Aug 31: Happy Birthday Richard Gere and Chris Tucker


Richard Gere celebrates his 67th birthday today.  Gere began acting in the 1970s, initially in small roles or in minor films.  He emerged as a leading man when he starred in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo, but real stardom came when he portrayed a Naval Officer Candidate in a romantic drama with a final scene that a lot of women I knew when I was in college and grad school in the 1980s used to swoon over:

The years following An Officer and a Gentleman saw a pattern emerge to Gere’s career.  He would have a box office hit, then several years where he appeared in flops, sometimes leavened with a modest success or two.  Then, just when people were about ready to write him off, he’d come back with another hit.

From 1983-89, for instance, Gere did not appear in a single film that you could reasonable call a hit.  Then in 1990, he starred Pretty Woman, the #4 film of the year.  Most of the 1990s saw him enjoying middling success at best, but in 1999 he reunited with Julia Roberts for Runaway Bride.  In 2002 he had a major role in Chicago, the year’s #10 film, and received his first major acting award, a Golden Globe for Best Actor.  Like Sean Penn, who we covered in a birthday post earlier this month, Gere has never appeared in a superhero film or a franchise of any kind.

Chris Tucker turns 45 today.  The actor and stand-up comedian, and WTHH subject, got his start in the early 1990s on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and his early film roles included the stoner buddy comedy Friday, co-starring opposite Ice Cube, and two 1997 films which earned him the dubious distinction of a Razzie nomination for Worst New Star, Money Talks and The Fifth Element.

Decidedly not included in that Razzie mention was Tucker’s turn in a third 1997 film, Jackie Brown.  More recently he got some favorable notice for his part in Silver Linings Playbook.  But the film role he is most identified with remains Detective James Carter, who pairs with Jackie Chan as Inspector Lee in the Rush Hour action comedy trilogy:

Singer and actress Sara Ramirez celebrates her 41st birthday.  She recently finished a ten year stint on Grey’s Anatomy playing Dr. Callie Torres, and won a Tony for playing the Lady of the Lake in the musical Spamalot.  Singer-songwriter and actress Debbie Gibson turns 46.  She had #1 hits in the late 1980s with “Foolish Beat” and “Lost in Your Eyes,” and has had a substantial career in musical theater, appearing on Broadway as Eponine in Les Miz, and on the West End as Sandy in Grease.  Director Marc Webb, who celebrates his 42nd, started out making music videos.  He moved into features with the bittersweet romance (500) Days of Summer, and then directed the two Amazing Spider-Man films.  Musician Gina Schock, who turns 57, was the drummer for the all-female pop-rock group The Go-Go’s.  She is also a songwriter, having written or co-written a number of songs for Selena Gomez and the Scene’s Kiss & Tell album.

Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison (these days it’s Sir George Ivan Morrison) turns 71 today.  He has come a long way from the working-class boy from Belfast who once worked as a window cleaner.  While he’s best known for songs like his R&B hit “Brown Eyed Girl,” he has explored almost every corner of popular music over his career, from rock to jazz and from folk to gospel.  Born the same day as Morrison, violinist Itzhak Perlman ranks among the finest violinists of the last fifty years.  He has won fifteen Grammys for recording everything from baroque to twentieth century music, and four Emmys for various types of art and cultural programs.

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson celebrates his 81st birthday today.  He was the only player to win MVP honors in two different leagues (with Cincinnati in 1961 and Baltimore in 1966), won the Triple Crown in 1966, and led the Baltimore Orioles to World Series wins in 1966 and 1970.  In 1975 he became the first African-American manager in major league baseball.  Edwin Moses turns 61 today.  He won Olympic gold medals in the 400 meter hurdles in 1976 and 1984, almost certainly would have won a third in 1980 but for the American boycott of the Moscow Games, and won 107 consecutive finals races in that event from 1977-87.  Off the track, he was a leader in reforming rules governing Olympic eligibility for athletes and drug testing.

Richard Basehart (1914-1984) had a long film and television career.  He played the killer in the film noir classic He Walked By Night and Admiral Nelson in the series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Comedian and actor Buddy Hackett (1924-2003) played Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man and voiced Scuttle in The Little MermaidG. D. Spradlin (1920-2011) worked as an attorney and oil producer before his acting career began; he played the corrupt Senator Geary in The Godfather, Part IINoble Willingham (1931-2004) was a high school teacher in Texas when he auditioned for, and won, a small part in The Last Picture Show.  He was best known for playing the retired Ranger C. D. Parker on Walker, Texas RangerDore Schary (1905-1980) won an Oscar for screenwriting for Boys Town.  He later became head of production at MGM, and eventually president of the studio.

Fredric March (1897-1975) is the only actor ever to win both two Oscars and two Tonys.  His film career lasted some fifty years, with Best Actor honors for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and for The Best Years of Our Lives.  During the 1930s and early ’40s he was one of the few actors who worked without the security of a long-term studio contract.  James Coburn (1928-2002) made his film debut in the 1959 Western Ride Lonesome, opposite Randolph Scott, and rose to prominence quickly with attention-getting supporting parts in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.  He moved adeptly between supporting and lead roles, with several villains mixed in, but whatever the part he was one of the great movie tough guys.

Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986) was one of the most accomplished lyricists in musical theater history, with three Oscars, three Tonys and a pair of Golden Globes to his name.  Lerner and his composer partner Frederick Loewe were best known for My Fair Lady, one of the greatest and most popular musicals of all time.  They also wrote other musicals, including Brigadoon and Camelot, and the movie musical GigiDuBose Heyward (1885-1940) was the author of the novel Porgy, which he and his wife Dorothy then adapted into a stage play.  The play became the basis for George and Ira Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess.

We’ll come back to Porgy and Bess when the Gershwins’ birthdays come up, but for now let’s close with a little bit of Lerner and Loewe (and a little Cheno):

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 31, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. LOL. I love that we are now calling out actors who HAVEN’T done superhero movies. And that it isn’t a daily occurrence either.

    I recently rewatched Officer and a Gentleman. That final song and image may set hearts a flutter, but I wouldn’t say the movie is very romantic. Not long before the happy ending, well, I won’t go into spoilers, but there’s some dark stuff in there.

    I will admit, I have never been a big fan of Gere. He’s so aloof and gives off a smug vibe. He came alive when paired with Julia Roberts at her most charming and I enjoyed him in Chicago where his smugness was an asset. But on the whole, not one of my favorite actors.

    Chris Tucker annoyed the heck out of me in The 5th Element which was the first movie I ever saw him in. Gradually, I have forgiven him for that.

    Few phrases make me feel my age like “Debbie Gibson turns 46.”


    • I was in grad school during most of Gere’s run as a major leading man, so since I was on a tight budget, I missed most of his movies. He was good in Pretty Woman, but the movie was Julia’s show. And I agree, An Officer and a Gentleman on the whole is definitely not a sweet romance.

      My reaction to Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element was about the same as yours. People seem to either love or hate the character.


      • I can think of a handful of Gere’s movies I saw in theaters. Pretty Woman was the first I recall. I also caught Final Analysis, Primal Fear and Chicago. That may be it. I have caught others on video, but he’s never been an actor I sought out or avoided.

        After The 5th Element, I was delighted by his supporting role in Jackie Brown.


    • There was a time when I couldn’t tolerate Richard Gere much (I still don’t care for him in “Reckless” or “King David”), but in time he’s grown on me a little (“Primal Fear” got me feeling better about him). I agree with you on the smug vibe though.
      Yeah, I can think of one especially dark scene in “An Officer and a Gentleman”, and it’s what comes to my mind when the film crosses my mind: the suicide.
      Hey, 46 isn’t old at all. Debbie (she went by Deborah for awhile; I like Debbie better than Deborah anyway, unless it’s Debra. It’s like how I like Shawn better than Sean). She broke out as a teen sensation in the late 1980’s, so the numbers add up.


      • Not only is there a suicide, but it’s pretty much blamed on Winger’s character’s best friend. There’s a lot of misogyny in an Officer and a Gentleman. Most of the women are out to trap an officer into marrying them so they can get out of their dead-end lives. But all that is forgotten when “Love Lift Us Up (Where We Belong)” kicks in.

        Hey Daffy! How’s that for a Cheesetastic Classic?


  2. Lol finally something we agree on lol I am not a gere fan myself. I found him bland ,stiff and found his performances awkward. I feel he is upstaged by better actors His career since shall we dance has not been so hot . He has not had a hit in over 10 years. Any chance he will have a blog


  3. Gere tries to relies on charisma but comes out short. HOwever there have been performance i thought he was amazing in. days of heaven ,the hoax and internal affairs. He was not convincing in primal fear. Norton and luara linney out acted him. I also noticed He has blank expression when trying to evocute emotions on screen. Hes not one of those actors that can emote emotion with body or facials expression his face is blank rather sad or happy.


  4. In fact i put gere in same category as dennis quaid and clooney heartthrob actors who are lifeless on screen.


    • Dennis Quaid? Sure. George Clooney? No way.


      • I thought Dennis Quaid was good, and far from “lifeless,” in his breakthrough roles in Innerspace and The Big Easy, but I’m not familiar with his more recent work.

        As for Clooney, I find it hard to believe that anyone who has seen him in his work with the Coen Brothers, or Out of Sight, or Up in the Air, would find him to be “lifeless.”


        • “Lifeless” isn’t a word I would use to describe any of these guys. You don’t have the kinds of careers these three actors have had giving lifeless performances. If I’m ranking them in terms of starpower, Gere and Quaid are on roughly the same level. Clooney is off in super-stardom.


  5. you dislike quaid as much as i do . i find clooney lifeless and i can always tell when clooney is acting he is not natural on screen .Clooney is exactly full of range. I have seen clooney interview i dont get why he is dubbed charming i find him smug and boring. i can hear cricets chirping when clooney tells a lame joke . As for quaid its not hard to see why the guy never became a bigger star he is wooden. He defintly is poorman harrison ford as much i dislike ford ford is stronger actor then dennis. If you cant get ford for a movie get quaid hes cheaper lol


  6. only performance i thought quaid was great in big easy far from heaven. only performance i liked of clooney was up in the air and descdents.


  7. I think George Clooney’s a real strong actor and presence. He really toiled for years (1987’s “Return to Horror High”?) before getting his big break in “ER”. For the longest time, I was actually more familiar with his father Nick, who for a time was on newscaster on Channel 2 News in Western New York (he was very distinguished, a trait seemingly passed on to George).


    • The Clooneys are Cincinnati boys.


      • That’s pretty cool. As we know, the neat thing with being a newscaster or actor is that you get to see a lot of the world along the way. I’d say Nick Clooney’s the biggest newscasting name to pass through Western New York (John Beard, who left Buffalo to work in L.A. and now has been back here for a few years now is probably second), but I think Jericka Duncan, who worked weekends at Channel 4 out here a few years ago, is doing a nice job for the CBS National News chain (she was underused here anyway).


  8. fame has nothing to do with tAlent. Channing tatum is huge star but does that make him taletned no. in a shallow industry like hollywood it take more then taelnt to make it. Gere quaid and clooney all 3 heartthrobs maybe thats how they made it big quaid and gere same footing now but clooney career is sitll hot. However out of the 3 quaid is only one who never became a huge star in terms of commerical success. Gere was riding high with several box office hits in 90s while quaid had some hits but never really reached stardom. I think due to the fact quaid tried to branch out and pick vareity of different projects in 80s to broaden rather then try to find his genre where he excells in and he cant genrate reveneu in . Quaid career is similart to kurt russlle his box office is hit and miss but his flops have gianed a cult following like innerspace and right stuff


  9. I just saw a glimpse of Debbie Gibson on “Celebrity Name Game”, and I thought she looked awful good.


  10. Back in 1987 we saw two teenagers, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, both break out with major Top 10 hits at the same time. Obviously there was going to be a rivalry, even if they had never met each other up to that point.

    Tiffany broke out first with her #1 single “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Looking over Tiffany’s singles discography, she had 4 Top 40 hits, all written by other songwriters.

    Debbie Gibson was also a hitmaker at the time, with 9 Top 40 hits during her heyday. The big difference here is, Debbie Gibson wrote, or co-wrote every last one of her hit singles. Again, while she was still in her teens.

    While I give Tiffany a lot of credit for her accomplishment of becoming a pop sensation in the late 80’s, there is no question that Debbie Gibson deserves more accolades out of the two. She had more hit singles in her time, and she wrote every one of her hit singles whereas Tiffany wrote none.


    • I remember the rivalry, as well as girls being either Debbie Gibson people or Tiffany people. Debbie Gibson still had more numbers among my peers (though when “Dirty Dancing” came about, both were sidelined by them and their love for that film).


  11. iam wondering did gere and bruce willis have issues with eachother on jackal


    • I heard that they never wanted to work on the same film after this; don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t believe they’ve been in the same picture since.


  12. the movie was a hit so its not like the failure of the film could have them said it. I heard another source they asked eachother how was your movie since they filed scenes separately the fact ia they barely had scnes togather I can not imagine THEY had much contact to escalate a fight


  13. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Richard Gere Anymore


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