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September 2: Happy Birthday Salma Hayek and Keanu Reeves

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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 SquarePantsTuc 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 LaunchLennox 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.

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Posted on September 2, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Is it just me, or does anyone else ever wonder how Salma Hayek wasn’t a massive movie star? Cause dang!

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    • Same here. After I first noticed her in Desperado in 1994, I thought that she was a star in the making. Not only unbelievably beautiful, but charming too. Going back a generation to the mid 90’s, I think that mainstream Hollywood didn’t know what to do with a Hispanic actress. I’m not calling out racism necessarily, but back then it was still expected to pair up “A-List Movie Star” with an attractive white female. If Salma Hayek were making her start today in 2016, I think she would go a lot farther than she did 20 years ago.

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    • Count me as another one who wonders the same thing. I think Craig has part of the answer, at least. Hollywood has had a pattern over the years, of casting Caucasian actors and actresses in Latino/a roles. The Welsh-Irish Catherine Zeta-Jones being cast (over Hayek, I believe) in The Mask of Zorro is an example that comes to mind. Another is Brian De Palma’s Scarface, where the main Hispanic characters (mostly Cuban-American) were, with the exceptions of Steven Bauer and Miriam Colon, played by Italian-American or other white performers.

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      • Sadly, institutional racism is often the easy answer to these kinds of questions.

        Probably Hayek’s biggest swing an mainstream movie stardom was Wild, Wild West. If that movie had been half way watchable, maybe she’d have done more of those kinds of roles. Whether by choice or not, I don’t know, she seemed a lot more likely to show up in indie movies than popcorn fare. I do find it depressing that her highest profile parts in recent years have been Adam Sandler movies.

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    • I didn’t know she wasn’t a massive star. Seems pretty famous to me. Maybe she isn’t trying that hard since she married a billionaire. Of course, that condition affords one the luxury to be picky. Appearing in Adam Sandler films is a direct indication that one is not that.

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      • I’d say she’s massively famous, but that hasn’t really translated into being an A-list movie star. Outside of Wild Wild West and Grownups, what’s the biggest movie she’s been in? And she didn’t really headline either of those. She’s done pretty well in the indie circuit, but that’s not really what makes a movie star. She spoke out recently about ageism and sexism in Hollywood. The window of opportunity for actresses to hit it big is very narrow. WWW was Hayek’s big shot at major movie stardom and it didn’t pan out. But as you point out, that doesn’t appear to be the driving force behind her career decisions. If it was, she probably wouldn’t have done Dogma.

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        • I kind of liked Dogma. It’s not one of my top favorites, but it’s not embarrassing- like, ‘WTF are YOU doing slumming here?’ Like, Rose McGowan has no interest in being in an Adam Sandler film, and Salma Friggin’ Hayek is like ‘me, me, I’ll take it!’ It’s beneath Maya Rudolph too, but that at least makes some sense insofar as she is a comedian anyway.

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        • I liked Dogma, but it was when I started noticing that Kevin Smith’s talent had a cap. The poop monster scene was an embarrassment. I wouldn’t want to sit through the whole thing again today. My point in bringing it up was that at that specific point in her career, Hayek needed to be doing bigger or better movies. Dogma was a poor career choice.

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  2. Since I’m not much of a sports guy, the only reason I even know the name Terry Bradshaw is because of The Cannonball Run.

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  3. By the way, that 10 second clip from Desperado of the car accident as Salma crosses the street is the single most believable moment from the film. I suspect insurance premiums went up 200% wherever Salma Hayek lived in 1994.

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  4. Before bill and ted keanu was not hate he even had critcally acclaimed performance like rivers edge and permant record. After bill and ted people thought thats all he could do they also thought he was stupid which he is not. The problem is his critcally accalimed performances where not hits the first two i mentioned where little seen indies the gift and my own private idaho modest hits / He did get great reviews for the last time i commited suicde but that was a dud. Which marks it so hard to tell people keanu is actually talented because people give me blank look when i reccomand his top performances.

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    • I’ve said before that when I think of early Keanu Reeves I think of “River’s edge” and “Permanent Record” before thinking of the gnarly dude in the Bill & Ted films, though I like them as well.

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  5. I could name worse actors then keanu. He is actually talented. He not an ok actor or good actor i would describe him as a great actor he has given great performance before. I would not reccomand matrix to sell anyone on keanu. The role required little of keanu talents. All he did was look confused the whole time. it was little character development which is sad cause keanu is capable more. Same thing with his something gott give role he was just a nice guy in the role his purpose was just create a love triangle did not give him room to give a great performance.

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  6. Keanu is talented. actors i find worse then keanu is ben affleck. Ben is stiff and wooden, keanu has more range

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