Amy Poehler turns 45 today. Poehler is a seventeen time (!) Emmy nominee, primarily for her work on Saturday Night Live and for starring in, writing for and producing Parks and Recreation. On SNL she was known for co-hosting the show’s “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey and, after Fey’s departure, with Seth Meyers, and also for her celebrity impersonations, of which her Hillary Clinton seems to have been the most durable. On Parks and Rec she plays the cheerful, waffle-loving Leslie Knope:
In 2014, Poehler won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for Parks and Rec. starting that year, she also collaborated with her brother Greg, a comedian, in producing the Swedish-American sitcom Welcome to Sweden, which ran for 2 seasons in both countries. She has also done several movies, co-hosted the Golden Globes with Tina Fey, and created and done voice acting for an animated series called The Mighty B!.
Last Saturday night, Poehler won her first Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, shared with Tina Fey.
Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) was born Betty Joan Perske to a Jewish family in New York; Israeli Prime Minister and later President Shimon Peres was related to her in some degree. She began working as a stage actress and a fashion model and appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in March 1943. A woman named Nancy “Slim” Hawks saw the cover and thought that Bacall ought to get into movies, and since Slim was the wife of director Howard Hawks, the outcome of her thought, after a little preliminary work, was one of the most famous introductory scenes, for a character or a performer, in film history:
I’m sure many of you know the rest of the story—but just in case: Bacall and Humphrey Bogart fell in love during the filming of To Have and Have Not, and married in 1945, and remained together until Bogart’s death in 1957. They appeared in three more films together, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo.
Beginning in the 1950s, Bacall became more selective about her film appearances. Among her notable later films were Douglas Sirk’s melodrama Written on the Wind, the star-studded 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, in which she had probably the second-biggest role after Albert Finney, and the 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces, which brought her her first Oscar nomination. She also developed a substantial stage career, winning Tony Awards for starring in the musicals Applause (adapted from All About Eve) and Woman of the Year (adapted from the 1942 Katharine Hepburn film). She won an honorary Oscar in 2009.
Actor and sometime boxer Mickey Rourke turns 64 today. Rourke first drew attention in a small role in Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat and then in Barry Levinson’s Diner. Films like 9½ Weeks and Angel Heart were not commercial successes, but brought him lots of attention. After taking a few years off to compete as a professional boxer, Rourke returned to film in the 1990s, but his best years were in the mid-oughts, when he drew critical praise for his role in Sin City and a Golden Globe along with an Oscar nomination for The Wrestler.
Jennifer Tilly turns 58 today. She is remembered for her Oscar-nominated turn in Bullets Over Broadway, and for a film we discussed here recently, Bound. More recently, she has been the voice of Bonnie Swanson on Family Guy, while like Shannon Elizabeth, she has spent some time on the professional poker circuit. Molly Shannon celebrates her 52nd. She spent several years on Saturday Night Live, where her best-known character was Mary Katherine Gallagher. Shannon was an Emmy nominee for her recurring role on the second season of HBO’s Enlightened. Stage magician and illusionist David Copperfield turns 60 today. He has 21 Emmy Awards for his television specials and was identified by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history. Singer and actor Marc Anthony, who celebrates his 48th birthday, is the biggest selling salsa artist of all time.
Alexis Bledel turns 35. Her biggest fame came from playing Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls and from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films; she returns to the role of Rory in Netflix’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Nick Jonas, who is 24 today, became famous as one of the Jonas Brothers. Since they went their separate ways Nick has done some musical theater work, released two successful solo albums, and starred on the Audience Network series Kingdom. Kyla Pratt turns 30. She is known for starring in the UPN series One on One and BET’s Let’s Stay Together and for voicing Penny Proud on The Proud Family. Also turning 30 today is Ian Harding, who plays Ezra Fitz on Pretty Little Liars. Rapper Flo Rida has had three singles reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100; he celebrates his 37th today. Fan Bingbing, who turns 35, is a major star in Chinese cinema and a successful pop singer; American audiences know her as Blink from X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Jules Bass, who turns 81 today, was a partner in Rankin/Bass, the production company best known for creating Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
In sports, baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount turns 61. He spent his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers and was American League MVP twice. NBA great Elgin Baylor is 82 today. He led the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA finals eight times, but even he and fellow Hall-of-Famer Jerry West were never able to get the Lakers past the Boston Celtics. Tennis star Rosie Casals celebrates her 68th. On court, Casals had her greatest success as a doubles player, winning 12 Grand Slam titles in women’s or mixed doubles. Off the court, Casals fought to make the sport more open and inclusive of players who were not from a traditional well-to-do, country club background.
Peter Falk (1927-2011) had an acting career lasting over 50 years which included a pair of Oscar nominations in the early sixties, for Murder, Inc. and Pocketful of Miracles. He appeared in films like Murder by Death, The Princess Bride and Wings of Desire (just to name a few of my favorites). But there’s just one more thing to be aware of about his career, the role that he played for some 35 years and which brought him four Emmys:
Jack Kelly (1927-1992) was likewise best known for a single role—it seems that Lt. Columbo and Bart Maverick shared a birthday. Anne Francis (1930-2011) starred in 1950s films such as Bad Day at Black Rock, Blackboard Jungle and Forbidden Planet, and won a Golden Globe for playing private detective Honey West in the short-lived 1960s series. Andy Russell (1919-1992) was born Andrés Rábago, and was one of the first popular singers to record in both English and Spanish, introducing American audiences to Latino music. Director Guy Hamilton (1922-2016) is best known, and well known to readers at this blog, as the director of four James Bond films. One, Goldfinger, is often thought of as the best in the series. The others, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, and Man With the Golden Gun—aren’t.
Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956), a producer and director, worked in Hollywood and on the European continent, but his greatest years were spent in Britain, where he became the first filmmaker to be made a knight. His long filmography includes adventure classics like The Four Feathers and The Thief of Baghdad. Nadia Boulanger (1897-1979) was a composer and conductor, but was most renowned as a teacher of other musicians. Her list of pupils included composers Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Philip Glass, conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim, conductor John Eliot Gardiner, and jazz legend Quincy Jones.
B. B. King (1925-2015) was known as one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar.” King won 15 Grammys during a recording career lasting over 50 years. He had a number of hit R&B albums and singles, but his signature tune was probably “Three O’Clock Blues:”
Irish singer Ronnie Drew (1934-2008) had a recording and performing career lasting over 40 years. In 1962, he founded The Dubliners with Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna and Ciarán Bourke; they were soon joined by fiddler John Sheahan. Drew was known for singing the more comical songs in the Dubliners’ repertoire and for the unique sound of his voice, described as being “like the sound of coke [the fuel, not the beverage] being crushed under a door.”
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.