November 23: Happy Birthday Miley Cyrus and Vincent Cassel
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 Again. Franco 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 Birth. Chris 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 Stitchers. Lia 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 Sunrise. Joe 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 Burn. James 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 America. Shane 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.
Posted on November 23, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Boris Karloff, Bruce Hornsby, Harpo Marx, Jerry Bock, Miley Cyrus, Ricou Browning, Robert Towne, Vincent Cassel. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.