October 4: Happy Birthday Susan Sarandon and Christoph Waltz
Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon turns 70 today. Her first film role was in a supporting part in a 1970 film called Joe, which was made on a tiny $100,000 budget but was a critical and box office success. By 1975, she was starring opposite Robert Redford in The Great Waldo Pepper, but it was her other film that year that would leave the lasting impression: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She received the first of her five Oscar nominations for Best Actress for a noirish 1980 crime drama/romance where she co-starred with the great Burt Lancaster:
Sarandon’s Oscar nomination for Atlantic City was followed by additional nods for Thelma & Louise, Lorenzo’s Oil, and The Client. In 1995, her fifth nomination brought her her first Oscar for Dead Man Walking. Her other notable films include Bull Durham, White Palace, Stepmom, and Igby Goes Down.
Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz turns 60 today. He had a long career in television—mostly German, some British—beginning in the late 1970s. His first role in a major English language film was a small part in the 2000 crime comedy Ordinary Decent Criminal. But it’s safe to say that very few American viewers knew of him until 2009, when Quentin Tarantino decided to make a World War II film:
After winning Best Supporting Actor as Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, Waltz re-teamed with Tarantino on 2012’s Django Unchained, winning a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He is one of two actors in today’s article to play Cardinal Richelieu, in the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, and was Ernst Stavro Blofeld in last year’s Spectre.
Alicia Silverstone, who turns 40 today, is a WTHH subject. She rocketed to stardom in the 1995 film Clueless, and almost as quickly fizzled out in the wake of misfires like Excess Baggage and Blast from the Past. She has kept working, primarily in independent films, and appeared in this year’s King Cobra with two other WTHH subjects, Christian Slater and Molly Ringwald. Rachael Leigh Cook, who celebrates her 37th birthday, has a career pattern a bit like Silverstone’s (and might possibly have a WTHH article of her own some day). She burst on the scene in a literary classic adapted into a teenage rom-com, She’s All That, and was an “it girl” for a short while in 1999-2000, but her chances of stardom vanished faster than you could say Josie and the Pussycats. She worked very hard in indie films in the 2000s and recently was the lead on TNT’s Perception.
Dakota Johnson, who is 27 today, made her debut alongside her mother, Melanie Griffith, in Crazy in Alabama in 1999. She starred as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey and will reprise the role in the upcoming sequels. Melissa Benoist, who celebrates her 28th, first became known as Marley Rose on Glee, and now stars as Kara Zor-El on Supergirl. Irish actress Catriona Balfe, who turns 37, is a Golden Globe nominee for the role of Claire Beauchamp Randall on Starz’ Outlander. She appeared earlier this year in Money Monster. Independent folk musician Matthew “M.” Ward turns 43. He has recorded eight solo albums and also records and performs with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him.
Sarah Lancashire, who celebrates her 52nd, is a veteran of British television, best known for her roles on Coronation Street and, currently, Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley. Liev Schreiber, who turns 49, was in several of the Scream films as Cotton Weary and had a sizable role in last year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight. Director Stephen Gyllenhaal, who turns 67, has done lots of TV work and also feature films like A Dangerous Woman and Losing Isaiah; he is Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s father. Abraham Benrubi, who is 47 today, played Jerry Markovic on ER, starred in ABC’s Men in Trees, and has been in films like George of the Jungle and Open Range. Tchéky Karyo, who celebrates his 63rd, is a Turkish-born French actor who has been in several of Luc Besson’s films as well as others ranging from Goldeneye to A Very Long Engagement. Armand Assante, who turns 67, won an Emmy for playing John Gotti in the HBO miniseries Gotti and has had significant roles in films like Private Benjamin, Q&A, Judge Dredd and American Gangster.
I like to think of the French actress Sara Forestier, who turns 30 today, as sort of the Jennifer Lawrence of French cinema. Like Lawrence, she made a big splash while still in her teens, winning a Cesar for Most Promising Actress for the teen romance Games of Love and Chance. She then, again like Lawrence, won the top acting award while still in her early twenties, when her performance in The Names of Love, filmed when she was 23, earned her the Cesar for Best Actress.
Bernice Johnson Reagon, who turns 74 today, combined a career as a scholar with one as a musician and activist. She was a cultural historian who specialized in music history, specifically music and performance in African-American culture, and over the years held positions at the Smithsonian and later at American University. She was a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers in the 1960s, and in 1973, she founded the African-American women’s a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock:
In the world of books, Anne Rice turns 75 today. Her biggest body of work is the series The Vampire Chronicles, which began with Interview with the Vampire, published in 1976. The core series includes eleven novels, with a twelfth coming out later this year; there are also a pair of tie-in novels, the New Tales of the Vampires, not to mention the crossover links to Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. Jackie Collins (1937-2015) wrote novels full of things like glamor, sex and crime—very successfully, as a conservative estimate puts total sales of her books at over 250 million copies worldwide. Her best-known books include those featuring mafia queen Lucky Santangelo, and her Hollywood series which began with Hollywood Wives, her most successful book. Many of Collins’ novels were adapted into films or TV miniseries, two of which starred her older sister, actress Joan Collins. Damon Runyon (1880-1946) was a newspaperman who also wrote short stories full of colorful characters and an equally colorful writing style. Runyon wrote almost exclusively in the present tense and filled his stories with original slang, much of which became widely used (e.g., “shiv” for a knife or “roscoe” for a gun). One of his stories was “Little Miss Marker,” which was adapted into the film that made Shirley Temple a star; two others, “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure,” were adapted into the hit Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.
Charlton Heston (1923-2008) starred in over 100 feature films during his career. He was best known for a pair of historical epics, playing Moses in The Ten Commandments and the title role in Ben-Hur (winning Best Actor for the latter role). Two of my favorite Heston roles were as Mike Vargas in Touch of Evil, and as Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. George Sidney (1916-2002) was a director at MGM; he was nominated for the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement award four times. He was best known for musicals—Anchors Aweigh, Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate—and for biopics like Young Bess and The Eddy Durchin Story. Sidney also directed MGM’s 1948 version of The Three Musketeers.
Buster Keaton (1895-1966) was one of the greatest masters of silent film comedy. He was nicknamed “The Great Stone Face” for the stoic demeanor he maintained while performing some of the most amazing physical comedy of his day (or any day). He made a number of shorts, and in 1923 made Our Hospitality, the first in a series of comedy features that his reputation rests on. It was followed by other features like Sherlock Jr., The Navigator, Seven Chances, Go West, The General (often regarded as his masterpiece) and Steamboat Bill Jr. He continued working in the sound era, both in film and television, but his genius is found in his silent films.
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 October 4, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Alicia Silverstone, Anne Rice, Buster Keaton, Charlton Heston, Christoph Waltz, Dakota Johnson, Damon Runyon, Melissa Benoist, Rachael Leigh Cook, Sara Forestier, Susan Sarandon. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.