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November 24: Happy Birthday Katherine Heigl and Billy Connolly

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Katherine Heigl is celebrating her 38th today.  Her first major role was in the American remake of My Father the Hero, as Gerard Depardieu’s daughter, following which she played Steven Seagal’s daughter in Under Siege 2.  In 1999 she began appearing on The WB’s Roswell as the alien-human hybrid Isabel Evans.  A few years after Roswell’s run ended, she was cast as Isobel “Izzie” Stevens on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, one of the top hits on television in the mid-2000s (warning, the following video may be slightly NSFW).

Heigl won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a drama for the 2006-07 season of Grey’s Anatomy.  In the spring of 2007, she starred in the hit romantic comedy Knocked Up. She seemed to have a big future ahead of her, but it was at about this time that she began to display another talent, one for alienating people.  What followed—her departure from Grey’s Anatomy, her declining movie career—is covered in detail in her WTHH article.

Billy Connolly turns 72 today.  He worked for several years in the 1960s as a welder in his native Glasgow before beginning a career as a folksinger, comedian and actor.  In the late 1960s he formed a folk group called the Humblebums; singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty was another member.  Connolly’s ability to integrate comedy into the group’s performances led friends to encourage him to focus on comedy rather than music.  In 1972 he recorded the first of over two dozen comedy albums.

The high point of Connolly’s acting career may have been when he starred opposite Judi Dench (playing Queen Victoria) as John Brown in Mrs. Brown.  He also played Billy Bones in Muppet Treasure Island, Sergeant Zebulon Gant in The Last Samurai, Noah McManus in the two Boondock Saints films, the voice of King Fergus in Brave, and Dain Ironfoot in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Dwight Schultz is 69 today.  He is remembered for playing Capt. H. M. “Howling Mad” Murdock on The A-Team, and also as the recurring character Lt. Reginald Barclay on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager.  Also well-known to Star Trek fans is Denise Crosby, who appeared on The Next Generation as Tasha Yar, and later as Yar’s half-Romulan daughter Commander Sela.  Crosby, the granddaughter of Bing Crosby, also produced the documentary Trekkies.  She turns 59 today.  Scottish character actress Shirley Henderson turns 51.  Her first major film role was in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.  Over the years she has worked in a wide variety of films: Topsy-Turvy, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Intermission, and two Harry Potter films, as Moaning Myrtle.  Garret Dillahunt, who turns 52, currently stars in the Amazon web series Hand of God.  He previously starred on Fox’s Raising Hope, and had supporting roles on Deadwood and Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesConleth Hill, who also is 52 today, has had a distinguished stage career; his starring performance in Marie Jones’ Stones in His Pockets as Charlie Conlon brought him an Olivier Award and a Tony nomination.  Hill also is seen on HBO’s Game of Thrones as Varys, the Master of Whisperers.

Sarah Hyland celebrates her 26th.  She stars on Modern Family as Haley Dunphy, and also headlined the indie film XOXO, which came out earlier this year.  Colin Hanks—son of Tom, it’s probably obligatory to note—stars on CBS’s Life in Pieces and also was a central player in the first season of Fargo.  He turns 39 today.  Elena Satine, who is 28, was born in Tbilisi, Georgia; at about ten, she talked her parents into letting her attend the Professional Performing Arts School in New York.  She has had regular roles on the Starz series Magic City and on the 4th season of Revenge; fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may also remember her as Lorelei, the Asgardian villainess.  Another star of season 4 of Revenge was French Canadian actress Karine Vanasse, who is also known for Canadian films like Emporte-moi and Polytechnique.  Vanasse is 33 today.  Jennifer Badger, who turns 40 today, has been working as a stunt performer and coordinator since her late teens.  Among the actresses she has doubled are Angelina Jolie, Penelope Cruz, Eliza Dushku, Megan Fox, Drew Barrymore, Diane Lane, Nina Dobrev, and (fittingly given yesterday’s birthdays) Miley Cyrus.

British comedian, writer-director and actor Stephen Merchant celebrates his 42nd today.  He is the co-creator (with Ricky Gervais) of the British sitcom The Office, which brought him three BAFTA Awards, along with an Emmy when the series was imported to the US.  he and Gervais also created the sitcom Extras.  Serbian filmmaker and actor Emir Kusturica turns 62 today.  He has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival twice, for When Father Was Away on Business and for Underground.

In sports, Oscar Robertson turns 78 today.  The “Big O” was one of the all-time greats of the NBA.  For much of his career, Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals, who were seldom good enough to be a legitimate championship contender.  He finally won a title when he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970.  Until Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan came along to muddy the waters some, virtually any basketball fan would have likely picked Robertson and Jerry West as the guards of an all-time NBA all-star team.  Joe Medwick (1911-1975), a Baseball Hall of Famer, was the last National League player to win the Triple Crown, in 1937.  He was a very good player, but is often remembered for his embarrassing nickname (“Ducky” or “Ducky Wucky”), and for being ejected from a World Series game for his own protection—he was being barraged by fruit, pop bottles and more by fans of the opposing team.

Garson Kanin (1912-1999) was a writer and director for both stage and screen, as well as a novelist.  His best known works include the play Born Yesterday, adapted into a film for which Kanin was an uncredited screenwriter, and the scripts for Adam’s Rib and Pat and Mike, two of the many films pairing Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.  Irish-American actress Geraldine Fitzgerald (1913-2005) was an Oscar nominee as Isabella Linton in the 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights.  Her Broadway appearances included King Lear and Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!; she was nominated for a Tony for directing the original production of Bill C. Davis’s Mass Appeal.

Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was one of the top American commanders in the Mexican War of 1846-48, and parlayed the fame he won into election as the 12th President of the US.  He then became the second President to die in office in 1850.

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) was an English novelist and playwright, best known for a trio of children’s novels: Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden.  Another writer known for his children’s literature was Carlo Collodi (1826-1890), the author of a novel called The Adventures of Pinocchio, later adapted into one of Disney’s finest animated features.

Today was the birth date of three highly infamous individuals who have all been represented in some way in popular culture.  Some of you may want to skip to the next paragraph; these aren’t nice people.  Charles “Lucky” Luciano (1897-1962) was one of the top organized crime leaders in the US in the 1930s (probably the top leader) until his arrest and eventual deportation.  He has been played in film by a number of actors, including Christian Slater, Stanley Tucci and Andy Garcia.  Charles Starkweather (1938-1959) and his teenage girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate committed eleven murders in a two-month killing spree in 1957 and ’58.  Starkweather and Fugate were the basis for Kit and Holly in Terrence Malick’s Badlands, and more loosely for other killer couples in films like Natural Born KillersTed Bundy (1946-1989) became a synonym for “serial killer” in the 1970s; the exact number of his victims before he was captured and sentenced to death is unknown.  Several films about Bundy’s crimes have been made, with Bundy being portrayed by actors such as Mark Harmon and Billy Campbell.

Today is the most commonly reported birth date for Scott Joplin (1868-1917), who was not the first but undoubtedly the most important composer of ragtime music, which is one of the first uniquely American styles of music.  When I was growing up in the 1970s, there was a noticeable ragtime revival, meaning that Joplin’s music became more popular than it had been for over fifty years, and pianists could once again be heard playing music like this:

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 24, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dwight Schultz as Murdock was my favorite A-Team guy when I was a kid, and I also liked him as a doctor in 1982’s “Alone in the Dark”.
    Unfortunately, I only really recall Billy Connolly from the average 2000 film “Beautiful Joe”, but I liked his performance in playing an everyday guy.
    I’m fine with Colin Hanks, but he was one of the “Big Bads” in Season 6 of “Dexter”, and that’s my least favorite season of that show, although it had nothing to do with him (more with how Edward James Olmos was used, and how I think the entire season in itself lacked some spark).

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  2. It seems like Katherine Heigl has fallen back on hard times since her show was canceled. I saw her on a commercial for cat litter. And it wasn’t a celebrity endorsement kind of thing. It was just a plain old cat litter commercial. The kind actresses do before they star on TV shows.

    I first learned of Billy Connolly when he took over for Howard Hesseman on Head of the Class. Why was I still watching Head of the Class? I don’t know. But I was. Since then, I have seen him in countless movies and TV shows.

    I watched A-Team for Mr. T initially. But Dwight Schultz quickly became everyone’s favorite. His humor was right up our alley at that age. After George Peppard’s birthday entry, I went back and read a little about the friction on the A-Team and by all accounts, Schultz was the peacemaker. I remember seeing him on Star Trek and thinking he looked familiar, but I didn’t make the connection to Murdock until you pointed it out just now.

    Modern Family is a big hit in our living room, so we’re all familiar with Sarah Hyland from that. I was saddened to read the tabloid stories about her personal life, but I’m glad to hear she had gotten into a healthier place. I have seen Colin Hanks in a few things, but what immediately comes to mind was his role in the Fargo TV series (which everyone should watch).

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    • Yeah, Katherine Heigl’s Cat’s Pride litter commercial is very real, and i think kind of shocking, because the commercial feels very anonymous to me. Makes me think of the Glade lady, Dori May Kelly, from a few years back.

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