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October 21: Happy Birthday Carrie Fisher and Dizzy Gillespie

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Carrie Fisher celebrates her 60th birthday today.  The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, she made her Broadway debut in the 1973 revival of the musical Irene and her film debut two years later in the comedy Shampoo.  And two years after that, she appeared in the role that made her famous, Princess Leia in Star Wars, as well as in its two sequels:

Aside from Empire and Jedi, Fisher had several significant film role in the 1980s, appearing in The Blues Brothers, The Man with One Red Shoe, Hannah and Her Sisters, and When Harry Met Sally, among others.  By the end of the eighties, she was beginning to make the transition from an actress to a writer who acted from time to time, publishing her first novel, the partly-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge, in 1987.

Fisher has written several additional books, as well as a one-woman play called Wishful Drinking.  She wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Postcards from the Edge, and was apparently a very busy script doctor during the 1990s.  She returned to the role of Princess/General Leia last year in The Force Awakens, and a memoir called The Princess Diarist, based on her diaries from the filming of Star Wars, comes out next month.

Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) was one of the jazz world’s greatest trumpeters and musical innovators.  Gillespie began performing in the late 1930s, playing with several of the leading bandleaders of that era.  In 1945 he made a set of recordings with fellow legend-to-be Charlie Parker, and then set up his own band the following year.  Some of his most influential compositions were included in that first set of recordings with Parker:

Gillespie was one of the central figures, along with Parker and Thelonious Monk, in the emergence of what is called “bop” or “bebop” jazz music.  He was also a pioneer in the “Afro-Cuban” movement that brought African and Latin American influences into jazz.  he continued to perform and record until about a year prior to his death.

Also in music, Steven Lee Cropper, who turns 75, is the longtime guitarist for the Stax Records in-house band, Booker T & the M. G.’s, and appeared in The Blues BrothersManfred Mann, who turns 76, has founded several band which have taken their name from him, and has had hits like “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and “Blinded by the Light.”  Elvin Bishop, who is 74 today, is a rock and blues musician who has been successful both with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and as a solo performer; his biggest hit was “Fooled Around and Fell In Love.”

Aaron Tveit, who celebrates his 33rd today, dropped out of college at the age of 20 to join the national touring company of Rent.  On Broadway, he has appeared in the casts of Hairspray, Wicked, Next to Normal, and in the lead of Catch Me If You Can.  His most prominent screen roles have been as Enjolras in Les Misérables and as Mike Warren in USA Network’s Graceland.

Irish actor Andrew Scott, who turns 40, has played villains on Sherlock (winning a BAFTA Award as Jim Moriarty) and in Spectre (Max “C” Denbigh), and is a two-time Olivier Award winner for his stage work.  Will Estes, who celebrates his 38th, stars as Jamie Reagan on CBS’s Blue Bloods and previously starred on NBC’s American DreamsGlen Powell, who plays Chad Radwell on Scream Queens, turns 28.  Charlotte Sullivan, who is 33 today, starred on the Canadian police drama Rookie Blue for its six season run.  Sasha Roiz, who celebrates his 43rd, plays Sean Renard on NBC’s GrimmBlanca Suárez, who is turning 28, is a rising star of Spanish cinema who won a Goya Award for Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live InJeffrey Bowyer-Chapman turns 32; he stars on Lifetime’s Unreal.

Ken Watanabe, who turns 57, has won Best Actor at the Japanese Academy Awards twice, for Memories of Tomorrow and Shizumanu Taiyo.  In American media, he was an Oscar nominee for The Last Samurai and more recently a Tony nominee for his Broadway debut as the King of Siam in the 2015 revival of The King and ICatherine Hardwicke is 61 today.  She began her career as a production designer, working on films like Tombstone and Tank Girl, and then moved into directing with the indie film Thirteen; more recently she directed the first Twilight film.  Everett McGill, who turns 71, had a nice career as a character actor in the 1980s and ’90s, appearing in films like Licence to Kill and My Fellow Americans, and will return to the role of Big Ed Hurley in the Twin Peaks revival.

The New York Times has called Ursula K. Le Guin, who turns 87 today, “America’s greatest living science fiction writer.”  In novels like The Left Hand of Darkness and its sequels The Dispossessed and The Telling, Le Guin has brought issues like environmentalism, gender identity and feminism into science fiction.  She has done the same in fantasy through books like the Earthsea trilogy and its sequels.

Baseball Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, who is 88 today, had his birthday one day after that of his longtime teammate Mickey Mantle.  Ford helped the Yankees win 6 World Series titles during his career and won the Cy Young Award in 1961.  Fittingly, he and Mantle entered the Hall of Fame together in 1974.  Lavinia Miloșovici, who turns 40, was one of the most successful women’s gymnasts of the 1990s, winning six Olympic medals and 13 at the World Championships.

Canadian actor Robert Clothier (1921-1999) was one of the stars of The Beachcombers, which was one of the longest-running shows in Canadian television history, airing for nearly 2o years.  Shammi Kapoor (1931-2011) worked in Indian cinema for over 50 years and was a two-time Filmfare Award winner. Georgia Brown (1933-1992) was an English singer and actress who was nominated for Tonys twice for her musical theater career and for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress on Cheers.  American singer-actress Julie Wilson (1924-2015) was sometimes known as the “queen of cabaret,” and had a long Broadway career highlighted by a Tony nomination for the musical Legs Diamond.  American journalist Brock Yates (1933-2016), who passed just a couple of weeks ago, was the longtime editor of Car and Driver.  He also wrote the screenplays for Smokey and the Bandit II and The Cannonball Run and had a cameo in the latter film.

Conductor Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997) won 32 Grammys during his career, more than any other recording artist.  The most famous of his some 250 recordings was the complete studio recording he made from 1958-65 of Wagner’s four opera cycle Der Ring des NibelungenCelia Cruz (1925-2013) was no stranger to the Grammys herself.  The Cuban-born singer won eight of them, and was one of the most important figures in 20th Century Latin music.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was one of the leading British Romantic poets, the author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and also a literary critic who was a leading Shakespeare scholar.

If you think that a certain someone who is famous for being famous is missing from this post, you’re right. 🙂

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 21, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Carrie Fisher also had a significant role in 1984’s “Garbo Talks” with the late Ron Silver (who for one of the few times in his acting career was clean shaven for that film. Ron Silver: a poor man’s Al Pacino?). She’s only 60 though? Wow, I guess because she’s been known for such a long time that she feels older to me.

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    • She looks old af by anyone’s standards. But you hit something with her being known for such a long time. She’s exactly 9 months younger than Geena Davis, but I’d bet if you asked ten random people (random folks who actually know who they are) which is older they’d say Carrie. One drawback of becoming famous young is that you seem older in the public’s consciousness. Like, Jamie Lee Curtis is actually younger than Madonna–seems insane.

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  2. Just by coincidence I watched The Blues Brothers last night, not realizing it was her birthday. Needless to say but Blues Brothers is still a genuine classic. Even though Carrie Fisher plays John Belushi’s bitter ex-fiance in the film, in real life it was Dan Aykroyd and Carrie that were engaged at the time.

    Carrie actually book-ended the year 1980, as Blues Brothers was the 10th biggest box office hit of the year while The Empire Strikes Back was the biggest blockbuster by far.

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  3. Ah Carrie Fisher. The original Star Wars films hold a special place in my heart. It’s not exaggerating at all to say that they shaped my childhood and those of most of my friends. Star Wars (the movies, the toys, etc) was a communal experience for Gen Xers. It was our Woodstock. Only it happened when we were little and lasted long enough that by the time Fisher donned her iconic gold bikini in Jedi, we all took one step towards adolescence.

    As a kid, I was familiar with Dizzy Gillespie because he would show up on TV shows and puff up his cheeks like a bullfrog while playing. I imagine he was the first exposure I had to any form of jazz.

    So we have two performers who appeared in The Blues Brothers who share a birthday today. I’ll echo Craig’s sentiments that the movie still holds up for me.

    This isn’t Glen Powell’s fault, but I tried to get through Scream Queens last season and I just couldn’t. It was wretched. I can’t imagine how it got renewed for a second season.

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  4. Okay, I’m catching up on my own comments after grading tests over the weekend left me with barely enough time to write the birthday articles.

    I remember Dizzy Gillespie appearing on the Muppet Show when I was young; that was probably my first exposure to jazz. I didn’t really understand then what an important figure he was as my genuinely getting into jazz, even in a small way, didn’t come for many years.

    I found it fitting that Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were born on consecutive days. For about 40 years the New York Yankees were the dominant team in baseball, and for about the last third of that era, Mantle and Ford were the team’s big stars, year in and year out.

    Aaron Tveit is a talented performer who I think could end up with a few shiny trophies on his bookshelf some day. You can find a lot of Les Miz fans who think that Tveit should have played Marius in the movie rather than Eddie Redmayne.

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    • I spent this morning catching up on comments as well, although I didn’t have papers to grade. I have some time off from work coming up and I’m hoping that will allow for some serious blogging. Let me know if you ever need me to fill in anywhere!

      Dizzy Gillespie’s Muppet Show appearance was also likely my introduction to him. One of the things I am taking away from the birthday articles is that The Muppet Show introduced me to an awful lot of luminaries in their respective fields.

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      • My last couple of weeks at work have been full of meetings—I am now heading into a meeting-light next couple of weeks so it should be easier for me to keep up with the birthday articles.

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        • Glad to hear it. I’m not being falsely modest when I say I would make a poor substitute. I just don’t ever want anyone here to feel obligated.

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  5. Sadly, Carrie Fisher passed away this morning at the age of 60.

    http://people.com/movies/carrie-fisher-dies/

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  6. I am wondering lebeu how come carrie and mark hamil never became big stars yet ford did. You would think having the lead roles in a huge hit they would be offered big roles but it seems like outside of star wars they did not appear in any high profile roles. I think its ironic the actor in the supporting part had the bigger career .

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    • I first want to say that typecasting came into play. When you play such an iconic character like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in on of the biggest movies and movie franchises of all time, it’s going to be extremely hard to convince people that you can be somebody else. Harrison Ford was fortunate that he had Indiana Jones so he wouldn’t be totally pigeonholed as Han Solo.

      Also you have to take for account that Carrie Fisher had a lot of personal baggage with her substance abuse and mental health issue. As for Mark Hamill, it has been suggested that his serious car wreck (which required extensive reconstructive surgery) marked a turning point of sorts. Also, it can be debatable if Fisher and/or Hamill really had an “it factor” (in regards to charisma and range) of sorts to truly be leads in big movies. Hamill of course was able to carve a nice niche for himself as a voice actor (such as playing the Joker in the DC animated universe).

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      • Yeah, I have to say “Raiders of the Lost Ark” got Harrison Ford’s career outside of the Star Wars series going; in fact, I’m sure most people would say that. I mean, as a performer Ford kind of toiled for years before getting his big break with “Star Wars” too. With Fisher & Hamill, I do think they got typecast (I also think Adam West did with Batman ’66, because I think he had more to offer, but that’s just me) and it probably benefited Ford to be a supporting player instead of a lead in the Star Wars Trilogy. Still, I can’t really say if Fisher or Hamill would’ve had more prolific careers though, I just don’t know.

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        • The ironic thing is that you can argue that Harrison Ford himself got typecast. It’s just that unlike Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, he was more or less, able to transcend his “Star Wars” image.

          Think about it in regards to, Ford’s two biggest roles: Han Solo, lovable rouge who looks for treasure yet has a “good guy” heart under his tough exterior; also, Indiana Jones, lovable rouge who looks for treasure yet has a “good guy” heart under his tough exterior. Even Decker from “Blade Runner” is the same taciturn tough guy/ romantic lead type.

          I guess one thing that Harrison Ford had as an advantage that Mark Hamill didn’t was that he had a leading man physical appearance and gravitas. Hamill was more of a “boy next door” type.

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        • Ford had quite a run with his film career though when it comes to production, I think he chose his parts well (fortune was at play a little bit, but that’s the case with anyone really, seizing the opportunity). I don’t think other Star Wars trilogy cast members had too many big opportunities afterward (Billy Dee Williams had a Harvey Dent tease for Batman ’89, but I can’t think of other grand possibilities). I do love Mark Hamill’s the Joker for the animated Batman, even though I’ve read opinions that it took him a few episodes to find a groove, which I disagree with (I dig ‘Christmas With The Joker’, I think it’s a merry ol’ time).

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      • Worst case of nepotism in Hollywood?

        “Carrie Fisher her gets the same pass as Sophia. Turned out Carrie had lots of talent.”

        https://www.datalounge.com/thread/13614512-worst-case-of-nepotism-in-hollywood-

        Not really. She was quite terrible in “Star Wars”, for some reason delivering her lines in a faux British accent. She was never really much talented. She was always more of a personality than an accomplished performer.

        Sophia Coppola owns this thread. Unprepossessing and having no experience whatsoever as an actress she was given the plum role of Mary Corleone in Godfather III by her doting Daddy. Her performance was legendarily bad. Later she reinvented herself as a director and won an undeserved Oscar, no doubt because her last name is Coppola. She makes movies that aren’t that great but get a lot of publicity and still wins awards in no small part due to her pedigree. Her career is nepotism at its worst.

        —Anonymous

        reply 276 10 hours ago

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  7. Hamil did mostly stage plays and voice roles after star wars I am not sure if he wanted to big a big star. is their chance he turned down big roles preferred stage

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  8. Ford was lucky to have a good working relationship with lucus who produced indiana jones.Hollywood knew what to do with ford just making him action hero. Not sure Hollywood knew what to do with hamil or fisher. The only other actor whos career was not affected by star wars was alec guiness who got another oscar n om after that film. Alec probaly has the 2nd most impressive career of the star wars cast next to ford

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  9. Alec already a long career was a huge name by the time star wars came out. He was a veteran who had tons of hits under his belt and an oscar. He was defiantly a big name not closest thing but a big name. He was never a box office draw like ford but respected actor.Peter crushing on other hand was never that big. He was character actor that appeared in some films but not really huge career. not a lot of hits just working actor.Despite what people say alec did not hate star wars he was just upset people tlak more about that then his other films . Its obviously not his favorite role but thats ok . He has made a lot of classic but younger generation mostly knows him as obi . I get feeling ford disliked star wars i know he wanted han killed of 2nd movie I am not sure if the rumour between fisher and ford affair is true.She does have a history of bipolar disorder and drug addicaiton so not sure if we cna belive her

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    • I believe Carrie Fisher and her details of her affair with Harrison Ford (I’ve read some excerpts on in, it seems like a very real experience). Honestly, I wasn’t even that surprised to hear about it either.
      I think Peter Cushing was still a familiar name to much of the audience, especially those who liked viewing Hammer Films (I think any time is good for a little Hammer Horror time). I mean, he possibly could’ve been more familiar to folks than Guinness was (?).

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  10. Carrie Fisher already looked and was terrible in “The ‘Burbs” (1989)

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=20080269&postcount=1

    Horrible 80s garbage that I just watched with regret: The ‘Burbs. (If you’re going to say this was good, are you going off nostalgia or have you seen it recently?!)

    Before I say some uncharitable things, I think Carrie Fisher was a great actress up to and including Return of the Jedi. She was really pretty, and her spunky style was a big part of what made the Original Trilogy a success.

    (K, niceness over… Though the above was sincere.)

    But… it was already well known at least pretty soon after the OT was done that she was heavily into drugs and general hard living, and she does seem to have a cocaine glaze on her eyes in some OT scenes.

    When she was doing press stuff for The Dumb****ery Awakes (sorry, terrible terrible movie) in 2015, many people–scratch that everyone made mention that Carrie Fisher looked terrible terrible for her age. And some SJWs pissed and moaned about how there was a double standard for men and women (not really) and it was misogyny to say that she looked liked warmed-over death and blah blah. But really, she looked horrendous and also seemed quite odd, mentally. And then, soon after, to everyone’s shock but really to no one’s surprise, she actually died. (And, being nice again for a moment, I think it would be hellish to have a heart attack on an international flight and have no where to go and then basically die on the plane–and be revived, only to die in the hospital. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. )

    But how she looked and seemed in 2015 would have been less surprising had people remembered how she looked and seemed in The ‘Burbs in 1989. I had never seen this movie and hadn’t known what Fisher looked like until she floated up like a bloated corpse, suddenly, on the sea of Star Wars fame. I was thinking, “Oh cool, how nice to see Carrie Fisher back in her hot, talented days. I hope this movie is good!”

    It was not to be, in any dimension.

    When the movie was released, she was barely into her 32nd year, but she looks 40, easily. And she was sleepwalking through the whole thing and adding absolutely nothing to it, perhaps taking away from what little there was in the first place. She seems genuinely fucked up.

    Yes, I know that she was bipolar and was probably self-medicating and all that. It’s genuinely tragic. And I am being a dick writing about it in this way, but I mean, I was really shocked seeing the movie and I had an ah-hah moment about how she seemed in 2015 and how people, collectively, were unaware of just how early she got messed up. So I just thought I’d share that.

    Thoughts?

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    • I actually read that entire thread for the post (it’s only 2 pages long), and I guess the OP wasn’t being mean spirited about the whole thing, it was just a point of view. I thought Carrie Fisher’s role in “The ‘Burbs” was small enough for it to not matter, but with the whole suburban wife look going on, I thought she looked rather plain, but not bad. overall I think “The ‘Burbs” is alright entertainment with some good moments, but i understand why some folks don’t like it too.

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