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November 11: Happy Birthday Leonardo DiCaprio and Demi Moore

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Leonardo DiCaprio turns 42 today.  He began acting in his teens, with his first major role coming when he joined the cast of the sitcom Growing Pains.  He then began getting significant film roles, in films like This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, the latter of which brought him his first Oscar nomination at only 19.

In the next few years, DiCaprio had lead roles in films like The Basketball Diaries and Baz Luhrmann’s Shakespeare update, Romeo + Juliet.  And then he was cast in a 1997 film, a romance set aboard an ocean liner on a collision course with an iceberg, about a handsome steerage passenger who romances a girl from a family of impoverished aristocrats:

Titanic, as all know, was a colossal success (the number five film all time in inflation-adjusted box office).  Yet for a few years afterwards, it seemed possible that DiCaprio’s star might face, as he made a few missteps in selecting roles (e.g., The Man in the Iron Mask).  But by 2002 he had gotten his career back on track (if it was ever off), starring in the financially and critically successful Catch Me If You Can and in the first of several films he has made with Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York.

Since then DiCaprio has consistently been among the industry’s top leading men.  He has made several more films with Scorsese, reunited with Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road, and with Baz Lurhmann for The Great Gatsby, starred in films like Inception and Django Unchained, and won his first Oscar for The Revenant.

Demi Moore turns 54 today.  She began working as a model and actress while in her late teens.  Most moviegoers probably started noticing her when she was in the commercially successful but critically panned St. Elmo’s Fire in 1985.  A year later, About Last Night… brought her both commercial and critical success, and her career began building momentum; in 1990, she starred in the #1 box office hit of the year and won a Golden Globe as a woman who may be being visited by a Ghost:

The details of Moore’s subsequent career—how she went from being one of the industry’s top stars to a regular Razzie target—are largely outlined in her WTHH article.  In the last 3 years she has done a few more films, playing the mother of Elizabeth Olsen’s character in Very Good Girls and a supporting role in the Shirley MacLaine/Jessica Lange comedy Wild Oats.

Stanley Tucci, who celebrates his 56th, is known largely as a character actor, giving notable performances in films ranging from Billy Bathgate to The Daytrippers to The Lovely Bones to Spotlight.  He has had periodic lead roles, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Walter Winchell in an HBO biopic.  Swedish actress Bibi Andersson turns 81.  She is best-known for her films with Ingmar Bergman, such as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and Persona.  Her occasional American films include Duel at Diablo, a Western, and the spy thriller The Kremlin Letter.

Calista Flockhart is 52.  She won a Golden Globe for playing Ally McBeal, starred on Brothers & Sisters, and is currently seen on Supergirl as Cat Grant.  Scoot McNairy, who turns 39, had his big break in Killing Them Softly, adapted from George V. Higgins’ novel Cogan’s Trade, and has gone on to prominent roles in Argo, The Rover, and Batman v. Superman.  Native Canadian actor Adam Beach starred as a Navajo code talker in Windtalkers, and played Jim Chee in several PBS adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Tribal Police novels, opposite Wes Studi as Joe Leaphorn.  He celebrates his 44th today.  Tye Sheridan, who is 20 today, made a reputation in films like The Tree of Life and Mud, and was seen earlier this year as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse.  Australian actress Ashleigh Cummings, who turns 24, was featured in Tomorrow, When the War Began, and stars in the ABC1 series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  German footballer Philipp Lahm, who turns 33, captained the German side that won the 2014 World Cup.

Pat O’Brien (1899-1983) is best known for his work while at Warner Brothers from 1933-1940, where he frequently played cops, priests, or other authority figures.  He starred as the title character in Knute Rockne, All American, and appeared nine times with his lifelong friend James Cagney, including Angels With Dirty FacesPatric Knowles (1919-1995) also spent time at Warner’s in the 1930s, appearing as Errol Flynn’s wingman in films like The Charge of the Light Brigade and (as Will Scarlet) The Adventures of Robin HoodRoland Young (1887-1953) was one of the first freelancers to work in Hollywood (as opposed to signing with a studio) in the 1930s.  He is best known for playing the title character of Topper, a bank president haunted by the ghosts of his clients.  French director Rene Clair (1898-1981) made a number of renowned films in his home country, notably À nous la liberté, and also worked in Hollywood, directing films like the Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None.

Comedian and actor Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) was an eleven-time nominee for the Grammy for Best Comedy Album, winning in 1996 for Crank(y) Calls.  He also had a long filmography of television guest appearances and specials.  Towering (6-6) character actor Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005) worked in several of Milos Forman’s films, was a Bond villain’s henchman in Tomorrow Never Dies, and was The Organ Grinder in Batman ReturnsStubby Kaye (1918-1997) worked in vaudeville and musical theater, and began working steadily in film when he reprised his roles from two hit musicals, Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and Marryin’ Sam from Li’l Abner.

Robert Ryan (1909-1973) made a number of minor films in the early 1940s, served in the Marine Corps in World War 2, and then had a breakthrough when he was Oscar-nominated for Crossfire.  Ryan was so effective as an anti-Semitic soldier that he found it hard to escape villain roles for the rest of his career; however, he gave us some memorable ones.  Ben Vandergroat in The Naked Spur, Reno Smith in Bad Day at Black Rock, Earle Slater in Odds Against Tomorrow—those are just a few memorable Robert Ryan villains.  Occasionally, as in Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground or Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, he got a chance to show what he could do in a different sort of role.  Very surprisingly, Ryan’s Oscar nomination for Crossfire was the only one of his career.

For the second consecutive day it’s the birth date of a literary giant.  Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was one most important figures in Russian literature.  The author of the novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov, he has a claim to be the greatest of all Russian novelists (although good cases could also be made for Tolstoy and a few others).

Other prominent writers born today include Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), important for both his satire and his science fiction.  His most famous novel, Slaughterhouse Five, is usually considered a satire, but was also nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards.  Howard Fast (1914-2003) wrote over fifty novels, predominantly historical fiction.  His most famous novel, partly due to the classic film adaptation, is SpartacusAbigail Adams (1744-1818) was the second First Lady of the United States, but is also important as a writer owing to the enormous volume of her correspondence with her husband (John Adams), which documents her own views on major issues, and also provides first-hand testimony to many events in early American history.

General George S. Patton (1885-1945) was one of the most important American commanders in World War 2.  His controversial actions, such as infamously slapping a pair of shell-shocked soldiers, were offset by his success as a combat commander, at least in the eyes of the Army hierarchy.  He was played by George C. Scott in the 1970 film Patton, a truly legendary performance.

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.

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Posted on November 11, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Good write-up on Leonardo DiCaprio. I find it heartening to see him using his influence to impact climate change. Demi Moore is such a fascinating story to me. I think people forget she was at one time the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. She is one of the rare actresses to walk away while still at the top of her career (or near it anyway).

    Stanley Tucci is always great. Who else here loved Big Night? I never watched Ally McBeal, so I mostly know Calista Flockhart from her relationship with Harrison Ford and her supporting role on Supergirl which has been reduced since the show moved production to Canada to cut costs.

    Daffy did a write-up on Jonathan Winters when he passed a few years ago. Which reminds me, last night he pointed out that yesterday was his five anniversary of writing for the site! Congrats and thanks, man.

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    • Congrats to Daffy for five years of blogging here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jestak, I was wondering if you could make Robert Vaughn a headliner for November 22nd, since he would’ve been 84 years old. The news of his death is still fresh, like a deep wound in my skin. It would also give you another excuse for you to write about “The A-Team”, since you are such a big fan. (As you have probably guessed, I’m a George Peppard and Robert Vaughn fan). The man was awesome.

        Please take this into consideration.

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        • I am several days away from determining who the headliners will be on November 22, but I should warn you that it is looking like one of those days which are jam-packed with big names.

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  2. Demi Moore had a glorious heyday. Her comedown was monumental. She was such a ubiquitous presence and then she was just gone.

    Leo was rumored to have had a fling with Demi in early March 1997 when she was married.

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  3. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone.

    I really like Leonardo DiCaprio, and I was very happy when he finally won his Oscar this year. I haven’t seen “The Revenant”, but I have seen “Titantic” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, and he was very good in both those movies. Plus, he still looks amazing.

    IMDB’s main headline this morning was a photo gallery of Leo in honor of his birthday. That only lasted for about three hours, until Robert Vaughn died of leukemia. Like I said, I really like DiCaprio, but I also really like Vaughn, and he deserves to have the top headline for the rest of the day. RIP Darling. 😢

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  4. Well, after “Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio faced both fawning fans & fan backlash (mostly from males), and he got out of it okay. Those people that were giving him static weren’t aware that he was a working actor for some time by then, not just some hot ticket. It worked out in the end; I’d say my favorite roles of his are probably “The Aviator” and “The Departed”, but it’s a pretty long list regardless.
    By the end of the 1990’s, I was kind of fatigued by Demi Moore, as he was in so many film and on the lips of anyone peddling tabloid fodder, but I always thought she was a real good actress (in the late week, I’ve re-read a little bit of her main article on this site). Maybe she got wary of the circus and the hectic schedule towards the end herself.
    Yeah, Stanley Tucci’s always worth a look, even if it’s a bit part in 1991’s “Billy Bathgate” or a quiet, somber piece like 2007’s “Blind Date” (he was a pretty fierce guest star on “Miami Vice” too, making three appearances as two different characters). I enjoy the menacing, whimsical, or thoughtful faces of Tucci.
    I guess I remember Vincent Schiavelli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (with his wife in the film played by the stunning Lana Clarkson). I had no idea he passed a good while back.
    Kurt Vonnegut, I like what he went for in his books; I guess my favorite is “Timequake”.
    I watched “Ally McBeal” for awhile there, so I really remember Calista Flockhart from playing the eponymous character, but not much else really.
    That tough to hear of the passing of Robert Vaughn, who I enjoyed in quite a projects (1981’s “S.O.B. his late arrival to “The A-Team”, and “Black Moon Rising” come to mind). Wasn’t he pals with Jack Nicholson back when Jack was a struggling actor?

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  5. Some impressive names today. DiCaprio may not be everyone’s favorite, but there’s no doubt that he is the top lead actor of his generation. Demi Moore was big, really big, for close to a decade.

    Then we have a literary giant, plus another author of considerable importance.

    Tye Sheridan is still very young, but so far he’s hitting a lot of the markers to have a pretty impressive career.

    Robert Ryan has been a favorite of mine for a long time; if I made a list of actors who should have won an Oscar at some point but never did, he would be at or near the top of it.

    Pat O’Brien had some great moments, too. I love the interactions between him and Cagney throughout Angels With Dirty Faces, plus O’Brien delivering the final, valedictory lines: “Come on, fellas, let’s go say a prayer for a boy who couldn’t run as fast as I could.”

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