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October 1: Happy Birthday Julie Andrews and Brie Larson

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Dame Julie Andrews celebrates her 81st birthday today.  She had a classical/operatic voice teacher, but went into musical theater, feeling her voice was too light for opera.  She made her London professional debut at 12 and her Broadway debut one day before her 19th birthday, in a musical called The Boy Friend.  Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe then offered her the part that would make her famous, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

Concurrent with My Fair Lady’s Broadway run, Andrews appeared on television in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.  Lerner and Loewe then wrote the part of Queen Guinevere in Camelot for Andrews.  She had a brief setback in the early 1960s; when Warner Brothers prepared to film My Fair Lady, Jack Warner decided that Andrews was too unknown to headline a major movie, preferring to cast Audrey Hepburn (and Marni Nixon’s singing voice).  Andrews instead made her film debut in a Disney movie about a British nanny:

Andrews won the Oscar for Best Actress for Mary Poppins, along with a Grammy and a Golden Globe.  She then starred in the next year’s The Sound of Music; the movie won Best Picture while Andrews won her second consecutive Golden Globe.

In the fifty years since then, Andrews has had highs and lows.  Highs included winning an Emmy for The Julie Andrews Hour and another Golden Globe for Victor/Victoria.  More recently she has been a regal presence in the Princess Diaries films, presiding over Anne Hathaway’s emergence as a star.  A definite downer was the infamous botched vocal cord surgery in the late 1990s that destroyed her singing voice.

Like Julie Andrews, Brie Larson, who turns 27 today, began acting at about the age of 12, in the short-lived series Raising Dad.  Her first major film role was in Hoot in 2006, and she then was featured in Showtime’s United States of Tara.  Her big breakthrough year was in 2015.  She had a major supporting role in the critically acclaimed Trainwreck, but topped that with her starring role in Room:

Larson made a clean sweep of the major acting awards for her performance as Joy Newsome, winning Best Actress at the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the BAFTA Awards and the SAG Awards.  She will be seen in two upcoming big-budget films, Kong: Skull Island and the as-yet-untitled Captain Marvel film, and also will star in The Glass Castle, adapted from Jeannette Walls’ memoir of that title.

Randy Quaid turns 66 today.  He first drew notice in The Last Detail, playing a sailor being sent to military prison, a role that brought him Oscar and Golden Globe nomination.  Some of Quaid’s other notable film roles have been in Midnight Express, Kingpin, Independence Day, and as Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Vacation series.  He won a Golden Globe for portraying Lyndon Johnson in a 1987 TV movie.

Sarah Drew, who turns 36, has played Dr. April Kepner on Grey’s Anatomy since the show’s sixth season.  Zach Galifianakis, who celebrates his 47th, has won two Emmys for his series Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis; he has played Alan Garner in the Hangover films and had a supporting role in Birdman.  Director Tom Hooper, who turns 44, won the Oscar for Best Director for The King’s Speech and an Emmy for directing the Channel 4/HBO miniseries Elizabeth I; most recently he directed The Danish GirlStephen Collins, who is 69 today, appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as Will Decker and starred in the long-running series 7th Heaven, but has lately been tarnished by allegations of child sexual abuse.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who is 30 today, has been working in film and television for over 20 years, gaining critical acclaim for films like Eve’s Bayou and The Great Debaters; she currently stars in WGN America’s UndergroundRupert Friend, who celebrates his 35th, is an Emmy and SAG Award nominee for the role of Peter Quinn on HomelandDanika Yarosh, who is 18 today, starred as Malina Bennett in the miniseries Heroes Reborn, and will appear in Jack Reacher: Never Go BackMarielle Heller, who turns 37, wrote and directed the critically acclaimed film The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, the 39th President of the US, turns 92 today.

In sports, Rod Carew, a Baseball Hall of Famer, was selected to Baseball’s All-Star Game a remarkable 18 times; Carew is 71 today.  Mark McGwire, who turns 53, was one of the greatest home-run hitters in baseball history, temporarily holding the single season record with 70.  However, since his retirement his reputation has suffered from the revelation that he used performance-enhancing drugs.  Liberian footballer George Weah, who celebrates his 50th, is one the greatest African players ever, who has gone on to a prominent political career in his home country.

Very fittingly, Stanley Holloway (1890-1982), who played Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady both on stage and screen, was born the same day as Julie Andrews.  Tom Bosley (1927-2010) was known for playing Howard Cunningham on Happy Days and the title character of Father Dowling Mysteries.  He also won a Tony for playing Fiorello LaGuardia in the musical Fiorello!  James Whitmore (1921-2009) had a stage and screen career that ran for nearly 60 years, and in that time won a Tony, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Grammy.  Laurence Harvey (1928-1973) was an Oscar nominee for Room at the Top and played the brainwashed Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian CandidateRichard Harris (1930-2002) capped his long acting career as Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, and had a Top 10 hit with “MacArthur Park” in 1968.  French star Philippe Noiret (1930-2006) won a pair of Cesar Awards for Best Actor and appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz, but is probably best known as the projectionist, Alfredo, in Cinema ParadisoDave Arneson (1947-2009) was the co-inventor of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, which possibly a few people have heard of.

Pianist Roger Williams (1924-2011) was one of the great popularizers of modern music  His recording of Joseph Kosma’s “Autumn Leaves” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1955, the only piano instrumental to ever become a Number 1 hit in the US.  A pianist of a different sort was classical legend Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989).  He was one of the greatest masters of the Romantic piano repertoire and also of Russian composers like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff:

George Peppard (1928-1994) seemed on the brink of major stardom when he starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but it was not to be (reportedly, one issue was a problem with the bottle).  Fans of sci-fi cult classics remember him as Space Cowboy from Battle Beyond the Stars, and his biggest role in his later years was probably on TV as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith in The A-Team, who loved it when a plan came together.  Walter Matthau (1920-2000) won an Oscar for Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie, but the role he was best known for was probably slovenly Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, opposite his frequent costar Jack Lemmon.  Some of his other well-known film roles included Hello, Dolly!, Charley Varrick, The Bad News Bears, and I.Q. (as none other than Albert Einstein).  Matthau also won a Tony for A Shot in the Dark.

Tony Epper (1938-2012) was a film and television stunt performer who worked in the industry for over 40 years.  A big man, at about 6-4, Epper doubled for the tall and athletic Burt Lancaster on several films in the 1960s and ’70s, beginning with The Professionals.  Like many stuntmen, Epper also picked up a lot of small acting parts.  One of his was as Steve the Tramp in Dick Tracy.  Epper was from a family of stunt performers—he ws the son of John Epper, a Swiss immigrant who doubled stars like Gary Cooper.  John’s six children all went into stunt work; of the three Epper sons, Tony had the busiest and longest career—but he was not the hardest-working Epper of all.

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 October 1, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. A pretty big day for birthdays—four Oscar winners, just to start with. Deciding who to make the headliners, who to give major attention to, who to include and leave out was not easy (okay, Julie Andrews was pretty easy).

    I didn’t have the space to include in Julie Andrews’ recap (which ran to 4 paragraphs already) any mention of her marriage of over 40 years to Blake Edwards (who also directed Breakfast at Tiffany’s with George Peppard), or of her career as a novelist—she wrote a number of juvenile/young adult novels, usually published under her married name, including a delightful fantasy called The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

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    • How on Earth did you decide who to make the headlines. I don’t blame you for making such a hard decision.

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      • That was supposed to be in a from of a question, but I typed too fast again.

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      • For today, it seemed to me that, for starters, Julie Andrews was a pretty clear call in terms of her overall accomplishments—Oscar winner, Broadway star and also an accomplished author. After that, I picked Brie Larson as someone who readers would probably be interested in as a breakout star who they’re going to be seeing a lot of in the next few years. And since superhero films are a frequent subject at this blog, the fact that she’s joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe was also a hook.

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  2. I liked Brie Larson’s work since her kid stars days. Her performance in “Room” was excellent, and she totally deserved the Oscar. (If you haven’t seen “Room”, I recommend you do.)

    I am also a fan of Walter Matthau. I liked when he teamed up with Jack Lemmon in “The Odd Couple”. Some of his lines in that movie like “Divorced, broke, and sloppy.” and “And will you put down that spoon!” made me laugh out loud. That’s Walter Matthau for you!

    George Peppard was a good actor and abolsutley gorgeous. He also had,(along with James Garner) one of the best smiles ever. 💖💖💖 My favorite scene in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was when he sat up in bed bare chested (he was nude under the sheets) after Audrey Hepburn snuck into his apartment. What a babe!

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  3. Well, the birthday of George Peppard has finally arrived, and I think the choice of headliners was really the way to go.

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  4. Growing up, I knew Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music. I didn’t especially like the movie. It was just one of those things we had to watch. As a kid, it tested my patience. Oddly, I didn’t really discover Mary Poppins until high school. I was aware of it and I believe I had one of those Disney storybook records. But I don’t think I saw the movie until my freshman year. By then, I was a bit old for it, but still enchanted. Not long after, I saw Victor/Victoria which was a big deal when it was released because Mary Poppins did a topless scene.

    I haven’t actually seen Brie Larson in much of anything. I keep meaning to check out The Room. From what I have seen of her on talk shows, she seems nice. Should make a capable Captain Marvel.

    Poor Randy Quaid. Is he still crazy?

    Ugh Stephen Collins. Gross.

    Uh-oh. Someone was hoping for a George Peppard headline today. Oh well. He received a very solid write-up and billing over Walter Matthau. That’s nothing to sneeze at. He’s also been immortalized in Lego Dimensions form:

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    • I liked The Sound of Music back when I was 11-12 years old or so, but its glow has faded a little for me. Andrews is very good, and Christopher Plummer has some delightful moments. But it does kind of drag, and the tone is a little too sugary for me.

      The only things I know I’ve seen Brie Larson in are Hoot and 21 Jump Street; I definitely want to check out The Room and Trainwreck.

      I have always loved watching A-Team reruns, and seeing Hannibal’s plans come together. But even more than that, George Peppard will always be the Space Cowboy (“I’m from Earth—ever heard of it?”) for me.

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      • I only half-watched 21 Jump Street. I saw 13 Going on 30, but I don’t specifically remember Larson in it. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Greenberg and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

        I remember Battle Beyond the Stars vaguely. I wanted to see it, but my dad had a strict “no science fiction” policy. He fell asleep in both Star Wars and Empire, so he wasn’t about to sit through a Star Wars knock off. I eventually saw the movie when it aired on network TV loaded with commercials. Whatever charms the movie might have had were put to the test by the constant interruptions. I didn’t go in expecting Star Wars, but much like Krull I was profoundly disappointed. And also relieved I hadn’t dragged dad out to see it because he would have HATED that thing. He’s still angry over Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

        Dad did like The Sound of Music. I didn’t mind it, but it already had a long runtime and we watched it on network TV. With commercials, it ran around four hours. That’s a lot of time for a kid to spend with a singing nun even if she is played by Julie Andrews. We also sang the songs in Catholic school for reasons that were never clear to me. So, it didn’t quite wear out its welcome, but I was never a fan.

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        • How in the world did we ever manage to watch movies on television with all those commercial breaks?

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        • We didn’t know any better?

          For what it’s worth, I won’t do it today. I almost never watch a program live anymore and unless I am watching something with the kids, I won’t watch anything that has been edited for content. I just won’t. But for a long time, that sort of thing was the norm.

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    • Lebeau, you need to watch “Room”. Brie Larson gave an excellent performance, and she deserved the Oscar. I liked her work since her kid star days.

      As for the hoping of the George Peppard headline? At first, I was kinda mad. I’m sure of Peppard were still alive, he would throw a tantrum of not being THE headline. (That’s just how he was.) I agree a nice write-up before Walter Matthau is nothing to be upset about.

      Interesting A-Team fact: Robert Vaughn (who will turn 84 in November 22nd) was actually added to the cast in the 5th season because of his friendship with Peppard, and it was hoped that he could ease tensions between Peppard and Mr. T.

      LOL at the A-Team Legos!

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      • I remember Robert Vaughn joining the cast, but I had long since stopped watching The A-Team by season five. I wasn’t aware Mr. T. and George Peppard were feuding. This sounds interesting.

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        • Dirk Benedict has NOT made the feud a secret. He admitted in interviews George Peppard wouldn’t even speak to Mr. T and used him as a messenger. Benedict thought it was dumb, but he did it anyway. Mr. T went on record and thought it was hysterical.

          Robert Vaughn only lasted on the show for 13 episodes. One of the episodes was called “The Say UNCLE Affair”. It reunited Vaughn with his U.N.C.L.E. co-star, David McCallum. Peppard was extremely jealous because he wanted Vaughn ALL TO HIMSELF. Like I mentioned above, that was person Peppard was.

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    • The only reason you should watch “The Room” is if you want to see one of the most notoriously awful movies of all time.
      “Room” on the other hand, is an excellent little drama that won Larson an Oscar and netted lots of other people involved nominations. That one little article “The” makes all the difference in the world.

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