November 12: Happy Birthday Anne Hathaway and Grace Kelly


Of our two headliners today, one first became well-known by playing a girl who learns she is a princess.  The other became a princess.

Anne Hathaway celebrates her 34th birthday today.  Her career started with a bang—after appearing in a short-lived Fox series, Get Real, she was cast as Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries.  The success of that film has meant that she has never really wanted for decent roles.  For a while she seemed typecast in family films, but by 2005-06 she was decisively moving into adult roles in films like Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada.

Since then, Hathaway’s roles have included playing Jane Austen in the biopic/period piece Becoming Jane, Agent 99 in the film adaptation of Get Smart, a recovering drug user in Rachel Getting Married, and the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland.  2012 was a big year for Hathaway, as she played Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, one of the year’s blockbusters, and then swept most of the major Best Supporting Actress awards (including winning an Oscar) as Fantine in Les Misérables:

Since her banner year, Hathaway has returned to the role of the White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, costarred with Robert De Niro in The Intern, and reunited with Christopher Nolan for an Interstellar journey.  In the future, it looks like she may be returning to Selina Kyle’s thieving ways in Ocean’s Eight, the spinoff from the popular caper film series set to feature an all-female heist crew.

Grace Kelly (1929-1982) made her feature film debut in 1951 in a small role in a film called Fourteen Hours, and her final feature was the 1956 film High Society, after which she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and retired from acting.  But in that short career she made an enormous impression on people.  She may not have been a brilliant actress—although she won an Oscar for The Country Girl—but anyone who sees her in films like High Noon, Mogambo, Rear Window, etc., can hardly doubt that she was a movie star.

Ryan Gosling, who turns 36, was an Oscar nominee for Half Nelson and is also a four-time Golden Globe nominee, including two in the same year, for The Ides of March and Crazy, Stupid, LoveCote de Pablo, who is 37 today, starred on NCIS as Ziva David for eight seasons.  Megan Mullally, who celebrates her 58th, was nominated for an Emmy seven straight times for playing Karen Walker on Will & Grace (winning twice).  Radha Mitchell, known for her work in films like Pitch Black, Phone Booth, and Finding Neverland, turns 43.  Tamala Jones, who starred on Castle as Lanie Parrish, turns 42 today.  Novelist Richelle Mead celebrates her 40th; she is the author of the Georgina Kincaid urban fantasy series, the Vampire Academy series of young adult novels, and more.

Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgård is 36 today.  He had a prominent role in the Oscar-nominated 2012 version of Kon-Tiki, and stars in the History Channel’s series Vikings.  A second Swedish actor born today is Krister Henriksson, who is best known for playing the fictional detective Kurt Wallander in a series of adaptations of Henning Mankell’s novels.  Henriksson turns 70 today.  Alexandra Maria Lara turns 38.  She was born in Romania, but her family moved to Germany when she was very young to escape the Ceausescu regime.  Her best-known German film is Downfall, in which she starred as Traudl Junge, Adolf Hitler’s secretary.  She has also appeared in international productions like Rush and Suite Francaise.

It is inconceivable that anyone would not want to know that today is Wallace Shawn’s birthday.  The actor, playwright and essayist turns 73; he has had a wide variety of screen roles but will probably always be remembered as Vizzini from The Princess BridePeter Lamont is 87 today.  He worked in film for over 50 years as an art director, production designer and set decorator, receiving four Oscar nominations and winning for Best Art Direction on Titanic.  He worked in some capacity on every James Bond film except one from Goldfinger to Casino Royale; one of his Oscar nominations was for The Spy Who Loved Me.

In sports, Sammy Sosa turns 48.  Baseball fans may remember the great “home run record chase” of the summer of 1998, when Sosa and Mark McGwire both tried to break Roger Maris’s record for home runs in a single season.  He finished his career with over 600 home runs, but has been dogged for over a decade by unconfirmed allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.  Russell Westbrook, who is 28, is one of the NBA’s leading stars.  He is a five-time All-Star selection who has been MVP of the All-Star game twice.  Al Michaels, who turns 72 today, has spent nearly fifty years inside broadcast booths and is one of the top sportscasters of his generation.  He will always be remembered for his “Do you believe in miracles?” at the climax of the US Men’s hockey team’s defeat of the Soviet team at the 1980 Olympics.  There will be one more sports birthday at the end of the article.

The big music birthday today is Neil Young, who celebrates his 71st.  One of those musicians who are too creative to neatly categorize—he has influenced both country and grunge rock—Young began his career in the late 1960s with Buffalo Springfield.  He has also worked at times with some or all of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, but the bulk of his career has been spent as a solo performer.  His 37th studio album comes out at the end of this year.  Most people who are into rock music probably have at least one favorite Neil Young song.

Other music birthdays include Jo Stafford (1917-2008).  Like Patti Page, Stafford was a star of the pre-rock style of music called traditional pop, with hits like “Shrimp Boats” and “You Belong to Me.”  Lucia Popp (1939-1993) was one of the finest lyric sopranos of her generation, known in particular for her Mozart roles like the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute and Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.  Irish musician Sharon Shannon turns 48.  She is proficient on a wide range of instruments running from the fiddle to the tin whistle, but is best known for her accordion playing.

Kim Hunter (1922-2002) played Stella Kowalski in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, and then played the role in the 1951 film, winning both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.  But she then ran afoul of HUAC and was blacklisted for a few years.  She was also known for playing Dr. Zira in Planet of the Apes and the first two sequels.  German writer Michael Ende (1929-1995) was a prominent author of fantasy and children’s fiction, best known for his worldwide bestseller The Neverending Story.  Director Jacques Tourneur was born in France, lived in the US for several years as a child, and returned to Hollywood as an adult.  He is known for several of RKO’s early 1940s horror films, especially Cat People, for swashbucklers like The Flame and the Arrow and Anne of the Indies, and most of all for that most quintessential of all film noir classics, Out of the Past.

Finally, Nadia Comăneci celebrates her 55th birthday today.  Some readers probably can remember back to the summer of 1976, and watching the Montreal Olympics, when a 14-year-old Romanian girl with a ponytail captured the hearts of millions of viewers around the world, both with her flawless gymnastics and her poised demeanor that bordered on stoic, except when she cracked a smile.

Comăneci received seven scores of a perfect 10 at the Montreal Olympics (since the scoreboards of the time could show only three digits, they were displayed as scores of “1.00,” but everyone recognized what they were).  She won three gold medals, and it was at the Montreal Games that women’s gymnastics started to really become one of the showcase events at the Olympics.

But Comăneci’s own life was not easy in the years after her Montreal triumph.  Living in Communist Romania was no picnic (especially after her coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi, defected to the US in 1981).  After she managed to escape the country, in the final months of Ceausescu’s rule, she found herself unable to escape the control of the man who facilitated her escape.  Eventually, with the help of friends like the Karolyis and former US Olympic gymnast Bart Conner, she was able to establish her independence.  Over time, her friendship with Conner developed into romance; they have been married for 20 years.

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 12, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I’m mystified by the phenomena of Hatha-haters. She’s never done or said anything especially controversial or offensive, she’s reasonably friendly with the press, she isn’t involved in any big Hollywood beefs, her work is solid, she’s beautiful but in a way that’s just imperfect enough to not be intimidating. I get the trend of Paltrow-bashing, but why anyone would feel an especially strong antipathy towards Anne Hathaway beats me.


  2. Is Gustaf Skarsgard related to Stellan, Alexander, and Bill?


  3. My experience with Anne Hathaway’s work is “Brokeback Mountain” 2005’s “Havok” and her playing Catwoman(!!!); it’s been a good experience.
    I think Grace Kelly is fascinating overall (guess that’s why I have Robert Lacey’s biography on her). I mean, she was great at film noir, then she became a princess (Anne Hathaway’s a movie princess, but Grace Kelly was the reality), and because she walked away from the film industry early, she has a certain mystique about her.
    Al Michaels; although I think he can be slightly pompous (nothing extreme though), he’s one of the smoothest play-by-play guys in sports, and we started from the bottom at ABC, covering things like Chinese mud wrestling (or niche activities and diversions like that) for “ABC’s Wide World of Sports”.
    Radha Mitchell: I liked that 2001 film she was in with Barry Watson (from “7th Heaven”) titled “When Strangers Appear”.
    I’ve found Megan Mullally kind of fun, even though I’ve never viewed much of “Will & Grace”.
    On another day, Ryan Gosling couldn’t been a headliner, but it looks like today he’ll have to settle for #3. I’ll settle for “All Good Things”.


  4. Oh, I should mention Ryan Gosling in the 2007 film “Lars and the Real Girl”; I like it.


  5. what i like about gosling acting is he can convoy emotion with facial expression not just words. Gosling had huge hype at one point but i think he settled for indie route


  6. I keep telling myself I am not going to fall behind, but I have been really bad this month. Things have been busy and I keep finding myself wishing belated birthday wishes in the comments section. Fair or not, I’m going to blame it on work. Plus, the kids have kind of taken over my laptop at home to watch YouTube videos.

    The Anne Hathaway hate mystified me. I see it as being similar to those who loathe Gwyneth Paltrow. The way it was explained to me is that some people see Hathaway as an overly eager theater kid. You know the kind who rub everyone the wrong way? Apparently she’s a bit of a snob or a goodie goodie. None of that matters to me. I generally enjoy her performances.

    Grace Kelly is one of my favorite Hitchcock blondes. Her story, at least on the surface, makes a compelling real world fairy tale. Ryan Gosling is one of the most compelling young actors today. Drive really grabbed me. He hasn’t really been able to find the one role to cement his star status, but that doesn’t seem to be a priority for him.

    Wallace Shawn is 73? Inconceivable!


    • I didn’t see the Oscars the year that Anne Hathaway won her Oscar, but I understand that some people were put off by her acceptance speech.

      And Hitchcock sure did love his blondes—Madeleine Carroll, Ingrid Bergman, Eva Marie Saint as well as Kelly.


    • People dislike people because she seems entitled and snobby to them and are annoyed by her self-appointed status as lifestyle guru and the huge gulf between the advice that Paltrow has to give and it’s applicability to 99% of the people living on the planet. And also her penchant for selling $90 white t-shirts. I don’t see much of a parallel to Anne Hathaway in that. She doesn’t put herself out there that much; she does her work and does the publicity stuff that goes along with it, but she’s not out there hawking luxury products and giving life advice going on about a bunch of new age woo woo stuff about water having feelings and shit. It doesn’t feel like she stretches her “brand” outside of just being an actress, so I don’t see where one even has an opportunity to get annoyed by her. I literally can’t even think of one thing.


      • Nicki Swift wrote an article on the “Hathahate” phenomenon. Check it out. I don’t get it, but apparently it’s a thing.

        Remember that really, really annoying kid from high school who was super perky in every class and always went on, and on, and on about how amazing the upcoming production of Annie was going to be? That over-the-top, turned-up-to-11 personality is what many find so grating about Hathaway.

        “She’s got this theater kid thing where she adopts the mood of every situation she’s in—rude and bawdy on Chelsea Lately, poised and ‘classy’ at the Oscars, etc.—but wildly overcompensates every time,” Richard Lawson explained to “She always seems like she’s performing, and her favorite act is this overstated humility and graciousness. I’ve known theater kids my whole life. I was a theater kid my whole life. She is the epitome of the bad kind of theater kid.”

        “It’s not really Anne Hathaway I ‘hate,'” writer Sarah Nicole Prickett said in a separate piece for The New York Times. “It’s all the lesser, real-life Anne Hathaways I have known—princessy, theater-schooled girls who have no game and no sex appeal and eat raisins for dessert.”


        • I would just consider that enthusiasm. I admit I haven’t always been thrilled with overly happy people, but that’s just a general thing.


        • Well, it sounds to me that people dislike Paltrow for things she actually says and does (like the climate change summit where she spoke first, then sat the dais openly texting during the next person’s speech), whereas people dislike Hathaway for stuff they just made up.


    • I don’t care much for Gwyneth Paltrow at all (I think she’s talented and actually do like a lot of the roles she’s played) but I have no beef at all when it comes to Anne Hathaway, or Clara Peller.


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