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September 7: Happy Birthday Chrissie Hynde and Buddy Holly

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On a light day for birthdays our headliners are a pair of musicians, one still alive and working, one dead in one of the most famous tragedies of the history of the entertainment world.

Chrissie Hynde celebrates her 65th birthday today.  The Akron-born Hynde spent years trying to get into rock music, moving to England to do so, before finally succeeding when she founded The Pretenders in 1978.  The punk oriented pop-rock group had a number of successful albums and singles in the decade or so after they formed; this one was their biggest hit in the US:

Since the 1980s ended The Pretenders have been less successful, but they still perform as a group (albeit with several changes of personnel through the years—Hynde has always been the one constant).  Hynde also recorded singles with other bands during the ’80s, including “I Got You Babe,” a #1 hit in Britain for UB40.  After over three decades of fronting The Pretenders, Hynde released her first solo album, Stockholm, in 2014.

Buddy Holly (1936-1959; born Charles Hardin Holley) had a huge impact on popular music despite a career of only a few years.  Holly started a band right out of high school in Lubbock,  TX, even opening for Elvis Presley at a few venues.  After a few false starts he connected with producer Norman Petty, and recorded several tracks, including a single released in May of 1957, that was titled after John Wayne’s catchphrase in the film The Searchers:

“That’ll Be The Day” was Holly’s biggest hit, but he had several other charted singles in the next 18 months or so, such as “Peggy Sue” and “Oh, Boy!”  He toured in the US and internationally.  And then came February 1959, and “the day the music died,” when Holly, along with Ritchie Valens, J. P. Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson, died in a small plane crash outside Mason City, IA.

Susan Blakely, who turns 68 today, won a Golden Globe for the mid-1970s TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and still appears occasionally in films and TV.  Gloria Gaynor, who is 67 today, had several disco-era hits, including the #1 single “I Will Survive.”  Corbin Bernsen starred as Arnie Becker on L. A. Law and more recently as Henry Spencer on Psych.  He is 62 today.  Julie Kavner, who celebrates her 66th, won an Emmy for playing Brenda Morgenstern on Rhoda in the 1970s and is the longtime voice of Marge Simpson.

Toby Jones, who is 50 today, has played Truman Capote, in the film Infamous, voiced Dobby the house elf in several Harry Potter films, and was Emmy and Golden Globe nominated for playing Alfred Hitchcock in The RuleShannon Elizabeth, celebrating her 43rd birthday, first became known as the foreign exchange student Nadia in American Pie.  She has combined her subsequent acting career with a “second career” in professional poker.  Tom Everett Scott, who turns 46, starred in That Thing You Do and maintains a steady film and television career.  Leslie Jones, who turns 49, is a comic and a current Saturday Night Live cast member and appears in the new Ghostbusters film.  Evan Rachel Wood, who turns 29, has been successfully transitioning from a child performer to adult roles.  She has Golden Globe nominations for the coming of age film Thirteen and the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, and an Emmy nomination for the latter.

Pianist and singer Michael Feinstein, who is 60 today, got one of his first jobs when Ira Gershwin needed someone to organize and catalog his extensive collection of phonograph records and sheet music.  It took six years and at the end, Feinstein was hooked on the repertoire of tunes from musicals, film, jazz and other sources that is sometimes called the Great American Songbook—which he has spent his career performing and interpreting.  Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu turns 51, has been a star at the world’s leading opera houses for the last 25 years.  During the years of her marriage to French tenor Roberto Alagna, they were more or less the First Couple of the opera world:

Albert Basserman (1867-1952) was a great German stage actor who also moved into film.  In 1933, he and his wife Elsa, who was Jewish, moved to Switzerland when the Nazis took power, and although Basserman’s English was not good, he made a few English-language films in the 1940s, winning an Oscar nomination for Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent.  Actor Peter Lawford (1923-1984) was often better known for his off-screen activities, as a member of the Rat Pack and as John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law.  Director and writer Elia Kazan (1909-2003) was a two-time winner of the Oscar for Best Director, for Gentleman’s Agreement and On the Waterfront, and also won three Tonys as a stage director.  Laura Ashley (1925-1985) was one of the most prominent fashion designers of the 20th Century.  Sir Anthony Quayle (1913-1989) was one of the leading Shakespearians of his time; his film career included an Oscar nomination for Anne of the Thousand Days.  Folk singer Ronnie Gilbert (1926-2015) was one of the founding members of the Weavers; she remained an active performer until she was well past 80 years of age.

Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) has been portrayed in film by over twenty actresses, including Bette Davis, Flora Robson, Jean Simmons, Glenda Jackson, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.  At the 71st Academy Awards, both Blanchett (for Elizabeth, as Best Actress) and Dench (for Shakespeare in Love, as Best Supporting Actress) were nominated for Oscars for playing Elizabeth I (Dench won).

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 7, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. On the way in to work, I heard on the radio that it was Chrissie Hynde’s birthday. I have a weird fascination with disco, so Gloria Gaynor is probably more my speed. I did not know Toby Jones voiced Dobby. Funny. He’s one of those character actors who pops up all over. He’s especially good at playing brilliant villains like in Captain America and on Wayward Pines. Thanks for reminding me about Shannon Elizabeth. I keep meaning to give her the WTHH treatment. Great write-up as always!

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    • I think I was in high school when “I Will Survive” was a big hit—at any rate, I remember when it was a hit—so I gave a little consideration to Gloria Gaynor as a headliner, but looking at their respective careers, Chrissie Hynde clearly had a much bigger impact.

      Another nice Toby Jones role, antagonistic if not truly villainous, was Percy Alleline in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (although I felt that he, like many in the cast, was not well served by a screenplay which compressed the plot too much).

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      • Gaynor’s impact was limited to the disco era and nostalgia for the 70s. She’s not as influential as Hynde. Like I said, NPR chose one celebrity birthday and Hynde was it. I am in the minority in that I have a real soft spot for the 70s. I was little when disco was popular. I remember it, but I didn’t understand what it was all about. It was always just out of reach. Like a lot of things from my childhood, it seemed very mysterious to me. Then, in the 80s it disappeared. I didn’t hear any of those songs again until I was in my early 20s. This was when there was an oh so brief period of 70s nostalgia and disco had a temporary resurgence. That’s when I rediscovered all this music from my youth which was actually extremely catchy. A lot of it was cheesy, but a decade and change later, I was very open to its charms. For most people, whatever appeal 70s nostalgia had faded faster than John Travolta’s comeback, but I held on tight. I am not sure what that aays about me. It probably isn’t flattering. Probably a sign I am stuck somewhere developmentally or something like that. But I do like belting out I Will Survive when no one else is in the car.

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        • I can relate, since I have the same affection for music of the 1980’s.

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        • The thing is 80’s music never fell out of favor. With disco, man, there was a violent rejection of everything associated with it. Daffy disagrees with me, but I feel like a lot of that was fueled by racism and homophobia as disco started with and was heavily associated with minorities and at gay dance clubs.

          For a very brief time in the nineties – right around the time Travolta was having his big comeback – disco enjoyed a little resurgence in popularity. At this time, I was running a movie theater in a bad part of town. We had almost no customers. So on Saturday nights when one of the local radio stations played disco music for a few hours, we switched from the preapproved music provided by our corporate overlords (Sony music) to Saturday Night Fever. Since there were so few customers, I only had a couple of employees and they were similarly nostalgic about the seventies. So we had a lot of fun working Saturday nights in an abandoned movie theater lobby listening to all the standards of the disco era.

          Around this time, there was a club that opened in Downtown Cincinnati called the Have a Nice Day Cafe. It had a super-groovy 70’s decor and a light-up dance floor complete with disco ball. Man, I loved going to that place! But after just a few months, they started having 80’s nights. In no time at all, they stopped playing any disco music despite the 70’s theme. The 80’s took over. I liked the 80’s tunes too, but it wasn’t the same. Eventually, the place closed.

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        • Sounds like a cool memory! I do think that some of the disco backlash was motivated by racism & homophobia though.
          In a way though, I don’t believe disco completely died: I’m of the mind that New Wave and later Techno music is repurposed disco, so there’s some comfort in that. What I wonder is if people in the 1950’s had a certain disdain for swing music after the introduction of Rock ‘n Roll, because there’s probably a minority in today’s culture that likes swing.

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        • Funny you mention that. I was also pretty excited about the short-lived swing revival of the 90s. Hey daddio!

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        • I liked that swing revival of the 1990’s; really went with the real ska (which I think is repurposed swing) that was out at the time.

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      • As for Toby Jones, antagonistic might be a better term. In Wayward Pines, he is more misguided than truly evil.

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  2. Hynde has perhaps the greatest female voice in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. It is unique and smoky and husky, but smooth and sexy. She is one of those singers who elevates any song she sets her voice to. The slightly antiseptic song “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc suddenly gained a grounded soul and character it never had before when she recorded it. She’s a legend in my eyes.

    The other two that stand out here for me are Evan Rachel Wood and Elia Kazan. While Kazan is one of my artistic forbears, having been trained in the work of his Group Theater, she is actually the daughter of the most prominent actor in my area. Ira David Wood has been the artistic director of Theater in the Park here in Raleigh for as long as I’ve lived here and his yearly A Christmas Carol performance as Scrooge is still packing them in after all these years. I’ve never worked with the man like some of my very good friends have (a yearly Christmas show just never appealed much to me), but I’ve met him a couple of times. He seems nice enough. Evan was quite young when she struck it big in Thirteen so she hasn’t really spent much time here since.

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  3. As I was writing this up, I didn’t realize that there was an article on J. P. Richardson, the Big Bopper, here. I’ll have to add a link to this post.

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  4. A musical theme for the headliner today I see. There are too many songs from The Pretenders I like, but I’ll go with “Brass in Pocket” since I think it has serious stones.
    My favorite Buddy Holly song is “That’ll Be The Day”; I’ve listened to it a lot when playing the video game “Mafia II” (the game’s setting is partially set in the the 1950’s, but the overall music soundtrack is pretty anachronistic).
    I mentioned the film “Capone” when it was Ben Gazarra’s birthday, so I’ll mention that Susan Blakely was in that film too. Not only that, but she was the dying mother in “Over the Top”, which we all know starred Sly Stallone, who was also in “Capone”.
    It still surprises me to learn the age of Leslie Jones.

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  5. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Shannon Elizabeth Anymore

    http://www.nickiswift.com/49260/hollywood-wont-cast-shannon-elizabeth-anymore/

    At the turn of the 21st century, Shannon Elizabeth was a household name – and a poster-sized presence on the walls of basically every heterosexual teenage boy in America. But despite her memorable place in the raunchy “American Pie” franchise, it’s rare to see the actress onscreen these days. Here’s why we don’t hear much from her anymore.

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