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September 1: Happy Birthday Gloria Estefan and Lily Tomlin

0901EstefanTomlin

Gloria Estefan turns 59 today.  Born in Cuba, she and her family fled to the US after the 1959 Cuban revolution.  The singer-songwriter’s first great success came as the lead singer of Miami Sound Machine.  The band’s singles from the mid-1980s, such as “Doctor Beat,” “Conga,” and “Words Get in the Way,” made them one of the first Latino groups to have broad popular success in the US and Europe.

When the original band had evolved so much that they were really just Estefan’s backup band, the group name was dropped and she began appearing and recording under her own name.  One of her biggest hits came at about this point in time:

Although Estefan’s crossover popularity has faded some since the early 1990s, her albums and singles still do very well on the Billboard Latin chart.  She and her husband, former Miami Sound Machine leader Emilio Estefan (they have been married nearly 40 years) have also had several successful business ventures.  She has occasionally done film and TV work, costarring with Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart, and appearing on Glee as the mother of Naya Rivera’s character.

The multi-talented Lily Tomlin celebrates her 77th birthday today.  Tomlin became known when she joined the cast of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, one of the greatest of sketch comedy series, for its third season.  Tomlin, known to fans of the show for characters such as Ernestine the telephone operator, five-year-old Edith Ann, and the Tasteful Lady, is possibly the most successful alum of the show.  In 1975, she showed her range as an actress in the dramatic role of Linnea Reese, a white gospel singer who is part of a black choir, and who has two deaf children, in Robert Altman’s Nashville:

Over the last 40 years Tomlin has received acting accolades for films like All of Me, Flirting with Disaster and A Prairie Home Companion (to name just a few).  She won a Tony for her one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (written by her longtime partner and now wife Jane Wagner), and has won several Emmys for writing and performing in various comedy/variety/musical specials and series.

Susan Backlinie, who turns 70 today, had a very short acting career, but a memorable first appearance as Chrissie Watkins, who takes a fatal swim at the beginning of JawsScott Speedman, who is 41 today, was Ben Covington on Felicity and the vampire-Lycan hybrid Michael Corvin in the Underworld films.  Zendaya Coleman celebrates her 20th; the singer-actress appeared on the Disney Channel in Shake It Up and Good Luck Charlie, released her first album in 2013, and will be seen in next year’s Spiderman: Homecoming.  TV psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw turns 66 today.  Michelle Meyrink had a short film career, but that included a few memorable roles including Jordan in Real Genius; she celebrates her 54th birthday.  Screenwriter Zak Penn, who turns 48 today, has received screenplay or story credit on several superhero films including the second and third X-Men films, The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, and also wrote Behind Enemy LinesPadma Lakshmi turns 46 today; the cookbook author and actress-model has hosted Bravo’s Top Chef since the start of its second season.

Barry Gibb, who celebrates his 70th, combined with his brothers Robin and Maurice to form one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s.  The Bee Gees began charting hits in the late 1960s, and had a #1 hit with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” in 1971.  But they really hit their stride in the disco years, with eight #1 hits from 1975-1979, including three off of the soundtrack of Saturday Night FeverC. J. Cherryh, who turns 74 today, is a prolific author of fantasy and science fiction.  Born Carolyn Janice Cherry, her first publisher insisted on adding the silent “h” to her last name, feeling that the name “Cherry” would make readers think she was a romance writer.

Yvonne De Carlo (1922-2007) was a talented actress who, although never a top-drawer star, could fit into a variety of roles.  She was a film noir femme fatale in Criss Cross, part of a comic love triangle in The Captain’s Paradise, and played the wife of Moses in The Ten Commandments.  As her film career faded, she found a home on television as Lily Munster in the CBS series.  Richard Farnsworth (1920-2000) began working in film as a stuntman in the late 1930s.  One of his biggest stunt roles was doubling Montgomery Clift in Red River.  As stunt performers often do, he sometimes picked up uncredited acting jobs, and eventually he started getting substantial acting parts.  The former stuntman went on to be a tw0-time Oscar nominee, for Comes a Horseman and The Straight Story (also his final film).

Vittorio Gassman (1922-2000) was one of the biggest stars of Italian cinema in the 20th century, a seven time winner of the Donatello Award for Best Actor (the Italian Oscars).  He was briefly married to Shelley Winters and spent a few years in Hollywood in the 1950s.  Johnny Mack Brown (1904-1974) had a couple of years as a leading man at MGM, making films like Billy the Kid and The Last Flight, but was dropped by the studio and would up spending most of his career making serials and B-westerns.  As an editor, Christian Nyby (1913-1993) worked on several of Howard Hawks’ films in the 1940s.  When Hawks made The Thing from Another World, he made Nyby the director (at least officially—most sources agree that the Silver Fox was still giving a lot of input behind the scenes).  Nyby had a long career directing in television.  Rocky Marciano (1923-1969) was the world heavyweight boxing champion for several years and retired undefeated in 1956.  Marciano’s name and “swarmer” fighting style were at least partly the inspiration for Rocky Balboa.  Conway Twitty (1933-1993) had several country hits from the 1960s to the ’80s, but his greatest success came with a string of #1 country singles and albums in the early 1970s that he did in partnership with Loretta Lynn.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) wrote somewhere in the vicinity of 100 books in a writing career of nearly 40 years.  His most popular series, the source of a character featured in dozens of films, was the Tarzan novels.  He also created the Barsoom series, featuring John Carter of Mars, and many others.

Although he lived over 300 years ago, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706; September 1 is his baptism date—his actual birth date is not known) has become an influence on popular culture, owing to the impact of his Canon and Gigue for three violins and basso continuo, more commonly referred to as the Canon in D.  It has been used in a variety of film scores, most famously in the opening scene of Ordinary People, and a number of pop tunes have been based on the Canon or its basic chord progression.

On the off chance that you’ve never heard it:

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 September 1, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Jestak, you left out George Peppard, who is best known for co-starring with Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and and as the leader of “The A-Team”. I’m usually good at knowing birthdays of celebrities I like, and it was a bit shocking you left him out.

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  2. Hey look, Barry Gibb! Weren’t we just talking about him yesterday. After Daffy’s Cheesetastic Classic article featuring a Gibb-penned song, I went to YouTube and put on a GeeGees playlist. But I can still listen to Stayin’ Alive to celebrate Gibb’s 70th!

    Not much to say about the headliners, but I’ll comment on some of the other birthday boys and girls. The sound of Dr. Phil’s voice is nails on a chalkboard to me. But my wife enjoys his show. My youngest watches Zendaya on the Disney Channel show KC Undercover. Of course when she was announced as Mary Jane a while back, internet fans made asses of themselves. They seem to do that every time an actress is cast as MJ.

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    • Yes, I got a chuckle seeing the Barry Gibb discussion yesterday, and knowing what was coming.

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      • Sometimes, I will read comments and know that the subject will be popping up in a coming article. That’s always fun. For a while, I was reading ahead on birthdays but now that you have completely taken over the reigns, I prefer to be surprised like everyone else.

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  3. The Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (like the film itself) was a genuine pop cultural phenomenon. It spawned 7 Top 40 singles five of which were written and/or performed by The Bee Gees. And, the soundtrack became the biggest-selling album of all time up to that point, selling over 15 Million copies. It would hold that distinction for several years until Michael Jackson’s album Thriller would break that record. Still, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was unbelievably successful for its time.

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  4. When I think of celebrities who live in Miami, Gloria Estefan is always one of the first names that cross my mind. Glad her family booked out of Cuba during the 1959 revolution, since what I learned about that time it was quite a mess. Last time I remember The Miami Sound Machine recognized as such on an album was the “Top Gun” soundtrack
    My favorite Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn collaboration is “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”.
    Lilly Tomlin, no doubt about her high skill level.
    Well then, I’ll be looking forward to that George Peppard mention next month on the 1st!
    Barry Gibb: hey, I like how that worked out: from “Stayn’ Alive” to keepin’ it alive two days in a row.

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