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October 2: Happy Birthday Lorraine Bracco and Groucho Marx

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Lorraine Bracco turns 62 today.  She lived in Europe in the 1970s and began her film career in French and Italian films (she is fluent in both languages).  She began appearing in American film and television in the late 1980s, including a supporting role in the thriller Someone to Watch Over Me.  Her first really big role, however, came in 1990 in a film adapted from a book called Wiseguy:

Bracco was an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee as Karen Hill in Goodfellas.  Bracco then appeared in a variety of film roles through the rest of the 1990s, but the other really big role of her career came in 1999.  David Chase, the producer of The Sopranos, wanted her to play another mob wife, but Bracco was more interested, and eventually won, the part of Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano’s shrink.  Bracco was nominated for four Emmys and three Golden Globes during her time on The Sopranos.  More recently, she had a supporting role on TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (1890-1977) had one of the most recognizable comic personalities of all time—a fast-talking wise guy with a greasepaint mustache, glasses and a stooping walk, usually with a cigar in hand.  After a career in vaudeville, Marx and his brothers (Harpo, Chico and sometimes Zeppo) began making movies.  A series of films for Paramount culminated in the one that many believe is the Marx Brothers’ masterpiece:

Duck Soup is recognized as a classic today, but it was a relative box office failure and contributed to the Brothers’ departure from Paramount.  They moved to MGM, where their first film, A Night at the Opera, was a huge hit.  After the Marx’s film career began winding down, Groucho moved on to host You Bet Your Life, a radio quiz show that soon moved to television on NBC, where it ran for 11 years.

Charlie Adler, who turns 60, is a voice actor whose long career has included voicing Buster Bunny on Tiny Toon Adventures and Starscream in the Transformer movies.  Terence Winter, who celebrates his 56th, was a writer on The Sopranos for several seasons, wrote the screenplay for The Wolf of Wall Street, and was the creator, executive producer and head writer for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Spanish actress Maribel Verdu, who celebrates her 46th birthday, is a ten-time Goya Award nominee, winning Best Actress twice.  American audiences may know her from Y Tu Mamá También or Pan’s Labyrinth.  Also turning 46 is actress and television host Kelly Ripa, the host of the syndicated morning talk show Live with Kelly and former costar of Hope & FaithAvery Brooks, who is 68 today, starred as Hawk on Spenser: For Hire and as Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space NineEfren Ramirez, who turns 43, starred as Pedro Sanchez in the surprise 2004 hit Napoleon Dynamite.

Samantha Barks, who turns 26, made her West End debut as Eponine in Les Misérables, and then sang the role in both the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Miz and in the 2012 film version.  Tara Lynne Barr, who celebrates her 23rd, is known for the indie comedy Good Bless America and the Hulu series CasualBrendan Meyer, who is 22 today, starred as child prodigy Adam Young in the Canadian series Mr. Young and played Jake Powell in the web series Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462, as well as one episode of the main series.

In music, singer-songwriter Gillian Welch celebrates her 49th birthday.  Welch, who works at the boundaries of folk and bluegrass, has had three albums nominated for Grammys, and also contributed to the Grammy-winning soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?  Her recording and performing partner for around 25 years has been David Rawlings:

Other music birthdays today include Sting (given name Gordon Sumner), who turns 65.  As a member of The Police and then as a solo performer, he has won 16 Grammys and had three Oscar nominations for Best Original Song.  Tiffany Darwish, often billed simply as Tiffany, turns 45; she had #1 singles in 1987 with “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Could’ve Been.”  Don McLean, who celebrates his 71st, will always be known for one huge hit, the 1971 smash “American Pie,” but he was definitely not a “one hit wonder.”  Freddie Jackson, who is 60 today, had a string of #1 R&B hits from about 1985-1990 such as “You Are My Lady” and “Jam Tonight.”  Bluegrass fiddler  Robert “Chubby” Wise (1915-1996) was part of the classic mid-1940s lineup of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and later on was a long-time member of Hank Snow’s band.

Bud Abbott (1897-1974) was the straight man in one of the most famous comedy duos ever.  He and Lou Costello made dozens of movies together as well as working on stage, radio and television.  They may have been most famous for the “Who’s On First” routine:

George “Spanky” McFarland (1928-1993) was one of the core members of the Our Gang cast, appearing in nearly 100 of their short films from 1932-42.  Moses Gunn (1929-1993) was a regular player with Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park festivals, and was an Emmy nominee for playing Kintango in Roots.  Indian actress and model Persis Khambatta (1948-1998) will be remembered by Star Trek fans for playing Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture.  Novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991) liked to divide his novels into the “literary” works and the “entertainments.” The former included books such as The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter; the latter, which were often more thoughtful than the typical thriller, included such books as The Third Man and Our Man in Havana.  Many of his novels, of both type, were adapted into film.

Richard III of England (1452-1485), possibly the English king with the most infamous reputation, has been portrayed on screen (usually in adaptations of Shakespeare’s play) by actors such as Basil Rathbone, Laurence Olivier, Ian Holm and Ian McKellen.  Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), often called Mahatma Gandhi, was the leader of the movement for Indian independence, famous for his philosophy of nonviolence.  He was played by Ben Kingsley in the 1982 biopic.

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 2, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Goodfellas is one of my favorite films of all time. I would honestly place it among the all time cinematic greats such as Casablanca, Citizen Kane and Godfather.

    Having said that, the wife of a hoodlum (even if they are the protagonist of the film) is almost always a thankless role in cinema. They’re usually just there on the sidelines as an attractive prop.Yet the role of Karen Hill is an important part of Goodfellas, and I could equally give credit to screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, director Martin Scorsese and of course actress Lorraine Bracco for breathing life into the role of Karen Hill.

    Lorraine Bracco was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Goodfellas, and of course deservedly so. Goodfellas really should have won for Best Picture, but that’s a debate for another day.

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    • Yeah, Pileggi & Scorsese did Karen Hill right, especially since from what I understand she assisted Henry Hill with the distribution of the drugs from their home, just as portrayed in the film. It was a good role for Lorraine Bracco, who I also liked as the tough-taking but tender wife in “Someone to Watch Over Me” (I still have some a recording that I made in 1988 of that film, although I think I recorded “Beetlejuice” over it).

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  2. Sting was a huge name in music in the 1980’s. When you consider what an impact The Police had, it’s surprising that they only released 5 albums in the late 70’s/early 80’s. They made such a huge impact in such a short amount of time. What are we talking about, maybe 5 years from their debut album in 1978 until their final album in 1983?

    And Synchronicity, their final album in 1983, turned out to be one of the biggest selling albums of the year, spending an extraordinary 15 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s album chart because of huge hits like Every Breath You Take and King Of Pain.

    And that’s to say nothing of Sting’s success as a solo artist. Happy 65th, sir.

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  3. Goodfellas was a great movie and everyone expected it would do great things for Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco. That ended almost immediately when Bracco starred in the flop, Medicine Man. She seemed to be washed up as quickly as she rose to semi-fame. Thankfully, The Sopranos changed that. Without that show, we’d still be talking about Goodfellas. But I doubt we’d be talking about Bracco. Um, I’ll just say it. She’s really rocking the cleavage in that picture…

    I don’t really know when I first discovered Groucho Marx. It seems like I was always aware of him. I imagine I first saw him satirized in Looney Tunes. He’s just one of those pop culture icons everyone is aware of whether they are familiar with him or not. My oldest recognizes him, but has no idea who he is.

    Avery Brooks was always one of the more interesting captains to watch on Star Trek. Most of the spin-off shows are largely forgotten now, I think. But Deep Space Nine was worth watching.

    We have a Marx brother, one half of Abbott and Costello and a member of Our Gang on the same day? These were all things I watched in reruns on Sunday mornings before church. Too bad we couldn’t work in one of the Stooges.

    My memory of Star Trek the Motion Picture was that much was made of Persis Khambatta shaving her head. She was such a beauty. There was open discussion about whether or not she would have a career after audiences had seen her bald.

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    • Funny you should mention Groucho and the Looney Tunes together. Bugs Bunny’s basic personality, especially as it evolved under Chuck Jones, always had a little of Groucho in it.

      And it was interesting to me that we had a Marx Brother with a birthday one day, and a day later the director who did their greatest movie (Leo McCarey).

      And about the Three Stooges? You won’t have long to wait for one of them. 🙂

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      • I’m kind of kicking myself for mentioning the Marx brothers and Looney Tunes in the same breath and not making the Bugs-Groucho connection myself.

        Who could it be? My money’s on Schemp. 😉

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    • I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I didn’t notice the cleavage (I looked at the photo for probably a split second before I hit the Click to Read More of This Post link in my inbox). Thanks for pointing that out, as she is really representing there.

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  4. I think her goodfellas costar ray would made a great blog. People tohught he would be big after goodfellas but it never happened. I do not think he had a hit film after goodfellas not even supporitng role

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    • He’s had some hits post Goodfellas, but they are few and far between. As a supporting actor, the one that immediately comes to mind for me is Wild Hogs. Terrible movie, but it was a hit.

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    • “Unlawful Entry” did pretty well for itself, and I think 2001’s “Blow” should’ve been more popular, although I guess it’s considered a minor hit.
      Even though it appears he has no good words to say about the experience, he voiced the first ever protagonist (anti-hero or criminal would apply too) that spoke dialogue in the “Grand Theft Auto” series with the Vice City game. His character of Tommy Vercetti is one of the most popular on the history of the series.

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  5. The death of Elvis Presley overshadowing the death of Groucho Marx is on this list.

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