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November 23: Happy Birthday Miley Cyrus and Vincent Cassel

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Our headliners today are two people, each the offspring of a celebrity father, each arguably more famous than their father.

Miley Cyrus turns 24 today.  The singer-songwriter and actress made her screen debut in the Pax TV series Doc, which starred her father, country star Billy Ray Cyrus.  Before she turned 14, Cyrus had a show of her own, starring as the title character on Disney’s Hannah Montana.  Since Hannah is a singer, Cyrus was also launched on a recording career.  After a soundtrack album from the first season of Hannah Montana reached #1 on the Billboard 200, Disney marketed the second season soundtrack as a double album, packaged with Cyrus’s first studio album, the helpfully titled Meet Miley Cyrus, which included her first top 10 single:

After releasing two more studio albums in 2008 and 2010, Cyrus decided to pursue her acting career.  She starred in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Last Song, a moderate box office success but a critical failure, and her subsequent films have been unsuccessful.  Her fourth studio album, 2013’s Bangerz, on the other hand, was another #1 album and also gave her her first #1 single, “Wrecking Ball.”  She co-starred in the recently released web series Crisis in Six Scenes, created for Amazon by Woody Allen.

Vincent Cassel, who celebrates his 50th birthday today, has combined a career as one of the top stars of French cinema—following in the footsteps of his father, Jean-Pierre Cassel—with a number of notable performances in English-language films.  American audiences got their first widespread exposure to him when he played the master thief Francois Toulour in Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen.  He has worked with David Cronenberg on Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method, played ballet director Thomas Leroy in Black Swan, and had a major role in this summer’s Jason Bourne.

In French film, Cassel is a four-time Cesar Award nominee for Best Actor (plus a fifth for Most Promising Actor), winning once.  He has worked in a variety of genres—he starred opposite Lea Seydoux in the 2014 version of La Belle et la Bete/Beauty and the Beast—but has made plenty of appearances in crime films of all sorts: The Crimson Rivers, Sur mes levres, Dobermann, and the two-part Mesrine, for which he won his Cesar.

Ricou Browning, who is 86 today, is known for his underwater stunt work.  He did all the underwater scenes for the Gill-man in Creature from the Black Lagoon and its sequels, and directed the underwater sequences on Thunderball and on its unofficial remake, Never Say Never AgainFranco Nero, who turns 75, made his name in Sergio Corbucci’s spaghetti western Django, and played Sir Lancelot in the film adaptation of Camelot (with Gene Merlino dubbing his singing voice).  He made a cameo in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Ricky Whittle, who turns 35, will star in the upcoming Starz series American Gods (adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel), and has been a regular on Hollyoaks and The 100.  Lucas Grabeel, who celebrates his 32nd, played Ryan Evans in the High School Musical films and now is a regular on Switched at BirthChris Hardwick is a comedian and television host who some of our readers may know as the host of Talking Dead; he is 45 today.  Jonathan Sadowski, who is turning 37, stars on the Freeform series Young & Hungry opposite Emily Osment.  Israeli-born actor Oded Fehr, who is 46 today, has had a variety of TV and film roles including Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns and Carlos Olivera in several of the Resident Evil films.  Doctor Who fans will recognize Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, the female incarnation of the Doctor’s archenemy The Master; she is 50 today.  Salli Richardson, who is turning 49, was a regular on Syfy’s Eureka and now stars on the Freeform series StitchersLia Marie Johnson, who is primarily known for her work in various web series—she has been described as one of the top 10 young stars on YouTube—celebrates her 20th today.

Writer and director Robert Towne is turning 82.  He is most famous for his screenplays, especially for Chinatown, along with Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail and Shampoo.  He wrote a directed films like Personal Best and Tequila SunriseJoe Eszterhas, who is 72 today, wrote the scripts for films like Jagged Edge and Basic Instinct, and more infamously, the Razzie-winning screenplays for Showgirls and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood BurnJames Toback, born the same day as Eszterhas, has written and directed films like The Pick-Up Artist, Two Girls and a Guy, and When Will I Be Loved.

Robin Roberts, who is 56 today, was one of the first women to become well known as a sports journalist; she moved from being a sports anchor at several TV stations in the 1980s to a 15 year career with ESPN.  She once did a guest role on Hannah Montana, and currently is an anchor for Good Morning AmericaShane Gould, who turns 60, won 3 gold medals in women’s swimming for Australia at the 1972 Olympics; she once held six separate women’s swimming world records simultaneously.

Alan Paul, who is 67 today, is a longtime member of Manhattan Transfer.  The a cappella and jazz fusion group have won eight Grammys in jazz and pop categories.  Bruce Hornsby, the genre-crossing singer-songwriter and pianist, regularly moves from rock to jazz to bluegrass and has won three Grammys; he turns 62 today.

Boris Karloff (1887-1969) worked in film and television for around fifty years, but will always be known for two roles, as Frankenstein’s Monster in Frankenstein and several other horror classics, and as the narrator and the voice of the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  Michael Gough (1916-2011) was also known for horror film work, appearing in several of the Hammer Horror Films in the 1950s and ’60s; he also played Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman films of the 1980s and ’90s.  John Dehner (1915-1992) had a long career as a character actor in film and on television; one of his last roles was in Jagged Edge (script by Joe Eszterhas), where he played a judge.  George O’Hanlon (1912-1989) was known for starring in a long series of one-reel comedy shorts from Warner Brothers about a character named Joe McDoakes; he also voiced George Jetson in the 1960s animated series.

Composer Jerry Bock (1928-2010) was a major figure in mid-20th century musical theater.  He and his lyricist partner Sheldon Harnick created one of most popular of all musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, the first musical to run for over 3000 performances on Broadway.  Nor were Bock and Harnick one-hit wonders; their 1959 musical Fiorello!, a biographical musical about New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, while both it and Fiddler won Tonys for Best Musical.  The duo also created two other Tony-nominated musicals, She Loves Me and The Apple Tree.

Historical figures born today include Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), the 14th President of the US.  Historians today do not think highly of Pierce, a northern Democrat who had strong sympathies with the South.  Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King (1878-1956), the commander in chief of the US Navy during World War 2, was not noted for a calm disposition; his daughter once said of him “he is the most even-tempered person in the US Navy—he is always in a rage.”  Edward Rutledge (1749-1800) was the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence and later became Governor of South Carolina.  John Cullum played Rutledge in the movie musical 1776.

Arthur “Harpo” Marx (1888-1964) was the visual comic of the Marx Brothers; he was the one who never spoke.  We covered the essentials of the Marx Brothers story on Groucho’s birthday; following the end of their film career, Harpo made a number of television appearances, including a guest spot on I Love Lucy.  However, as with his brothers, the best of his work is in the films they made together:

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 23, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Miley Cyrus is just a huge, huge star but I am largely unfamiliar with her work. The kids went through a Hannah Montana phase this summer, so I caught up on some of that in passing. I couldn’t avoid some of her more scandalous performances, but I never saw what the big deal was. Cyrus wasn’t doing anything that hadn’t been done before. I have watched a few episodes of The Voice on which she was a judge and I watched Woody Allen’s disappointing TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes in which Cyrus plays a revolutionary on the run from the law.

    I recognized Vincent Cassel from the picture, but couldn’t place where I had seen him before. He definitely looked familiar though. Once I read through his credits, it was Black Swan that stood out. I had never heard of Ricou Browning before (save for your mention of him in the comments of @daffystardust‘s article. How neat is it to be able to tie that in here?

    Ricky Whittle is unknown to me, but that will likely change with American Gods. Chris Hardwick I know and tolerate on Talking Dead. Apparently he’s funny on At Midnight, but he’s pretty insufferable when he is forced to defend TWD. Of course I also remember him, barely, as the host everyone more or less ignored while we watched Jenny McCarthy on Singled Out.

    Thanks to Lego Dimensions of all things, I have watched a little bit of Dr. Who, but I haven’t reached Michelle Gomez yet. I am still early in David Tennant’s second season, so I still have a ways to go.

    Robert Towne, Joe Eszterhas and James Toback make quite an infamous Hollywood trio! The very funny IFC show, Documentary Now, ended their most recent season with a parody of Towne’s documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture. We recently ran a Movieline interview with Toback in which he discusses his sexual experimentation and his close friendship with Warren Beatty. And Eszterhas willbe very familiar to anyone who read the Razzie articles.

    Speaking of Daffy’s puzzle and Universal movie monsters, it doesn’t get much bigger than Boris Karloff. And we also have a Marx brother, a president and the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. Pretty impressive Thanksgiving Eve (as my daughter called it this morning) line-up.

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    • Deciding on a second headliner for today—Miley was pretty obvious—was a bit of a challenge, but overall this was an interesting line-up. We also had the co-creator of Fiddler on the Roof, Alfred Pennyworth, version 2.0, and the voice of George Jetson.

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      • Yeah, I can definitely see where that would be a tough call. Miley, obviously the biggest and most recognizable current star. After that, lots of interesting figures but no one who demands to be a headliner.

        Just out of curiosity, I went to FamousBirthdays.com which I used to use as my resource for the birthday write-ups. It skews young. Users of the site rank celebs and I think most of them are teenage girls. Miley was the #1 star followed by:

        Lia Marie Johnson (?)
        Bradley Steve Perry – I recognize him from Goodluck Charlie which my kids watched
        Alexis Ren (any relation to Kylo?)
        Lil Niqo (Is there a Big Niqo?)
        Jack Maynard (?)
        Kevin Chamberlin – I know him from Jessie which my kids also watched
        Snooki – Never watched Jersey Shore but I know who she is
        Page Kennedy – (?)

        …and so on and so forth

        Chris Hardwick is the next highest ranking star I recognize and he comes in 17th. Robin Roberts is 23rd. Franklin Pierce 25th. Papa Johns founder John Schnatter 28th. Boris Karloff 41st. Max Caufield 44th. I don’t think Max made your write-up. Happy birthday to the guy whose career was ruined when he starred in Grease 2. Only one person could escape that movie unharmed and that was Michelle Pfeiffer. Sorry Max.

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        • Well, Happy Birthday to Maxwell Caulfield, who I liked in 1985’s “The Boys Next Door” and “Empire Records”. Wow, “Grease 2” is just a tragedy though.

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        • Lol that website ranks by social media relevancy, someone who has a big presence on Instagram, YouTube or Twitter would be ranked first. You can kinda see it if you check the top ‘stars’ they’re kids who have a big following on vine and musically

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        • I do not use FamousBirthdays very much in coming up with names for these articles because they have too many people in their rankings who simply are not very notable, for the reasons you and Saffron identify.

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  2. Bruce Hornsby was one of the more surprising hit-makers of the mid to late 80s. His debut “The Way It Is’ is still a great song, as is “Mandolin Rain” even if it doesn’t get the same amount of airplay on the oldies stations that it deserves.

    Fun fact, did you know that Huey Lewis helped Bruce Hornsby get a recording contract? They had been friends for many years, and if you recall after the mega-successful Sports album Huey Lewis and the News were one of the biggest bands in the world back then. Huey Lewis passed on Bruce Hornsby’s demo to some music execs, produced a few songs on their debut album, and lo and behold Bruce Hornsby became platinum selling artists! Not to take anything away from them though, they really came up with some wonderful music at the time.

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  3. My exposure to Miley Cyrus has been minimal, from changing the channel so my friend’s daughter can watch “Hanna Montana” and seeing publicity moments from her.
    I think Robert Towne has wrote some fine scripts (I’ll mention “Tequila Sunrise”, since that’s one which isn’t thought of much), and Joe Eszterhas has written some interesting things (I probably like “Jagged Edge” the best).
    Robin Roberts used to cover highlights for second tier games on “ESPN NFL Primetime” back in the early 1990’s, so that’s where I first found out about her. Glad she’s doing well, although I rarely watch morning shows.
    Boris Karloff, wow, I love his narration for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, and of course some of his roles in B & W monster films.

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