December 1: Happy Birthday Woody Allen and Bette Midler
Our two headliners for today starred together in Paul Mazursky’s Scenes from a Mall.
Woody Allen is turning 81 today. He began working as television writer while just out of his teens, writing for a number of comedy shows, most notably for Sid Caesar. He was a prominent stand-up comedian of the 1960s, and also began writing plays, including Play It Again, Sam, which starred Allen and Diane Keaton when it ran on Broadway and again in a film remake.
By the early 1970s, Allen was establishing himself as a film director. Early slapstick comedies evolved into movies which, while still comic, had a more serious, sophisticated tone. When the 1978 Oscar ceremony arrived, teenage moviegoers who had yet to discover a cinema world beyond popcorn movies were astonished that the Best Picture winner for the previous year was not Star Wars:
Along with winning Best Picture, Annie Hall brought Allen a pair of Oscars, for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, along with a Best Actress Honor for Diane Keaton. Allen has received 16 Oscar nominations for screenwriting, more than any other writer, and won two more Oscars, for the screenplays for Hannah and Her Sisters and Midnight in Paris.
His personal life? Controversial.
Bette Midler celebrates her 71st birthday today. The Divine Miss M moved to New York at about 20 to work in theater, and made her Broadway debut in 1967, taking over the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. She became a prominent recording star in the 1970s, releasing several traditional pop albums; this was her first hit single:
Midler made her film debut in The Rose in 1979, winning a pair of Golden Globes. She has starred in several successful movies, including Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, and The First Wives Club. She has won a total of four Golden Globes, three Grammys and three Emmys (for Variety and Music performances).
Emily Mortimer turns 45 today. She was featured in Woody Allen’s Match Point, and while never a really big star has done interesting work in a variety of films such as The 51st State, Lovely and Amazing, Young Adam, Lars and the Real Girl, and Transsiberian. Jeremy Northam, who is 55 today, played Mr. Knightley in Emma opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and has had major roles in films like Enigma and Gosford Park, and in British television series like The Tudors (as Thomas More) and The Crown (as Anthony Eden). Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman, who is 46, is a two-time Emmy winner, once for an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, the other for writing for her special Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.
Zoë Kravitz, who turns 28, has had notable roles in films like X-Men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road, and in the Divergent series. Riz Ahmed, who is turning 34, appeared earlier this year in Jason Bourne and HBO’s The Night Of, and will be seen very soon in Rogue One. Janelle Monáe, who is 31 today, is an up-and-coming R&B/soul singer who has received six Grammy nominations during her relatively short career. Akiva Schaffer, who turns 39, won an Emmy for the SNL Digital Short “Dick in the Box,” created for Saturday Night Live.
Obba Babatundé, who turns 65, was a Tony nominee for playing C. C. White in the original Broadway cast of Dreamgirls and starred opposite Halle Berry in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Treat Williams, who also is 65 today, was an Emmy nominee for playing superagent Michael Ovitz in the TV movie The Late Shift and starred as Andy Brown on Everwood. Candace Bushnell, who celebrates her 58th, is a journalist and novelist known for her New York Observer columns, the basis for HBO’s Sex and the City, and for follow-up novels like The Carrie Diaries. Andrew Adamson, known for his directing,writing and producing roles in the Shrek franchise and the Chronicles of Narnia films, is 50 today.
Mary Martin (1913-1990) spent many years as a classic struggling actress before becoming successful. Her first big break was starring in Cole Porter’s musical Leave It To Me! She was a three-time Tony winner for Best Lead Actress in a Musical—for South Pacific (as Nellie Forbush), for Peter Pan (in the title role), and for The Sound of Music (as Maria). Peter Pan (not to be confused with the Disney animated film) was also performed live for NBC’s Producers’ Showcase; Martin won an Emmy for the program.
Another legend of comedy born today was Richard Pryor (1940-2005). Known for his topical, often political content and strong language, Pryor won five Grammys for Best Comedy Album from 1974-82. He had an uneven film career, but could be extremely effective in combination with Gene Wilder.
David Doyle (1929-1997) played John Bosley for the entire run of Charlie’s Angels; he and Jaclyn Smith were the only two cast members in every episode. William Daniels (1901-1970), no relation to the actor of that name, was a four-time Oscar nominee in cinematography, winning Best Black-and-White Cinematography for The Naked City. Character actor Dick Shawn (1923-1987) had a variety of film roles, but at this time of year he perhaps should be remembered as the voice of Snow Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus. Rex Stout (1886-1975) was one of the early giants of American mystery fiction, the creator of private investigator Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin. Lou Rawls (1933-2006) had a #1 R&B hit with “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” and won three Grammys in the Best R&B Male Vocal category. Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) was a French artist known for her wax sculptures and for the famous Wax Museum in London that bears her name.
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 December 1, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Bette Midler, Emily Mortimer, Lou Rawls, Mary Martin, Richard Pryor, Sarah Silverman, Woody Allen, Zoe Kravitz. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.