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September 6: Happy Birthday Roger Waters and Idris Elba

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Roger Waters, who celebrates his 73rd birthday today, did not start playing music until he was nearly twenty, but within about 2 years, he and three friends had started a band that was named Pink Floyd; Waters was the bassist.  By the early 1970s, Waters had become the dominant creative influence within the band.  Pink Floyd was known for their “concept albums,” and Waters supplied the concepts, not to mention doing most of the songwriting, for five albums that are considered to be Pink Floyd’s “golden era.”  One of the five was The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the biggest-selling albums of all time.  Another, The Wall, was probably the most ambitious, and produced the album-oriented group’s one really big hit single:

In the mid-eighties, Waters left Pink Floyd over creative differences with his bandmates.  As a solo performer, Waters has released three studio albums which have not been huge hits but have sold respectably.  He also wrote the score for the film When the Wind Blows and composed the opera Ça Ira.  He has also taken part in a couple of reunions of the surviving members of Pink Floyd.

Idris Elba turns 44 today.  His screen career began in British television in the 1990s, and he moved to the US around 2001.  In 2002 he began appearing as Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s The Wire, remaining with the series for its first three seasons.  More recently, Elba returned to British television, playing the title role of DCI John Luther in the BBC crime drama Luther, a role that brought Elba three Golden Globe nominations (with one win) and three Emmy nominations:

Elba has also had a successful film career.  American audiences have seen a lot of him in action films and thrillers.  He played Heimdall in the first two Thor movies (with a third in the offing) and also appeared in The Losers, Prometheus, Pacific Rim and this year’s Star Trek: Beyond.  But he has also ventured beyond action-adventure, starring as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which earned him another Golden Globe nomination.

Naomie Harris, who is 40 today, starred opposite Idris Elba as Winnie Mandela in that Mandela biopic.  She has been working in British television since she was 11 years old.  James Bond fans know her as Eve Moneypenny from Skyfall and Spectre, while she also played Tia Dalma in two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Harris and Elba share one other thing.  Earlier this year, Elba was the voice of Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book.  Meanwhile, Harris will play the character of Nisha in Andy Serkis’s Jungle Book, which is now not scheduled to release until 2018.

Jane Curtin, a two-time Emmy winner, turns 69 today.  Curtin was part of the original cast of Saturday Night Live, appearing on the show from 1975-80.  She followed that by playing Allie Lowell on CBS’s Kate and Allie, which brought her her two Emmys, and in the nineties appeared as Dr. Mary Albright in 3rd Rock from the Sun.  Stage and TV actress Swoosie Kurtz turns 72.  She is a nine-time Emmy nominee, winning Best Guest Actress for appearing on Carol & Company.  Kurtz also has a pair of Tony Awards in the trophy case, for Fifth of July and The House of Blue Leaves.

Jo Anne Worley, who turns 79 today, is the third alumni of Laugh-In to show up in this month’s birthday reviews.  She has had a long career on stage and television.  Comedian and actor Jeff Foxworthy celebrates his 58th today; he has done quite a bit of TV work as well as being part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and is known for his “you might be a redneck” one-liners.  The multitalented Rosie Perez, who turns 52, got her first break playing Spike Lee’s girlfriend in Do the Right Thing.  She was Oscar-nominated for Fearless and received three Emmy nominations for choreography for In Living Color.  Five-time Grammy nominee Macy Gray, who has traversed the boundaries between R&B, jazz and soul during her career, celebrates her 49th birthday.  Singer-actress Anika Noni Rose won a Tony for the musical Caroline, or Change, and was featured in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls.  She turns 44 today.  Chad Coleman, who played Tyreese Williams on The Walking Dead, turns 50.

Michael Winslow, who is 58 today, parlayed his “beatboxing” talents into a memorable little niche in film, developing the ability to make realistic sound effects with his voice, a talent he displayed as Larvell Jones in the Police Academy series and in a cameo in Spaceballs:

Melissa Barker, who turns 44 today, is one of those people who help to make the action in films and TV exciting and believable—i.e., a stuntwoman.  At 5-3, she is the same height as Sarah Michelle Gellar, who she doubled in the later seasons of Buffy, the two Scooby-Doo movies, and Ringer.  She has also doubled Rose McGowan on Charmed and Elisha Cuthbert on 24.

Otto Kruger (1885-1974) and John Ridgely (1909-1968), a pair of character actors with long film resumes, had in common that each played a villain in one of the best film adaptations of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels.  In 1944’s Murder, My Sweet (adapted from Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely), Kruger’s machinations as quack healer Jules Amthor were nearly fatal to Dick Powell as Marlowe.  In the 1946 adaptation of The Big Sleep, Ridgley as Eddie Mars was blackmailing Lauren Bacall’s character; since Humphrey Bogart was playing Marlowe this time, that was a very bad idea on Eddie’s part.

Max Schreck (1879-1936) is best remembered for a single role.  In 1922, he appeared as Count Orlok in F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, the first of the many great films over the years about vampires.

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 6, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Jestak, did you decide who you are going to make the headline for the October 1st birthday article? I hope you chose George Peppard! He’s too beautiful for you to turn down. 😉

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  2. I was embarrassingly fond of Pink Floyd as a college freshman. Great band, but I may have listened to their music more than is healthy – especially since I was doing so sober. I remember a girl I went out with balked when I told her I was a fan. She, a country music girl, considered them a “druggie band” which is probably fair but not a reflection of my experience. I still like an occasionally Pink Floyd song now and again, but I never actually put on an album any more.

    I don’t care what Roger Moore says, I’d pay to see Idris Elba as James Bond.

    Was Jane Curtin the most under-appreciated of the original SNL cast? I’d say so. Continuing a theme of confessing to watching bad 80’s TV, I watched a lot of Kate and Allie. But I think I caught them in afternoon repeats after school. I don’t recall watching them when they ran in prime time.

    It’s amazing what Michael Winslow was able to accomplish with what some may consider a lesser talent. He took that thing he did to an amazing level of success.

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  3. Idris Elba’s impressive turn as an African warlord helped make Beasts of no Nation one of the best films of last year. His voice work as Shere Khan in the Jungle Book movie is spine tingling as well.

    Pink Floyd is pretty good as long as you let me stick to the singles. Something about their concept albums made me roll my eyes at times. Did you ask your date if she was a Johnny Cash fan? That would be a bit of a double bind.

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    • I didn’t know enough about Johnny Cash at the time to play that card. It was just an offhanded comment, but it stuck with me obviously. She asked what kind of music I liked and one of the bands I mentioned was Pink Floyd which elicited profound disapproval. That particular date was one of the weirdest of my life. I found the girl extremely attractive, but once we were out, there was just no chemistry whatsoever. I finally took her home early which seemed to disappoint her but I couldn’t imagine why. She had to think the date was going badly too. Afterwards, she invited me in and to my surprise I declined the offer. In retrospect, that was the right call but it’s something I sometimes wonder about.

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  4. Pink Floyd’s 1973 album – and dare I say their magnum opus? – The Dark Side Of The Moon holds a really interesting record that I find fascinating. Since its release in 1973 the album has placed among Billboard’s weekly Top 200 Album chart an unprecedented 936 weeks to date. And astoundingly it is an album that still regularly places among the weekly albums charts even today. Check back in a few weeks and that number may change.

    For an album that only had one modest chart hit – the single “Money” peaked at #13 in 1973 – it’s mind-boggling that the album has become a perennial best-seller. Sure the album is phenomenally good. Brilliant, even. But think of how many albums have had multiple pop hits and haven’t sold as well over the years.

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  5. I knew a lot of people who were Pink Floyd fans, so I left it up to them to go all nuts about them, but regardless I like some of their music.
    I get the bleeps, the sweeps, and the creeps if there is a mention of Michael Winslow:-).
    I think Idris Elba could make a fine Bond; the guy’s kind of buff and demur, so I’m all for it.
    Like Lebeau, I think Jane Curtin is an overlooked original SNL performer. I also recall her in the 1980 film “How to Beat the High Co$t of Living”, which also starred Susan Saint James (before they were in “Kate and Allie” together, which I remember viewing a few times) and Jessica Lange.

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  6. As far as I’m concerned the entire original “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” 1975-1980 cast is solid gold. Certain cast members like Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray had meteoric rises that led them to becoming legitimate movie stars. Back in the 1970’s there was television, and then there was THE BIG SCREEN. Had any tv series up to that point ever created so many movie stars before? I’m no expert, but I doubt it.

    As certain cast members really took off and became huge stars, in retrospect I think Jane Curtain gets lost in the shuffle. Curtain never took off as a movie star like some of the boys, but she was a pivotal cast member on SNL. Those first 5 years would not have been as great without her.

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    • Before 1980 or so, I would guess that you could count the number of major film stars who got their start on television without running out of fingers. Looking at the Quigley’s list of top box office draws that I refer to from time to time, the only big box office stars that you see consistently on the lists who started in television,other than a couple of unusual cases, are Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Goldie Hawn made the Quigley’s list once in the 1970s. It’s not until the 1980s that you start to see the TV crowd make the lists in considerable numbers—the SNL crew, Sally Field, Michael J. Fox, Robin Williams.

      The two unusual cases were Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. They were unusual in that it is probably only in the late ’60s or ’70s that Allen and Brooks would have even had a chance to become major box office stars, and also because they started in TV as writers (on the Sid Caesar shows, as I discussed in a recent birthday article).

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