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November 26: Happy Birthday Tina Turner and Charles M. Schulz

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Tina Turner is celebrating her 77th birthday today.  Sometimes called the “Queen of Rock,” she has essentially had two musical careers.  The first began when she was in her late teens, and one night at a concert by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm, she was invited to sing at intermission, which led to her gradually becoming part of the band.

Tina’s first recording with the band, “A Fool in Love,” was a success.  Ike and Tina Turner had a number of R&B hits in the 1960s and early 1970s, including “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Poor Fool,” “River Deep—Mountain High,” and their most successful, a recording which brought the duo a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo:

By the mid-1970s, the relationship between the two, both personal and as performers, was in tatters; there are plenty of sources for the details.  It took a few years for Turner to establish herself as a solo performer, but her 1983 album Private Dancer was a huge success; it included her only #1 hit in the US, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” as well as two other Top Ten singles.  The album and singles brought Turner three Grammys, and she further cemented her stardom when she was featured in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and had two hit singles on the film’s soundtrack.

Now, for someone quite different:

charlesschulz

Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) always loved to draw.  After serving in World War 2, he worked for a short while as an art instructor, while developing a one-panel cartoon series called Li’l Folks, which appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  When he tried to interest United Features Syndicate in the series, however, they were more interested in a four-panel comic strip that he had been working on but not yet published, which eventually featured a boy named Charlie Brown, his friends, and a beagle:

peanuts

And the rest, of course is history.  Schulz wrote Peanuts for nearly 50 years, composing around 18,000 individual strips.  At its peak the comic ran in over 2500 newspapers in 75 countries.  He also wrote or co-wrote all of the Peanuts television specials, and most if not all the feature films, produced prior to his death.

For the second straight day it’s the birthday of a supporting player in the Twilight films.  Peter Facinelli, who is 43, played Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the sparkly vampire saga; he was also known for another medical role, Dr. Fitch Cooper on Showtime’s Nurse JackieKristin Bauer van Straten turns 50; she played Pamela Swynford De Beaufort on True Blood and has the recurring role of Maleficent on Once Upon a Time.  English actress Tamsin Egerton played Chelsea Parker in the St. Trinian’s  reboot films, and Guinevere in the Starz fantasy-drama series Camelot.  She is 28 today.  Hafþór Julius Bjornsson also turns 28.  The Icelandic actor and strongman is one of three actors to have played Gregor Clegane, the “Mountain that Rides,” on Game of Thrones.

Mark Margolis, who turns 77, is a regular supporting player in Darren Aronofsky’s films (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, etc.), and has been an Emmy nominee for his recurring role of Hector “Tio” Salamanca on Breaking Bad and Better Call SaulMark L. Lester (not to be confused with the English former child star) turns 7o today.  He has directed and/or produced a variety of low-to-mid budget genre films, most notably in the 1980s when he did Firestarter, Commando and Armed and DangerousRich Little, who is 78 today, has had a long career in acting and comedy, but is best known for his celebrity impressions and voice acting.

Other birthdays in the music world today include John McVie, who turns 71 today.  He is the “Mac” of Fleetwood Mac, and the group’s longtime bass player.  Natasha Bedingfield celebrates her 35th birthday today.  The R&B influenced pop singer had several major hits in her native England in the 2000s, and a fair amount of success in the US, with her Grammy-nominated single “Unwritten” and her second album, Pocketful of SunshineRita Ora, who turns 26, is another English pop star.  She has had four #1 singles in the UK, although less success in the US thus far, and also plays Mia Grey in the Fifty Shades movies.

Sports birthdays today begin with Baseball Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez (1908-1989), who was a star for the New York Yankees in the 1930s.  A very good pitcher, he was also one of the most quotable players in baseball history—he attributed his success as a pitcher to “clean living and a fast outfield.”  When Joe DiMaggio (see yesterday’s article) was a rookie, Gomez was his roommate on road trips, which surely must have been an interesting pairing.  Art Shell, who celebrates his 70th today, was a star offensive tackle for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, who ended up in the Football Hall of Fame.  When Shell returned to the Raiders as head coach in 1989, he was the first African-American head coach in the NFL since the early 1920s.  Another Football Hall of Famer, Roger Wehrli, turns 69 today.  He was one of the league’s finest defensive backs in the 1970s.  Shawn Kemp, who turns 47 today, was the youngest player in the NBA when he began his career with the Seattle Supersonics, but within a few years he had become a six-time NBA All-Star as a power forward.  Tony Verna (1933-2015) was a television producer who mostly worked in the area of sports broadcasting.  He is known as the inventor of a videotape system that allowed “instant replay” of something that had just happened; it was first used on December 7, 1963, during the Army-Navy football game (anyone remember when the Army-Navy game was a big deal?).

Singer and actor Robert Goulet (1933-2007) made his Broadway debut as Sir Lancelot in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot in 1960.  Later in that decade, he won a Tony for starring in John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical The Happy Time.  He had a moderately successful career as a traditional pop singer, winning a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1962, and also made periodic film and television appearances.

Ford Beebe (1888-1978) was a B-movie writer and director who spent most of his career with Universal, producing Saturday matinee fare—B-Westerns, serials, the Bomba the Jungle Boy films, a few horror pictures.  In the pre-television era, this kind of output was a big part of what the movie industry did.  An equally hard worker on the other side of the camera was Irish actor Cyril Cusack (1910-1993).  Cusack began acting with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, appearing in some 60 plays in a little over a decade.  One of his best film roles was as John le Carré’s spymaster, Control, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994) was a Romanian-born playwright who lived much of his life in France and wrote most of his work in French.  With plays like The Killer and Rhinoceros, he became an important figure in the French avant-garde and Theatre of the Abusrd movements.  Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) was a science fiction author and editor who began writing in his teens and published his last novel when he was past ninety.  During his career he won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards; among his best novels are The Space Merchants and Gateway.

Miscellaneous notables born today include Willis Carrier (1876-1950), the inventor of the first electronic air conditioner and the founder of Carrier Corporation, which anyone who deals with HVAC systems is familiar with.  Bat Masterson (1853-1921) was a gunfighter and lawman who became one of the legendary figures of the “Wild West” era in the US; he later became a sports journalist who covered almost every important boxing match in the US in a three decade period.  Gene Barry played Masterson in a television series about the character and he has been played in films by actors like Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Tom Sizemore.  Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) was a chess grandmaster, an eight-time US champion and at times a world championship contender.  He is often listed as one of the four great child prodigies of chess, along with Paul Morphy, Jose Raoul Capablanca, and Bobby Fischer.

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 26, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’ve always found Tina Turner’s mid-80’s comeback impressive for a number of reasons, one among them is the fact that she was already 44 when “What’s Love Got To Do With It” went to #1. Seeing as how pop music has always been a youth-driven industry it’s pretty rare to have such a big comeback at that point in the game. What’s also impressive is that she sustained her comeback with a string of pop hits over the next decade or so. Tina Turner’s comeback is among the most impressive in pop history.

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    • I completely agree with you; when I was growing up and becoming aware of music, Tina Turner had that comeback, and boy, was she huge (Michael Jackson was the man then at that time as well). I was always partial to “We Don’t Need Another Hero” (sang along to it with a friend on the school bus) and “What You Get Is What You See”, but I like a lot of her songs from that era. What a force of nature!

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      • “What You Get Is What You See” is a bit of an underrated gem of Turner’s, one of those songs that becomes a hit but then is never heard from again. Happens all the time with pop music as most of it is disposable. I also remember really liking her hit “Typical Male” too. But you’re right Tina Turner was huge in the 80’s, it’s just extraordinary how she went from forgotten has-been to one of the biggest names in pop music overnight!

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        • Yeah, that song is really one of her underrated ones (I think I have a spot for underrated things); I think it’s quintessential 1980’s Tina Turner.

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  2. I was never a huge fan of the Peanuts franchise, but that has more to do with the impression that my 2nd grade teacher left on me (she loved everything Peanuts, which is interesting because otherwise she had a Nurse Ratched like quality to her), but I do like Snoopy (and his snow cone machine!) and recognize the impact Charles M. Schulz had with his creation.

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  3. Contrary to appearances, I haven’t disappeared. Not fully anyway. I’ve got this massive project at work that is taking all of my time. Hopefully, I can return to a steady state soon.

    Like a lot of people, I knew Tina Turner from her comeback in the 80’s. It’s hard to grasp the significance of a comeback when you don’t know the history. Over time I came to learn more about Turner’s career and personal life. Yep, I saw What’s Love Got to Do With It.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, probably sometime in middle school I inherited my uncle’s collection of comic strip collections. He had several paperback volumes of The Peanuts. I became uncommonly familiar with Charlie Brown and company’s backstory as a result. Now, our local amusement park is part of the Cedar Fair line-up, so we spend a lot of time around Snoopy every summer.

    I am knid of surprised to hear that Rich Little is still among the living. He used to do Ronald Reagan and Johnny Carson on pretty much every show in the 80’s. I remember sitting through a lot of HBO specials and wondering why this stuff was funny.

    I like me some Fleetwood Mac. Kind of funny that John McVie got his name in the band but more influential members who joined later did not.

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    • Condolences on the big project at work—I know how those can be. It’s actually getting into my busy time of the quarter—finals and all—so the birthday articles may be a little more concise in the next week or so.

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      • Even your concise articles are more in depth than my full write-ups were! Thanks for your commitment! I always enjoy unwinding with these articles even if I get to them a day late.

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