November 17: Happy Birthday Martin Scorsese and Danny DeVito


Martin Scorsese, who turns 74 today, is one of the leading directors of the “New Hollywood” or “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” generation of American filmmakers.  He began making short films while studying at New York University, and after graduation he made his first feature, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, his first time working with two long-time collaborators, actor Harvey Keitel and editor Thelma Schoonmaker.

After directing the Roger Corman production Boxcar Bertha, Scorsese and Keitel reunited for the critically acclaimed Mean Streets, which was also Scorsese’s first time working with Robert De Niro.  His next film, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, was his first to receive Oscar notice, including a Best Actress honor for Ellen Burstyn.  That was followed by Scorsese’s first collaboration with writer Paul  Schrader, a film that was his first to receive a Best Picture nomination:

Taxi Driver also began what Scorsese’s admirers would say was a tradition of the Academy passing him over—it, along with films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas, failed to win Best Picture, or bring Scorsese a Best Director Oscar.  He finally managed to grasp the brass ring, in both categories, with the 2006 film The Departed, which starred his “new muse,” Leonardo DiCaprio; the two have made five features and a short since 2002.

Danny DeVito is turning 72 today.  He began acting in the early 1970s, but didn’t begin to make a name for himself until the end of the decade, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing dispatcher Louie De Palma on Taxi.  He began getting prominent feature roles in the 1980s, such as playing comic villain Ralph in Romancing the Stone, and in 1986 had the role of a man who’d like to be rid of his wife:

The late 1980s saw DeVito directing and starring in Throw Momma from the Train and The War of the Roses.  Some of his major roles in the 1990s included The Penguin in Batman Returns, Martin Weir in Get Shorty, Sid Hudgens in L.A. Confidential, and George Shapiro, Andy Kaufman’s agent, in Man on the Moon.  In the last decade, he has returned to television, starring on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who celebrates her 58th today, has had a lengthy stage and screen career, highlighted by being nominated for Best Supporting Actress for The Color Of Money, directed by—Martin Scorsese.  French actress Sophie Marceau, who turns 50, has been one of the top leading ladies in French cinema for 30 years; US audiences would know her as an ahistorically mature Isabella of France in Braveheart and a Bad Bond Girl in The World is Not EnoughLeslie Bibb, who starred on the quirky WB teen dramedy Popular (created by Ryan Murphy), turns 42 today; these days she has recurring roles on The Odd Couple and American Housewife.  Stuntwoman and actress Zoe Bell, who is 38 today, first became known for doubling Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess.  Since then she has worked on several of Quentin Tarantino’s films, doing stunts on the Kill Bill films and Inglorious Basterds, acting in a small role in The Hateful Eight, and doing both in Death Proof.

Another star of a Ryan Murphy series, Dylan Walsh of Nip/Tuck, turns 53 today.  Tom Ellis, who stars on Fox’s Lucifer as Lucifer Morningstar, celebrates his 38th.  David Ramsey, who is 45 today, plays John Diggle, aka Spartan, on Arrow (with a few crossovers to The Flash as well).  Director Roland Joffé, who received Oscar nominations for Best Director for The Killing Fields and The Mission, turns 71 today.  Producer Lorne Michaels, who celebrates his 72nd, is the creator and longtime executive producer of Saturday Night Live, and also has producing credits on 30 Rock, Late Night and The Tonight Show.

Rachel McAdams, who turns 38 today, was an Oscar nominee earlier this year for her role in Spotlight.  Her first major role was in 2004, as one of a clique of Mean Girls.  She starred in the R-rated rom-com Wedding Crashers, in Wes Craven’s thriller Red Eye, the romantic drama The Vow, and was part of the cast of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.  Currently she can be seen as Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange, and she has also played a character known to anyone familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories:

Someone to keep an eye on is Kara Hayward, who celebrates her 18th birthday.  She made an impressive debut in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, and was a lead in the well-received thriller The Sisterhood of Night.

In music, the man sometimes considered Canada’s greatest songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, turns 78 today.  The folk-rocker has been recording and performing for over 50 years, with his greatest success coming in the 1970s, when he had several singles reach the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, including “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “Carefree Highway,” and a song about a bulk freighter which was caught in a storm on Lake Superior:

Other music birthdays include the short-lived but much-respected Jeff Buckley (1966-1997).  Buckley, an eclectic alternate rocker, had made a single album, Grace, and done a lengthy tour to promote it, before he drowned taking a late-night swim in the Mississippi River.  Isaac Hanson, the oldest of the three brothers who make up the pop trio Hanson, turns 36.  Gene Clark (1944-1991) was a founding member of the 1960s folk-rock band The Byrds, and their main songwriter until he left the band in 1966.  Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010) was a conductor with long associations with the English National Opera and Welsh National Opera; he was known for his recordings of the operas of Mozart and Leos Janacek, and also of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas.

In sports, birthdays today include Jim Boeheim, who turns 72.  Boeheim has been the head coach of Syracuse’s men’s basketball team since 1976, currently the longest tenure among NCAA Division I coaches; he has nearly 1o00 victories in his coaching career.  Elvin Hayes, who is 71, is a Basketball Hall-of-Famer.  The “Big E” starred in college for the University of Houston and spent the largest part of his NBA career with the Washington Bullets, who he led to the 1978 NBA title.  Tom Seaver, born the same day as Jim Boeheim, is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, honoring a career where he won 311 games and three National League Cy Young Awards.

Rock Hudson (1925-1985) was one of the great “heartthrob” stars of the 1950s and ’60s, starring in romantic comedies like Pillow Talk, in Douglas Sirk’s melodramas Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows, and in action films like Tobruk and Ice Station Zebra.  He moved to television to star on McMillan & Wife and later had a recurring role on Dynasty.  He was the first prominent public figure to die of AIDS-related complications.  Peter Cook (1937-1995) was known for his long comic partnership with Dudley Moore, which encompassed live comedy, television and film.  Many people will also recognize him as the Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride (“Mawwige”).  Lee Strasberg (1901-1982) had some notable acting roles, especially as Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II, but was most important as a teacher of actors, known for his role in bringing “method” acting to Hollywood and as the longtime director of the Actors Studio.  Russian-born actor Mischa Auer (1905-1967) was frequently the man the studios called on for a somewhat exotic character with a foreign accent.  He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for My Man Godfrey and played the ballet instructor, Kolenkhov, in You Can’t Take It with You.

For the third time in a seven day period, it’s the birthday of one of the leading generals of World War 2, that of Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery (1887-1976).  “Monty” was the leading British field commander in the European theater from 1942 on.  Michael Rennie, Ian Richardson and Corin Redgrave are among the actors to portray him on screen.

One final music birthday for today is that of Irish folkie Luke Kelly (1940-1984).  A founding member of The Dubliners, he was known for his lovely tenor voice, his banjo playing and his mop of curly red hair:

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 17, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Martin Scorsese is unquestionably one of our greatest directors. His filmography includes more than its share of great movies. And very few clunkers. Even his misses are usually worth watching. Lots of Goodfellas fans here, myself included.

    Danny DeVito is a pretty solid director himself. Throw Momma From the Train and War of the Roses are solid black comedies and Matilda is one of the better Roald Dahl adaptations. And let’s not forget his production company, Jersey Films, is responsible for movies like: Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty and Erin Brockovich. Plus, he was the Penguin. November seems to be the month for Penguin birthdays.

    Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is probably best known for being Kevin Costner’s Maid Marion in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. I knew her best from The Abyss. Sophie Marceau was the best thing about the underwhelming Bond movie, The World is Not Enough. Zoe Bell is one of the few stunt people to get some much-deserved credit. But I still didn’t like Death Proof very much.

    In the David Ramsey write-up you mentioned crossovers with The Flash. I can’t recall if he has shown up on Legends of Tomorrow yet, but there is an upcoming crossover across all four CW super hero shows that should cross pollinate all of the casts.

    Say what you will about Lorne Michaels. He’s made a lot of bad movies. But on the whole, he’s responsible for a lot more laughs. I know we have at least one Rachel McAdams fan here. McAdams was an “it girl” for a moment. That time has past, but she’s still going strong even if she seems unlikely to ever be a major star. I’m sure most of her former Mean Girls costars would happily switch places with her.

    Gordon Lightfoot needs to show up in Cheesetastic Classics. Paging Daffystardust.


    • We’ve had some interesting “one day apart” linkages in the past couple of weeks. Yesterday and today being the birthdays of the two Penguins is the latest, but we’ve also had Anne Hathaway and Garry Marshall—star and director of The Princess Diaries—and Michael Ende and Noah Hathaway—author of The Neverending Story and star of the movie.

      And that Mean Girls cast has surely gone down very different roads, haven’t they. Of the four main performers, you have two WTHH subjects, McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried, who is at least still getting lead roles in films even if most of them aren’t big hits.


      • It was so fascinating to watch the cast of Mean Girls. At first, everyone just assumed it was going to catapult Lindsay Lohan to the A-list. But she imploded shortly thereafter. I don’t think anyone really expected Lacey Chabert to become a leading lady, but the movie certainly added a second act to her career as a kid actor. Then Rachel McAdams seemed like she was poised for superstardom, but that didn’t really happen. As she was not happening, Amanda Seyfried had a run where it looked like she might be big. But that ended pretty quickly. McAdams and Seyfried still have careers that should be considered enormously successful by any reasonable standard. Lohan and Chabert would likely switch spots if they could. But they didn’t quite become the big name movie stars it looked like they might be.

        Oh and Tina Fey ended up with the biggest career boost. Who saw that coming?


  2. There’s no question Martin Scorsese stands among the greatest film directors of all time. Taxi Driver was just brilliant, Goodfellas is easily among my 5 favorite films ever (one of my “desert island movies”), and I think The King of Comedy is criminally underrated, just to mention three of my favorites. I know I’ve said this before but I think Goodfellas got robbed at the Oscars. Dances With Wolves was a solid movie, but Goodfellas was transcendent.


  3. Man, I love me some Danny DeVito. He was so despicable and nasty as Louie DePalma on Taxi, I just love it. Great, great show, still watch it in repeats. And such a fine film career too, Ruthless People is a personal favorite of mine but if you ever really want to see the range that DeVito has as an actor watch him in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. He disappears into the role.


    • Ruthless People is one of those movies that times seems to have forgotten. But it’s definitely worth seeking out.

      I also remember liking Other People’s Money when it came out. I was alone in that opinion and haven’t rewatched it, so I won’t argue too strongly on that one.


  4. Speaking of Danny DeVito, I’ve been watching Taxi repeats on ME-TV for awhile now and I noticed a clever little detail: every episode uses stock footage of taxi cabs driving around New York city, well on a few occasions they’ve used footage of a busy city street and there’s a movie theater with a large marquee listing “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST”. My hunch is the producers put that in directly as a little nod to Danny DeVito, though in reality I can’t imagine any movie theater still showing the movie 3+ years after it premiered. But still I get a kick out of it when I spot it in Taxi.


  5. I grew up listening to The Dubliners. Rest in peace Luke Kelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What is there to say about Martin Scorsese, other than his career has been tremendous. Like Lebeau said, even his bombs are interesting (I like “New York, New York” & “The King of Comedy”).
    Same thing with Danny DeVito, there’s so much ground one could cover, but I’m glad that Ruthless People” had a clip included here, as it’s a favorite of mine.
    I guess I’ll always recall Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio for her role of Gina in “Scarface”, but I also her roles in the reviled 1989 film “The January Man” and 1992’s “White Sands” as well.
    Yeah, I remember Zoe Bell from “Death Proof”; she was pretty badass.
    Looks like Rachel McAdams, after all the hype has died down, will still have a fine career.
    Gordon Lightfoot, I like a few of his songs, especially “If You Could Red My Mind” and “Sundown”.
    I actually associate Lee Strasberg with being an acting teacher, and have to be reminded that he has acted too. I guess he debunks the notion that if one can’t do, they teach, because he can do both.
    I remember Jeff Buckley; he was there, looked like we’d hearing and listening to him for a long time, and then suddenly he was gone.


    • For what it’s worth, I do own Gordon Lightfoot’s greatest hits on CD. I exclude myself from voting on if any of his music was “chessetastic” or not because he had some really great music back in the day. “Sundown” is a personal favorite of mine.


      • For myself, I wouldn’t consider the songs of Gordon Lightfoot cheesetastic, even in that fun way. I see the vibe of his songs the same as, say, Jim Croce: very folklike.


  7. Rachel was once dubbed next julia roberts but things did not pan out that way she however did appear in quite a few hits she had a better career then mean girls costar lohan


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