September 25: Happy Birthday Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones


Our two headliners today are married, making it very easy to find a photo of the two of them together.

Michael Douglas, son of actor Kirk, turns 72 today.  In the 1970s his acting career took off on television’s Streets of San Francisco, but during that decade his greatest fame came as a producer, when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Best Picture for 1975.  He produced and co-starred in The China Syndrome, but he did not emerge as a convincing leading man until another film he produced in 1984, involving a map, a fabulous emerald, and Kathleen Turner:

Romancing the Stone made Douglas a major star for the next decade or more, over which his career highlights included winning Best Actor as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.  He received Golden Globe nominations for The War of the Roses, The American President, Wonder Boys, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.  And, of course, he married our other headliner in 2000.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is 47 today, began working in British stage productions as a teenager.  She moved to the US in the mid-nineties and began getting substantial roles in films such as The Phantom, The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment.  Her reputation as an actress was enhanced by her Golden Globe nominated performance in Traffic, and even more so when she was cast as Velma Kelly in the movie version of the musical Chicago:

In the wake of her Oscar-winning turn in Chicago, Zeta-Jones had several lead roles in the next few years, in films such as Intolerable Cruelty, The Terminal, and No Reservations.  However, she seems to have decided to slow her pace down since about 2007.  She has continued her musical work, appearing in the film of the jukebox musical Rock of Ages, and returning to the stage in a 2009 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, winning a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Desiree Armfeldt (the character who sings “Send in the Clowns”).

Will Smith, who celebrates his 48th birthday today, first became well known as the star of NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  In the mid-nineties he moved into feature films, and had big hits as part of an ensemble cast in Independence Day and as a lead in Men in Black.  He had a run of a little over a decade as a leading man in major pictures, took some time off from about 2008-11, and returned to film work in 2012.  He is a 3-time Oscar nominee, most recently for Concussion, and is currently seen in Suicide Squad.

Pedro Almodóvar is 67 today.  He is one of the most prominent filmmakers in Europe, has won nine Goya Awards in his native Spain, while his films have won two Oscars.  All About My Mother won Best Foreign Language Film for 1999 while Almodóvar won Best Original Screenplay for the 2002 film Talk to HerMark Hamill, who turns 65, is of course best known as Luke Skywalker in four Star Wars films (and counting).  As some readers probably know, Hamill has also had a lengthy career as a voice actor, most notably voicing The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and a number of other animated series and films based on the DC Universe.

Heather Locklear, who celebrates her 55th, was a “special guest star” as Amanda Woodward for most of Melrose Place’s run.  Michael Madsen, who turns 59, is known for several Quentin Tarantino films such as Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, for many other tough guy roles, and as an award-winning poet.  Anson Williams, who is 67 today, played Potsie Weber for all eleven seasons of Happy DaysJason Flemyng is known for Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; he turns 50 today.

Colleen Atwood, who celebrates her 68th birthday, is an eleven-time Oscar nominee for Best Costume Design, winning for Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha and Alice in WonderlandAida Turturro, who turns 54, was a two-time Emmy nominee as Janice Soprano on The SopranosClea DuVall, who turns 39, was recently seen in Argo and on Lifetime’s The Lizzy Borden ChroniclesDavid Benioff, who is 46 today, is the showrunner for HBO’s Game of Thrones, for which he and D. B. Weiss write most of the episodes; his involvement in the series has brought Benioff several Emmys.

The multi-talented Donald Glover was a member of the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, who came to the big screen as the stars of 2009’s Mystery Team.  Glover has been a writer on 30 Rock, was part of the main cast of NBC’s Community for five seasons, and currently produces and stars in FX’s Atlanta.  He has also been nominated for two Grammys for his rap recordings.  Glover turns 33 today.

In sports, Scottie Pippen, who turns 51 today, is a Basketball Hall of Famer who starred alongside Michael Jordan on six NBA champions with the Chicago Bulls.  Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007) was the shortstop for the New York Yankees for thirteen seasons, during which time they won 7 World Series titles.  After retirement he had a long career doing radio and TV broadcasts of the Yankees’ games.

Robert Bresson (1901-1999) was one of the most esteemed directors of all time, especially in his native France.  He was known for his very austere filmmaking style, his frequent use of non-professional actors, and the emphasis on spiritual redemption in films such as Pickpocket.  Novelist William Faulkner (1897-1962) lived half a world away from Bresson, but his novels such as The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August and others raised him to a similar level of esteem in the literary world.  Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) was one of the most prominent composers of the 20th Century, with 15 symphonies and many smaller-scale works to his name.  Pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) was one of the most gifted and idiosyncratic keyboardists of his time, known especially for his interpretations of the keyboard works of J. S. Bach.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004) was left a quadriplegic by a 1995 riding accident, which left him in a wheelchair for the last nine years of his life, a tragedy which he seems to have faced with a great deal of courage and grace.  Before that, of course, he was one of the most perfect cases of casting in film history:

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 25, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. There are literally too many people to comment on today. Can’t these celebrities coordinate their birthdays a little better?


  2. To be honest I would say that Will Smith became famous as a rapper years before his TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

    Will Smith once recounted a great story about the dangers of finding fortune and fame so early in life: Will Smith and his friend DJ Jazzy Jeff had a couple of Top 20 hit singles with “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Nightmare On My Street” in 1988, and their album went Platinum. Smith, just 20 years old, was rich and famous overnight.

    Flush with cash and a bright future ahead of him, Smith bought a huge house and the most expensive Ferrari he could find. He burned through his cash partying and spending. Except the follow up album they soon released had 0 hit singles and released unnoticed.

    Smith says one day he found himself driving his expensive Ferrari around town and he ran out of gas; he had a car worth a couple hundred thousand dollars….. and he didn’t even have enough money to his name to fill up the gas tank.

    Luckily at the worst moment of his young life, Quincy Jones called Smith about an idea for a tv show and he gained a second life as an actor on the hit tv show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.


  3. From what i heard before reeves accident his career was not so hot. HE could barely find hits outside of superman he got typecast. From what I understand reeves was offered a lot of top action flicks but he wanted to be serious actor so he did some serious movies audeinces however could not accept him in non superman roles. HIs only non superman flick that was a hit was Remains of day in a supporting role. I feel had he never had his accident he might made a good addition to lebeu blog. No disrespect to him his death was tragic and he was by all accounts a good guy.


    • I wonder if Reeve theoretically, could’ve been another “thinking man’s” action hero a la Harrison Ford? Had he embraced that path, maybe it would’ve been easier to get away from the Superman stigma. But of course, that’s just another “what if”/what could’ve been” game (just like how things would’ve turned out had he not had his accident). It seemed like Reeve only wanted to make movies he wanted to make (i.e. small, intimate, “prestige” projects) or see and not what the masses wanted at the time. So once the Superman franchise finally ran its course, he really didn’t have much else to fall back on, since he was never really considered that bankable outside of Superman.


      • Yeah, I’d say that’s all probably true; outside of the Superman franchise, he seemed to gravitate towards three dimensional character portraits. I thought he was good in those, but there were very few of them and yeah, they didn’t make much of an impact at the time or a profit.


  4. his last film before his accident village of damed bombed . Maybe he would gotten more work not sure if he would had a comeback .


  5. My mistake his last film before his accident was tv movie above suspicion was ironically he played a paralyzed man and his accident happed six days after film release.


  6. Hollywood has always been a youth-oriented industry, so it’s pretty impressive that Michael Douglas finally had his big break as an actor just as he was turning 40 with the surprise hit Romancing The Stone in 1984, the 8th biggest hit of the year. And from there Douglas’ career really picked up steam with a string of hits and blockbusters. Wall Street, War of the Roses, Black Rain, Basic Instinct, The Game, American President….

    And to top it all off, Fatal Attraction was the 2nd biggest film of 1987! It wasn’t just a box office hit, it was pop cultural phenomenon. Douglas really made a great career for himself after he hit 40.


  7. douglas big break was technically in tv with streets of san francisco that was a hit show. it was on for 5 years. he left after 4th season. a lot of actors get their big break in films latter age. Morgan freeman was 50 with street smart , samuel l jackson was pulp fiction at 46 billy bob 41 wiht sling blade duvall 41 with godfather hakcman 37 wiht bonnie and clyde and lastly alan rickman was 41 with die hard


  8. I think I heard that Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones shared a birthdate; sure makes their birthday planning convenient. Anyway, I learned a long time ago when the going gets tough, the tough get Michael Douglas, and Billy Ocean.
    I never knew Michael Madsen was a poet; I think that’s totally cool.
    Clea DuVall as a Borden sister? Yeah, I totally see that.
    Yeah, Christopher Reeve’s career outside of Superman was pretty tough, but I enjoyed him in 1982’s “Deathtrap”, 1987’s “Street Smart”, and 1988’s “Switching Channels”.
    Mark Hamill, I remember him in 1978’s “Corvette Summer”. Was he in anything else?


    • One other film Mark Hamill was in was Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, a World War 2 film based on Fuller’s own experiences with the US Army’s First Infantry Division; the title of the film comes from the division’s nickname. Lee Marvin starred as a platoon sergeant of some sort, while Hamill, Robert Carradine and a couple of others were the core group of soldiers who fought alongside Marvin throughout the war. As a sort of grunt’s-eye view of the war, it’s very good.


      • I like the westerns of Sam Fuller, and although I’m not big on war films, I’ll have to give this one a look, especially since I read that it was restored a few years ago.


    • I do wonder why Christopher Reeve’s non-Superman career (accident aside) was depending on your point of view, underwhelming. Most of them from my understanding are not available on DVD. I don’t know if part of the problem was simply typecasting (if not typecasting, Reeve was w/o a doubt closely identified as Superman), but Reeve also seemed to make an extremely conscientious effort to avoid decidedly commercial (or more action-adventure/fantasy projects) projects. In fairness, Reeve was none the less, a very diverse actor with a warm charisma to him.


      • Well, at least “Deathtrap” and “Street Smart” are on DVD. So is “The Aviator”, but I can’t fully endorse that film.


  9. For a time, Michael Douglas was THE go-to-guy for protagonists who weren’t entirely sympathetic. He just owned those roles like no one else. Douglas can be counted on to elevate the material. Catherine Zeta-Jones is just incredible. I remember seeing her in The Phantom, but like everyone else I really took notice of her an Zorro and slinking her way through Entrapment. As with Salma Hayek, it always seemed to me that Zeta-Jones should have been a bigger star than she was.

    I have never been a Will Smith fan. In fact, sometimes when he turns on the charisma that made him a star, I find myself barely tolerating him. The reason is that when he’s in a movie with a weak script, Smith uses Big Willisms to cover the shortcomings. But for me, all it does is call attention to how hard he’s working. Still, there is no denying that Smith is a talented guy with movie star power to burn.

    I mean, jeez, Mark Hamill.. When I was a little kid, my Pilot Luke Skywalker action figure was my favorite toy. Post Star Wars, I remember seeing him pop up on an episode of Amazing Stories and The Flash. On the latter, he played The Trickster as a Joker knock-off which probably set him up for being the definitive Joker for a lot of folks. One thing I admire about Hamill’s Joker is that he can adjust the level of menace to fit the story.

    I always thought Heather Locklear was very attractive, but I never watched any of her shows. I guess I caught an episode of TJ Hooker or Spin City every great once in a while. We’ve got an interview with Locklear coming up in a Movieline article in a few weeks. Get ready for all the dish on 90’s rock stars.

    Michael Madsen is one of those guys who seems destined for WTHH, isn’t he? Although with all his supporting roles, that would be a lengthy article. Anson Williams – I watched a hell of a lot of Happy Days as a kid. Yes, I remember being fascinated when Fonzie jumped the shark.

    The article ends on a maudlin note with Christopher Reeve. His Superman always meant so much to me. I was crushed to learn of his tragic accident, inspired to see him carry on afterwards and saddened to hear of his death followed by the passing of his poor wife. Christopher Reeve will always be my Superman of choice.


    • I tired of Will Smith probably after “Wild Wild West” (I viewed the Fresh Prince show quite regularly though). Former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons once wrote an article on Will Smith, in which he felt he could be a more powerful actor, but he went with the strategy of looking at what material could turned into a blockbuster, committed fully to that direction, and therefore became very rich and famous but also lightweight. I feel there’s some truth to that.


      • I concur. Big Willie was obsessed with being the biggest movie star he could be and it showed in his decisions. I think it was during the lame animated feature, Shark’s Tale, that I finally realized I had tired of his shtick. In that movie, the animators made the characters resemble the celebs who were voicing them which essentially made them caricatures. Smith as an animated fish was a bit too much. The following year, I just couldn’t deal with him in Hitch. That was it for me. Now, I like him when he tones it down. But when he cranks up the volume, I can’t handle it. He was fine in Suicide Squad. The movie just stunk.


    • Why Hollywood dropped Catherine Zeta-Jones

      Her marriage troubles

      In 2013, People reported that Zeta-Jones and Douglas were quietly living apart, and her rep confirmed they were working on their marriage. The pair eventually reconciled and seemed stronger than ever in 2016, but even so, their widely reported personal issues have detracted from the actress’ professional pursuits.

      She’s not ‘indie’

      Zeta-Jones’ resume touts big budget flicks, such as The Mask of Zorro (1998) and Chicago, opposite other A-list co-stars, but those roles can dry up as actresses mature. Zeta-Jones never pursued independent film projects, so she doesn’t have those credentials to return to when major motion pictures stop calling. Indie films have rejuvenated other actresses’ stalled careers, but that may not be an avenue Zeta-Jones can pursue comfortably.

      She has battled bipolar disorder

      Zeta-Jones went public with her bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2011. She told Good Housekeeping (via the Express), “Finding out that it was called something was the best thing that ever happened to me! The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating. There are amazing highs and very low lows. My goal is to be consistently in the middle. I’m in a very good place right now. A lot of that is to do with the fact that I’m much more knowledgeable about what I call my pain in the ass.”

      While it’s absolutely terrific that Zeta-Jones has been candid about her struggles and possibly helped others battling the same condition by sharing her experience, her revelation also suggests that the grueling pace and high demands of moviemaking may not complement her overall health and happiness. Perhaps the reason we haven’t heard much from Zeta-Jones is not because Hollywood won’t cast her, but because she has conscientiously decided to put Hollywood in her rear-view mirror in order to prioritize her health. Regardless, we applaud her.

      She doesn’t have a signature

      Think about it: Zeta-Jones doesn’t have a cinematic signature or a “type.” Yes, she’s done musical films, such as Chicago and Rock of Ages (2012), but she’s not the quirky sidekick or the tomboyish leading lady. She’s often a glam goddess, which can describe lots of actresses. While having a particular type can often work against performers, branding them as one-notes, not being typecast as anything may have worked against Zeta-Jones. She’s one of many gorgeous and talented actresses with Oscars that don’t have that one unique thing that makes them stand out from the rest. Lots of Academy Award winners fade into the background after they take home the Oscar. This could be her fate, too.

      How she can turn it around

      Zeta-Jones has embraced a terrific opportunity to return to acting, albeit on the small screen. Variety confimed that she’ll portray Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland in Ryan Muphy’s FX anthology series Feud, due out in 2017. The show reportedly depicts the epic behind-the-scenes battles of Tinsel Town legends Bette Davis, played by Jessica Lange, and Joan Crawford, played by Susan Sarandon. According to Variety, Zeta-Jones’ last major TV role was in the British dramedy The Darling Buds of May in the early ’90s. Vanity Fair said the part of de Havilland could offer “fabulous, scene-stealing supporting capacity,” thus providing Zeta-Jones a glamorous reintroduction to her adoring fans.


    • Did Robert Boyett “help” cause Happy Days’ decline in quality? Robert Boyett for those who don’t know, joined the production staff around 1978-79. Before this, the bulk of the production (besides Garry Marshall of course) on Happy Days was handled by Thomas Miller and Edward Milkis. I thought about this after watching the Rowdy Reviewer’s “TV Trash” retrospective on Joanie Loves Chachi.

      Not that it matters in regards to Happy Days but as the newly christened Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions, no show outside of Bosom Buddies lasted for more than a single season. And even Bosom Buddies itself, only got two. And while it’s hard to truly blame Robert Boyett for whatever went wrong w/ Joanie Love Chachi, but bare in mind that Edward Milkis none the less, but bumped down to “Associate Producer” on that show.

      It was also around the time that Boyett came into the picture that the fashions on “Happy Days” grew more and more anachronistic. The Rowdy Reviewer also suggested that it wasn’t Fonzie jumping the shark that signaled the ultimate point of no return for Happy Days, but when they started softening and growing him as a character. All the while on the same token, focusing more and more (right through the bitter end) on stories surrounding Joanie and Chachi.


  10. What do you think a Pedro Almodóvar-directed #SisterAct would look like?


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