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 Mermaid. G. 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 II. Noble 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 Ranger. Dore 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 Gigi. DuBose 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 Alan Jay Lerner, Chris Tucker, Fredric March, itzhak Perlman, James Coburn, Richare Gere, Sara Ramirez, Van Morrison. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.