October 25: Happy Birthday Katy Perry and Helen Reddy



Today is going to be a very music-oriented day as we have a number of big names, both past and present, from the music world, representing several varieties of music.  We’ll begin with one of the biggest pop stars in the world today

Katy Perry celebrates her 32nd birthday today.  Aside from her early album Katy Hudson (Perry is a stage name), Perry’s recording career has lasted less than a decade, but she has sold over 100 million records worldwide.  After a rocky start to her career, which involved being dropped by two record labels, Perry’s album One of the Boys was a big success, reaching the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and producing 3 Top 10 singles including her first #1 hit:

Perry’s next two albums, Teenage Dream and Prism, both reached #1 on the Billboard 200.  She has had eight additional #1 singles, and to date has been nominated for 13 Grammys, although she has yet to win one.  She has also done a small amount of film work, voicing Smurfette in two Smurfs features and doing a cameo as herself in Zoolander 2.

A big pop star of the past, Helen Reddy turns 75 today.  Like Perry, she was not an instant success, but after several years of touring and struggling to pay bills, Reddy’s recording of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar became a top 20 hit.  About a year later she released her first single to reach #1 on the Hot 100, and the song that she is most identified with:

From 1972-76, Reddy released eleven singles that reached #1 or 2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, of which three—“I Am Woman,” “Delta Dawn,” and “Angie Baby”—reached #1 on the Hot 100.  After her popularity as a recording artist faded, Reddy continued to tour and also did television guest work and several musical theater productions, including appearing both on Broadway and the West End in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers.

Among many musical theater lovers, the name Barbara Cook is spoken in reverent tones.  Cook, who turns 89 today, is often considered the best “legit” soprano in musical theater history (in Broadway-talk, a “legit” singer is one with classical/operatic voice training).  During her Broadway career, she was in the original casts of eight musicals, most notably originating the roles of Cunegonde in Candide, Marian Paroo in The Music Man (winning the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical) and Amalia in She Loves Me.  She also appeared in revivals of musicals such as Carousel (as Julie Jordan), The King and I (as Anna) and Show Boat (as Magnolia).  After a variety of personal problems ended her theatrical career, she found new life as a concert and cabaret singer—she was still touring as of the Spring of 2015.

Country singer Chely Wright turns 46 today.  She has had a #1 country single in “Single White Female” and several top 20 country albums.  Also turning 46 is Adam Pascal.  On Broadway, Pascal has originated roles like Roger Davis in Rent and Radames in the musical adaptation of Aida.  He has recorded two rock albums and has appeared in the films School of Rock and, reprising his Broadway role, Rent.  R&B singer Ciara, who celebrates her 31st, has had a number of Top 10 hits and won a Grammy for Best Short Form Video for “Lose Control.”

Voice actress Nancy Cartwright, who celebrates her 59th birthday, is best known as the voice of Bart Simpson and several other characters on The Simpsons.  French actor and director Mathieu Amalric, who turns 51, is a three-time Cesar Award winner, most recently for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  He is known to US audiences for films like Munich, Quantum of Solace (as Dominic Greene) and The Grand Budapest HotelMehcad Brooks, who is 36 today, starred as T. K. King on Necessary Roughness and currently plays James “Jimmy” Olsen on SupergirlCraig Robinson, who celebrates his 45th, played Darryl Philbin on The Office and has appeared in several episodes of Mr. RobotPersia White, who turns 44, played Lynn Searcy on Girlfriends for its entire run.  Gale Ann Hurd, who turns 61 today, is an executive producer of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, and produced a number of action films through the years, particularly several of James Cameron’s films (they were married during the late 1980s).  Marion Ross celebrates her 88th birthday; many will remember her as Marion Cunningham on Happy Days, a role that brought her two Emmy nominations.

In sports, Bobby Thomson (1923-2010), the “Staten Island Scot,” had a fine career in baseball, but is remembered for a single play, when he hit a home run off the Dodgers’ Ralph Branca to send the New York Giants to the 1951 World Series, a play known in the baseball world as “The Shot Heard Round the World.”  Pedro Martinez, who turns 45 today, was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2015 and was a member of the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that ended the franchise’s 86 year World Series drought.  Bob Knight, “the General,” turns 76 today.  He won an NCAA Basketball championship as a player, and three more as head coach at Indiana University, along with coaching the 1984 US Olympic team to a gold medal—a superb coaching record that was, however, marred by frequent, sometimes ugly outbursts of temper.  Dan Gable, who celebrates his 68th birthday, is a legend in amateur wrestling.  He lost only one match in his NCAA career, won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics without conceding a single point throughout the competition, and coached the University of Iowa to 15 NCAA championships during a little over 20 years as their head coach.  John Matuszak (1950-1989) played in the NFL for nearly a decade, helping the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders to two Super Bowl wins, and then appeared in several films, most notably as Sloth in The Goonies.

Anthony Franciosa (1928-2006) was a Tony nominee for the play A Hatful of Rain and an Oscar nominee for reprising his role in the film version.  He was the lead in five television series over a period of 20 years, the most successful of them the crime drama The Name of the Game.  In his long career, Leo G. Carroll (1886-1972) played a pair of famous spymaster roles, on film as the Professor in North by Northwest, and on television as Alexander Waverly on The Man from U.N.C.L.EMinnie Pearl (1912-1996, given name Sarah Colley) was a “country comedian” known for her live performances at the Grand Ole Opry and her television work on Hee Haw.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, is the sort of figure impossible to adequately summarize here.  He was one of the founders of the Cubist movement in art and the creator of paintings like Guernica.

Finally, a couple of big names from the classical music world were born on October 25.

If the “no, not a one-hit wonder” series were extended to the area of classical music, Georges Bizet (1838-1875) might be a candidate.  His Symphony in C, written when he was just 17, is very well regarded today, and his orchestral suite from the incidental music he wrote for L’Arlésienne was popular in his own lifetime.  But it is his “one hit,” the opera Carmen, that still is the biggest reason people remember him:

Johann Strauss II (1825-1899) was the most productive and talented member of a musically gifted Viennese family.  He was famous as a composer of operettas, the most famous being Die Fledermaus, and even more famous for his dance music.  He composed polkas, quadrilles, marches, and more, but for good reason, he was known as “The Waltz King.”

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 25, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Okay, so I admit, I like Katy Perry. This is an unpopular opinion in my house. The girls are “Swifties” and apparently there is some bad blood between them.

    Today’s birthdays are heavily weighted towards music which isn’t exactly my area of expertise. But right in the middle, there are a few birthdays in my wheelhouse. I discovered The Simpsons back when they were animated shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show. In college, the guys on the floor used to gather in my dorm room to watch the show. I lost touch with it after a few years, but my oldest is a fan so I have been catching up on decades of episodes I missed.

    Mehcad Brooks I knew from True Blood, so it was a bit weird getting used to him as Jimmy Olsen on Supergirl. I may not love the show, but I write about Gale Ann Hurd’s Walking Dead week after week. And of course, I know Marion Ross from years of watching Happy Days as a kid. She’s also Spongebob’s grandma on several episodes of the cartoon which I have watched over and over again.


    • One of the things I’m enjoying about doing the birthday articles is finding out about a variety of musicians who I was aware of, but hadn’t really listened to much music from (including Katy Perry).


      • Every day when I read the birthday articles, I learn something new, gain some additional insight or link together ideas or memories that I wouldn’t have put together otherwise. Often times, more than one of these things happens. You wouldn’t think something like celebrity birthdays would be such a pathway to history and culture, but then you’re bringing a lot more to the table than just reciting a list of notables who share a birthday. I tend to comment on the subjects I have the most experience with, but every day these articles take me a little outside of my comfortable bubble. Even if it’s just giving someone a greater appreciation of the bubblegum pop of Katy Perry, there is value in that.

        Living in a house with little girls, I’m more familiar with the works of Ms. Perry, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez than I would otherwise be. Of them all, I like Perry the best. But as I said before, that is not a popular opinion with the girls.


  2. I haven’t listened to a lot of Katy Perry’s music, but I know a decent amount about her music career, if that makes sense (her beginnings with Christian Rock, her rise, and her ability to keep things fresh). I heard she’s dating “What The Hell Happened To…?” member Orlando Bloom too. I liked her appearance on that live action/animated bit from “The Simpsons” a few years.
    Speaking of “The Simpsons”, I remember when it was made a big deal that Bart Simpson was voiced by a woman. Don’t have a cow, man, cuz Nancy Cartwright is clearly not an underachiever.
    Craig Robinson; yeah, he’s made me laugh in quite a few of the projects he was in, but not “The Office”, since I never viewed that show.
    John Matuszak was a wild man, but from what I’ve read he was also a vulnerable & tender soul. I really liked his performance in that “Miami Vice episode ‘Viking Bikers from Hell’ (I’ve mentioned that episode before due to Reb Brown being talked about on this site some time back).


  3. A few interesting footnotes from today’s article. I hadn’t listened to any of Helen Reddy’s music in a long time, but back when I was just starting to use a radio for listening to something more than sports, she was a big star.

    When we think about The Music Man (those of us who do, anyway), the first person you think of is always Robert Preston, and rightly so, but Barbara Cook was also a very big reason why it was a big hit on Broadway.

    For the second time in three days it’s the birthday of a sports figure who is known for a piece of down-to-the-wire, last-gasp heroics—Sunday it was Doug Flutie, today it’s Bobby Thomson.

    In the “Carmen” video, the singer is soprano Maria Ewing, who some of you probably know is the mother of actress Rebecca Hall, from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Town, etc.

    Finally, a bit more on Johann Strauss II. Although Strauss was a composer of what we would consider “light” classical music, he had the respect of “heavyweight” composers. In late 19th Century Vienna, the dean of composers was the great Johannes Brahms.

    There is a story of how one day, Strauss’s wife Adele approached Brahms for an autograph. The custom of the day would have been for Brahms to put down a few bars from one of his own compositions and then add a signature. Instead, Brahms wrote down the opening bars of Strauss’s most famous waltz, “The Blue Danube,” and then signed “Unfortunately, not written by Johannes Brahms.”


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