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October 16: Happy Birthday Tim Robbins and Angela Lansbury

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Tim Robbins celebrates his 58th birthday today.  He began acting while a teen living in New York and made his first television appearances shortly after graduating from UCLA, with guest spots on shows like St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues.  He also picked up roles in films like The Sure Thing and Top Gun (as Merlin, Maverick’s RIO during the final battle sequence).  He began to get positive notice when he played rookie pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh in Bull Durham.

1992 was a breakthrough year for Robbins.  He made his debut directing and writing with Bob Roberts, which he also starred in, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.  He was beaten out for that Golden Globe, however, by one Tim Robbins, who won the Golden Globe for playing Griffin Mill in Robert Altman’s The Player:

Robbins’ subsequent career has had ups and downs, but there are plenty of high points.  He rejoined Altman for Short Cuts, and in 1994 starred in The Shawshank Redemption and the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy.  In 2003 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Mystic River, and 2 years later starred opposite Sarah Polley in the well-received The Secret Life of Words.  He also continued writing and directing; in 1995 he was nominated for Best Director for Dead Man Walking, while his romantic partner at the time, Susan Sarandon, won Best Actress.

Dame Angela Lansbury is turning 91 today.  Space permits no more than hitting some of the high points of her seven-decade career.  She made her film debut while still a teenager, receiving her first of three Best Supporting Actress nominations for Gaslight.  Her second Oscar nomination came a year later; interestingly, given another of today’s birthdays, it was for The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Her third Oscar nomination, and one of her finest performances ever, was as the mother of Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) in The Manchurian Candidate:

Lansbury’s television career has brought her a staggering 18 Emmy nominations (although no wins), including 12 in a row for every single season of Murder, She Wrote, for which she did win four Golden Globes for Best Actress in a TV Series—Drama.  As a stage performer, she has won five Tony Awards.  Her first was for the title character in the musical Mame in 1966; her most recent was in 2009 for playing Madame Arcati in a revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

Suzanne Somers, who turns 70, had a big breakthrough when she starred on the first five seasons of Three’s Company in the late 1970s, left the show in a contract dispute, and later returned to prime time in Step by Step in the 1990s.  One of Brazil’s most distinguished actresses, Fernanda Montenegro, who is 87 today, is the only Brazilian ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, for the 1998 film Central Station.  Her 2005 film The House of Sand also had at least some play in American theaters; she co-starred in that film with her real-life daughter Fernanda Torres.

Kellie Martin, who celebrates her 41st, was an Emmy nominee for playing Becca Thatcher on Life Goes On.  She went on to play Lucy Knight on two seasons of ER and to star as amateur sleuth Samantha Kinsey on the Hallmark Channel’s series of eleven Mystery Woman TV movies.  Caterina Scorsone, who turns 35, starred on Lifetime’s Missing and currently is featured as Amelia Shepherd on Grey’s AnatomyPaul Sparks, who is 45 today, was a regular on Boardwalk Empire and was nominated for an Emmy for his recurring role on House of CardsKenneth Lonergan, who turns 54, is a writer-director whose credits include Analyze This, You Can Count on Me, and Gangs of New York; he is also a successful playwright.  Director Gil Kenan turns 40; his credits include Monster House, City of Ember and the 2015 remake of Poltergeist.  David Zucker was part of the “ZAZ” comic creative team along with his brother Jerry and Jim Abrahams; their films included Airplane!, Top Secret! and the Naked Gun films.  Zucker turns 69 today.

Michael Balzary, who performs as Flea, turns 54 today.  He is the longtime bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and was named the #2 bassist of all time (behind John Entwistle) by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll.  He has acted in several films including the two sequels to Back to the FutureBob Weir, a founding member of the Grateful Dead, turns 69 today; Weir was the group’s rhythm guitarist and one of their main vocalists.  Since the Dead disbanded after Jerry Garcia’s death, Weir has performed with a number of legacy groups, including Dead & Company, another member of which is John Mayer.  Mayer, who turns 39 today, is a seven-time Grammy winner as a solo performer and has had five straight albums reach #1 or 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Bryce Harper, who turns 24 today, is one of baseball’s biggest stars.  He was the unanimous choice as the National League MVP for 2015.  Juan Gonzalez, who turns 47, spent most of his baseball career with the Texas Rangers, and won the American League MVP award twice.  Tim McCarver, who is 75 today, was the catcher for two St. Louis Cardinals teams that won the World Series, and after his retirement has gone on to be an Emmy-winning sportscaster.  Baseball Hall of Famer Goose Goslin (1900-1971) starred on four American League pennant winners, two of which, the 1924 Senators and 1935 Tigers, won the World Series.  NBA star Dave DeBusschere (1940-2003) is one of only twelve athletes to have played both in the NBA, where he helped the New York Knicks win two NBA titles, and in Major League Baseball, where he spent two seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Linda Darnell (1923-1965) signed a contract with Fox at only 15.  While still in her teens she starred opposite Tyrone Power in films like The Mark of Zorro and Blood and Sand.  From 1946-50 she starred in films like My Darling Clementine, Forever AmberA Letter to Three Wives, and No Way Out.  Her later years were troubled by alcoholism and depression.  She died tragically, in a house fire, at only 41.

Gerard “Gerry” Parkes (1924-2014) was best known for playing Doc in the North American version of Fraggle Rock.  Television actor Michael Conrad (1925-1983) was a two-time Emmy winner as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues.  Also an Emmy winner was Alice Pearce (1917-1966), who played nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz on the first two seasons of Bewitched; her Emmy was posthumous after her death of cancer in early 1966 (the first of two posthumous Emmys in the show’s history; the second was Marion Lorne).  Wild Bill Elliott (1904-1965) was a B-Western mainstay in the 1940s; he was most noted for starring in 16 of Republic’s films about Red Ryder, a “peace-loving man” who inevitably got into slugfests and shootouts before the final reel was over.

Two very big names shared today as a birthday.  Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953) makes almost every list of the greatest American playwrights.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama four times, for Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936.  Irish novelist, playwright and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is best known for his one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, for plays like Salome (later adapted by Richard Strauss into an opera) and The Importance of Being Earnest, and for poems like The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

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 16, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Oscar Wilde is one of the true geniuses of Victorian era writing and is a huge signpost in the history of what it means to be famous. I would go so far as to say that any well-read person should have experience with both The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

    Lansbury has indeed had a long and illustrious career on stage and screen, but she may live on most indelibly as the voice of Mrs Potts in the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast. Her role in the film adaptation of Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray is one which was changed from actress to singer, a change which was understandable, but not as impactful as what was on the page.

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  2. I remember when I used to think Tim Robbins was the actor who shot the Howard Beale character at the end of “Network”; I was off on that one. Still, I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work.
    I thought Angela Lansbury was truly chilling in the 1962 “The Manchurian Candidate”. Boy, has she had a busy and successful career.
    I was just reading up on Linda Darnell the other day; seemed she was really jerked around in the business, and the details of her death are horrible, I think she had talent and was beautiful.
    I liked the tone and subjects that Eugene O’Neill wrote about, and Oscar Wilde was really one of a kind.
    I remember Flea had a cameo in the 1994 film “The Getaway”, in which Henry Rollins also played a cop in it. Rock on!

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  3. Robbins was one of those guys who had been around for a while before he became famous. Like a lot of people, I first took notice of him in Bull Durham. He never did become a big leading man. I think if that was going to happen, Jacob’s Ladder would have been the movie to do it. But I don’t think A-list movie stardom was ever a high priority for Robbins.

    Angela Lansbury, I knew primarily from Murder She Wrote. I never actually watched the show, but it seemed like it was on the air forever. I did eventually see The Manchurian Candidate which is awesome. Go see it if you haven’t. And of course she achieved a level of immortality as Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast.

    Just about every day we have a birthday for a celebrity who was on a show I wasn’t allowed to watch as a kid. Next to maybe Charlie’s Angels, Three’s Company was high on my dad’s hit list of shows that must never be viewed in his house. I was aware of Suzanne Somers because she was everywhere for a brief time and all of my friends were watching her on TV. She has survived to sell thigh masters another day, but I think even she would agree leaving Three’s Company was a mistake.

    Eugene O’Neill and Oscar Wilde? Wow. Big day for playwrights!

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