November 8: Happy Birthday Bonnie Raitt and Parker Posey


Bonnie Raitt, who turns 67 today, comes from a musical background, as the daughter of Broadway star John Raitt and his pianist-wife.  She dropped out of Radcliffe to start touring as a blues singer and slide guitarist, and recorded her first album when she was only 21.  Through the 1970s and ’80s she recorded and toured regularly, experimenting with variations on her style, getting generally positive reviews, but not managing to break through commercially.

That changed in 1989 with the release of her breakthrough album, Nick of Time, which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Raitt won four Grammys in 1990, three tied to Nick of Time, the fourth for a duet she did with blues legend John Lee Hooker on one of his albums.  Her next two albums, Luck of the Draw and Longing in Their Hearts, reached #2 and #1.  She has won a total of ten Grammys, and her 17th studio album was released earlier this year.

Parker Posey, sometimes known as the “Queen of the Indies,” turns 48 today.  Beginning with her debut, in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, she appeared in some 30 indie films during the 1990s (hence her nickname).  Among them were Party Girl, often identified as the first film to “premiere on the internet,” The Daytrippers, and the Sundance Award-winning The House of Yes:

Posey has made several efforts to break into mainstream movies, but several of the movies she’s appeared in have been less than successful (to put things mildly)—Josie and the Pussycats, Blade: Trinity, Superman Returns.  She continues to get major indie film roles.  She has worked with Hal Hartley several times (Henry Fool and its sequels), has been in five of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, and had roles in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and Cafe Society.

Alfre Woodard, a four-time Emmy winner, turns 64 today.  She has appeared in an enormous variety of films and television series.  A few of her major film roles have included Cross Creek (which brought her her only Oscar nomination), John Sayles’ Passion Fish, Star Trek: First Contact, 12 Years a Slave, and Captain American: Civil War.  On television she has won Emmys for her work on Hill Street Blues, L. A. Law, the HBO movie Miss Evers’ Boys, and The Practice.

Norman Lloyd, who celebrates his 102nd birthday today, has been working as an actor since the 1930s, and is currently the oldest working Hollywood actor.  One of his extensive list of credits was appearing with Alfre Woodard on St. Elsewhere.

Tara Reid, who played Vicky Lathum in the American Pie films and more recently April Wexler in Syfy’s Sharknado movies, turns 41 today.  Gretchen Mol, who turns 44, played Gillian Darmody on HBO’s Boardwalk EmpireCourtney Thorne-Smith celebrates her 49th birthday.  Her roles on Melrose Place, Ally McBeal, and According to Jim made her a fixture in prime time for nearly 20 years.  Matthew Rhys, who turns 42, starred on Brothers & Sisters for its entire run.  He now stars with Keri Russell on The Americans; the two were both Emmy nominees this year and are also a couple in real life, who welcomed a son earlier this year.  Dominican-American actress Dania Ramirez turns 37.  Her film roles have included X-Men: The Last Stand and Premium Rush, and she was one of the stars of Lifetime’s recently-cancelled Devious Maids.

European cinema is much richer for people who have or had birthdays today.  Alain Delon turns 81 today.  He was a major star of the 1960s in both French and Italian film, starring in Rene Clement’s Purple Noon (adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley), Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Eclipse, and Jean-Pierre Melville’s The Samurai and The Red CircleStéphane Audran, who turns 84, is best known for her films with director Claude Chabrol (they were married for over 15 years), including Les Bonnes Femmes, Les Biches, The Unfaithful Wife, and several more.  Virna Lisi (1936-2014) won two Donatello Awards for her work in Italian cinema, and also a Cesar for playing Catherine de Medici in the French film Queen Margot.  Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist turns 56 today.  He played Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, etc.), and played the villain Kurt Hendricks in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol.

Richard Curtis, a screenwriter and occasional director, turns 60 today.  He began writing for British television in the late 1970s and was a major creative force behind series like Blackadder and Mr. Bean.  In films, he is mostly associated with romance of some kind.  He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Four Weddings and a Funeral, and later for a BAFTA Award for the screenplay for Love Actually (which he also directed).  He won a pair of Emmys for producing and writing the 2005 TV movie The Girl in the Cafe.

In the world of the written word, Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was the longtime business manager of London’s Lyceum Theatre, but more famously wrote the novel DraculaMargaret Mitchell (1900-1949) was a writer for a few years with the Atlanta Journal, but then went on to write the best-selling novel Gone With the WindBen Bova, who turns 84 today, has written over 120 books, including a great deal of science fiction as well as a number of books on astronomy and other areas of science.  Morley Safer (1931-2016) was best known as a broadcast journalist, especially with 60 Minutes, but also worked as a newspaper reporter before going into TV.  Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998) was a reporter of some kind for some 60 years, who covered every major military action from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s to the US invasion of Panama in 1989.  Her years of marriage to Ernest Hemingway were depicted in the HBO movie Hemingway & Gellhorn, where she was played by Nicole Kidman.  John Dickinson (1732-1808) wrote the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, and several other major documents of the American Revolutionary period.  He was played in the movie 1776 by Donald Madden.

We have a couple of other music birthdays besides Bonnie Raitt today.  Rickie Lee Jones, who turns 62 today, is a two-time Grammy winner who has moved between rock, jazz, R&B and other genres through the years.  She had a big hit in 1979 with “Chuck E.’s in Love.”  Patti Page (1927-2013) was one of the biggest traditional (i.e., pre-rock and roll) pop stars of the 1950s.  Her biggest hit, and one of the biggest selling records ever, was “The Tennessee Waltz,” and she had other #1 hits like “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window.”  Because of her appeal to country audiences, she was able to continue recording successfully after the rock era began, into the 1960s and ’70s.

Two actresses famous for their performances as children were born today.  Darla Hood (1931-1979) was the female lead in several dozen Our Gang shorts between 1935 and 1941.  She also had a small number of film and TV appearances as an adult.  June Havoc (1912-2010) spent several years as a child vaudeville star, billed as “Baby June” and appearing alongside her sister Louise (who later became known as Gypsy Rose Lee).  The musical Gypsy is a fictionalized version of June and Louise’s relationship with their mother, Rose Hovick.  As an adult, June appeared in a number of feature films in the 1940s and ’50s, such as Brewster’s Millions and Gentleman’s Agreement, and also was a Tony nominee for Best Direction of a Play for 1964 (she lost to Mike Nichols).

Esther Rolle (1920-1998) is remembered for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s series Maude and its spin-off series Good Times.  She was a Golden Globe nominee for the latter show, and won an Emmy for her part in the TV movie Summer of My German Soldier.

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 November 8, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Not being a big music guy, I was unaware of Bonnie Rait prior to “Something to Talk About.” But that song was inescapable. It was a good song, so I’m not complaining. I’m not entirely certain when I became aware of Parker Posey. I watched a lot of indie movies in the 90’s and all the sudden she was just all over the place. She actually ties in to the WTHH article I am currently working on. If you haven’t seen Josie and the Pussycats, it’s a lot of fun.

    Alfre Woodard will be showing up in a Movieline article next week. Keep an eye out for that. Hey! Speaking of Josie and the Pussycats, there’s future WTHH subject Tara Reid. For a very brief time, Gretchen Mol was going to be The Next Big Thing. Then all of her movies came out and disappointed at the box office. But she persevered.

    In real life, there is no way a guy like Jim Belushi’s TV character marries someone like Courtney Thorne-Smith. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Plus, Jim Belushi is the opposite of funny. We have some big name writers today. The authors of Dracula and Gone With the Wind share a birthday? I’d love to see a crossover.


    • There was a time when I mostly was aware of Bonnie Raitt as “John Raitt’s daughter,” but I’ve gradually gotten familiar with some of her music over the years. Interesting to have her as a headliner one day after Joni Mitchell—they both are what I would consider “musicican’s musicians” who have always had a lot of respect even when they weren’t commercially successful.

      Parker Posey I mostly know from some of Christopher Guest’s films. I have seen Josie and the Pussycats, and it is fun (and it has Rachael Leigh Cook), but it was quite a box office disaster, wasn’t it?

      And quite a lot of other interesting birthdays today, from Alain Delon to June Havoc, from Alfre Woodard to Richard Curtis, etc.


      • Josie and the Pussycats flopped big time. It was an indie movie with a mainstream budget. I don’t want to oversell it, but look at the cast: Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Parker Posey, Alan Cumming… these are indie darlings. Oh and also Tara Reid. Donald Faison, Seth Green as and Breckin Meyer have a funny cameo as a boy band. The movie was specifically satirizing the music scene of its time, but it works as a general spoof of pop culture and bubblegum pop music.

        I think at the time it was released, a lot of critics and audiences mistook it for what it was spoofing. A lot of people who probably would have enjoyed the movie skipped it because they thought it was something else. It took me years to finally sit down and watch the thing, but I was charmed when I did.

        Today was a little light on hugely famous people, but as you say lots of people of interest.

        Oh and happy election day to all my fellow Americans! Get out and vote if you haven’t already done so.


        • On the Josie And The Pussycats soundtrack, reality and bullsh** are inseparable

          The push and pull of whether teenagers are mindless idiots—whether they’re willing to swallow whatever bullshit marketing you ladle down their gullets, or savvy consumers who mock grown-ups’ ham-fisted attempts to sell them on the next big thing—is forever at the irony-laced core of youth culture. Those twin perspectives on adolescents are the diastole and systole at the beating heart of teenage cultural representation. And in terms of capturing that endless tug of war between jaded cynicism and open-hearted gullibility, Josie And The Pussycats is as relevant as Catcher In The Rye.

          A marketing gimmick disguised as a movie disguised as a critique of marketing gimmicks, the film (based on the Archie comics spinoff of the same name) satirizes the shallowness of the music industry through its story of a girl-pop band suddenly thrust into stardom. Writer-director team Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan deserve special credit for turning the unimaginative cash grab of another TV cartoon-turned-Hollywood film into a send-up of unimaginative cash grabs. Unlike the duo’s previous film, Can’t Hardly Wait—which often plays like a campy parody of the very teen classics whose ranks it strives to join—Josie’s campiness is knowingly self-aware. As we’ve noted before, it “both relishes the meaningless pop universe it exists in while cynically demolishing any value to be found there.” And America, presented with this clever paradox in the spring of 2001, was supremely uninterested. As it turns out, the nation’s youth weren’t particularly fond of movies that double as their own meta statements and are even further up their own asses than they are themselves.


        • I thought it would just be campy fun (I remembered the campy animated series, and bought my fiancee at the time Josie ears), but I was really pleased with how intelligent the film was.


  2. VH1 used to play the “Something to Talk About” a lot in 1991, so that’s how I first learned about Bonnie Raitt. I always thought another Bonnie kind of looked like her, Bonnie Bedelia.
    Yeah, I’d associate Parker Posey (Parker full of Posey?) with indie films. I’ve seen 1995, “Party Girl” a couple of times. It’s really different than Party City.
    I remember when Gretchen Mol was supposed to be huge; I always thought she was solid.
    Alfre Woodard has done some fine work; I first remember her from 1988’s “Scrooged”.
    I really lost track of Tara Reid a long time ago, but I still liked her in “American Pie”, though I liked Natasha Lyonne’s character more.


  3. As a bit of a bonus, here are two of today’s birthday girls singing a duet:


  4. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Tara Reid Anymore

    Tara Reid was Hollywood’s it girl in the late ’90s and early 2000s after American Pie was released. Every girl wanted to be her and every guy wanted to date her, but her career has since veered pretty far off course. What happened that made this blonde bombshell go from appearing in hit movies to only being hired for spoofs?


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