November 25: Happy Birthday Joel Kinnaman and Ricardo Montalban
Joel Kinnaman, who turns 37, was born in Sweden to an American father and a Swedish mother. He began acting in Swedish cinema, making several appearances in a long-running film series about a police officer named Johan Falk. He then had the lead role in the crime film Snabba Cash (or Easy Money), and won the Guldbagge Award (Swedish Oscars) for Best Actor. At this point, Hollywood came calling, and Kinnaman was cast in a starring role as Stephen Holder in the AMC series The Killing. He starred as Alex Murphy in the 2014 remake of Robocop and as Rick Flag in this year’s Suicide Squad.
Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009) began acting in the early 1940s; one studio wanted to give him the screen name of “Ricky Martin.” Around 1948 he began to get some sizable roles: in two Esther Williams movies, in the noir thrillers Border Incident and Mystery Street, and in the World War 2 film Battleground. Some of his later film roles included playing a Native American in John Ford’s last Western, Cheyenne Autumn, appearances in two of the Planet of the Apes films, the villain in The Naked Gun, and Grandpa in two Spy Kids films (these two in spite of being confined to a wheelchair as a result of spinal surgery that paralyzed him below the waist).
But there are two roles that Montalban will always be most associated with. In 1977, he was cast as the mysterious Mr. Roarke, the star of ABC’s Fantasy Island, which ran through 1984. He also played probably the greatest of all Star Trek villains, Khan Noonien Singh, in the Original Series episode “Space Seed,” and then in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
At one time, Dougray Scott, who is turning 51 today, seemed to be on the edge of major stardom. His role as a formidable villain in Mission: Impossible II was sandwiched between lead roles in Ever After and Enigma. But by the middle of the 2000s his star had faded considerably. Jill Hennessy, who celebrates her 48th, is best known for starring as Jordan Cavanaugh on NBC’s Crossing Jordan. Christina Applegate, who played Kelly Bundy on Married…with Children, turns 45. She won an Emmy for a guest appearance on Friends, and was a Tony nominee for Best Actress in a Musical for the 2005 revival of Sweet Charity. Billy Burke, who is 50 today, played Charlie Swan in the Twilight films, and currently stars as Mitch Morgan on CBS’s Zoo. The towering (he’s 6-11) Kristian Nairn, who turns 41, is known for playing Hodor on Game of Thrones. Kevin Chamberlin, who is 53 today, is best known as a stage actor—he is a three-time Tony nominee, for the play Dirty Blonde and the musicals Seussical and The Addams Family.
Jerry Ferrara, who turns 37, starred as “Turtle” Assante on HBO’s Entourage, and this year became a regular on the Starz series Power. Katie Cassidy, who turns 30, had a “scream queen” phase of her career, appearing in horror film remakes like Black Christmas; more recently she was a regular on Arrow as Laurel Lance/Black Canary. Jill Flint, who celebrates her 39th, currently stars on NBC’s medical drama The Night Shift; before that she was a regular in another medical show, USA Network’s Royal Pains. Gaspard Ulliel, who is 32 today, won a Cesar Award for A Very Long Engagement, and then starred as Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising, becoming the fourth prominent actor to play the character.
Kathryn Crosby, often billed in films as Kathryn Grant, turns 83 today. In the late 1950s she had worked her way up from bit parts to prominent roles in films like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Anatomy of a Murder, but after she married Bing Crosby she almost completely retired from acting. John Larroquette, who turns 69, won four consecutive Emmys as Dan Fielding on Night Court, and currently is seen on TNT’s The Librarians. He played the incompetent Captain Stillman in Stripes and a Klingon in Star Trek III. Darlanne Fluegel, who is 58 today, had prominent roles in a variety of 1980s films, including Battle Beyond the Stars, Running Scared, and Tough Guys. Ben Stein, who is 72 today, was a presidential speechwriter in the 1970s, but will be remembered as the social science teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Bueller? Bueller?”), and for hosting the Emmy winning game show Win Ben Stein’s Money.
Music birthdays include Amy Grant, who celebrates her 56th today. The “Queen of Christian pop” has been nominated for 18 Grammys, winning six times, and has won 22 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Percy Sledge (1940-2015) was an R&B singer best known for his #1 hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the first song he recorded under contract. He never had that level of success again, but did well enough to eventually be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Virgil Thomson (1896-1989) was one of the most prominent American composers of the 20th century. The composer of a number of important orchestral and chamber works, he also won a Pulitzer Prize for his score for the film Louisiana Story. Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) was one of the most eminent pianists of the 20th century, known in particular for his artistry in the works of Beethoven and Schubert.
Writers born today include Chris Claremont, who is 66. He has written a number of fantasy and sci-fi novels, but is best known for his comic book work, especially his nearly two decades writing for the X-Men. He is credited with introducing several of the classic X-Men characters, such as Jean Grey, Rogue, Shadowcat and Mystique, and with several of the classic storylines, such as “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Charlaine Harris, who turns 65 today, is the author of several series of mystery and urban fantasy novels. Her best known books are probably the Southern Vampire series (also known as the Sookie Stackhouse books after the main character), which were adapted by HBO into the series True Blood. Poul Anderson (1926-2001) was a prolific science fiction and fantasy author who was a seven-time Hugo Award winner. A handful of his best-known works would include his Hugo and Nebula winning short novel The Queen of Air and Darkness, the 21 novels and storys making up the Psychotechnic League future history series, and the heroic fantasy novel The Broken Sword.
The big sports birthday of the day is the great Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999), the Hall of Fame center fielder who spent his entire career with the New York Yankees (he was nicknamed “The Yankee Clipper”), and was most famous for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, an achievement that has never been equaled. DiMaggio was also a cultural icon in a way that few athletes have ever been; the allusions to him in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” are only the best known of many examples of this.
While the NFL has no one like DiMaggio born today, two outstanding quarterbacks share today as a birthday. Bernie Kosar, who turns 53, starred for the Cleveland Browns for almost a decade, leading them to the playoffs four times, and then helped the Dallas Cowboys reach the 1994 Super Bowl. Donovan McNabb, who is 40 today, was a six-time Pro Bowler during a career largely spent with the Philadelphia Eagles. McNabb led the Eagles to the 2004 Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots. Finally, DeHart Hubbard (1903-1976) became the first African-American to win an individual Olympic gold medal, in the long jump at the 1924 Olympics.
Noel Neill (1920-2016) was the original screen Lois Lane, playing the character in two Columbia serials in 1948 and 1950, and then took over the role in the second season of the TV series. She later made appearances in Superman: The Movie and Superman Returns, and on Lois & Clark. English actress Shelagh Fraser (1920-2000) had a long career in British television and played Aunt Beru in Star Wars. Peg Lynch (1916-2015) was the creator and star of a radio, and later televsion, comedy series called Ethel and Albert. Jessie Royce Landis (1896-1972) is best remembered for two appearances in Alfred Hitchcock’s films, as Jessie Stevens (mother of Grace Kelly’s character) in To Catch a Thief, and then as Clara Thornhill (mother of Cary Grant’s character) in North by Northwest. Jeffrey Hunter (1926-1969) starred as the title character in King of Kings, but is more likely to be remembered these days for starring opposite John Wayne in The Searchers, and as Captain Christopher Pike in the pilot for Star Trek and the Original Series episode “The Menagerie.”
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was a leading American industrialist and later philanthropist. He was involved in several businesses, but primarily was the founder of the Carnegie Steel Company, the largest in the US by the end of the 19th Century, when Carnegie sold it and spent the rest of his life on philanthropy, such as financing the construction of around 2500 public library buildings in the US, Canada and the British Isles.
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 25, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Amy Grant, Charlaine Harris, Chris Claremont, Christina Applegate, Dougray Scott, Joe DiMaggio, Joel Kinnaman, John Larroquette, Katie Cassidy, Ricardo Montalban. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.