September 13: Happy Birthday Tyler Perry and Jacqueline Bisset


The multi-talented Tyler Perry, who celebrates his 47th birthday today (according to most sources; some say it’s tomorrow), was inspired to begin his career by an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show on the therapeutic power of writing.  He ended up creating the musical I Know I’ve Been Changed, the first of several successful plays.  His second play, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, marks the first appearance of the character Madea—a tough-minded elderly black woman played by Perry himself—in his work; Perry adapted the play into a feature film in 2009.  The character of Madea, along with a couple of others such as her brother Joe (also played by Perry), appears repeatedly in Perry’s plays as well as the films and television shows he has created:

In recent years, Perry has partnered with none other than Oprah Winfrey, creating and writing television programs for the Oprah Winfrey Network, while also continuing his film and stage production.  He has also made several appearances in other films, appearing as the head of Starfleet Academy in Star Trek, playing the title character in Alex Cross, and drawing critical praise for a supporting role in Gone Girl.

Jacqueline Bisset celebrates her 72nd birthday today.  She has been in film and television (mostly film) for over 50 years now, working in American, British, French and Italian cinema.  Her breakthrough as an actress came in 1968 when she starred in three films, the counterculture film The Sweet Ride, and a pair of crime dramas that paired her with major stars, The Detective (which starred Frank Sinatra) and Bullitt (opposite Steve McQueen).  However, for many people (probably too many), the first phrase that her name brings to mind will always be “wet t-shirt.” (warning—the following video is almost certainly NSFW):

While Bisset no longer headlines major movies, she has never lacked for work through the decades.  She was nominated for a Cesar Award in 1995 for Claude Chabrol’s La Cérémonie, and won a Golden Globe (she had four previous nominations) for the 2013 British miniseries Dancing on the Edge.  In 2010, Bisset was awarded the insignia of the Legion of Honor by the French government.

Barbara Bain, who turns 85 today, starred on Mission: Impossible as Cinnamon Carter, opposite her husband Martin Landau (Juliet Landau from Buffy and Angel is their daughter).  Animated filmmaker Don Bluth celebrates his 79th.  The former Disney animator struck out on his own in the early 1980s and had major successes with An American Tail and AnastasiaEileen Fulton, who turns 83, spent roughly fifty years playing the same character, Lisa Grimaldi on As The World Turns.

Frank Marshall, who celebrates his 70th birthday, has been a successful producer for over 40 years.  A partial selection from his very long list of producing credits includes the Indiana Jones films, the Back to the Future trilogy, The Color Purple, and Seabiscuit.  Fans of the Village People will remember Randy Jones, the cowboy, who turns 64 today.  Three-time Emmy winner Jean Smart turns 65.  She starred on Designing Women, won two Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actress on Frasier, and a third for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work on Samantha Who?

Colin Trevorrow, who turns 40 today, directed and co-wrote Jurassic World and will be directing the as yet untitled Star Wars IXBen Savage, who is celebrating his 36th, was part of one of TV’s cutest couples on Boy Meets World and has returned to the role of Cory Matthews in the sequel series Girl Meets World.  Singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, who won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance for “Criminal” and has released 4 critically acclaimed albums in her career, turns 39.  Dave Mustaine, co-founder of the “thrash metal” band Megadeath, turns 55.  Robbie Kay, who is 21 today, was featured as Peter Pan in Once Upon a Time and starred in the miniseries Heroes Reborn.

Jesse Lasky (1880-1958) was one of the pioneers on the business side of the film industry, a partner with Adolph Zukor, Cecil B. DeMille and others in creating what evolved into Paramount Pictures.  Claudette Colbert (1903-1996) reached the height of her fame as an actress in the 1930s, winning Best Actress for It Happened One Night.  Starting into the 1950s she moved more into stage and TV work, winning a Tony in 1959 for The Marriage-Go-Round.  Three-time Oscar winner Maurice Jarre (1924-2009) composed the scores all of David Lean’s films from 1962 on, winning his Oscars for Best Original Score for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.  He also scored two favorites of mine, The Train and The Man Who Would Be King.

James Bond fans will remember Richard Kiel (1939-2014) as the towering, steel-toothed henchman Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me and MoonrakerScott Brady (1924-1985) was good as tough guys—on either side of the law—in crime films like He Walked By Night and Westerns like Johnny GuitarNell Carter (1948-2003) won a Tony Award for the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ and an Emmy for a televised performance of the show.  She also had two Emmy nominations for the NBC series Gimme a Break!

Composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) was one of the leading innovators in music in the 20th century, the creator of the so-called “twelve-tone scale.”  American author Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) was known for his short story collection Winesburg, Ohio, his novel Dark Laughter, and for his influence on younger writers of his time like William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.  British novelist Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is remembered for childrens’ novels like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda (both adapted into feature films) and for writing the screenplay for the fifth James Bond film, You Only Live Twice.

Bill Monroe (1911-1996), known as the “Father of Bluegrass,” began performing and recording in the 1930s.  He worked with a number of other musicians, eventually calling his band the Blue Grass Boys—the term “bluegrass” music comes from the name of his band.  By the end of World War 2 he had a band together that had the sound he wanted: Lester Flatt on guitar, Earl Scruggs on banjo, Chubby Wise on fiddle, and Howard Watts on bass, with Monroe himself on mandolin, and Flatt and Monroe as the main vocalists.  The recordings they made with Columbia in 1946 and ’47 are often identified as the first true “bluegrass” recordings.

Over the years, the lineup of the Blue Grass Boys turned over quite a bit.  Flatt and Scruggs, for instance, left in 1948 to form the Foggy Mountain Boys.  The list of famous bluegrass musicians who were part of the Blue Grass Boys at some point is incredibly long—a very incomplete one, in addition to the original lineup, would include Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin, Del McCoury, Sonny Osborne, Carter Stanley and Mac Wiseman.  Monroe is not only in the Country Music Hall of Fame but also the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as an early influence).

So, I’ll let Bill and the boys have the closing number today:

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

  1. For the first time in a while, the NPR birthday announcement wasn’t one of our headliners. They went with Dave Mustaine. Not exactly someone I would have expected to rank highly with the NPR crowd.

    I have to admit, I’m pretty ignorant to Tyler Perry’s works. I thought he was quite good in Gone Girl, but I have no desire to watch the movies he has written and directed based on the kind of reviews they typically get. Someone let me know if I am missing something.

    I don’t know if I have ever actually watched The Deep all the way through. But I definitely remember the movie being out. As a Peter Benchley story in the 1970’s it was riding the popularity of Jaws. Bisset was the movie’s main attraction. I remember reading the Mad Magazine parody which cracked a few jokes about her state of undress.


    • I can remember when The Deep was in its theatrical release, and I definitely remember it being promoted heavily as “written by the author of Jaws,” and also that the posters and ads, which featured Bisset, being visually similar to the Jaws posters, minus the shark.

      Tyler Perry is not really on my personal radar, but he is clearly a very successful individual in the entertainment industry. On a day where there were no really obvious headliners, he ended up being one by default.

      Of course, my personal problem in writing this article, as a bluegrass fan, was keeping myself from writing too much about Bill Monroe. 🙂


  2. Good to see that Don Bluth is still around; I really like “Dragon’s Lair”.
    I remember Jacqueline Bisset best from 1983’s “Class”, which she seems to have a lot of.


  3. Why Fiona Apple’s ‘This World Is Bullsh*t’ VMAs Speech Still Resonates

    Whenever people talk about the most surprising moments in MTV VMA history, Fiona Apple’s 1997 speech — wherein she declared that “this world is bullsh*t” before telling people to resist the urge to emulate celebrities — inevitably comes up.

    Apple didn’t really fit in beside The Spice Girls, Hanson, Jamiroquai (she bested the latter two in her win for Best New Artist in a Video, by the way), or other similarly pop-centric acts in 1997’s version of what an MTV star was. They were bubblegum and she was earnest and an outsider who took MTV’s trophy and then ruined everyone’s glittery good time with a few harsh words and a Maya Angelou quote. But did her speech warrant its awkward response simply because it wasn’t the standard? Was it because of people’s reflexive want to defend, not just their popstar heroes, but also their prerogative to place those popstars up on a pedestal? It’s hard to say in reflection, but when you hear the speech now, it’s easy to see value in Apple’s words beyond the fact that this was a strong young woman seizing a moment and speaking from the heart. Something she should have received more credit for at the time regardless of people’s opinion about the contents of her speech.

    Apple had an intensity to her when she took the stage that didn’t feel typical for a VMA win. She told the audience that she had not planned a speech, dropped that Angelou quote about creating opportunities, and then launched into the polemic that would come to define her in the minds of many.

    “So what I want to say is everybody out there that’s watching, everybody that’s watching this world. This world is bullsh*t! And you shouldn’t model your life — wait a second — you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself. Go with yourself.”
    That’s it. She spent the rest of her time — as much time as she spent talking about the world and celebrity culture — thanking her mom, her sister, and her record producer. She then finished by saying, “And it’s just stupid that I’m in this world, but you’re all very cool to me so thank you very much. And I’m sorry for all the people that I didn’t thank, but man…it’s good. Bye.”

    This wasn’t a lengthy diatribe. Apple wasn’t condescending or confrontational. The only charge you could honestly levy against her is that what she was saying was thunderingly obvious. However, considering the reaction to her speech at the time and upon reflection, perhaps it wasn’t as obvious as you would assume. One audience her remarks seemed to resonate with, though, was the audience at the VMAs. The part in the transcript of her speech where she says “wait a second” is because the audience was cheering so much after her “This world is bullsh*t” remark that she needed to wait for them to quiet down. This was not a reaction of “vague enthusiasm and confusion,” as MTV News would declare in 2010.

    How somebody saying “go with yourself” could ever be so controversial is baffling when you consider that this is the kind of lesson we push on kids all the time. The idea of anybody modeling their life after what they see on MTV may seem odd now because Catfish and Teen Mom, but in 1997, MTV was still an arbiter of taste. It’s what made them so successful. It’s what got them advertisers and it’s why popular musicians ended up working for some of those aforementioned advertisers. That’s how business works. MTV plays Madonna videos, girls start dressing like Madonna and idolizing Madonna, Madonna sells Pepsi, girls buy Pepsi because Madonna sells it. Or, they would have, if Pepsi hadn’t gotten mad at Madonna for kissing Black Jesus… but you get the point.

    The idea of idolizing a musician, or modeling your life off of a celebrity is something that should be preached against, in general. It would be lovely if it was a relic of a bygone era or, at least, a youthful indiscretion that we all grow out of, but “Celebrity Culture” is alive, expansive, and in the words of Apple, “bullsh*t.” This is not to say that things like the VMAs or this weekend’s Emmy awards are completely absent redemptive qualities. While they might ultimately be a hollow endeavor, award shows are also potentially fun experiences and people have the right to enjoy a little escapism, glitz, and glamor. Apple wasn’t arguing against the existence of frivolous culture or celebrity. She just didn’t want anybody to take these things too seriously or to use them as guiding lights in their lives. She was trying to pull back the curtain, in what she likely knew would be her only chance to give a speech on MTV, and speak to the reality of things as she saw them.

    To her credit, Apple never apologized for her speech, presumably because she realized she had nothing to apologize for. It is unfair to her that the legacy of the speech has been twisted into a bit of “wacky VMA moments” ephemera. The fact that she was right, though, and took the time to actually vocalize the fact that the world she had found herself in was bullsh*t, is what made it a moment worth going back to. Certainly, it feels more relevant today than the video for “Virtual Insanity.”


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