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September 12: Happy Birthday Ian Holm and Jennifer Hudson

0912holmhudson

Sir Ian Holm celebrates his 85th birthday today.  After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he became a mainstay of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where one of his notable roles was Richard III.  He made his Broadway debut as Lenny in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, winning a Tony Award.  During this time he began appearing in British film and television, as well as giving a foretaste of his future by playing Frodo Baggins in a BBC Radio dramatization of The Lord of the Rings.

He was nearly fifty when his first major film role came along—playing a science officer with a secret, on a space freighter called the Nostromo:

Holm followed up Alien by receiving an Oscar nomination for Chariots of Fire.  His filmography has a little something for everyone on it.  He’s done more sci-fi (The Fifth Element), intense indie drama (The Sweet Hereafter), more Shakespeare (Fluellen in Branagh’s Henry V, Polonius in Zeffirelli’s Hamlet), costume drama (The Madness of King George), horror (Branagh’s Frankenstein), and films impossible to neatly classify (Brazil).  And, of course, he was a marvelous Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films.

Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson turns 35 today.  After placing seventh on the 2004 season of American Idol, Hudson made an impressive film debut as Effie White in the adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls.  Her performance won an Oscar, an Golden Globe and several other acting awards  While continuing her acting career, she also pursued one in music.  Her first, self-titled album won a Grammy for Best R&B Album, and featured this Grammy-nominated single:

Hudson has continued to build her acting and singing careers.  Her third studio album was released in 2014, while she has made guest appearances on series such as Empire and Inside Amy Schumer.  She made her Broadway debut in a 2015 revival of the musical The Color Purple.

Emmy Rossum, who stars as Fiona Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless, turns 30 today.  She first attracted notice in Mystic River and played Christine Daaé in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.  Australian actress Rachel Ward turns 59.  She had a number of lead roles in the 1980s in films like Against All Odds and After Dark, My SweetJennifer Nettles, who turns 42, is the lead vocalist of country duo Sugarland.  All five of their albums have reached at least #3 on the Billboard country charts, while 9 of their 15 singles have reached #1 or #2.  Country-pop singer Kelsea Ballerini, who celebrates her 23rd birthday today, made an impressive start to her career.  Her first two singles both reached #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay charts and her debut album has sold very well, too.

Film composer Hans Zimmer turns 59 today.  Besides his Oscar-winning score for The Lion King, Zimmer is known for his scores for the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the Dark Knight trilogy and other Christopher Nolan films, and a number of Ridley Scott’s films.  Joe Pantoliano has been one of the industry’s leading character actors for the past three decades; today is his 65th birthday.  Known for roles like Francis Fratelli in The Goonies, Cosmo Renfro in The Fugitive and Caesar in Bound, he also had a recurring role on The SopranosLouis C. K. (born Louis Székely) is 49 today.  He is a six-time Emmy winner, most of them for Louie, the FX series which he created, stars in, produces, directs and edits; he also has an extensive acting and comedy career.  Linda Gray, who celebrates her 76th, is best known for her Emmy and Golden Globe nominated work as Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas.

Paul Walker (1973-2013) appeared in a variety of films from his emergence in the late 1990s to his untimely death in an auto accident, but he will always be most closely associated with the Fast and the Furious franchise, having starred in six of the seven movies so far.  Jesse Owens (1913-1980), our sports legend for the day, was the star of the 1936 Summer Olympics, winning 4 gold medals and, as the Games were held in Berlin, delivering a symbolic blow to the Nazis as well.  Dickie Moore (1925-2015) was a major child star of the 1930s.  He appeared in eight Our Gang films, had the title role in the 1933 adaptation of Oliver Twist, and gave Shirley Temple her first onscreen kiss in the 1942 film Miss Annie Rooney.  Moore had trouble adapting to adult roles and retired from film in 1952.  He later started his own PR firm and married former MGM musical star Jane Powell.

Two music legends were born today.  Barry White (1944-2003) was a major soul, funk and disco star of the 1970s.  A three-time Grammy winner, he had several hits cross over to the Hot 100, including his #1 hit “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby.  George Jones (1931-2013) was known in the last decades of his life as The Greatest Country Music Singer for his impeccable vocals.  Although he was never the crossover success that other country stars were, he was a consistent presence on the Country charts from the mid-1950s through the late ’80s.  Many of his greatest hits were duets recorded with Tammy Wynette; the two were married from 1969-75:

Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928) was Prime Minister of Great Britain for over eight years, including the first 29 months of World War I.  His son Anthony was a prominent film director, and actress Helena Bonham Carter is his great-granddaughter.  Asquith was portrayed by Tim Pigott-Smith in the British miniseries 37 Days.

Desmond Llewelyn (1914-1999) had over 100 acting credits on his resume, but for many film fans the only one that matters is the role of a man who always wished that 007 would pay better attention:

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 12, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. NPR picked Jennifer Hudson has their celebrity birthday of the day. She really placed 7th on American Idol? Who won that year? I’m afraid to ask. Okay, I looked it up and several people I have never heard of outlasted Hudson. That sounds about right.

    I didn’t realize Ian Holm had a previous connection to Lord of the Rings. How fitting he was cast as Bilbo then. Like most Americans, I first discovered him in Alien. I saw it at a relatively young age and man did he creep me out! Holm is one of those actors I’m always happy to see.

    I recognize Emmy Rossum’s name, but I have seen almost none of her work. Joe Pantoliano, another character actor who always brings something worthwhile. And Louis C. K. is just funny as hell.

    Desmond Llewelyn was such a joy in the Bond movies. With just minutes of screentime, he often walked away with the best scene in the movie. “I never joke about my work 007” is one of the most quotable lines in the franchise.

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    • Ian Holm’s performance as Bilbo during the opening minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring was what really sold me on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. He was Bilbo, at least for this Tolkien fan (not fanboy, mind you). I don’t think I have ever seen him give a “routine” performance, much less one that could be described as “phoned in” or anything like that.

      When I first saw Emmy Rossum in Mystic River, I was very impressed. She did as well as you could expect of a teenager cast as Christine in Phantom (she was 17 at the time of filming)—she received a Golden Globe nomination—but making musicals, even hugely successful ones, work on film is not easy and I somehow think Joel Schumacher was never going to be the one to make a successful film out of Phantom. When Rossum’s next movie was Wolfgang Peterson’s Poseidon Adventure remake, another failure, that temporarily derailed her career, but Shameless seems to have raised her profile again.

      An interesting footnote to talking about Phantom, given some of the discussion in the Michelle Williams birthday piece—at one point, Katie Holmes was under very strong consideration to play Christine.

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      • I know I watched Phantom, but I don’t remember much about it. It was one of those Netflix discs that just kind of came and I figured I’d better put it on and send it back so I could get something I really wanted to watch (back in the days when I got discs from Netflix instead of streaming everything). It was on and I was in the room, but I really wasn’t paying attention. It certainly didn’t grab me and demand that I do so.

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  2. Ha, Jessie Owens got the Fuhrer in a furor back in 1936; good.
    Jennifer Hudson is one of the best examples of “American Idol” having some value, although I didn’t view the show that often.
    Rachel Ward was mentioned the other day, and here she is again. Other than “Against All Odds”, I also remember her from 1982’s “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”, a film which I think is interesting.
    I once got a bear for a girlfriend which played Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby” when a button was pressed; his voice is/was awesome!

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    • I would say that Jennifer Hudson has had, at a minimum, one of the 3 or 4 best careers of any American Idol alum. There are others who have sold more records, but she has Oscar to balance that out.

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      • Obviously Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood…

        I think Hudson trumps anyone else. I know Clay Aiken has had a bit of success. And Chris Daughtry. But Hudson has an Oscar. That’s hard to top.

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        • While I haven’t followed all of the American Idol alums closely, my perception is that Underwood and Clarkson are the two who have shown real staying power in terms of their music.

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        • The first season aired during the summer when there wasn’t much competition. Reality TV was still in its infancy and American Idol was unlike anything else on the air. But it was too much of a commitment for me to watch twice a week once the show moved out of the summer months. After the first season, I would check in from time to time but I never watched another season from start to finish. I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything.

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        • I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched American Idol, but especially in the early seasons, it got so much media coverage that the contestants, especially the winners, sort of seeped into your awareness even if you never tuned into the show.

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        • Yep. I remember the show becoming really popular during the second season after I had more or less stopped watching. Despite that fact, I was aware of who Clay and Reuben were. Pretty sure Reuben won and then dropped off the face of the earth whereas Clay has gone on to perform on Broadway and (the highest honor of all) compete on Celebrity Apprentice.

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      • Deader Than Disco / Live-Action TV

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/DeaderThanDisco/LiveActionTV

        When American Idol debuted in 2002, it was nothing short of groundbreaking. It quickly shot to the top of the ratings, a position it held for most of the 2000s, and picked up where the likes of The Simpsons, Married… with Children, and The X-Files left off in cementing the Fox network (then still relatively young at only 15 years old) as a power player in American network television and turning the “Big Three” into the “Big Four”. Simply put, it was the biggest show on American television in the 2000s — airing a show opposite American Idol was well-understood to be comparable to putting it in the Friday Night Death Slot, to the point where entertainment journalists and people in the television industry referred to Idol as the “Death Star” to describe the impact it had on all other programming in its timeslot.

        However, by the start of the ’10s, the wheels would come off. The first problem was when people began to notice that the winners, who were supposed to be the most popular contestants on the most popular show in America, frequently didn’t live up to expectations with their music careers. As it stands, among winners, only Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and perhaps Phillip Phillips (his first album was a megahit, but his next didn’t do nearly as well) have been able to achieve any lasting success from the show, with many of the other winners fading into obscurity (including Candice Glover, Taylor Hicks, and David Cook) and/or being eclipsed by their runners up (such as season 3’s Jennifer Hudson, season 5’s Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee, and season 8’s Adam Lambert). This only made the accusations that the show was rigged stick more easily (if nothing else, there were websites such as Vote For The Worst that actively voted for bad contestants in order to highlight the flaws with the voting system), or at least that its viewers, while numerous, were out of touch with the pop music world. Alongside this was the breakup of the Power Trio of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson in season 9 that led to a revolving door of judges, many of whom didn’t get along (Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj notoriously hated each other) or just didn’t have the same appeal with the audience (such as comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who even admitted later on that she wasn’t cut out for the job). Add to this accusations of pandering by pushing aside the good contestants in early weeks in favor of the hopeless ones, strong competition from NBC’s The Voice, and a general backlash against Reality TV as a whole (read above on that), and the ratings began to plummet and it no longer had the same cultural impact it did at its peak. It’s generally agreed that the final nail in the coffin came in 2014, when Survivor, a show which had previously aired its season finales on Sundays, moved it to Wednesday to coincide with Idol’s. The latter was soundly thrashed by the former in the ratings, an occurrence that’s put into perspective when one remembers that, in its heyday, Idol finales were rivaled only by the Super Bowl in terms of viewership. This would be repeated the following year, at which point FOX decided to give Idol its last hurrah before putting it out of its misery. 2016 marked the show’s final season, and even that was greatly trimmed in length, ending a full month earlier than normal (possibly to allow it to end on a relatively high note, instead of a threepeat of the Survivor fiasco).

        Thanks to the notoriously short shelf life of reality TV in general, Idol is not likely to have any legs in syndication. Even worse, some more of the later-season winners like Nick Fradiani and Caleb Johnson have already fallen into obscurity, with their coronation songs and/or resulting albums flopping hard. As such, it was a massive surprise when Phillip Phillips, winner of the poorly-rated 12th season, snagged a hit album and the highest-selling coronation song in the series’ history (carrying a rootsy folk sound instead of being a normal power ballad certainly helped). While dozens of former contestants have gone on to achieve varying levels of success, American Idol’s cultural impact as a television show is all but over, and nowadays, it’s viewed as a symbol of all the worst elements of the reality TV boom in the ’00s.

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  3. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Jennifer Hudson Anymore

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