November 30: Happy Birthday Ridley Scott and Mandy Patinkin
Sir Ridley Scott, who turns 79 today, paid his dues for many years before emerging as a leading director. He worked in set and production design in British television in the 1960s, then spent some of the 1970s making commercials—he has kept his hand in the latter area through the years, most famously in the “1984” commercial for Apple, while his features have the kind of visual distinctiveness that befits someone with a design background.
His first feature as a director was a historical drama, The Duellists. He then moved into science fiction, making a pair of films that for many would still rank as his greatest accomplishments. Alien, the beginning of a franchise that may have gone on for too many films, was followed by an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel:
Since Blade Runner, Scott’s career has had ups and downs. High points have included Thelma & Louise (for which he was Oscar-nominated for Best Director), Gladiator (which won Best Picture and brought Scott another Best Director nomination), and The Martian (nominated for Best Picture).
Mandy Patinkin is celebrating his 64th birthday. He began his career on Broadway, winning a Tony as Ché in the original Broadway cast of Evita. A few years later he was nominated for another Tony for originating the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. He had significant roles in films like Ragtime and Yentl, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for the latter, but it wasn’t until 1987 that he appeared in the film role that many mainstream viewers know him best for:
Patinkin followed The Princess Bride up with roles in films like Alien Nation and Dick Tracy. Since then, much of his work has been on television and stage. He won an Emmy as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on Chicago Hope, starred on two seasons of Criminal Minds, and has had
Emmy and Golden Globe nominations as Saul Berenson on Homeland. In 2000 he received his third Tony nomination for starring in the musical The Wild Party.
Ben Stiller turns 51 today. Stiller won an Emmy for writing for The Ben Stiller Show. He has starred in a variety of films, including the Meet the Parents and Night at the Museum trilogies, There’s Something About Mary, Mystery Men, and The Royal Tenenbaums. He wrote, directed and starred in Reality Bites, Zoolander and Tropic Thunder. Amy Ryan, who celebrates her 47th, is a two-time Tony nominee for revivals of Uncle Vanya and A Streecar Named Desire (as Stella). She received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Helene McCready in Gone Baby Gone, and she recently had significant supporting roles in Birdman and Bridge of Spies.
Kaley Cuoco, who turns 31 today, stars as Penny on The Big Bang Theory, currently in its tenth season, and formerly was known for her roles on 8 Simple Rules and Charmed. Elisha Cuthbert, known for the roles of Kim Bauer on 24 and Alex Kerkovich on Happy Endings, turns 34. Gael Garcia Bernal celebrates his 38th. He made his feature debut in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores perros and has been in a number of Mexican and international films since then. He recently won a Golden Globe for starring in the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. Rebecca Rittenhouse, who turns 28, stars in ABC’s prime time soap opera Blood & Oil as Cody LeFever. Adelaide Clemens is 27 today; she is one of the stars of SundanceTV’s critically acclaimed series Rectify. Jessalyn Gilsig, who turns 45, played Lauren Davis on Boston Public and Terri Schuester on Glee.
Robert Guillaume, who is 89 today, won Emmys for playing the character of Benson on both Soap (Outstanding Supporting Actor) and Benson (Outstanding Lead Actor) and voiced Rafiki in The Lion King. Simonetta Stefanelli, who is 62, was memorable as Michael Corleone’s short-lived first wife, Apollonia Vitelli, in The Godfather. She made a number of Italian films before retiring to start a fashion store in Rome.
Along with Ridley Scott we have some major names on the production side of things with birthdays today. David Mamet, who turns 69, is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright (for Glengarry Glen Ross). He has written and directed films such as House of Games, Homicide and State and Main, and wrote Oscar-nominated screenplays for The Verdict and Wag the Dog. Marc Forster, who is 47 today, made his reputation directing films like Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland and The Kite Runner—serious, character-driven dramas. He then moved into action, directing Quantum of Solace and World War Z. David Yates, who turns 53, is the director most closely associated with the Harry Potter films, having directed the final four in the series, as well as the just-released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He also is known for the British television miniseries State of Play and the Emmy-winning TV movie The Girl in the Café. Emmanuel Lubezki is celebrating his 52nd. The cinematographer is an eight-time Oscar nominee for Best Cinematography, and has won the last three Oscars in a row, for Gravity, Birdman, and The Revenant. Stuart Baird, who turns 69, is best known as an editor (although he has done some directing). He was an Oscar nominee for editing on Superman: The Movie and Gorillas in the Mist.
Musical celebrations today include Billy Idol’s 61st birthday. The British rocker had several hits in the US during the “Second British Invasion” of the 1980s. Cherie Currie, who turns 57, was the lead vocalist of the all-girl rock band the Runaways in the 1970s; she was played by Dakota Fanning in the 2010 film about the band. Clay Aiken, the runner-up on season 2 of American Idol, has had one of the better careers among that show’s alumni. He had five straight top 10 albums from 2003-2010, and on Broadway has played Sir Robin in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Aiken turns 38 today. Dick Clark (1929-2012) was not a musician, but as the host of American Bandstand for thirty years he played a big role in introducing young Americans to music, especially rock & roll.
Durable character actor Richard Crenna (1926-2003) worked on a wide variety of films, including Jean-Pierre Melville’s Un Flic, but his best known role is likely Col. Sam Trautman in the first three Rambo films (“God didn’t make Rambo. I made him.”). He also won an Emmy for the TV movie The Rape of Richard Beck. Virginia Mayo (1920-2005) was a popular leading lady of the 1940s and ’50s. She starred opposite Bob Hope in The Princess and the Pirate, Joel McCrea in Colorado Territory, James Cagney in White Heat, Burt Lancaster in The Flame and the Arrow, and in several comedies with Danny Kaye. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., (1918-2014) was known for starring in a pair of durable crime series, 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I., and also did some voice work in the 1990s. Our sports birthday today is Bill Walsh (1931-2007), probably the most successful coach in the NFL in the 1980s, when he took the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles.
Several prominent names in literature were born this day. Mark Twain (1835-1910) hardly needs introduction; there are probably few who do not know that he was really named Samuel Clemens, or that he wrote one of the greatest American novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Jonathan Swift (1677-1745) was one of the great satirists of all times, known for his brilliant satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels and his famous essay A Modest Proposal. Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) was one of the leading poets of the Elizabethan Age, author of works such as Astrophel and Stella and The Defence of Poetry.
As the author of over a dozen books, Winston Churchill (1874-1965) might well count among our literary figures, but he was much more, he was arguably the most important political figure in 20th century British history. Albert Finney, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Gambon, and (in next year’s Darkest Hour) Gary Oldman are some of the actors who have taken up the formidable challenge of portraying Churchill on film.
Allan Sherman (1924-1973) was a television producer, the creator of the game show I’ve Got a Secret. He was also a comedian, specializing in song parodies. His best known, a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, was the camp song parody “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.” He also did a comic take on Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” as well as a song that is appropriate at a time of year when Christmas music is starting to dominate the airwaves, PA systems, etc.
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 30, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Amy Ryan, ben stiller, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kaley Cuoco, Mandy Patinkin, mark twain, Richard Crenna, ridley scott, Robert Guillaume, Virginia Mayo, Winston Churchill. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.