September 15: Happy Birthday Tom Hardy and Tommy Lee Jones
Tom Hardy turns 39 today. His acting career began in 2001, playing a pair of soldiers, PFC John Janovec in the miniseries Band of Brothers, and as Specialist Lance Twombly in Black Hawk Down. He then played the Romulan leader Shinzon in the box office and critical failure Star Trek: Nemesis, which might have temporarily slowed his career down. He began to emerge as a star with a scene-stealing supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception:
Highlights of Hardy’s busy career since Inception include playing Ricki Tarr in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and the eldest Bondurant brother in Lawless. His 2015 was very productive, as he starred in Legend as both of the infamous Kray twins, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Revenant, and brought Max Rockatansky back to the screen in Mad Max: Fury Road. He reunites with Christopher Nolan for next year’s Dunkirk.
Tommy Lee Jones celebrates his 70th today. After attending Harvard, where one of his roommates was future Vice President Al Gore, he began a stage and screen acting career in 1970. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for Coal Miner’s Daughter and won an Emmy for playing convicted murderer Gary Gilmore in The Executioner’s Song. He won further praise for playing a retired Texas Ranger in Lonesome Dove, but attained stardom when he moved up to be a US Marshal:
Jones career has continued to be busy since he won his Oscar for The Fugitive. Among his best known roles are Two Face in Batman Forever, Agent K in the Men in Black films, Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men, grieving father Hank Deerfield in In the Valley of Elah (getting a Best Actor nomination), and Col. Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger. In 2012 he played two famous historical figures, Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln and Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Emperor, getting a third Oscar nomination for the former. He made an impressive directing debut with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and can currently be seen in a small role in Mechanic: Resurrection.
Jones also appeared in films directed by two men who appear in this article, Oliver Stone (JFK and Natural Born Killers) and Ron Shelton (Cobb).
Oliver Stone, who also turns 70 today, is a three-time Oscar winner: for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express, and for Best Director for Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. For about ten years, from 1986-95, Stone was one of the most high-profile filmmakers around—often controversial, but a major force in the industry without a doubt. Besides the two films that brought him his Oscars and the aforementioned JFK and Natural Born Killers, in this period he directed films such as Salvador, Wall Street, and Nixon.
Ron Shelton, who celebrates his 71st, played minor league baseball in the Baltimore Orioles system for five seasons, before moving on to much greater success making movies, many of which were about sports. In addition to the already mentioned Cobb (a biopic about Baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb), he directed, and wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Bull Durham, also a baseball film. He has also directed and/or written films about street basketball (White Men Can’t Jump), college basketball (Blue Chips), golf (Tin Cup) and boxing (Play It to the Bone). His non-sports films include Blaze and Hollywood Homicide.
Carmen Maura turns 71 today. The Spanish actress is a four-time Goya Award winner (Spanish Oscar equivalents), and has worked many times with legendary Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, on films such as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Volver. Also celebrating her 71st is soprano Jessye Norman, a four-time Grammy winner who, while performing roles that ran the gamut of the operatic repertoire, was especially renowned as one of the finest Wagner sopranos of our time.
Dave Annable, who celebrates his 37th, starred on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, and was recently featured in the short lived series Heartbeat. Chelsea Kane, who turns 28 today, is one of the stars of Baby Daddy, which airs on Freeform (formerly ABC Family). Matt Shively, who plays Jimmy on ABC’s The Real O’Neals, turns 26. Tom Austen, who is 29 today, stars as Jasper Frost on the E! series The Royals. Pete Carroll, who turns 66, is one of only three football coaches ever to win both a Super Bowl and an NCAA championship.
Merlin Olsen (1940-2010) was a football star as a defensive lineman at Utah State and with the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. After retiring from football, he went into acting, joining the cast of Little House on the Prairie for four seasons, then starring in his own show as Father Murphy. He combined that with broadcasting, becoming a regular color commentator for NBC sports on pro and college football, usually teamed with Dick Enberg.
Today’s trivia question: The LA Rams defensive line during much of Olsen’s career was known as the Fearsome Foursome. Does anyone know the other three members of the original “Foursome?”
Jackie Cooper (1922-2011) was nine when he became the first child performer nominated for an Oscar, for Skippy. He was later a TV production executive with Columbia’s Screen Gems division and played Perry White in four Superman films. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was no relation to Jackie that I know of; his novel The Last of the Mohicans has been filmed multiple times, most notably in 1992 by Michael Mann. Fay Wray (1907-2004) appeared in over 100 film and TV roles, but will always be remembered as Ann Darrow, the woman caught in King Kong’s clutches in 1933. Margaret Lockwood (1916-1990) spent almost all of her career in British cinema, most memorably as Iris Henderson, the spirited heroine of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. Bob Anderson (1922-2012) was an English Olympic competitor in fencing who went into film and became noted for his skill at training actors to use the sword and at choreographing the swordplay in films like The Princess Bride and the Lord of the Rings films.
Jean Renoir (1894-1979) was eulogized by Orson Welles—who knew a bit about directing films—as “the greatest of all directors.” You could easily find a dozen or more similar comments from directors, critics, and so on. He made a number of masterpieces but I would suggest getting to know him through three great films he made from 1937-1939: Grand Illusion (probably the most accessible), The Human Beast, and The Rules of the Game (the greatest but also the most challenging for the viewer).
Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was one of the greatest writers of mystery fiction of all time. She wrote over 70 novels and dozens of short stories, created two of the most famous fictional detectives ever in Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, and developed many of the standard tropes for mystery and detective fiction. Her works have been adapted to other media too many times to count; perhaps the best and most faithful are the BBC productions of several Miss Marple novels starring Joan Hickson, and the British television productions of the Poirot novels and stories starring David Suchet (at least until the producers started trying to “improve” the plots).
In music, Bruno Walter (1876-1962) was one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, first in his native Germany until the Nazis rendered that country uninhabitable for decent people, then in the US, where he became a citizen and lived until his death. Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975) was a great jazz saxophonist, known both for his solo work and as a part of Miles Davis’s band. And Roy Acuff (1903-1992) was one of the most important figures in mid-20th century country music, both as one of the first great star singers within the genre, and on the business side, as a publisher who dealt honestly with other musicians. One of Acuff’s best known numbers was the “Wabash Cannonball:”
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 15, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Agatha Christie, Carmen Maura, Jackie Cooper, Jean Renoir, Merlin Olsen, Oliver Stone, Ron Shelton, Roy Acuff, Tom Hardy, Tommy Lee Jones. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.