Aug 30: Happy Birthday Cameron Diaz and Lewis Black
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 Crime. Johanna Braddy, who turns 29, plays Shelby Wyatt on ABC’s Quantico. Elden Henson turns 39; he was in the Mighty Ducks films and now plays Foggy Nelson in the web series Daredevil. Jessica 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 Mutiny. Raymond 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.