September 5: Happy Birthday Carice van Houten and Michael Keaton


Dutch actress Carice van Houten turns 40 today.  She has been a major star in European cinema since the late nineties, and has won the Golden Calf for Best Actress (given annually at the Netherlands Film Festival) five times.  At least one of the films she was honored for, Paul Verhoeven’s Zwartboek or Black Book, got released for a while in the US.

However, the role that North American audiences probably know van Houten best for is Melisandre of Asshai, the “Red Priestess” from Game of Thrones, the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire:

The other big news about Carice van Houten is that last week, she and her current partner Guy Pearce welcomed their newborn son, Monte.  Best wishes to the new mother on her birthday.

Michael Keaton celebrates his 65th birthday today.  Like August 23 headliner Shelley Long, Keaton’s breakthrough came in the 1982 comedy Night Shift.  In the next decade, Keaton went to to headline further comedies like Johnny Dangerously and Beetlejuice, and to don Batman’s mask and cape for two outings, a casting choice that was probably more controversial at the time than in retrospect.  He then proved to be an unorthodox but rather effective Shakespearean:

Keaton’s subsequent career—his slow decline from stardom to supporting player, and his recent resurgence through being Oscar-nominated for Birdman—is covered in his WTHH article, which brings his story up through about 2014.  It can be added that his resurgence has not faded.  Keaton was a lead in a second consecutive Best Picture winner in Spotlight, will headline the Ray Kroc biopic The Founder which will be released this December, and will appear in next year’s Spiderman: Homecoming.

George Lazenby is 77 today.  He was, of course, “the other fellow” who replaced Sean Connery as James Bond for one film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  He also played Major Charles on NBC’s The PretenderWilliam Devane celebrates his 79th birthday.  The peak of his long career was probably his decade-long run on Knots Landing as Greg Sumner.  Raquel Welch, who turns 76, is one of the great sex symbols of movie history.  She had only three lines in One Million Years B.C., but the one thing everyone knows from that film is the image of Welch in a fur bikini.  And Werner Herzog, the gifted, provocative director who was one of the central figures in the New German Cinema, director of films such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Nosferatu the Vampyre, turns 74.

Kristian Alfonso turns 53 today.  With a hiatus here and there, she has been playing Hope Williams on Days of Our Lives since 1983; during the times when her character has been together with Bo Brady, they have been known as “Bope,” one of the earliest examples of a Portmanteau Couple NamePaddy Considine celebrates his 43rd birthday today.  He has done some big budget films like Cinderella Man and The Bourne Ultimatum, but spends a lot of time in British indie films.  Rose McGowan also turns 43.  She was Tatum Riley in Scream and Paige Matthews for five seasons of CharmedKat Graham, who plays Bonnie Bennett on The Vampire Diaries, turns 27 today.  Skandar Keynes, who played Edmund Pevensie in the three Chronicles of Narnia films, and who is a distant relative of the great economist John Maynard Keynes, celebrates his 25th birthday.

Bob Newhart celebrates his 87th today.  He recently won his first Emmy Award for a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory.  That this was his first is surprising, as Newhart has been the star of two highly regarded comedies.  On The Bob Newhart Show from 1972-78, he was Dr. Bob Hartley, a Manhattan psychologist married to Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), while on Newhart from 1982-1990, he was Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon, married to Joanna (Mary Franz).  The final episode of Newhart was rated by TV Guide as the greatest series finale of all time:

In sports we have an interesting coincidence—two baseball Hall of Famers were born today, both of them second basemen.  Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie (1874-1959), who played for about 20 seasons in the early years of major league baseball, was one of the 3 or 4 best hitters ever to play second base (although he wasn’t bad with a glove).  Bill Mazeroski, who celebrates his 80th birthday, is considered the finest defensive second baseman of all time—although he was good enough with the bat to hit the home run that won the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In music, Scottish folk-rocker Al Stewart, who had a major 1970s hit with “Year of the Cat,” turns 71 today.  Loudon Wainwright III, the Grammy-winning American folkie who is also known for his guest appearances on M*A*S*H as Capt. Calvin Spalding, celebrates his 70th.  Classical pianist Marc-André Hamelin celebrates his 55th birthday.  Composer John Cage (1912-1992) was one of the most influential American composers of the last century.  Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) was the lead vocalist of Queen and also their main songwriter, the author of, among others, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are the Champions.”

Today was the birthday of three very influential people on the business side of the entertainment industry.  Arthur Nielsen (1897-1980) was an engineer who turned to the then infant field of marketing research in the early 1920s.  His ACNielsen company began developing methods for measuring the audiences for radio, and later television programs—which evolved into the Nielsen Ratings.  In 1933, Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), then a young Warners executive, left to form a company called 20th Century Pictures.  Within two years, 20th Century had taken over the bankrupt Fox Corporation, creating 20th Century Fox.  Excepting a few years of service in World War 2, and a few more as an independent producer, Zanuck was one of the top people, often the top man, at Fox until 1971.  At his best, he was an exceptionally astute producer, responsible for Oscar winners like Gentleman’s Agreement and All About Eve; at his worst he was capable of sinking millions into vanity projects for his young French mistress.  Jack Valenti (1921-2007) was an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson when, in 1966, he was recruited to head the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the trade association for the major studios.  Valenti was the architect of the MPAA rating system adopted in 1968 (and modified over the years), and spent much of his final decade at the MPAA dealing with the thorny issues of copyright protection and piracy.

Jesse James (1847-1882) the Civil War bushwhacker turned train and bank robber, has been played on the big screen by the likes of Tyrone Power, Roy Rogers, Robert Wagner, Robert Duvall, James Keach, Colin Farrell and Brad Pitt.

We’ll finish with singer-songwriter John Stewart (1939-2008).  Stewart joined the popular folk group the Kingston Trio in 1961, and when they disbanded he began a solo career lasting for about 40 years and during which he recorded over 600 songs.  Stewart was never a big commercial success—although he wrote the Monkees’ big hit “Daydream Believer,” and he had a top 10 hit in 1979 of his own with “Gold”—but his songs were covered by the likes of Nanci Griffith and Roseanne Cash, and he had a group of very loyal fans who will always make sure he is remembered on his birthday. 🙂  I’ll let him close today’s article:

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 September 5, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. If fifteen or even ten years ago, somebody had told me that today I would see Carice van Houten on the IMDB homepage, in a Lebeau article and in a relationship with Guy Pearce, I would have told them to get their head checked.
    She made many Dutch movies when I was growing up and I didn’t like a single one of them. I always thought she was terribly overrated. To be honest, I still do. How she garnered so much international success is kind of a mystery to me.
    Oh well, I guess other people see something in her that I don’t…
    But I could certainly name a few Dutch actresses whom I find much more interesting than her.


    • I guess I would qualify as one of those other people. I saw van Houten in Black Book several years ago, and she really stood out to me; especially given the tendency, in Paul Verhoeven’s films, for the director’s unsubtle approach and love of sex and violence to overwhelm the viewer. I’ve kept an eye on her career ever since. When I was writing this article, other than Michael Keaton I didn’t see anyone really standing out as an obvious headliner, and when I found out that van Houten had just given birth last week, it seemed to make a nice hook for her story.


    • I am guessing it has something to do with her numerous nude scenes on Game of Thrones. 😉


      • I’ve never viewed “Game of Thrones”, but I get the impression that it’s a lot like 1979’s “Caligula” when it comes to the violent content and nudity, and I can respect that.


  2. I was reading a rather long story on baseball manager/ & owner of the Philadelphia Athletics, Connie Mack, and Nap Lajoie was featured prominently in that article.


  3. Out of all the actors in the blog keaton might be doing the best. He has oscar buzz for founder


  4. Among all the WTTH alumni, only a few have had notable comebacks. Comebacks, after all, are very rare. And I would argue that Michael Keaton has had the strongest comeback of all to date. For the past 20 years or so his career has been reduced to the occasional supporting role. But he came back in a major way as the lead in Birdman which gained him a Best Actor nod and won Best Picture. Very impressive. Then the following year Spotlight wins Best Picture! That is an incredible comeback.


    • I was just thinking about this the other day. To date, no WTHH subject has come back to win an Oscar. We’ve had nominations for Keaton, Helen Hunt, Jennifer Jason Leigh and against all odds Sylvester Stallone. But to date, no wins. Stallone, Keaton and Christian Slater have both won Golden Globes. There’s probably some I’m missing, but these are the ones I came up with off the top of my head. Ranking them, yes, I think Keaton’s comeback is the strongest. But I don’t discount Stallone either. He probably battled back against greater odds.


      • Absolutely Lebeau, Stallone went from straight-to-DVD hell to box office draw again. That is arguably much superior to Keaton’s comeback. The guidelines I’m sort of creating in my own mind are, who has had the best comeback since the moment you first wrote about them? When you wrote up Keaton it was some time before Birdman would be released and he was still doing minor supporting roles in stuff that didn’t really draw much attention (except as Ken in Toy Story 3. Michael Keaton rules as Ken in Toy Story 3). However after your Keaton write up, well, we know what happened next. But that’s the context that I’m judging “WTTH Comebacks”. So far, Keaton has a clear lead, and it will be tough (but not impossible) for any of our wonderful WTTH alumni to beat that.


    • Could ‘The Founder’ Help Michael Keaton Finally Win an Oscar?

      After appearing in Best Picture winners ‘Birdman’ and ‘Spotlight,’ Michael Keaton could be aiming for another brush with Oscar in this year’s ‘The Founder.’


  5. Batman and James Bond! (Arguably the best Dark Knight and the weakest 007) Keaton is obviously a favorite around here and hey, we like Lazenby too don’t we? I did not recognize Carice van Houten’s name or picture. But once I got to the clip, I knew who we were talking about. Bob Newhart was actually a major influence on me as a kid. I still mimic his delivery sometimes. Not that I or anyone else can do it justice.


    • I like George Lazenby; I thought he was a good Bond in a good Bond film, he just happened to be the first successor, and that’s a tough spot. Nice comeback by Michael Keaton too.


  6. Kilmer is the only former batman actor that cant seem catch career break


    • Why No One Likes Christian Bale Anymore

      It’s often impossible to separate an actor’s on-screen presence from his or her off-screen personality, especially in a world where tabloids are perpetually spreading new, always questionable celebrity gossip. In looking at the seemingly storied career of Christian Bale, known for starring in both big blockbusters and smaller indie fare, I can’t really hope to separate Bale’s performances from his public persona — or at least his persona as it relates to a few particularly alarming instances. Bale was once and often still is hyped as one of the greatest actors of whatever generation he belongs to, but today, thanks to a combination of trends from his on-screen and off-screen life, many, myself included, don’t like Christian Bale anymore.


  7. I noticed a lot of artciles tend to think bale did a better bruce wayne and keaton did a better batman. Some thought keaton did not capture bruce wayne charm that keaton just came off akwarad


    • I’m not one of those people; I’m fine with Bale’s portrayal overall, but his snarling gets to me at times.
      What Keaton didn’t do with the Bruce Wayne character sticks out to me, and I liked the fact that he was reserved and held back (well, expect for the “You wanna get nuts? C’mon, let’s get nuts!” scene, which I think is awesome), as it made me wonder what he was thinking.


  8. He was not suave like bruce wayne is supposed to be


  9. After the musical theme of September 7th’s birthday slate, I regret not mentioning Freddie Mercury here. I was thinking I didn’t have much to add about Micheal Keaton, since I’ve commented about him on his “What The Hell Happened to…?” article, and decided to mention Nap Lajoie, but that’s no excuse to forget Freddie Mercury.


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