September 28: Happy Birthday Naomi Watts and Mira Sorvino
Naomi Watts, who turns 48 today, was born in England but moved to Australia in her teens, so her acting career began in Australian film and television. She began working in Hollywood in the 1990s, but much of her filmography during that decade is, many would agree, undistinguished. She co-starred in the dystopian sci-fi comedy Tank Girl, which has at least some cult classic credibility, and her performance in Persons Unknown, a 1996 thriller, is worth noting (for reasons that will be clear before the end of this article).
It wasn’t until David Lynch cast her as Betty Elms in Mulholland Drive that Watts began to break out as a star. A year later, she headlined Gore Verbinski’s horror film The Ring, a critical and commercial success, and then was cast in a central role in the first Hollywood film made by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu:
Watts received Oscar and SAG Award nominations for Best Actress for 21 Grams. She has remained a major star for nearly 15 years, and received another round of award nominations, including for Best Actress at the Oscars and Golden Globes, for the 2012 film The Impossible.
Mira Sorvino, who turns 49 today, began her career with a bang. The daughter of actor Paul Sorvino (of Goodfellas fame), she began getting small film roles in the early 1990s. Then she was cast, almost out of the blue, as a somewhat ditzy hooker named Linda Ash in Woody Allen’s latest film (circa 1995):
Sorvino won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for Mighty Aphrodite, and for the next few years seemed to be on track to be a major leading lady. However, her career took a different path, and today she works primarily in independent films. A WTHH article on her gives all the details.
Brigitte Bardot, who celebrates her 82nd birthday today, began acting in her teens, but it was in 1957 that she emerged as an international star in Roger Vadim’s And God Created Women—the term “sex kitten” was attached to her after this film. She won a Donatello Award for her 1960 film La Vérité and had a central role in Jean-Luc Godard’s classic Contempt. She retired from acting in 1973. Janeane Garofalo probably has little in common with Bardot, although both are known for their political activism (at opposite ends of the spectrum, to be sure). Garofalo made her name in television comedy, on The Ben Stiller Show, Saturday Night Live and The Larry Sanders Show (where she had two Emmy nominations). She also had a number of important film roles during the late 1990s, most notably The Truth About Cats and Dogs, but also Reality Bites, Mystery Men and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (where she appeared with Mira Sorvino). She turns 52 today.
Jeffrey Jones, who turns 70 today, is a WTHH subject who is known for playing Principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Emperor Joseph II of Austria in Amadeus. Lucas Bryant, who celebrates his 38th, starred on Syfy’s Haven for five seasons. Singer-actress Hilary Duff, who turns 29 today, had a number of successful albums and movie roles in the first half of the 2000s; she is currently seen in TV Land’s Younger opposite Sutton Foster. Mexican-born actress Laura Cerón is 52 today; she is known for her long run as Nurse Chuny Marquez on ER. Novelist Marcia Muller, who turns 72, is the author of the long-running series featuring private investigator Sharon McCone. The McCone novels are considered a landmark in modern crime fiction—the first to feature a female lead who fit the mold of a classic, hard-boiled PI.
Independent filmmaker John Sayles turns 66 today. Sayles started out writing scripts for Roger Corman, on films like Battle Beyond the Stars, which came out the same year as his first feature, Return of the Secaucus 7. Among his notable films since then are Lone Star and Passion Fish (both of which brought him Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay), Eight Men Out, Men With Guns (nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film), Limbo and Casa de los Babys.
J. T. Walsh (1943-1998) did not make his feature film debut until he was about forty, but in the next 15 years he was a versatile character actor in films like House of Games, Wired, Hoffa, Red Rock West, Nixon and Sling Blade; he also appeared in Persons Unknown with Naomi Watts. Ronald Lacey (1935-1991) was an English character actor best know as the sadistic Major Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Peter Finch (1916-1977) beczame the first person to win a posthumous acting Oscar when he was named Best Actor for his role as Howard Beale in Network.
William S. Paley (1901-1990) was a pioneering executive in the radio and television industries, building the CBS radio network into a major national enterprise in the 1930s and expanding into television after World War 2. Ed Sullivan (1901-1974) was the host of one of the signature shows of Paley’s network for over 20 years; The Toast of the Town, later renamed The Ed Sullivan Show, was the longest-running show of its kind in US television history.
Alice Marble (1913-1990) was one of the best tennis players of the 1930s, winning 18 Grand Slam titles in a five year period; she later was briefly an editorial adviser to DC Comics. Al Capp (1909-1979) was a humorist and newspaper cartoonist who was best known as the creator and longtime author/illustrator of Li’l Abner. Victor Jara (1932-1973) was a Chilean poet, singer-songwriter and theatrical director, best known outside Chile for his folk music. He was murdered by the military junta that seized power in Chile in 1973. Ben E. King (1938-2015) was an R&B and soul singer and songwriter best know for co-writing and performing the song “Stand by Me” and as the lead singer of The Drifters.
Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) was one of the most distinguished European actors of the 20th century. He was a five-time winner of the Donatello Award in his native Italy for Best Actor, and a three-time nominee for the Oscar for Best Actor. He was known for several films with director Federico Fellini, including La Dolce Vita and 8½, and starred opposite Brigitte Bardot in A Very Private Affair.
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 28, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Brigitte Bardot, Ed Sullivan, J T Walsh, Janeane Garofalo, Jeffrey Jones, John Sayles, Marcello Mastroianni, mira sorvino, Naomi Watts. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.