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September 4: Happy Birthday Beyoncé and Khandi Alexander

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Beyoncé (full name Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter), who celebrates her 35th birthday today, began her professional singing career in her teens.  She was the lead singer of Destiny’s Child for nearly a decade and has subsequently had a superstar-level solo career; combined, these make her one of the most successful musicians of the last twenty years or so.  Each one of her solo studio albums has reached #1 on the US charts, with the first, Dangerously in Love, being the best-seller, featuring hits like this:

Beyoncé has won twenty Grammy Awards, more than any female artist not named Alison Krauss.  Even people who are not her most enthusiastic fans, such as Jody Rosen of The New Yorker, consider her one of, if not the, most influential musicians of the 21st century so far.

As for her moves beyond music, the highlight of her film career has been the well-recieved 2006 adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.  Some of her other film ventures, such as the reboot of The Pink Panther, or the 2009 thriller Obsessed, have been less well regarded.

Khandi Alexander, who turns 59 today, is a dancer and choreographer who has become a very successful actress.  She appeared as a dancer in several Broadway shows and was the choreographer for Whitney Houston’s 1988-92 world tour.  As an actress, she was a regular on CSI: Miami for seven seasons, and more recently was an Emmy nominee for her recurring guest role on Scandal:

Patricia Tallman, who was born the same day as Khandi Alexander, has had a dual career as an actress and stuntwoman.  Her best-known acting role was as Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5, and she also was one of the leads in the 1990 remake of the horror classic Night of the Living Dead.  She worked as both an actress and a stunt performer in three Star Trek series, and also doubled Laura Dern in Jurassic Park and Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Damon Wayans, who turns 56, had his breakthrough as the creator, and one of the stars, of the sketch comedy series In Living Color.  He had substantial roles in some 1990s films such as The Last Boy Scout, and he starred in the ABC series My Wife and Kids from 2001-05.  However, his acting career started to fizzle out about a decade ago (which made people wonder WTHH to him), although he continued to be a active stand-up comic.  He returns to the screen this fall as Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon series on ABC.

Wes Bentley, who turns 38, made an auspicious breakthrough as Ricky Fitts in American Beauty.  But although he got some good roles in the next few years, he also, as recounted in Tony Zierra’s documentary My Big Break, developed a serious drug addiction that lasted for the better part of the 2000s.  He has gotten things turned around in the past few years and is getting steady work, in films like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups.

Ione Skye, who celebrates her 46th, appeared to be a potential star after her appearance in Say Anything, possibly the greatest of all teen romances.  However, her career never took off, although she still does periodic feature film work.  Whitney Cummings, the co-creator of CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and the creator and star of the short-lived Whitney on NBC, turns 34 today.  Noah Taylor, who played Locke, Roose Bolton’s henchman, in Game of Thrones, turns 47.  Carter Jenkins, who is 25 today, starred in the sci-fi comedy Aliens in the Attic.  A singer to watch is James Bay, who turns 26; he received three Grammy nominations earlier this year tied to his debut album Chaos and the Calm.

Mitzi Gaynor, who turns 85 today, had the misfortune to be getting into the film industry when musicals were on the way out.  The high point of her film career (just over a decade long) was when she starred as Nellie Forbush in the 1958 film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.  After her film career died out, Gaynor did a number of musical TV specials, often sang at the Oscars, had a long career as a concert and nightclub singer, and became a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter.

In sports, Tom Watson, who turns 67, was one of the most successful golfers of his era.  He won eight major championships, and was the #1 ranked player in the world from 1978-82.  Mike Piazza, who celebrates his 48th, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.  One of the best catchers in baseball history, he was a 12-time All Star who spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and then the New York Mets.

An interesting trio of authors were born today.  Joan Aiken (1924-2004) had a big section of shelf space in the children’s department of the library where I worked during high school and college.  She is best known for the alternate history series The Wolves Chronicles, set in an alternate history of England, beginning with The Wolves of Willoughby ChaseMary Renault (1905-1983) wrote a series of several novels retelling episodes from Greek history and mythology.  Best-known, maybe, are The King Must Die and The Bull From the Sea, which retell the story of Theseus, mythical founder of Athens.  Richard Wright (1908-1960) was one of several prominent African-American authors who emerged in the 1920s and ’30s.  His most significant works were the novels Native Son and Black Boy, the latter a semi-autobiographical tale.

Richard Castellano (1933-1988) was memorable as Pete Clemenza in The Godfather.  You can find different stories about why he did not return for the second film—the actor’s widow tells it one way, Francis Ford Coppola a different way.  Dick York (1928-1992) is remembered for playing Darrin Stephens for the first five seasons of Bewitched, and for being replaced by “the other Darrin,” Dick Sargent, when York’s back problems became too severe for him to continue in the role.

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 4, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wes Bentley also plays the dependable Dad character in the very good new version of Pete’s Dragon opposite Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford.

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  2. Good stuff: nice to see Khandi Alexander as one of the two headliners for today’s birthday post

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    • This was an interesting day to write up. Beyoncé was pretty much a slam dunk choice as one of the headliners, but it was a bit tough deciding on the second one. But when I noticed that Khandi Alexander was born the same day as Patricia Tallman, who is one of those “footnote” people that I like to work into the articles, that connection made her a logical second headliner.

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  3. I’ll be curious to see what a Lethal Weapon TV series looks like. Traditionally, Murtaugh was the straight man to Riggs. But with Wayans playing the part, I assume he will be given more to do. I don’t expect the show to be good, but I am interested to see what form it takes.

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    • If I remember to, I’ll give the Lethal Weapon TV series a look, because I’m kind of curious myself. I don’t have great expectations, but maybe it it last longer than the Rush Hour TV Series.

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