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October 11: Happy Birthday Joan Cusack and Jane Krakowski

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Joan Cusack celebrates her 54th birthday.  She spent a year on the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid-1980s, and over the years has appeared in supporting parts in several of her brother John’s films, such as Say Anything… and Grosse Pointe Blank.  She emerged as a major actress in her own right in 1988, with significant roles in Stars and Bars, Married to the Mob, and most importantly, Working Girl, which brought her her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress:

Nearly a decade later, Cusack received a second Oscar nomination for In & Out.  Some of her other notable roles include the principal in School of Rock and voicing cowgirl Jessie in Toy Story 2 and 3.  More recently she has played the role of Sheila Jackson on Showtime’s Shameless, for which she received five consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress, winning in 2015.

Jane Krakowski turns 48 today.  She began acting in her teens, with small roles in National Lampoon’s Vacation and Fatal Attraction and a role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow.  She was a Golden Globe nominee for her role on Ally McBeal and more recently a Primetime Emmy nominee for Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  But the role she’s most identified with, which brought her four Emmy nominations, is Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock:

Alongside her stage career, Krakowski has an impressive stage resume as well.  At 18, she was in the original Broadway cast of Starlight Express, and in 1989 she was a Tony nominee for the musical adaptation of Grand Hotel.  She won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the 2003 revival of Maury Yeston’s Nine, and won an Olivier Award for playing Miss Adelaide in the 2005 London revival of Guys and Dolls.  Most recently she received her third Tony nomination for this year’s revival of She Loves Me.

Emily Deschanel is turning 40 today.  She has had a variety of film and television roles, and has a couple of famous relatives, but is best known by far for playing Dr. Temperance Brennan, the lead on Fox’s Bones, for eleven seasons (with a 12th in the offing).  Stephen Moyer, who turns 47, starred for seven seasons as Bill Compton on True Blood, and was seen in last year’s ConcussionMatt Bomer, who is 30 today, starred for five seasons on USA Network’s White Collar, and was an Emmy nominee for the HBO movie The Normal Heart; he can be currently seen in The Magnificent SevenMichelle Trachtenberg, who celebrates her 31st, is best known for playing Dawn Summers on Buffy and Georgina Sparks on Gossip Girl.

Doctor Who fans will remember Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown, companion to the Fifth and Sixth Doctors; she turns 56 today.  Luke Perry, who played Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210, celebrates his 50th today.  Director Charles Shyer, who is 65 today, has Private Benjamin, Irreconcilable Differences, and the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride among his credits.  David Morse, who turns 63, is a two-time Emmy nominee, once for the recurring role of Michael Tritter on House, the second for George Washington in HBO’s John AdamsPaulette Carlson, the lead singer for country band Highway 101 when they had 4 #1 singles in the late 1980s, turns 64 today.  Dawn French, who celebrates her 59th, is a British television actress and seven-time BAFTA Award nominee, known for her lead role in The Vicar of Dibley and her sketch show with Jennifer Saunders, French and Saunders.

Daryl Hall, who is 70 today, is one half of the pop-rock duo Hall & Oates (along with John Oates), who were named the most successful duo of the rock era by Billboard Magazine.  Over about a decade starting in the mid-1970s, they had six #1 hits and several more reach the Top Ten.

In sports, football Hall of Famer Steve Young turns 55.  He was NFL MVP in the 1992 and 1994 seasons and the latter year led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl victory.  Golfer Michelle Wie celebrates her 27th.  The one-time child prodigy, holder of a variety of “youngest ever” distinctions in women’s golf, won her first major championship at the US Women’s Open in 2014.  Gymnast Sawao Kato turns 70 today.  He won 12 Olympic medals competing for Japan from 1968-1976.  8 of his medals were gold including two men’s all-around titles; only 10 Olympians ever have won eight or more gold medals.  Sir Robert “Bobby” Charlton, who is 79 today, was one of England’s best footballers ever,  one of the stars of the 1966 England side which won their only World Cup.

Two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye, who celebrates her 68th, has been a major musical theater star for nearly 40 years.  She got her big break in 1978 when Madeline Kahn left the cast of the musical On the Twentieth Century; Kaye, who had been her understudy, took over the role of Lily and was a sensation.  She won her first Tony as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera, and her second as Duchess Estonia in Nice Work if You Can Get It.  A few of her other notable roles, on Broadway or elsewhere, have included Madame Morrible in Wicked, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Mama Rose in Gypsy, and Meg Brockie in Brigadoon:

Dottie West (1932-1991) was the winner of the first Grammy for Best Female Country Performance in 1965,.  She had her greatest success starting in the late 1970s with a string of #1 country hits, several of them duets with Kenny Rogers, but also two solo recordings.  Jean Vander Pyl (1919-1999) was a voice actress who did a lot of work with Hanna-Barbera, in particular as the longtime voice of Wilma Flintstone.  German-American actor Sig Ruman (1884-1967) was known for his films with the Marx Brothers and for his major supporting role as a Russian diplomat in Ninotchka.  Saturday matinee audiences in the mid 1940s would have seen a lot of Linda Stirling (1921-1997), who starred in a lot of B-westerns and other matinee features but was especially known as Republic’s “serial queen,” the star of chapter plays like The Tiger Woman, Zorro’s Black Whip and Manhunt of Mystery Island.

Director and choreographer Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) shared the Oscar for Best Director for West Side Story with Robert Wise and also won a special Oscar for choreography for the film.  His Broadway career brought him five Tonys, two for choreography and three for direction.

Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) ranks among the best and most prolific authors of genre fiction of the 20th century, known for his Western novels and stories and his crime fiction.  As we have discussed here before, he has also been a rich source of material for film and television.  At least 20 feature films have been adapted from his works, some of them extremely well-regarded, such as Get Shorty, Jackie Brown (from his novel Rum Punch) and Out of Sight.  A number of TV series and movies have also been drawn from Leonard, the most successful probably being the FX series Justified.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was one of the most active and influential First Ladies in American history.  She has been played on screen by Greer Garson in Sunrise at Campobello and by Jane Alexander in the miniseries Eleanor and Franklin.

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 11, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Joan Cusack is always a welcome presence. My oldest had an attachment to Jessie from Toy Story, so that’s the role I remember her for. But she’s one of the most reliable supporting actresses out there. I never watched Ally McBeal, but I definitely enjoyed Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock.

    On Anna Paquin’s birthday, I mentioned that I watched most of True Blood but never saw the last couple of seasons. I heard they weren’t worth the effort. In addition to being her costar, Stephen Moyer is also Paquin’s spouse. Sticking with vampires, Michelle Trachtenberg’s introduction is arguably when Buffy the Vampire Slayer jumped the shark. But I don’t blame the actress. Her character is supposed to be annoying.

    Future WTHH candidate of the day is Luke Perry.

    At Kings Island, some of the queues have TVs that play music videos. While waiting in line this summer, the girls were introduced the the great Hall and Oates song, Private Eyes. They weren’t fans, but I still enjoy it.

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  2. I think her brother john would be be good candidate for the blog.

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  3. Our two headliners today are both extremely talented, but both of them seem to have been slotted into “supporting” roles for most of their careers. Regardless, both Joan Cusack and Jane Krakowski make almost anything they do on the big or small screen (or stage in Krakowski’s case) better.

    I recall that a lot of Buffy fans went ballistic when Dawn was added to the show, but my sense is that Michelle Trachtenberg eventually won many of them over, at least to the point of respecting her as an actress.

    Elmore Leonard, of course, we’ve talked about here in the past. He hasn’t always been well-served by the various adaptations of his work to screen, but some of them have been very good.

    Although Linda Stirling is a pretty obscure figure in film history (unless you are into 1940s serials), she is a favorite of mine because of her post-acting career. She went to graduate school at UCLA and earned a Master’s degree (and maybe a doctorate, eventually, I’m not sure) and then became a community college professor, teaching English and Drama at Glendale College in California. That means that I share both an alma mater and a career with her.

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  4. Joan Cusack has had a distinctly different career than her brother, but I think playing key supporting roles have served her well, although I have no idea if she wanted more.
    I watched a lot of “Ally McBeal (strangely, I related to her a little at the time) so I’m really familiar with Jane Krakowski’s character from that show. I also remember her in a bit part as wife of William Fichtner’s character in 1999’s “Go” (still have the soundtrack to the film; I’d like to point out that on the film poster & CD Sarah Polley looks like Laura San Giacomo to me). I’ve seen her in those orange juice commercials too.
    Heck, even if one has never read an Elmore Leonard novel (I’ve only read two), his name will ring a bell to many due to so many adaptations of his work (I still think 1985’s “Stick” is a dent film, though I’ve never read his novel).
    Like Luke Perry, I too roll with the sideburns. I viewed a lot of 90201 back in the day, but I also remember him in 1992’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” 1994’s “8 Seconds”, and this TV movie I caught on HBO the previous decade titled “Indiscreet”, which also had Lisa Edelstein (who I’ve always found attractive) in it.
    I’ve been been a big fan of Steve Young, but he seems very intelligent and was a heck of a player.

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