed to be more famous for who she was dating/married to than anything she herself had done. I saw her in Green Lantern. She was arguably miscast but the movie was so bad no one cared all that much. I did catch The Age of Adeline on cable and liked it okay for what it was. I’m planning to track down The Shallows as soon as I am able.

    I used to be a bigger Tim Burton fan than I am today. It’s not just me, right? He peaked with Beetlejuice. Or maybe Ed Wood. But nothing since then even comes close. Still, I generally like his movies more often than not.

    John Badham got a couple really solid movies on his filmography. I’d say Saturday Night Fever rises to greatness. I appreciate it a little more every time I see it after the initial shock of the movie not being anything like what I expected the first time I saw it. It’s weird to me to see guys like Badham or Joe Dante reduced to doing TV shows these days. I keep asking myself if the importance of directors has been diminished along with movie stars.

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    • With Blake Lively, I think that part of the story is, as I touched on in the article, she took some time off after Gossip Girl finished up, and with the lags between movie production and movies getting into theaters (in the case of The Age of Adaline, its release was pushed back several months), there was a period of over 2 years where she wasn’t on TV or in theaters. So she hasn’t been having a career comparable to Jennifer Lawrence or even Emma Stone.

      But on the other hand, compare her career to Gossip Girl costar Leighton Meester’s, or to one of her costars from the “Sisterhood” movies. She is the one working with major directors and doing movies that get wide theatrical releases, and receiving solid critical notice for her work.

      I agree that it’s easy to see Lively as someone who is “famous for being famous,” but I don’t think that’s the reality.

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    • “Gossip Girl” gave Blake Lively a lot of publicity; I have a friend who just adored her character on that show (she especially loved how she walked and kind on owned the room when she made her presence felt), and thus has followed her through her film career. I think a lot of her fans from that show have taken that route.

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  4. Van Johnson sang one of the best versions of “I Won’t Dance” I’ve ever heard.

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  5. Icon and connery? . Ok connery is a good actor but not icon. He is not as great as everyone makes him out to be. He is not worst actor of his generation but not best either. Plus offscreen he is a dick. What he said about ok hitting women is disgusting. It upsets me he gets more credit then his buddy Michael . caine is twice the actor sean is more humble too.There where even allegations sean beat his first wife.

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  6. I would say caine is iconic. He has a lot of classic under his belt. His harry palmer series is not as big bond but popular. He is ranked among some of the best actors ever, He is well known. five of his classics have been remade that says a lot. Plus I heard his voice much like chris walken was imitated a lot. His famous line not a lot of people know that. It says a lot about his legacy.

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  7. Ok maybe connery is iconic but caine is iconic too. I heard mike myers austin powers was partially based on harry palmer and alfie two of caine character

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  8. Probably alfie or harry palmer roles. Lebeau iam sure you grew up when caine was in his prime you dont remmeber how big was in his heyday.

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    • Hey, I’m not that old!! When I grew up Caine was doing Hannah and Her Sisters and Jaws 4. First thing I remember seeing him in was Deathtrap which I watched for Christopher Reeve. No, I don’t remember him ever being big.

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    • My favorite Michael Caine role is 1971’s “Get Carter” actually. I think that film has a great vibe, and Caine plays a character just doesn’t mess around. Fun fact: one of the actresses in the film, Geraldine Moffat, is the mother of Dan & Sam Houser, who are the founders of the video game company Rockstar Games.

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  9. in 60s and 70s he was big. Aflie italin job get carter gambit and harry palmer films where big in usa. He was often imitated a lot. His catch phrase not a lot of people know that. That musyt be sign of a legend. Plus his films have been remade multiple times so he must had a legacy in the usa. Is it possibale he was a list in britian but not so much usa.

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    • We have had some discussion of this issue here earlier this year, as you might recall. None of the films you mention could really be called “big” in terms of US box office success. Alfie was the #13 film in US box office receipts in 1966, which I think qualifies it as a medium-sized hit. None of the Harry Palmer films did very well at the box office in the US, nor did Gambit or The Italian Job. I can’t find much information about how Get Carter did in the US, but it was not one of the top 10 hits of 1971. Some of these films did get critical praise, but Caine simply was never a big box office star in the US.

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  10. I like connery but find him overrated. pEOPLE put him on the same league as deniro which he is not. At times he can be flat at times and relies more on charm then performance. Compare him to actors of his generation duvall,caine ,nicholson hoffman and hackman. He is not as good as those guys. He is talented by no means bad but i guess people give him way more praise then he deserved. He is not even best bond that title belongs ot pierce(who is also more talented). It bugs me when i read lists of sean being ranked higher then caine. caine was much better actor more charismatic too. caine best performance beat connerys. He was amazing in hannah and her sisters. Plus sleuth educationg rita and zulu list goes on. Lastly Caine has more class he would never say its ok to hit a women

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    • Who ever said that Connery was a better actor (at least technically) than his “Untouchables” co-star, Robert DeNiro or any of the other actors that you mentioned? It’s not like those actors haven’t ever gotten their deserved amount of props at the expense of Sean Connery.

      And if you think that Piece Brosnan is a better Bond than that’s you’re personal preference. Some people may think that Daniel Craig is a better Bond or Timothy Dalton or Roger Moore (it’s really all about you made the best or biggest impression on you and who had the best slate of films under their belt).

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  11. jestak2 any chance he was big box office star in britian cause i could sworn he was bigger. Maybe a huge michael caine fan like me sees things differently. They made so many harry palmer films i assume they where hits Hollywood would not make sequels to movies that did ok. there where bunch of harry palmer films.

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    • I can’t find any good numbers on box office in Britain for the 1960s or ’70s. There was no source like Box Office Mojo back then, even for the US.

      The Harry Palmer films, remember, were British productions, not Hollywood films. The Ipcress File is the one I am most familiar with. It earned about $3 million in box office in the US. That would have been a disaster for a big-budget film—like Thunderball, which also came out in 1965 and had a $9 million budget—but while I can’t find any budget figure for The Ipcress File, it is obvious when you watch it that it was shot on a modest budget. There are no elaborate sets, no underwater scenes, no huge set-piece battles with dozens of extras, etc. So it’s not hard to see how it could have made enough money to justify a sequel or two, while still not being a big box office hit.

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  12. Today is Claudia Schiffer’s (the German supermodel) 46th birthday:

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  13. Funny how is connery is called an icon without mention his personal life abusing his wife. Saying it is ok to hit a women. Being difficult to work with having an ego.

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  14. As for caine everyone kept imating his not a lot of people know that line i thought he was big. Plus wikipedia describes get carter as a financial success . Any chance he was a list in Britian but not usa. Never the less lol I am sure you guys can agree he has more range then connery

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