December 4: Happy Birthday Jeff Bridges and Marisa Tomei
Oscar winner (and six-time nominee) Jeff Bridges is turning 67 today. The son of actor Lloyd Bridges, his first major film role, and first Oscar nomination, was in the role of Duane Jackson in The Last Picture Show in 1971. Bridges has been working consistently in film ever since then. While his career has had the ebbs and flows you’d expect, every few years he seems to have one or more films that are commercial and/or critical successes.
After his debut, he went on to win another Oscar nomination for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and star in films like John Huston’s Fat City, the 1976 remake of King Kong, the contemporary noir Cutter’s Way, and the pioneering sci-fi film Tron. He received his third Oscar nomination, and his first for Best Actor, for the 1984 sci-fi romance Starman.
A few highlights of Bridges’ career since then would include returning to Amarene, Texas for Texasville, starring in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King and working with the Coen Brothers for the first time in The Big Lebowski, receiving his fourth Oscar nomination for The Contender, and helping get the Marvel Cinematic Universe off to a flying start as Obadiah Stane in Iron Man. He won the Oscar for Best Actor for the 2009 drama Crazy Heart, was nominated the next year for the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit, and will appear next year in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Our second headliner today is also an Oscar-winner, and has also recently joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marisa Tomei is celebrating her 52nd birthday. Tomei made her feature film debut in the 1984 comedy The Flamingo Kid, and a few years later was a regular on the first season of A Different World. She also made her stage debut in the Off-Broadway play Daughters, followed by her Broadway debut in a revival of Wait Until Dark. But she first really came to people’s notice when she played a major supporting role in a courtroom comedy:
Tomei won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny, and has never really lacked for work since then. She has had a knack for combining roles in commercially successful comedies like What Women Want and Wild Hogs, with critically acclaimed dramas like In the Bedroom (which brought her a second Oscar nomination), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and The Wrestler (her third Oscar nomination). Recently she played Peter Parker’s Aunt May in Captain America: Civil War, a role she will reprise in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Patricia Wettig, who turns 65 today, won three Emmys as Nancy Krieger Weston on thirtysomething and more recently co-starred on Brothers & Sisters. Tyra Banks, a former Victoria’s Secret Angel, won two Daytime Emmys for hosting The Tyra Banks Show on The CW; she is 43 today. Fred Armisen celebrates his 5oth. The former Saturday Night Live cast member has received four Emmy nominations (three for writing, one for acting) for the sketch comedy series Portlandia, which he co-created with Carrie Brownstein. Jacob Tomuri, a stunt man and actor from New Zealand, turns 37. He worked on all three Lord of the Rings films, and more recently has become a regular double for Tom Hardy, working on Mad Max: Fury Road, Legend, and The Revenant. Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bernard King turns 60 today. A four-time NBA All-Star, King made a bit of history in the mid-1980s; in a 1985 game he suffered a severe knee and leg injury, including a torn ACL as well as a broken leg bone, and became the first player to make a complete recovery from an injury of this sort.
Max Baer, Jr., who played Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, turns 79 today. He is the last surviving major cast member from the series. Cheng Pei-pei, who turns 70, starred in a number of Hong Kong films from the 1960s and early ’70s, often as an action heroine, and made a return to wuxia cinema as Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. English character actress Gemma Jones turns 74. She played Pam Jones in the Bridget Jones films and Poppy Pomfrey in some of the Harry Potter films, and won a BAFTA Award for the British TV movie Marvellous.
Music birthdays include Terry Woods, who is turning 69. The Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been a member of a number of English and Irish folk-rock groups, including Steeleye Span and The Pogues. English folkie Kate Rusby, who turns 43, released her fifteenth solo album, Life in a Paper Boat, earlier this year. Anna McGarrigle, who turns 72, is a Canadian folksinger who performed with her sister Kate (1946-2010) for over 40 years; two of their albums won Juno Awards for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. Jazz musician Cassandra Wilson, who is 61 today, has won Grammys for her albums New Moon Daughter and Loverly. Dennis Wilson (1944-1983; no relation to Cassandra) was one of the founders of the Beach Boys, and was the group’s drummer until substance abuse and erratic behavior got him fired from the group shortly before his death by drowning in 1983. Hip hop artist Jay Z (given name Shawn Carter) turns 47. His twenty-one Grammys tie him with Kanye West for the most ever won by a rapper—and also puts him one ahead in the race for most Grammys in his household; his wife Beyoncé has twenty. Three of his albums made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Deanna Durbin (1921-2013) began starring in musicals for Universal as a teenager; her movies, beginning with Three Smart Girls, are credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. Horst Buchholz (1933-2003) was a major star in European cinema in the 1950s and ’60s who also was known for a few Hollywood films, especially The Magnificent Seven. Director and editor Mark Robson (1913-1978) was a two-time Oscar nominee, for Peyton Place and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, during a career of over 30 years in Hollywood. Claude Renoir (1913-1993), the nephew of directing great Jean Renoir, worked for over 40 years as a cinematographer; one of his films was The Spy Who Loved Me. Victor French (1934-1989) was primarily known for his television work; he had major roles on Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.
Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968) was a leading American crime fiction author of the mid-20th Century. He is notable for the large number of films adapted from his novels in short stories, well over thirty in total. A few of the most famous are the 1940s noirs Phantom Lady and The Black Angel, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Mississippi Mermaid. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was an Austrian poet and novelist. He was know for his poetry collections such as The Book of Hours and the Duino Elegies and his novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.
Francisco Franco (1892-1975) took power in Spain after the brutal Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and ruled as the nation’s Caudillo until his death. It was a very unpleasant period to live through, but the Spanish Civil War did lead to some great works of literature, such as Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, and art, most notably Picasso’s Guernica. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington (1912-1988) was a Medal of Honor winning American pilot during World War 2. He fought with the “Flying Tigers” in China and with the Marines in the South Pacific. The mid-1970s TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep was loosely based on Boyington’s experiences in the South Pacific and starred Robert Conrad as Boyington.
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 4, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Cassandra Wilson, Cornell Woolrich, Deanna Durbin, Dennis Wilson, Fred Armisen, Horst Buchholz, Jay Z, Jeff Bridges, Marisa Tomei, Patricia Wettig. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.