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September 22: Happy Birthday Billie Piper and Tatiana Maslany

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On a day where there are no earthshaking names celebrating birthdays, our headliners are a pair of relatively young actresses who are both known for their television work in some acclaimed science fiction series.

Billie Piper, who turns 34 today, began her entertainment career as a British teenage pop star.  When her first single debuted at #1 on the British charts in 1998, she became the youngest singer ever to achieve that particular success.  After a few years in music, Piper decided to switch to acting.  At about that time, the BBC decided to revive Doctor Who, with Christopher Eccleston cast as the latest incarnation of the title character, aka the Ninth Doctor.  Piper was cast as his companion, Rose Tyler; when Eccleston left the series, Piper continued to play Rose opposite the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.

Piper played Rose in the first two series of the revived show, and returned to make a number of guest appearances through the years.  Many Doctor Who fans rank Rose Tyler as one of the best companions in the entire run of the series.  She went on to star in the ITV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and more recently was one of the stars of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.  She played Fanny Price in a British TV movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and made her West End debut in a revival of Christopher Hampton’s Treats.

Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany has been acting since her teens.  She had a small role in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, and appeared in a variety of Canadian films and television series.  Her big break came in 2013, when she was cast as Sarah Manning, the lead role in a new sci-fi series called Orphan Black—and also as a host of other characters who are all clones of Sarah.

Maslany has been nominated for two Emmys and a Golden Globe for Orphan Black and won a variety of other acting awards for the show.  In recent years, she has also made a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation, and played the younger Maria Altmann (played as an older woman by Helen Mirren) in Woman in Gold.  She will star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in David Gordon Green’s upcoming film Stronger.

As of last Sunday night, Maslany is an Emmy winner, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Orphan Black.

Anna Karina turns 76 today.  The French actress had a bewitching screen presence, often best displayed in her films with Jean-Luc Godard, such as Band of Outsiders, Pierrot le Fou and AlphavilleDavid Coverdale, who turns 65, was the lead singer of Deep Purple in the mid-1970s and then founded the hard rock band Whitesnake.  Paul Le Mat, who celebrates his 71st, won Golden Globes in film, for American Graffiti, and in television, for the TV movie The Burning Bed.

Nick Cave, the frontman for the Bad Seeds who is known as rock’s “Prince of Darkness,” turns 59.  Scott Baio turns 56.  He followed up a successful stint on Happy Days as Chachi Arcola by playing the title character on Charles in Charge.  The multi-talented Bonnie Hunt, who is 55, is doing a lot of voice work these days, including Zootopia and next year’s Cars 3.

Mireille Enos, who turns 41, was an Emmy nominee for AMC’s The Killing and currently stars in ABC’s The CatchRupert Penry-Jones celebrates his 46th birthday.  In his lengthy career on British television, he once played the notorious Soviet spy Donald Maclean, in Cambridge Spies, and then turned around to star in a series about the agency that tries to catch foreign spys, Spooks.  He is now seen on FX in The Strain.  Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., played Bob Stookey on The Walking Dead and is now featured on HBO’s The Deuce.  He turns 45.

Tom Felton, who turns 29, played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, and joins the cast of The Flash as Julian Dorn in its third season.  Laura Vandervoort, who is 32 today, played Kara Zor-El, or Supergirl, for over 20 episodes of Smallville, starred on the Canadian series Bitten, and had a recurring role as Indigo on SupergirlUkweli Roach, who celebrates his 30th, plays Dr. Robert Borden on NBC’s BlindspotDaniella Alonso has starred on NBC’s Revolution and TNT’s Animal Kingdom in recent years; she is 38 today.

Shari Belafonte, who turns 62 today, and Debby Boone, who is 60, are both the daughters of very famous singers (Harry and Pat, respectively), who have had respectable careers of their own.  Belafonte’s acting career peaked with a starring role on ABC’s Hotel, which ran for five seasons in the 1980s.  Boone had a #1 hit and won a Grammy in 1977 with the song “You Light Up My Life.”

Joan Jett, who celebrates her 58th birthday today, was a founding member of The Runaways, where she was the rhythm guitarist and eventual lead singer (after Cherie Currie left).  After the breakup of The Runaways, Jett has done most of her rocking with her own band, the Blackhearts.  They had a huge hit back during my college days:

Paul Muni (1895-1967) was one of the most respected actors of the early sound era.  He played the title character in the original version of Scarface, won Best Actor for The Story of Louis Pasteur, and later won a Tony for starring in Inherit the WindAllan “Rocky” Lane (1909-1973) was a B-Western mainstay of the 1940s, starring in several films as Red Ryder, among others.  In the early 1960s he was the voice of TV’s talking horse, Mister EdErich von Stroheim (1885-1957) was a silent era director, best-known for his only partially preserved film Greed.  In the sound era he had major acting roles in Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.

John Houseman (1902-1988) spent much of his life as a producer and director; he worked with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane and was a producer at Paramount for over a decade.  Then, when he was past 70, he got the kind of role actors dream of when he was cast as crusty, autocratic Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase.  After he won an Oscar and a Golden Globe, he reprised the role in a TV series that ran on CBS, and later on Showtime.

Anne of Austria (1601-1666) was born in Spain, and became Queen of France (and later, regent of that country).  Which may leave you wondering why she’s known as Anne “of Austria;” I’ll leave you all to figure that out on your own.  She is a character in The Three Musketeers and its sequels, which means she is also a character in most film adaptations of those Dumas novels; she has been played by the likes of Gloria Stuart, Angela Lansbury, Geraldine Chaplin, Olivia de Havilland, Gabrielle Anwar, Catherine Deneuve, ex-Bond Girl Carole Bouquet, and Alexandra Dowling, who plays her on the BBC series The Musketeers.

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 22, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. We’re having a very BBC day today it seems. There’s another article coming later today which will also deal quite a bit with British television (should I say “tele”? No? Because I’m not British. All right then.) In fact, we’re not done talking about Orphan Black today.

    I have never been a Dr. Who fan. I remember hanging out with a nerdy friend of mine in the 90’s and this Trekkie declared that Dr. Who was where he drew the line. It was too geeky for him, and not a lot is too geeky for this guy. He grocks Spock if you know what I am saying. I had seen Dr Who playing on a grainy local channel that I could only watch if the rabbit ears on my little black and white TV were aligned just right. I saw enough to know it was very British and very chintzy. Perhaps if I didn’t have to hold the antennae in place to watch it, I would have given it a more open minded viewing.

    For whatever reason, I decided to give the revived Dr a chance when Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston were on it. It was interesting, but I didn’t buy in all the way. I don’t remember how many episodes I watched, but I know I checked out before David Tennant showed up. I know people who love the show. Lots of people actually. And I have considered giving it a second look now that I can stream episodes. But that’s a daunting backlog of episodes!

    This is going to sound silly, but Lego Dimensions has piqued my interest in going back to Dr Who. The Dr. Who inspired level is all kinds of creepy. If the show is half as weird and dark as the game, I think I could get into it. So, who knows. The problem is always finding the time to devote to a show that big. I do remember thinking Holiday was good and I also liked her on Penny Dreadful (I don’t think I put two and two together to realize she was the girl from Dr Who – she looked familiar though.)

    Similarly, I have heard great things about Orphan Black, but I find the backlog of episodes too daunting to dive in. But we’ll probably talk about that more in about 20 minutes…

    Ugh. Scott Baio. Scott Baio is a complete ass. And I don’t just say that based on his recent political activity. No, I saw some of his VH-1 reality show. This guy is just the worst. Joannie may love Chachi, but lebeau thinks he’s is a douchebag.

    I like Bonnie Hunt though.

    We have some CW superhero birthdays. I didn’t realize Draco Malfoy, I mean, Tom Felton, was coming to The Flash. Fun show. Smallville could be frustrating but Laura Vandervoort made for a solid Girl of Steel. She plays a blue-skinned villain on the new Supergirl show and my youngest is scared silly of her.

    But We all love rock and roll. Happy birthday, Joan Jett!

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    • I am not really a Doctor Who fan, but I used to watch it back in the late 1970s, during the Tom Baker era (the Fourth Doctor). So it’s always been something that I’ve been aware of, even if I wasn’t following the Whoniverse closely. And when I picked Tatiana Maslany as a headliner for today’s article, pairing her with Billie Piper seemed like a very good fit.

      And I can remember being unable to walk through my dorm during one or two quarters of college without hearing someone blasting “I Love Rock and Roll” at maximum volume.

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      • I was still in grade school when the song was popular, but I remember blaring it on the jukebox at the local ice cream joint, Caketown Parlor. My memories are very specific because that place lasted about as long as the song was in the top ten. But it was a great hangout for a short while. The main attractions were the aforementioned juke box and the Pac-Man machine. I think I even bought some ice cream once which may be why the place went out of business so quickly.

        These two actresses do make for a great pairing. It pairs even better with McGuff’s TV article which ran today completely by coincidence. But I will pretend I planned it that way.

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  2. Paul Muni; wow, that’s great, the original Scarface, and on a day when I received my replacement disc for the video game “Scarface: The World is Yours” (copies of that game online are sky high right now, but I got a used disc for a grand total of $11.49). During gameplay, Paul Muni is mentioned by Tony Montana when he is having a conversation with a pedestrian. Nice homage, I thought.
    Joan Jett, no doubt: I’m all about “Bad Reputation”, “I Hate myself For Loving You”, and her rendition of “Crimson and Clover”. Hey, and I like the 1987 film “Light of Day” too.
    Paul Le Mat, I liked him in 1980’s “Melvin and Howard”.
    David Coverdale: I had a 4th grade student teacher (didn’t really care for her at the time, to be honest) who was into Whitesnake. I didn’t realize until later on that Coverdale was in Deep Purple. Well, here I go again…I should hush, hush now.

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