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 JordanChristina 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 CharityBilly 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 ThronesKevin 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 PowerKatie 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 PainsGaspard 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 IIIDarlanne Fluegel, who is 58 today, had prominent roles in a variety of 1980s films, including Battle Beyond the Stars, Running Scared, and Tough GuysBen 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 StoryWilhelm 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 WarsPeg Lynch (1916-2015) was the creator and star of a radio, and later televsion, comedy series called Ethel and AlbertJessie 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 NorthwestJeffrey 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 , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Must be a pretty light day for Joel Kinnaman to be a headliner. I saw the Robocop remake and Suicide Squad. He didn’t really make an impression either way in either movie. Once again, I didn’t realize it was the same guy until just now. Ricardo Montalban, I know best from Star Trek. But I knew him first from Fantasy Island – a show which I still get a kick out of on the rare chance that I catch a rerun.

    Dougray Scott – the man who would be Wolverine. That has to hurt. Had MI2 not run over-schedule, Scott would have had a steady gig. Of course, Wolverine and the X-Men series might not have been as popular without Hugh Jackman in the role. Christina Applegate seems like she should have had a bigger career than she did. She is absolutely gorgeous and has a real talent for light comedy. But her choice of projects leaves something to be desired.

    Poor Hodor.

    Katie Cassidy, I know from Arrow. The character of Black Canary has a long, convoluted back story in the comics, but they really complicated matters further on the TV show. John Larroquette was why I watched Night Court as a kid. Ben Stein was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon before he became one of the best-known character actors of the 80s. My brother had a crush on Amy Grant way back when. I understand her quick divorce and remarriage didn’t sit well with her core fans.

    Chris Claremont was a comic book legend by the time I started reading comics in the 90s. But I think by the time I got to his work, it was pretty dated and he was way past his prime. I never understood the appeal, but he’s one of the guys who built the X-Men into Marvel’s most popular franchise at the time. Since then, Marvel has done everything they can to sideline their mutants. I read a couple of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books because I liked True Blood.


    • Is Dougray Scott kind of the male version of Sean Young in regards of how bad luck/timing made them miss out on a key role in a blockbuster superhero movie? Sean Young of course, was supposed to play Vicki Vale in the 1989 Batman movie, but due to injuring her collarbone from a horseback riding accident, her bad luck became Kim Basinger’s good fortune.

      Maybe part of the issue w/ Dougray Scott is that he’s kind of a charisma vacuum (at least, that’s what one person argued on the IMDb message board for “Mission: Impossible II”) when compared to Hugh Jackman.


      • X-Men Writer Talks Early Casting Ideas, Including Michael Jackson as Professor X

        Feasible choices aside, it’s surreal to consider that we could have had an onscreen version of Professor Charles Xavier who, rather than putting his fingers to his temple in telepathic concentration, instead grabbed his crotch. While Hayter did cite some genuinely intriguing ideas for the cast, it seems that the original X-Men could have become a shallow celebrity showcase full of inexperienced actors that likely would have ignored the comic book nuances that made the film such a success. Moreover, it would have altered the course of the current comic book movie/TV Renaissance in ways unimaginable. Hayter also explains that the casting of a then-unknown Hugh Jackman for the central role as Wolverine came about in the aftermath of Dougray Scott’s misfortune.

        “[Then-Fox executive] Tom Rothman really wanted Dougray Scott to play Wolverine and he was shooting Mission: Impossible 2 and Tom Cruise kept calling Bryan and saying, ‘We just need him a little while longer, a little while longer.’ We were starting to shoot and Wolverine was the lead and we didn’t have him. Bryan suspected something was hinky, and so he sent the costume designer down to Australia, ostensibly to get wardrobe shots, but really it was to find out what was going on. What we found out was Dougray had been in a motorcycle accident filming the climax of MI2. He was pretty messed up. It was a real shame he couldn’t do it. And Hugh had been somebody who had been in the mix earlier and it was [executive producer] Lauren Shuler Donner who said, ‘Why don’t we bring him?’”


  2. Today was interesting to write up. There were a lot of names, but they weren’t really big names. Joel Kinnaman could have some staying power as a star, or this could simply be his proverbial fifteen minutes.

    When I was, I think, 11 or 12, my parents got tickets to a season of musicals at the Los Angeles Music Center. One of them was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, with Ricardo Montalban as the King, and Sally Ann Howes (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Anna. That was when I first encountered Montalban.

    At least some people who dislike the Twilight films think that Billy Burke did a very good job as Charlie Swan, given the limits of what he had to work with.

    And of course, today we have the original Lois Lane, and Aunt Beru from Star Wars.


    • I have seen bits and pieces of the Twilight films because Mindy is a fan. After watching a scene or two with Burke in it, I opined that he must be the bad guy. He seemed to have something more going on. I was assured that no, he was just as bland as anyone else. But performance wise, he was killing it compared to most of his costars.


  3. In recent years I’ve come to realize that no matter how many Star Trek films are released – and there will probably always be Trek films so long as there is cinema – Wrath of Khan will probably always remain the best Trek film ever made. With that in mind I would have to agree, Ricardo Montalban will most likely always be the best Trek villain ever.


    • There is no beating Wrath of Khan. The people in charge of Star Trek need to stop trying. Every time they try to recreate the WoK formula, you get something like Nemesis or Into the Darkness.


  4. I’ve seen the original Star Wars trilogy more times than I care to admit, and my mindset is that there are no small roles in Star Wars. That definitely applies to Shelagh Fraser as Aunt Beru, even though she only had a handful of scenes in the first film she certainly made an impact in such a short amount of screen time. Let’s all raise a glass of blue milk in remembrance…..


    • What gets me is what a bad nephew Luke is. His aunt and uncle who raised him die horrible deaths for which he is partially responsible and he’s like “Oh well. Guess I don’t have any reason to hang around here now.” Then some old hermit he just met disappears into thin air and he goes into mourning and needs to be cheered up by the princess whose entire planet was just disintegrated.


    • Robot Chicken once had a funny skit circling around this. Luke is sitting at the chess table on the Falcon just like in the movie, stunned at the loss of Obi-Wan as he says “I can’t believe he’s gone…” and Leia (voiced by Carrier Fisher here!) responds “Oh, did the 80 year old guy you just met yesterday die? I mean sorry I didn’t notice, I was too distracted focusing on my entire family – along with 7 Billion other people – just being turned to dust three hours ago!”


  5. Good that Ricardo Montalban didn’t have to go with the Ricky Martin name; it’s not as distinctive, and what would the later Ricky Martin have done? Yeah, I definitely know him best from “Fantasy Island”, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”, and “The Naked Gun”.
    Jill Hennessy I first remember (with her twin) on “Dead Ringers”, while later I saw her a few times on “Law and Order”, some episodes of Crossing Jordan”, and as a bartender named Mike (?) in the 1999 film “Two Ninas”.
    Darlanne Fluegel, yeah, I’ve always kind of liked her. She was in “The Eyes of Laura Mars” in 1978, but I remember her best as the confidential informant in “To Live and Die in L.A.” and playing Billy Crystal’s ex-wife in “Running Scared”.
    I’ve never won any of Ben Stein’s money, but if he’s willing to donate, I’ll humbly accept.
    For some reason I remember billy burke from the 1998 film “Mafia!”, which also starred Christina Applegate, who I remember as Kelly Bundy from “Married…With Children” (I also went through a phase in which I seemed to be watching 2002’s “The Sweetest Thing” once a week) and of course the Anchorman film.
    Bernie Kosar, he was slow afoot, but he could really read defenses.


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