November 9: Happy Birthday Ryan Murphy and Hedy Lamarr
Television writer, producer and director Ryan Murphy turns 51 today. After working for several years as a journalist, Murphy got his start in television as the co-creator of the quirky teen series Popular, which ultimately failed to live up to its title, being cancelled after only two seasons. He then created the FX series Nip/Tuck, a medical drama set in a plastic surgery center, which became one of the cable network’s most successful series.
For his third series, Murphy returned to a high school setting, and also drew on his personal experience as a member of the Indiana University show choir, the Singing Hoosiers:
Murphy won the first of his four Emmys for directing the pilot episode of Glee. His current TV projects include the anthology series American Horror Story and the horror comedy series Scream Queens, both of which he is the co-creator of, along with American Crime Story, for which he is an executive producer.
Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)—not “Hedley!”—was born in Austria; at 18 she married weapons manufacturer, but soon found the marriage unbearable and fled the country to be able to pursue her acting career. Louis B. Mayer met her in Paris and persuaded her to come to Hollywood, where her first film was a remake of the French film Pepe le Moko; the American version was called Algiers.
Lamarr was a major star of the 1940s, and one of the decade’s great sex symbols, appearing in films like Boom Town, Ziegfeld Girl, Tortilla Flat and Samson and Delilah. She was also apparently something of an amateur engineer; with a partner named George Antheil, she developed and patented an early design for a radio-controlled torpedo that could not be defeated by jamming.
Eric Dane, who turns 44, starred on Grey’s Anatomy for several seasons and now stars on TNT’s The Last Ship; he had a cameo in X-Men: The Last Stand as Multiple Man. Delta Goodrem, who is 32 today, is a major singing star in her home country of Australia, with nine #1 hits. Canadian actress Gabrielle Miller, who turns 43, was one of the stars of the hit Canadian series Corner Gas, and more recently has been seen on Hallmark’s Good Witch. Robert Duncan McNeill, who is 52 today, played Lt. Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager, and more recently has gone into television directing and producing; he has worked on several series, most notably Chuck. Lou Ferrigno, the bodybuilder turned actor who is 65 today, portrayed The Incredible Hulk on CBS’s late-1970s series and has voiced the character in several animated and CGI incarnations since then. Sandra Denton, better known as Pepa from the female hip-hop trio Salt-n-Pepa, turns 47 today.
For the second time since this series began we have a celebrity couple who share a birthday (although not headliners this time). Singer Nick Lachey, best known as the lead singer of the boy band 98 Degrees, turns 43 today, while his wife, model Vanessa Minnillo, celebrates her 36th.
Brazilian director and writer Fernando Meirelles, who celebrates his 61st today, was the director of the gritty crime film City of God, one of the most widely acclaimed films of the 21st Century, and also of the well-received John le Carré adaptation The Constant Gardener. Danish director Bille August, best known for Pelle the Conquerer, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, turns 68 today. He is a two-time winner of the Palme d’Or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Sports birthdays today include Whitey Herzog, who turns 85. His success at managing first the Kansas City Royals, and then the St. Louis Cardinals, led to his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bob Gibson (no relation to the folk singer of the same name), who is 81 today, is another Baseball Hall of Famer who was part of a World Series Winner with the St. Louis Cardinals, in his case as their star pitcher. Tom Weiskopf, who turns 74, was one of the most successful golfers of the 1970s, winning 16 PGA Tour titles in his career. Dana Hee, who celebrates her 55th birthday, won the gold medal in lightweight women’s taekwondo at the 1988 Olympics. She went on to a career as a stuntwoman; at 5-9 with strawberry blonde hair, she made an ideal double for Nicole Kidman in Batman Forever and several other films. She has also doubled Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and several others.
Edna May Oliver (1883-1942) was a character actress on stage and in early film; with her thin, angular face and distinctive voice, she is easily recognizable to anyone who has seen her once. She played Betsey Trotwood in the 1935 adaptation of David Copperfield, a Best Picture nominee, and was a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Drums Along the Mohawk. Ed Wynn (1886-1966) was a comic actor who was an Oscar nominee for the decidedly non-comedy, The Diary of Anne Frank; more typical of his career was his role as the laughter-loving Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. Mae Marsh (1894-1968) was a famous silent film actress, known for her tragic fate in The Birth of a Nation. In sound films she was not a big star, but found regular work with John Ford, appearing in at least 8 of his films (including Drums Along the Mohawk).
English director Anthony Asquith (1902-1968) was the son of H. H. Asquith, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1908-1916. As a director, Asquith was noted for his adaptations of a number of stage plays—George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and Terrence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy and The Browning Version. Marie Dressler (1868-1934) was a film star of the silent and early sound eras who won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1931. Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) was the first African-American to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, for Carmen Jones, and later was a Golden Globe nominee for Porgy and Bess. She was played by Halle Berry in the 1999 HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was one of the great science popularizers of the 20th Century. He was the author of a number of books, including Pale Blue Dot, the novel Contact (made into a 1997 film with Jodie Foster), and The Dragons of Eden, which won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. But he was best known for the Emmy-winning PBS series Cosmos, which has been seen by an estimated 500 million people around the world.
Mary Travers (1936-2009) was, of course, the Mary of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. The threesome were one of the most successful folk groups of the 1960s, but also had a foot very firmly planted in the edgy, activist camp where you found Joan Baez, the early Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, et. al. The trio’s sole #1 hit featured lead vocals by Mary:
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 9, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Carl Sagan, Edna May Oliver, Fernando Meirelles, Hedy Lamarr, Lou Ferrigno, Mae Marsh, Mary Travers, Ryan Murphy. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.