September 2: Happy Birthday Salma Hayek and Keanu Reeves
Salma Hayek celebrates her 50th birthday today. Hayek began working in Mexican film and television in the late 1980s. Her first work in American film came from producer-director Robert Rodriguez; Hayek has made several films with Rodriguez, including From Dusk till Dawn and The Faculty. And before those came the film that gave American audiences their first look at her—her very first scene in that film shows her ability to have an impact on people (and vehicles):
Besides Desperado and her other films with Rodriguez, Hayek’s other early films included the romantic comedy Fools Rush In, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and Wild Wild West, where she got caught in the general targeting of that film by the Razzies. More recently she has branched out into producing and direction. The 2002 biopic Frida, which brought Hayek an Oscar nomination and a lot of critical praise, was also co-produced by the actress. She was also an executive producer of the ABC series Ugly Betty, and was Emmy-nominated for a guest run during the show’s first season.
Keanu Reeves, who turns 52 today, is another WTHH subject, so his career is covered in detail there. He first attracted notice in the mid-eighties film River’s Edge, and then went on to play Ted “Theodore” Logan in a pair of films detailing an Excellent Adventure, followed by a Bogus Journey. The film that sealed the deal on his stardom, however, involved a mad bomber, a bus, and Sandra Bullock:
Following his success in Speed, Reeves earned his first Razzie nomination for his two 1995 films, but the end of the nineties brought him another major success as Neo in The Matrix. Success seemed to come in fits and starts for Reeves—he has never really strung even two major hits in a row together. Indeed, it’s been over a decade since the second Matrix film, which is probably his last unequivocal hit (although 2014’s John Wick did fairly well given it’s modest budget). For those who want to know all the details, that’s what WTHH articles are for. 🙂
Mark Harmon was a football star at UCLA who went into acting; he has played Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS for the show’s entire run. He turns 65 today. Mexican-American actress Rosanna DeSoto turns 66; she played a pivotal role in Stand and Deliver and was the Klingon Chancellor’s daughter and successor in Star Trek VI. Mary Jo Catlett, who celebrates her 78th birthday today, is best known as the voice of Mrs. Puff on SpongeBob SquarePants. Tuc Watkins, who turns 50 today, has worked primarily on television, playing David Vickers on One Life to Live for over 300 episodes spread over 17 years. Cynthia Watros, whose starring role on Finding Carter is the latest of several in her career, celebrates her 48th. Nicolette Krebitz, who is 45 today, is one of the leading actresses in Germany; some may know her for the English-language comedy All The Queen’s Men.
Marge Champion, who celebrates her 97th birthday today, is well known in the dance world, having been the wife and partner of Gower Champion, a multiple Tony winner for direction and choreography in musicals like Bye Bye Birdie and Hello, Dolly! Marge Champion was often credited as something like a “special assistant” on these shows, and when younger was also the dance/movement model for Disney animated characters such as Snow White and the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio.
In the sports world, Terry Bradshaw turns 68 today. In his early years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bradshaw was ridiculed for being over his head in the NFL—a Dallas Cowboys linebacker once jibed “Bradshaw couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the C and the A.” But Bradshaw got the last laugh when he led the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in six years, two of them over the Cowboys. The NFL Hall of Famer has also done a little acting, appearing in films like The Cannonball Run and Failure to Launch. Lennox Lewis, who turns 51, is a retired boxer who was the last undisputed holder of the heavyweight championship of the world. Jimmy Connors celebrates his 64th birthday today; the tennis star won five US Open titles, and his 109 singles titles are the record for the Open Era of tennis.
Hal Ashby (1929-1988) started his career in film as an editor, winning an Oscar for In the Heat of the Night. In the 1970s, he directed a string of seven films, starting with The Landlord and ending with Being There. All of them are well-regarded; Coming Home, which led to Oscars for Jon Voight and Jane Fonda and a Best Director nomination for Ashby, was a high point. But in the 1980s, Ashby declined—partly as a result of substance abuse issues, he became extremely eccentric and unreliable. He was fired from Tootsie before filming began and from two other films during production.
Allen Drury (1918-1998) was a political journalist who began writing a novel in his spare time in the 1950s, which was published under the title of Advise and Consent in 1959, and became both a huge bestseller and a Pulitzer Prize winner. In it, Drury managed the feat of making the internal machinations of the US Senate into an absolutely gripping story; the novel was adapted successfully for both stage and film. He became a full-time novelist, and wrote a series of sequels and unrelated novels which never matched his first.
Irish folkie Liam Clancy (1935-2009) was the youngest of four musically inclined brothers from Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland. With his brothers (Paddy, Thomas and Bobby), with Tommy Makem, and as a solo performer, Liam Clancy introduced millions of Americans to traditional Celtic music over a career spanning five decades. It’s partly because of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem that the US has such an active Celtic music scene. None other than Bob Dylan called Liam “The best ballad singer I ever heard in my life.”
I’ll let Liam do the closing number for today:
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.