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Aug 30: Happy Birthday Cameron Diaz and Lewis Black

0830DiazBlack

Cameron Diaz celebrates her 44th birthday today.  Diaz began modeling at the age of 16, and in 1993, someone at her agency recommended that she audition for a movie to be titled The Mask.  Following that debut, she made a few indie films, then returned to mainstream movies in a 1997 romance that featured her character attempting to sing karaoke:

Although Diaz was still a supporting player in My Best Friend’s Wedding, in the next year’s There’s Something About Mary she had moved up to a lead role in what remains her most successful live-action film.  During the past couple of decades she has usually remained around the fringes of the A-list.  She is a four-time Golden Globe nominee, was one of Charlie’s Angels, and has voiced Princess Fiona in four Shrek feature films and two holiday specials.  Most recently she was Miss Hannigan in the remake of Annie.

Lewis Black turns 68 today.  He began working as a playwright and stand-up comic in the 1970s.  He has worked in feature films and as a voice actor, but along with his live comedy he is best-known for his television work.  In particular, he has been a contributor to The Daily Show ever since it began running just over 20 years ago.  His “Back in Black” commentaries give a nice sampling of his politically-oriented comedy (with just a teensy bit of profanity):

Timothy Bottoms, who turns 65 today, started his career with a bang in 1971, starring as Joe Bonham in Johnny Got His Gun and Sonny Crawford in The Last Picture Show.  He then studied law with John Houseman in The Paper Chase.  However, his subsequent career did not live up to that early promise, although he is still working.  Also still working is Peggy Lipton, who is 70 today.  She starred in the “hip police” series The Mod Squad from 1968-73, and later appeared in Twin Peaks as Norma Jennings, a role she will reprise when the series returns next year.  Michael Chiklis, who turns 53, won an Emmy award for his best-known role, Detective Vic Mackey from The Shield.  He also played The Thing in the first two Fantastic Four films.  Robert Crumb, who is 73 today, is a cartoonist and musician.  Known for creating characters like Fritz the Cat, he frequently signs his cartoons “R. Crumb.”  He is also the leader of the retro string band R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders.

Trevor Jackson celebrates his 20th today.  The singer-actor was recently seen in the second season of American CrimeJohanna Braddy, who turns 29, plays Shelby Wyatt on ABC’s QuanticoElden Henson turns 39; he was in the Mighty Ducks films and now plays Foggy Nelson in the web series DaredevilJessica Henwick, who plays Nymeria Sand on HBO’s Game of Thrones and was also an X-wing pilot in The Force Awakens, celebrates her 24th.

Yesterday was the birthday of a winner of the unofficial “Triple Crown of Acting,” today is another.  When I was young, I knew Shirley Booth (1898-1992) from seeing a few reruns of the sitcom Hazel now and then, and as the voice of Mrs. Claus on the holiday special The Year Without A Santa Claus.  But for several decades she was a major star on Broadway, winning three Tony Awards.  The second, for playing Lola Delaney in William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba, led to her being cast in the same role in the film version, which brought her an Oscar for Best Actress.  She then added a pair of Emmys for her work on Hazel.

Fred MacMurray (1908-1991) was known best to audiences of the sixties and seventies as the family patriarch Steve Douglas on My Three Sons, and for Disney family films like The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.  But earlier in his career, he often played darker characters, like Walter Neff in Double Indemnity or Lt. Tom Keefer in The Caine MutinyRaymond Massey (1896-1983) was also known to sixties TV audiences as Dr. Gillespie in Dr. Kildare.  During his film career he was noted for playing historical figures, including playing both Abraham Lincoln (in Abe Lincoln in Illinois) and abolitionist John Brown (in Santa Fe Trail) in the same year, 1940.  Joan Blondell (1906-1979) was a major star for Warner Brothers in the 1930s.  She appeared in the gangster classic Public Enemy and was part of the regular ensemble for Warners musicals such as 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933.

Kitty Wells (1919-2012) was a ground-breaking country singer.  Her 1952 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was the first song by a female singer to reach #1 on the country charts.  She had several additional hits in the 1950s and ’60s, and for many years she was the only woman to do well, commercially, in the country music field.  Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and every great female country singer since were all following in her footsteps.

Baseball great Ted Williams (1918-2002) spent his entire career with the Boston Red Sox.  Known as  “The Splendid Splinter” and “Teddy Ballgame,” he is considered one of the best, if not the best hitter in baseball history.  He won baseball’s Triple Crown twice and was the last player to post a batting average of over .400 for a season.  At his retirement, he was third on baseball’s all-time list for most home runs hit, in spite of missing three full seasons to military service in World War 2 and almost two more for the Korean War.

Finally, today was the birthday of novelist Mary Shelley (1797-1851), who left a permanent mark on popular culture with her novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus.

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 30, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I was working in a movie theater when The Mask came out. If I wasn’t doing anything when the dance scene was playing, I would duck into the theater to watch it. As soon as I saw Diaz, I thought “Well, she’s going to be a big star.” I liked that she made so many indie movies after that and I was thrilled when Something About Mary made her a bonafide movie star as I had predicted.

    Lewis Black is a funny, funny man. It seems like he was born to play Anger.

    As a Twin Peaks fan, I know Peggy Lipton as Norma. But I remember when the show was on a big deal was made over the fact she had been on The Mod Squad. I have high hopes for the TP revival. As we get closer to that event, I plan to delve more into the show.

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  2. For most part i think diaz has little range and her roles most part are neglected to eye candy bad teacher example. She was good in bening john malcvage but far from best in her generation, She can only play ditzy type character which will be hard to do when she gets old.

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    • While Cameron Diaz may come across to you as only able to play “ditzy type character[s],” that is true only if you are selective about which of her films you watch. She is a four-time Golden Globe nominee, after all, and you don’t achieve that by just playing ditzes. Her performance in My Sister’s Keeper, while I have not seen it, got some very positive reviews for a decidedly non-ditzy role. The industry does have a tendency to typecast her at times, I agree, but that’s not really her fault, is it?

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  3. she rarely goes beyond her range . Plus one of golden glob nom roles gangs of new york critics did say she was weak link i had no idea how she got that nom

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  4. I think Cameron Diaz is pretty solid, and all those dark and offbeat films she participated in during the 1990’s don’t testify much to her playing the ditz, since a few times she played a character with a sinister edge. I think the closest she came to ditzy was”Charlie’s Angels”, and there she was actually being more naive than ditzy (some people in real life can get ditzy and naive confused at times)..
    Yeah, lewis black is pretty funny; I caught an HBO special he did once.
    I’m familiar with Peggy Lipton, but I’m more into her daughter, Rashida Jones. A “Twin peaks” revival is alright by me though, and it’s on a premium station now, so it doesn’t have to hold back.
    It once surprised me that Fred MacMurray had some film noir credits under his belt, since I was initially introduced to his lighter fair. It really demonstrated his range.

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    • I did not realize Rashida Jones was Peggy Lipton’s daughter. Obviously, I knew who her father was. Interesting. Now that you have pointed it out, I can totally see the resemblance.

      Don’t get me started on the Twin Peaks revival. I have been waiting for this for decades and still can’t believe it is actually happening. The fact that it is on premium cable means we will be getting Lynch unfiltered. I don’t currently subscribe to Showtime, but I will when this comes on. Anyone who isn’t familiar with the show should catch up between now and then!

      Totally agree. Diaz is probably best known for playing a ditz in Charlie’s Angels. But she went way beyond that. I always respected that she seemed unafraid to be unsympathetic. A lot of her characters don’t just have a sinister edge, they are bad people.

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      • I saw a Verizon Fios commercial last year with Peggy Lipton & Rashida Jones, and I thought the family resemblance was strong there.
        No, your right, Cameron Diaz has played some simply detestable characters (especially in “The Last Supper” & “Very Bad Things”).

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  5. Fringes of the A-list is an understatement. Diaz was actually the highest-paid actress in the world in 2003.

    There hasn’t been anyone, including from Old Hollywood, to have a quicker rise to the top than her. A lot of people cite Julia, but she did some uncredited bits and TV guest spots before making it big. The Mask, which made Diaz a star, was her first acting role ever. After There’s Something About Mary she was a superstar, which there is never more than a few of at any given time.

    The odd thing about her career is, for such a huge star, she has done a lot of inconsequential films and supporting roles. It’s a testament to her business savvy that she’s made so much money when, really, she has accepted very few films that give her the responsibility of being the sole lead.

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  6. What Chris Isaak did to her at the MTV Movie Awards in 95 would be labeled as sexual harassment today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHIAQvxc5qs

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