October 10: Happy Birthday David Lee Roth and Thelonious Monk
Singer David Lee Roth turns 62 today. In the early 1970s, while attending Pasadena City College, Roth met a pair of brothers named Eddie and Alex Van Halen. They soon had formed a band, with Roth as lead singer and lyricist, which eventually was named Van Halen, and after a few years of paying their dues, they released their first album in 1978 and established themselves as one of the leading hard rock bands of the next decade or so.
Van Halen’s sixth album, 1984, was their biggest seller, and produced their only single to reach #1 on the Hot 100:
Pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) was one of the most influential figures in jazz; he is reportedly the most-frequently recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington. He began performing and recording in the mid-1940s, but it wasn’t until another decade passed that he began to win audiences over (his fellow musicians had always esteemed him). Among his most-famous compositions were “‘Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” and “Straight, No Chaser.”
Monk was at his most creative in the 1940s and ’50s, and continued to record and perform into the early 1970s. He has probably been more acclaimed after his death than he was in life. In 2006 he was awarded, posthumously, a special Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to the development of jazz.
Ben Vereen turns 70 today. Many people first became aware of him from his role in Roots, but he has had a long and distinguished stage and musical theater career, winning a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for Pippin. Country singer Tanya Tucker had her first hit, “Delta Dawn,” when she was only 13. She was a regular near the top of the country charts until the late 1990s and continues to record and perform to this day. Today is her 58th birthday. Brett Favre, a 3-time NFL MVP who quarterbacked the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowls, turns 47 today. Award-winning Bollywood actress Rekha turns 62 today. Chinese-born actress Bai Ling, whose Hollywood credits include Red Corner and Anna and the King, celebrates her 50th today.
Mario Lopez, who turns 43, was a star on Saved by the Bell and has hosted Extra since 2008. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, who is 38 today, has been a TV regular on Nash Bridges, Prison Break, and currently is featured on VH1’s Hit the Floor. Aimee Teegarden, who celebrates her 27th, was a regular on Friday Night Lights for its five season run and will be seen next year in Rings, the third film in the supernatural horror franchise. Una Healy, a member of the Anglo-Irish girl group The Saturdays, who have had several charted hits in the British Isles, turns 35 today. Elizabeth “Lzzy” Hale, lead singer and guitarist of the Grammy-winning hard rock band Halestorm, turns 33. Rose McIver, who is 28 today, stars on the CW’s iZombie and made her feature film debut in The Lovely Bones. Dan Stevens, who is turning 34, played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey and will star next year in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, opposite Emma Watson.
James Bond fans will probably remember Fiona Fullerton, who turns 60 today, for her small role in A View to a Kill as Pola Ivanova (who may or may not count as a Bond Girl depending on broadly you define the concept). Fullerton worked for many years on British television and also did some musical theater, appearing as Guinevere in Camelot on the West End. Another musical theater veteran is Jodi Benson, who is 55 today. Benson began working on Broadway in the early 1980s; one of her early roles was in the musical Smile, with lyrics by Howard Ashman. She went on to receive a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for Crazy for You in 1992. Meanwhile, Ashman had contacted her about a new Disney cartoon he was writing the lyrics for—The Little Mermaid. Benson was chosen to be the voice actor and singing voice for the title character, Ariel, and subsequently has had a long career with Disney as a voice actress.
An interesting piece of trivia: Jodi Benson graduated from a small college in Illinois called Millikin University. When The Little Mermaid was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2007, the original performer of the role of Ariel was a young actress named Sierra Boggess, who is also a graduate of Millikin University.
While country/folk artist John Prine, who celebrates his 70th today, has never been a big commercial success—he has never had a charted single and his most successful album reached a mere 55th on the Billboard 200—he is one of the most respected songwriters of the last 40-50 years. He won a Grammy for his album The Missing Years, but any of his music is worth checking out.
Nora Roberts, who celebrates her 66th birthday today, is one of the most prolific and best-selling authors around today. She has written well over a hundred romance novels under that name (a shortened version of her given name, Eleanor Robertson), plus around 40 romantic suspense novels, the “In Death” series, under the name J. D. Robb. James Clavell (1921-1994) was known for his Asian Saga of novels about Europeans encountering Asian culture and society, which included Shogun, King Rat and several others. He was also a screenwriter and director whose credits included The Great Escape (writing) and To Sir, With Love (writing and directing).
When I was younger I knew Helen Hayes (1900-1993) as a “nice old lady” character in Disney films like Herbie Rides Again and Candleshoe; only later did I discover that she was one of the most distinguished actresses of the 20th Century, especially in theater. Her stage repertoire included roles from Shakespeare, Chekov, Shaw and Tennessee Williams. She won Tonys for Best Actress in a Drama for Anita Loos’s Happy Birthday and for Jean Anouilh’s Time Remembered. On screen, she won Oscars for The Sin of Madelon Claudet and for Airport, and an Emmy for an episode of the Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. In 1977, she won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording.
All of those honors make Hayes one of the small number of winners of an “EGOT,” a completely unofficial, but pretty impressive, recognition of someone winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony in their career; she is also a winner of the equally unofficial but also impressive Triple Crown of Acting. There is only one other individual to attain both an EGOT and a Triple Crown. You’ll have to wait a couple of months to find out who. 🙂
Chris Penn (1965-2006) never achieved the stardom of his brother Sean, but had a fine career as a character actor before his death of heart disease at 40. Some of his most notable film credits include Footloose, Reservoir Dogs (as Nice Guy Eddie), Short Cuts, True Romance, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, and Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral (maybe his best role). Singer and actress Anita Mui (1963-2003) was a major star of “Cantopop” music who sold an estimated 10 million albums in her career. As an actress, she was a star of the cult classic The Heroic Trio, and had a major role in Jackie Chan’s Hollywood breakthrough film, Rumble in the Bronx. English singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl (1959-2000) was most famous for her collaboration with The Pogues on the Christmas song “Fairytale of New York,” and also had a number of charted singles of her own in England, Ireland and on the continent.
Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was one of the most important playwrights of the 20th Century. His plays, including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming and Betrayal, brought him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. Pinter was also a distinguished screenwriter, adapting both his own plays and other authors plays and novels for the screen; he was Oscar-nominated for his screenplays for Betrayal and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
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 10, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Aimee Teegarden, Anita Mui, Chris Penn, Dan Stevens, David Lee Roth, Harold Pinter, Helen Hayes, Jodi Benson, John Prine, Thelonious Monk. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.