November 22: Happy Birthday Jamie Lee Curtis and Scarlett Johansson


Jamie Lee Curtis celebrates her 58th birthday today.  We’ve had quite a bit of content about her here previously—a pair of Movieline interviews, along with a Comeback Kid article.As many know, she is sort of “Hollywood royalty,” as the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, not to mention being the wife of Christopher Guest (which officially makes her Lady Haden-Guest as he is a for-real baron).

Curtis began her film and television career in the late 1970s.  She did guest spots on several TV shows such as Columbo and Charlie’s Angels.  Her film debut in John Carpenter’s Halloween began the “scream queen” phase of her career, as she starred in several horror/slasher films in a row, including Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night and others.  But she then began to display a talent for comedy in films like Trading Places (which she won a BAFTA Award for) and, a few years later, A Fish Called Wanda:

Curtis received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for playing Wanda Gershwitz, and later won a Golden Globe as Helen Tasker in True Lies.  She won another Golden Globe for starring in ABC’s Anything But Love, and recently has been a Golden Globe nominee yet again for Fox’s Scream Queens.  She has also authored a number of children’s books in collaboration with illustrator Laura Cornell.

Scarlett Johansson turns 32 today.  She began acting before her 10th birthday, and drew favorable notice for her juvenile and teen roles in films like Manny & Lo, The Horse Whisperer, and Ghost World.  She started transitioning to adult roles when she was still in her late teens, with a pair of acclaimed 2003 performances, in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring.  She was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actress for both films (one in the Musical/Comedy category, the other in drama) and won a BAFTA Award for the former.

Subsequently, Johansson was the apple of Woody Allen’s eye for a few years, starring in three of his films.  She has done action films like Michael Bay’s The Island and Luc Besson’s Lucy, literary adaptations like The Other Boleyn Girl, and period pieces like The Black Dahlia and Hitchcock.  Her Broadway debut, as Catherine in the 2010 revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, brought her a Tony.  This year she was in the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! and voiced Kaa in The Jungle Book.  But the role that more people have seen her in than any other is as a certain red-haired ex-assassin:

Mark Ruffalo, who is 49 today, is another familiar face to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he plays a man who sometimes transforms into an enormous green rage monster.  Ruffalo, who first drew notice in the 2000 film You Can Count on Me, has been an Oscar nominee for The Kids are All Right and Spotlight, and a Tony nominee for the 2006 revival of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing!  Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen is turning 51.  He has had a distinguished career in European cinema and is known to American audiences for playing Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and for starring in NBC’s Hannibal, and recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe himself as Kaecilius in Doctor StrangeMariel Hemingway, granddaughter of a certain novelist, celebrates her 55th.  She made a big splash as a teenager, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Lipstick and an Oscar nomination for playing Woody Allen’s teenage girlfriend in Manhattan; however, she never really lived up to that early promise.

Jamie Campbell Bower, who turns 28, made his film debut as Anthony Hope in the film version of Sweeney Todd.  He appeared as Caius in several Twilight films and as Jace Wayland in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, adapted from the novels by Cassandra Clare.  Clare’s novels have also been made into a Freeform television series; Katherine McNamara, who turns 21 today, stars as Clary Fray.  Madison Davenport, who celebrates her 20th, plays Kate Fuller on the TV series From Dusk till DawnTyler Hilton, who turns 33, is an indie rock and folk singer also known for acting in films like Walk the Line (as Elvis Presley) and Charlie BartlettAdèle Exarchopoulos, who is turning 23 today, is best known for starring in the award-winning French film Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Terry Gilliam turns 76 today.  He first made his reputation as the sole American in the Monty Python troupe, contributing to the writing of all their work and co-directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Post-Python, he has directed a number of features, including Time Bandits, Brazil, The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys.  One striking thing about his filmography is the number of Oscar nominations his films have received in categories like Art Direction, Costume Design and other categories related to the “look” of the films.  Sir Peter Hall, who celebrates his 86th, spent nearly six decades directing for the stage before retiring in 2011.  He founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and was later director of the National Theatre in London.  Although he did most of his work in England, his forays onto Broadway brought him two Tonys.  He also worked at many of the world’s leading opera houses, including Covent Garden, the Met and Bayreuth.

Today’s music birthdays include Steven Van Zandt, who turns 66.  The guitarist is a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and starred as Silvio Dante on The SopranosTina Weymouth shares a birthday with Van Zandt; she is best known as a founding member and the bassist of the new wave band Talking Heads.  Stephen Hough, who is 55 today, is one of the world’s leading classical pianists.  He is known for his performances of much of the Romantic piano repertoire, and won the Gramophone Record of the Year Award for his recordings of the piano concertos of Camille Saint-Saens.  Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) was a pianist, bandleader and composer.  He made some major contributions to the “Great American Songbook” of popular, pre-rock songs, such as “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind.”  He also made a few film appearances, one of them extremely memorable:

Sports birthdays today begin with a pair of tennis greats.  Billie Jean King turns 73.  She was the top women’s player in the world from about 1966 to 1975, and won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles—12 in women’s singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles.  Her famous Battle of the Sexes with Bobby Riggs will be recreated in the movie of that title next year, with Emma Stone playing King.  When Boris Becker, who turns 49 today, won the 1985 Wimbledon Men’s Singles title, he became the youngest men’s winner at Wimbledon ever, a distinction he still holds.  Becker won six Grand Slam singles titles and was one of the top men’s players in the world in the late 1980s and early ’90s.  Asamoah Gyan, who is 31 today, is the top African goalscorer in the history of the World Cup and Ghana’s all-time leading goalscorer in international play.

The late Robert Vaughn (1932-2016) had some good film roles over the years, such as ambitious politician Walter Chalmers in Bullitt, his Oscar-nominated turn in The Young Philadelphians, and as Lee, the gunfighter who has lost his nerve, in The Magnificent Seven (a role he more or less reprised in the Space Western Battle Beyond the Stars).  But his most famous work is probably on television, as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Gen. Hunt Stockwell in the last season of The A-Team, and Albert Stroller  on the BBC’s HustleRodney Dangerfield (1921-2004) was a comedian who, he would have told you, “didn’t get no respect.”  He also had notable film roles in Caddyshack and Back to School (the former directed by, and both co-written by, Harold Ramis), and was cast very strongly against type  in Natural Born Killers.

Director Arthur Hiller (1933-2016) won a Golden Globe for Best Director for the tragic romance Love Story, and was Oscar-nominated for the same film.  He directed a wide variety of features in close to five decades behind the camera.  Mary Jackson (1910-2005) worked in American television for several decades, including over 60 appearances on The Waltons as Emily Baldwin.

Literary figures born today include Mary Ann Evans, known under her pen name of George Eliot (1819-1880), who was one of the leading novelists of 19th Century England, the author of classics like Silas Marner and MiddlemarchAndre Gide (1869-1951) was a Nobel Prize winner in Literature.  The French writer was known for novels such as The Immoralist, Strait is the Gate, and The Pastoral Symphony.

Other world historic notables born today include Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970).  The leader of the Free French government in exile and resistance forces during World War 2, de Gaulle went on to head France’s provisional government after the war, and became the President of France when the Fifth Republic was founded in 1958.  John Nance Garner (1868-1967) served as Vice President of the US during Franklin Roosevelt’s first two terms of office.  Leo Amery (1873-1955) was a leader of the British Conservative Party in the 1920s and ’30s; his biggest moment in history was his central role in the parliamentary revolt in 1940 that brought down Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and brought Winston Churchill into power.

We’ll end with one more acting great.  Geraldine Page (1924-1987) was a student of Lee Strasberg, one of the first method actors to make a mark in American theater, film and television.  Her first credited film role, opposite John Wayne in Hondo in 1953, brought her the first of eight Oscar nominations; she won Best Actress in 1985 for The Trip to Bountiful.  She won Emmys for appearances on CBS’s Playhouse 90 and on ABC Stage 67.  She made her Broadway debut in 1952 in Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, and received four Tony nominations during her career.

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 22, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. It sure is a sad state of affairs when Jamie Lee Curtis is no longer featured on the IMDb homepage on her birthday… Damn. If it wasn’t for this article, I wouldn’t have even know it was her birthday today. Shame on you, IMDb.


  2. I didn’t really become aware of Curtis until A Fish Called Wanda. We didn’t watch a lot of slasher movies, so I sort of missed her scream queen phase. I eventually watched Halloween on TV, but I wasn’t paying attention to the credits. I kind of clued in that her performance in Trading Places was a big deal, but I didn’t see the movie until years later also on TV. Wanda was probably the first Jamie Lee Curtis movie I saw in theaters. It seems like about once a decade she does something to remind us that she is awesome.

    I first noticed Scarlett Johansson in Ghost World. I had been following her career in indie movies for years before she became a really big star. For a while, it seemed like she was famous more for her looks and relationships than her actual movies. But the Marvel movies and Lucy changed that. Lucy (which is a pretty dumb movie) showed that Johansson was a legit star.

    HA! So a lot of the things I just said also apply to fellow Avenger Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo has been around longer than most people realize. I first noticed him in You Can Count On Me in 2000. For years after that, people kept talking about movies that would make Ruffalo a star, but it didn’t actually happen till he took over the role of the Hulk in Avengers in 2012.

    Mads Mikkelsen always makes for a great Euro villain. Although from the looks of things, he’s playing a good guy in the new Star Wars. Mariel Hemingway always calls to mind Manhattan. I recently rewatched that movie and her characters relationship with Allen really creeps me out these days, but there’s still a lot to like and her performance cannot be faulted. I kept expecting her to move on to bigger and better things, but instead she made Superman IV.

    We’ve got several promising young actors who star in TV shows that aren’t on my radar. Happy birthday anyway, young actors I have never heard of.

    Terry Gilliam is a frustrating director to me. When he is good, he is very good. While his movies are almost always interesting, they also tend to be very uneven. But his best movies are pretty great.

    I was too young to really appreciate Billie Jean King. But I heard about it a lot. My dad still insists the match was a stunt and that Bobby Riggs threw it. My dad believes a lot of things that aren’t true. Robert Vaughn, I remember primarily from Superman III. Rodney Dangerfield was in a lot of bad movies. But man, he was funny. He makes Caddyshack. And Back to School is pretty great. Dangerfield served as a mentor to a generation of comics including Jim Carrey.


    • I first saw Jamie Lee Curtis when she guest-starred on Charlie’s Angels, and when we first got cable, Prom Night was a movie I remember watching parts of more than once (it was one of those movies that got onto cable playlists very early, so it aired a lot). But A Fish Called Wanda was definitely the point where she first really registered with me as a performer.

      I am pretty sure I first saw Scarlett Johansson in The Island, which was hardly the best movie to impress me with her acting talents. Subsequently I saw her Woody Allen movies and The Prestige, which gave me a better appreciation for her.

      Scarlett Johansson co-starred in Vicky Cristina Barcelona with Rebecca Hall, who is the daughter of Sir Peter Hall (in today’s article) and opera star Maria Ewing (I think I used a clip of her singing Carmen when it was Georges Bizet’s birthday a few weeks ago). Johannson and Hall were also in The Prestige together.

      I have not seen much of Geraldine Page’s work, but she was plainly a wonderful actress. Sadly, I was unable to find a decent clip to represent her.

      One of my favorite Mark Ruffalo roles is in Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom. Tyler Hilton I remember for a memorable bit part in Walk the Line as Elvis. And I sort of expect that Adele Exarchopoulos will have a big career in European cinema, given the notices she received for Blue Is the Warmest Color.

      I know we have a Robert Vaughn fan or two here. He was great in The Magnificent Seven and Battle Beyond the Stars (which is pretty much The Magnificent Seven—in space).


      • Happy Tuesday, everyone.

        I like Jamie Lee Curtis and Scarlett Johansson as much as the next girl, but I felt Robert Vaughn should have been a headliner. Was he even considered?

        Back to my appreciation of Mr. Vaughn. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I enjoyed “The Magnificent Seven”, mostly because of the performances of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and Mr. Vaughn. He also made a memorable guest appearance on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” where he played Jim Darling, the new sponsor of the fictional Alan Brady Show and the old flame of Laura Petrie. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you check it out.

        RIP Darling and have a great birthday in the sky.


  3. I never knew Jamie Lee Curtis & Scarlett Johansson shared a birthday. I’m much more familiar with Jamie Lee, as I’ve seen her play in a little bit of everything (smart babysitter, dead Playboy centerfold, heart of gold hooker, master manipulator, housewife with skills). I like Scarlett Johansson best in films such as “Ghost World”, “Lost in Translation”, and “Match Point”.
    I’ve always liked Mark Ruffalo since “You Can Count on Me”, and overall like most of the films and roles (I think 2007’s “Zodiac” has mostly been forgotten about).
    I think “Star 80” is really good, so that’s what I know best from Mariel Hemingway. Actually both her & Jamie Lee Curtis played playmate Dorothy Stratten in separate projects.
    Terry Gilliam, I like his vision; the films I’ve seen of his all have taken me on a wild ride.
    I orget that Rodney Dangerfield was in “Natural Born Killers”, but now that I think about it, I feel he was the most frightening person in the entire film.
    I learned of Robert Vaughn’s passing from this site a few weeks ago; I viewed a lot of that final season of “The A-Team” a few years ago. They totally changed up the vibe of that show for the final season, but I thought Vaughn did a good job, and I liked the opening credits roll, as I thought it had an epic and important feel to it.


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