October 24: Happy Birthday Kevin Kline and F. Murray Abraham
Kevin Kline celebrates his 69th today. He began his career with The Acting Company, a touring group co-founded by John Houseman, which provides young performers with a chance to gain experience. He was soon working on Broadway, winning Tony Awards for his roles in the original production of On the Twentieth Century and Joseph Papp’s revival of The Pirates of Penzance.
Kline soon started working in film. He made his debut in 1982 in Sophie’s Choice, and the following year was seen in two films, one of them Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill. The other brought one of his most memorable stage performances to the big screen:
The peak of Kline’s film career was almost surely winning Best Supporting Actor as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. Some of his other notable films have included Grand Canyon, Dave, The Ice Storm, In & Out, and As You Like It. On stage, he has appeared regularly with the New York Shakespeare Festival and was a Tony nominee for playing Falstaff in a 2003 Broadway production of Henry IV.
F. Murray Abraham turns 77 today. Abraham began working in film in the 1970s with small roles in films like All The President’s Men and The Big Fix. He also did voiceover and commercial work and some television, including a supporting part in the NBC miniseries Marco Polo. Then, almost out of nowhere, he was cast in a role that would win him an Oscar:
Abraham won the Oscar for Best Actor as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. He has had several significant film roles since then, in The Name of the Rose, The Bonfire of the Vanities (uncredited), Mighty Aphrodite, and in recent years Inside Llewyn Davis and The Grand Budapest Hotel. He, like Kline, has also had a substantial stage career—just for starters, his Shakespeare roles have included Macbeth, King Lear and Shylock—and was nominated for an Emmy for Showtime’s Homeland.
Martin Campbell is 73 today. He is best-known for directing the first films for the two most recent actors to play James Bond, Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan and Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. He also directed the two Zorro films with Antonio Banderas and has done some well-regarded work in British television.
Katie McGrath, who celebrates her 33rd, played Morgana Pendragon on the BBC’s Merlin, had a lead role in NBC’s short-lived Dracula, and more recently was in Jurassic World and plays Lena Luthor on Supergirl. Eliza Taylor, who turns 27 today, stars on the CW’s The 100 and had a supporting role in The November Man. Oliver Jackson-Cohen was also in that short-lived Dracula series and will be seen on NBC’s upcoming series Emerald City; he turns 30 today. Casey Wilson, who is 36, starred on Happy Endings as Penny Hartz and now stars on Hulu’s parody series The Hotwives. Mallika Sherawat, who turns 40, is a prominent Bollywood star who has also done some English-language films and guest-starred on Hawaii Five-0.
Raul Esparza, who celebrates his 46th, is a four-time Tony nominee for his stage work who is currently a regular on Law & Order: SVU. Novelist David Weber, who turns 64, is best known for the Honor Harrington military science fiction series. B. D. Wong turns 56 today; he won a Tony and other acting awards as Song Liling in the original production of M. Butterfly, plays Dr. George Huang on Law & Order: SVU, and played Dr. Henry Wu in Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.
In music, Aubrey Drake Graham, usually billed as Drake, turns 30 today. The rapper and R&B artist has had his first four albums reach #1 on the Billboard 200, and last year had his first #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, “One Dance.” He has received 27 Grammy nominations, winning Best Rap Album for Take Care. He also has done some acting, appearing for several years on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Other music birthdays include R&B/hip-hop artist Monica, who turns 36; she had three consecutive #1 hits on the Hot 100 in the late nineties, and shared a Grammy for “This Boy is Mine” with Brandy (they recorded it as a duet). Bill Wyman, the longtime bassist for the Rolling Stones who now tours with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, turns 80 today. Sonny Terry (1911-1986) was a blues and folk musician known for his harmonica playing and longtime partnership with guitarist and singer Brownie McGhee. J. P. Richardson (1930-1959), known as “The Big Bopper” and famous for his hit “Chantilly Lace,” was killed in the same plane crash as Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Cheryl Studer, who turns 61 today, has been one of the world’s leading dramatic sopranos for the last 35 years, especially noted for her Wagner and Strauss roles; she is a two-time Grammy winner. Opera fans also will remember Tito Gobbi (1913-1984), an Italian baritone known as an exceptional vocal actor, who made a number of memorable recordings with soprano Maria Callas, in parts such as the title role in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca.
In sports, footballer Wayne Rooney, who turns 31 today, is a star for both Manchester United and the English national side. NFL Hall of Famer Y. A. Tittle, who turns 90 today, starred for 17 seasons, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. Baseball pitcher Jim Brosnan (1929-2014) was not a Hall of Famer, or even a star, but he had a mark on the sport when he wrote The Long Season, a very candid diary of his 1959 season. It was unlike previous “first hand” books by athletes up to that time in not whitewashing what went on behind the scenes in sports, and in being written by Brosnan himself without a ghostwriter.
David Nelson (1936-2011) was from a famous show business family—the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and brother of Ricky. He appeared on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet for 14 seasons, and also had a few good film roles. Moss Hart (1904-1961) was famous for his plays written in partnership with George Kaufman, which included Once in a Lifetime, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning You Can’t Take It with You. Hart later wrote an Oscar-nominated screenplay for Gentleman’s Agreement, and won a Tony for directing the Broadway production of My Fair Lady. Merian C. Cooper (1893-1973) was a prominent producer of the studio era, both with studios and as an independent. His credits include the original King Kong (which he also directed) and several of John Ford’s films. Dame Sybil Thorndike (1882-1976) was a renowned British stage actor, a leading Shakespearean who also did several of George Bernard Shaw’s plays—Shaw wrote Saint Joan specifically for her to take the title role. She also did a few films, including The Prince and the Showgirl opposite Marilyn Monroe; Judi Dench played Thorndike in My Week With Marilyn.
The Kray twins, Ronnie (1933-1995) and Reggie (1933-2000), were infamous organized crime leaders in London’s East End in the 1950s and ’60s. They have been played in film by Gary and Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) in the 1990 film The Krays, and by Tom Hardy (as both twins), in last year’s Legend. On the other side of the law, Melvin Purvis (1903-1960) was an FBI agent who lead the Bureau’s hunts for outlaws like John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. He has been played onscreen by actors such as Ben Johnson, Christian Bale, Alan Patton and Dale Robertson.
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 24, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged BD Wong, David Webber, Drake, F Murray Abraham, Katie McGrath, Kevin Kline, Martin Campbell, Moss Hart, Raul Esparza, Sybil Thorndike. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.