October 18: Happy Birthday Wynton Marsalis and George C. Scott
Wynton Marsalis celebrates his 55th birthday today. A trumpeter who is accomplished at both jazz and classical music, Marsalis performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic at 14 years of age. After graduating from the Juilliard School in 1981, he immediately began to make a mark as a recording artist. In 1983, he became the first, and so far only, artist to win Grammys for classical and jazz recordings in the same year, the first for a recording of the trumpet concertos of Haydn, Hummel and Leopold Mozart, the second for his album Think of One:
To date, Marsalis has won a total of nine Grammys—six for jazz recordings, two for classical, and one for Best Spoken Word Album. In the 1990s, he composed a three-and-a-half hour jazz oratorio, Blood on the Fields, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1997, the first jazz composer to be so honored.
George C. Scott (1927-1999) began to emerge as a film actor with a pair of Oscar-nominated roles, in 1959 for ambitious prosecutor Claude Dancer in Anatomy of a Murder and as Bert Gordon in The Hustler. In 1964, he played General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. But his greatest role came when he was cast as another general:
Scott was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of General George S. Patton, but declined to accept the award, telling the Academy that he found it “demeaning” to be in competition with other actors. He later turned down an Emmy award for the same reason. In addition to his film and television work, Scott had a long stage career, starring in the original Broadway cast of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and playing Willy Loman in a 1975 revival of Death of a Salesman.
Zhou Xun, who turns 42 today, is one of the most acclaimed actresses in Chinese-language film, although unlike Zhang Ziyi or Zhao Wei she has not done much work that would be know to mainstream US audiences. She has won Best Actress accolades during her career from the Hong Kong Film Awards, the Golden Horse Awards (Taiwan), the Golden Rooster Awards (mainland China) and the Asian Film Awards.
WTHH subject Jean-Claude Van Damme turns 56 today. He recently appeared in Kickboxer: Vengeance, a reboot of the old series of Kickboxer films. Dawn Wells is 78 today; she will always be remembered as Mary Ann Summers on Gilligan’s Island. Erin Moran, who celebrates her 56th, played Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Pam Dawber, who turns 65, starred as Mindy McConnell on Mork & Mindy and later as Samantha Russell on My Sister Sam. Joe Morton, who is 69 today, starred on Syfy’s Eureka and won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor for Scandal. In film he has regularly worked with John Sayles and appeared in Terminator 2 and Speed. Chuck Lorre, who celebrates his 64th, is a television writer-producer who has created a number of successful series: Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly, and The Big Bang Theory.
Martina Navratilova, who turns 60, was one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time, winning 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 doubles titles (most with Pam Shriver) and 10 mixed doubles titles during her career. Mike Ditka, who is 77 today, is a Football Hall of Famer who won Super Bowls as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach, the last in 1986 with the Chicago Bears. Terry McMillian, who celebrates her 65th, is the author of novels such as Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, as well as the screenplays when both of these were adapted to film.
Zac Efron turns 29 today. He became well-known as Troy Bolton in the High School Musical films and for 17 Again; more recently he has starred in the Neighbors films and this year’s Dirty Grandpa. Carly Schroeder is 26 today; as a teen she was featured in well-received films like Mean Creek and Gracie, and she stars in the upcoming film One of Us. Freida Pinto, who celebrates her 32nd, became famous as a star of Slumdog Millionaire; she also starred in the reboot film Rise of the Planet of the Apes and will be in Andy Serkis’s upcoming Jungle Book. Tyler Posey, who is 25 today, stars as Scott McCall on MTV’s Teen Wolf. Joy Bryant, who turns 42 today, starred as Jasmine Trussell on Parenthood for its five season run.
Chuck Berry celebrates his 90th birthday today. He began as a blues musician but became one of the pioneers of rock; just for starters, the common way of opening a rock song with an electric guitar run is known as a “Chuck Berry guitar intro.” He was also one of the most influential songwriters in the early rock era, quite possibly the most influential.
Berry has faced some legal difficulties during his career, but his place in music history is assured.
A number of other noteworthy names in music were born this day. Laura Nyro (1947-1997) had a respectable career as a recording artist but was best known for recordings that others made of her songs, such as The 5th Dimension and Barbra Streisand. Lotte Lenya (1898-1981) was best known for performing the works of her husband, composer Kurt Weill, most notably her signature role of Jenny in The Threepenny Opera. She also played Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love. Bobby Troup (1918-1999) was the composer of “Route 66,” which was recorded by, among others, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and none other than Chuck Berry. Troup also starred on TV’s Emergency. Jessie May Hemphill (1923-2006) was one of the first successful female blues artists. Composer Howard Shore is a three-time Oscar winner for his work on the Lord of the Rings films. Shore, who is 70 today, has also scored almost all of David Cronenberg’s films and worked several times with Martin Scorsese. Cynthia Weil turns 76; she and her husband Barry Mann co-wrote the Oscar and Grammy-winning son “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail and wrote hits like Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”
Peter Boyle (1935-2006) won an Emmy as Outstanding Guest Actor—Drama for an appearance on The X-Files, played the monster in Young Frankenstein, and was a seven-time Emmy nominee for playing Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. German actor Klaus Kinski (1926-1991) starred in spaghetti Westerns like For a Few Dollars More and then became a regular in Werner Herzog’s films, such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarroldo. Playwright Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for Best Play, along with other honors, for The Heidi Chronicles. Greek actress Melina Mercouri (1920-1994) was an Oscar nominee for Never on Sunday and a three-time Golden Globe nominee, who generally worked with her director-husband, Jules Dassin.
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 18, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Chuck Berry, Chuck Lorre, Freida Pinto, George C. Scott, jean-claude van damme, Joe Morton, Lotte Lenya, Wynton Marsalis, Zac Efron, Zhou Xun. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.