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 SupergirlEliza Taylor, who turns 27 today, stars on the CW’s The 100 and had a supporting role in The November ManOliver 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 HotwivesMallika 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 LadyMerian 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 , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Kevin Kline was one of my favorite actors for a time. His performance in A Fish Called Wanda is a comedy classic. It’s enough for me to forgive him for stealing Phoebe Cates from us. F. Murray Abraham is a talented actor as he showed in Amadeus. Unfortunately, Hollywood hasn’t always used him so well. His Star Trek villain was pure ham.

    As the director of two of the better James Bond movies, Martin Campbell deserves some love. Sure, he also directed Green Lantern. But I don’t think he had much control over what that movie became.

    Katie McGrath was recently introduced on Supergirl. She hasn’t had much of a chance to do anything aside from setting up her story arc for the season. The big question is whether or not she will be a villain like her brother. I’m guessing she with be the Maxwell Lord of the season in that she will have shifting allegiances.


  2. Kevin Kline has been one of my favorite comic performers for a very long time. He was a stitch in A Fish Called Wanda, and as a Gilbert & Sullivan lover, I’ve always thought he was a terrific Pirate King.

    I have vague memories of watching a few Ozzie & Harriet reruns while I was growing up. Interestingly, both David Nelson and his brother Ricky appeared in major Westerns in 1959. Ricky Nelson was in Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo—a classic movie, but one where many fans find Nelson to be the weak link in an otherwise strong cast. David Nelson was in the less-famous Day of the Outlaw, where he is, at least, more comfortable in the old West than his brother was.

    Moss Hart is someone I was aware of in high school, since one year the senior play was You Can’t Take It with You.

    And while many readers here may never have heard of Tito Gobbi, as an opera lover, I had to give him a shout-out.


    • Kevin Kline

      The actor: Comfortable with both low comedy and high drama, Kevin Kline plays sophistication and stupidity with equal precision. Classically trained as an actor and pianist, Kline studied in the first acting class to graduate from Manhattan’s storied Juilliard School, then spent four years doing the classics in a repertory company formed by John Houseman before landing a gig on the soap opera Search For Tomorrow, a back-and-forth that remained characteristic of his unpredictable career. He broke into films in the sobering drama Sophie’s Choice, then reprised his role in the Broadway production of The Pirates Of Penzance. He starred in the anti-apartheid drama Cry Freedom, but won his Oscar for the following year’s A Fish Called Wanda, in which he plays a thick-headed ex-CIA operative whose idiocy is matched only by his intellectual arrogance. As the lead in Dave, he embodied old-fashioned American values in a way that made it possible to believe in them, while his In & Out character turned his small town upside-down with the news that he might be gay. After the triumph of last year’s The Extra Man, Kline now hits theaters with two movies at once: Robert Redford’s political parable The Conspirator, in which he plays Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, and Caroline Bottaro’s Queen To Play, in which he plays—in French—the grudging mentor to Sandrine Bonnaire’s nascent chess champ.


  3. not sure if its true but i heard kline purposely turns down script that he knows will elevate his star status which gave him nickname kevin decline i heard he chooses not to be big star


    • He hates the “Kevin Decline” nickname. He has turned down a lot of parts, but I don’t think it has anything to do with not wanting to be more famous. Why make Wild, Wild West if you don’t want to be a movie star?


  4. Cool to see Kevin Kline having a birthday, as I just re-watched 1989’s “The January Man” the other morning. Yeah, I know, the film has major problems and the pieces don’t really fit, but its offbeat enough for me to enjoy it. The cast list is impressive (Alan Rickman has a fine turn as a mellow yet sarcastic artist, which counterbalances Rod Steiger’s mayor character chewing the scenery to the point of leaving crumbs on the ground), and Kline is well-cast for his role as a detective who thinks outside the box. Yeah, I think he’s brilliant in “A Fish Called Wanda” too, which I also have on DVD.
    As Homer Simpson once said, F. MURRAY ABRAHAM! I actually viewed “Amadeus” before “Scarface”, so that’s how I was introduced to his work. I think he’s been sorely underused in film since, although I enjoyed “The Name of the Rose” and his parody of Hannibal Lector in “national Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1”. Never saw that “Inside the Actor’s Studio” Homer Simpson mentioned though.
    I remember B.D. Wong best from his role in 1991’s “Mystery Date”; I found his character amusing.
    Y.A. Tittle always reminded me of my maternal grandfather.
    Melvin Purvis; wow, he was once portrayed by Dan Cortese (who I know best from his Burger King “BK TV” commercials in the 1990’s) in the TV movie “Public Enemies”. Purvis seemed to get the short end from J. Edgar Hoover in real life.


    • Melvin Purvis’s problem was that he wanted to take credit for some of the things he accomplished as an FBI agent, and in J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI the only one allowed to take credit for anything positive that happened was J. Edgar Hoover.


  5. Here is link of roles he was concerned for or turned down . it seems like h only turned down a few was considerd for most of them. It says he was considered for batman in 1989 lol but what actor was not considered for batman. Being considered does not exactly mean being offered it probably his name was thrown in suggestion pool.


  6. I found imdb saying james caan chris copper kelsey grammer tommy lee jones and albert brooks where considerd for batman.I have a hard time believing kelsey grammer being considered he was a supporting actor in a hit sitcom no way his name would be taken seriously . As for chris copper he was pretty much a no name doing guest stints I doubt producers knew who he was . jones was not very big in the 80s so i have my doubts about him. I have my doubts about caan since he would been way too old to playing batman. Albert brooks was never really a big name back in 1989 i could not see his name being considered


  7. But do you actually believe they would consider an actor whos claim to fame was a supporting role in ensemble like cheers for a lead in big movie. Or even a no name like copper who did bit parts i doubt a lot of people knew his name in 89. Bill murray was considered for the part because an early idea for the movie was to make a parody of the 60s show making it comical. and not the dark version it turned out to be. Bill murray was a box office draw in 80s its more believable he would be considered for it. Pierce Brosnon admitted to turning the role down because he could not take tim burton seriosuly thinking he was goofy. I am not sure how accurate the information of the other candates being so called considered are.


  8. Here is pierce talking about i t. why would pierce lie about turning it down .


  9. my mistake he could not take batman serious not burton


  10. I went to high school (as you Americans would call it) with Katie McGrath and we were friends, though I haven’t seen her in at least ten years (long, long before she became famous.) I remember her as being very funny, very smart and cool in an offbeat sort of way. I can’t say I pictured her current career – like me she was studying History in college – but I’m not entirely surprised. Go Katie! 🙂

    (It is going to be unbelivably weird seeing her playing Lena as I am very much a pre-existing Supergirl fan.)


  11. Kevin Kline tonight won his third Tony Award, for Best Actor in a Play, for a revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter. Congratulations to him!


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