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December 6: Happy Birthday Judd Apatow and Agnes Moorehead

1206apatowmoorehead

Judd Apatow turns 49 today.  The producer, writer and director began working as a stand-up comedian while still in high school.  In the 1990s he began working in television, serving as a producer and writer on The Ben Stiller Show and The Larry Sanders Show, and later as executive producer, as well as sometimes writer and director, for Freaks and Geeks.  He also did some script doctoring during this period.

It was in the 2000s, and in feature films, that Apatow found his greatest success.  In 2004 he produced the first Anchorman film, and a year later directed his first feature, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, also co-writing the script with Steve Carell.  In 2007, he directed, wrote and produced what is probably his most successful film:

Since the success of Knocked Up, Apatow has been a consistently successful producer, with credits including Superbad and Bridesmaids; he has also returned to television as an executive producer on Lena Dunham’s Girls.  His subsequent directing efforts have been less successful, with the exception of last year’s Trainwreck.

Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) began her acting career working in radio.  In the mid-1930s, she met a young man named Orson Welles and became part of his Mercury Theatre company.  She was one of several Mercury Players to join Welles when he moved into film production; she played Charles Foster Kane’s mother in Citizen Kane, and then received her first of four Oscar nominations as Fanny in The Magnificent Ambersons.

Although she was nominated for four Oscars and won two Golden Globes for her film work, many American viewers probably best remember Moorehead for the television role that brought her six Primetime Emmy nominations.  She played a witch named Endora whose daughter has committed the taboo of marrying a mortal, who is not named “Durwood.”

Janine Turner turns 54 today.  She is best known for playing the bush pilot Maggie O’Connell in Northern Exposure, for which she was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes.  JoBeth Williams, who is 68, starred in 1980s films like Poltergeist and The Big Chill, was a three-time Emmy nominee for her television work, and was Oscar-nominated for her short film On HopeRichard Edlund is a two-time Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects (or to be precise, one of multiple winners), for Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and also received several “special achievement” and “science and engineering” awards from the Academy.  He is 76 today.  Peter Handke, who turns 74, is an Austrian novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who has worked with director Wim Wenders on several films, most notably co-writing the script for Wings of DesireTom Hulce celebrates his 63rd.  He played Larry “Pinto” Kroger in Animal House, and was nominated for Best Actor for playing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Amadeus.  More recently he has become a very successful stage producer, winning a Tony in 2007 for the musical Spring Awakening.

Writer and director Craig Brewer, who is 45 today, is best known for his indie film Hustle & Flow.  He later directed the 2011 remake of Footloose and wrote the screenplay for this year’s The Legend of Tarzan.  English actor Noel Clarke, who turns 41, is remembered by Doctor Who fans as Mickey Smith, who accompanied the Ninth and Tenth Doctors at different times; he also has written and directed several features such as 4.3.2.1Ashley Madekwe, who is 33 today, currently stars on WGN’s Salem and was a regular on the first two seasons of RevengeSarah Rafferty, who stars on the USA Network’s Suits, turns 44 today.  Stefanie Scott, who turns 20, had major roles on Disney’s A.N.T. Farm and in the horror film Insidious: Chapter 3.

Four-time Oscar winner Nick Park turns 58 today.  He is best known for his series of shorts, plus one feature film, about the clay animation characters Wallace and Gromit.  Park won his first Oscar for Best Animated Short, for Creature Comforts, and two more in the same category for the Wallace and Gromit shorts The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave.  His fourth was in the Best Animated Feature category, for Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.  Park also teamed with Peter Lord to produce, write and direct the animated feature Chicken Run.

Dave Brubeck (1920-2012) was a jazz pianist and composer known as one of the leading performers of “cool” jazz.  He is the composer of jazz standards like “In Your Own Sweet Way,” and also did some television soundtracks.  Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016) was one of the leaders of the period instrument movement in performing Baroque and Classical music.  He also did a fair amount of more traditional conducting, working regularly with the Vienna Philharmonic.  Karl Haas (1919-2005) was an accomplished pianist and conductor, but was best known as a radio host.  His syndicated classical music show, Adventures in Good Music, aired for over 40 years, won a Peabody Award in 1962, and for a long time had the largest listening audience of any classical music radio program in the world.

William S. Hart (1864-1946) was one of the great stars of the silent era.  He was particularly known for his silent Westerns, in which he insisted on realistic stories and authentic costumes and props.  Italian director Sergio Corbucci (1926-1990) is known for his spaghetti Westerns, especially the cult classic Django.  Our sports birthday today is Otto Graham (1921-2003), a football Hall of Fame member.  He quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to four straight championships of the All American Football Conference, the short-lived rival to the NFL, and then to three more championships after the Browns moved into the NFL.

Lester Gillis, better-known as Baby Face Nelson (1908-1934), was one of the highly-publicized bank robbers of the 1930s, a sometime associate of John Dillinger.  As a result, he has been portrayed in film many times, by actors such as Mickey Rooney, Richard Dreyfuss, and C. Thomas Howell.

Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) was sometimes overshadowed by his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, but Ira’s lyrics were a big factor in the success of the Gershwin’s musicals and the opera Porgy and Bess.  After George’s death, Ira went on to work with composers such as Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill, working both on film and stage musicals.

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 December 6, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I don’t always love Judd Apatow’s work. There’s a certain formula at play and it’s not always as fresh as it once was. Some of his movies, like Knocked Up, can rightly be accused of a form of sexism. Having said that, I like Knocked Up pretty well, Freaks and Geeks was a great show, Anchorman and The Forty Year Old Virgin were a lot of laughs, so overall I come down pro-Apatow.

    While I have seen Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, what immediately comes to mind when I think of Agnes Moorehead is Bewtitched. I never watched Northern Exposure when it was on despite recommendations from friends. It struck me as watered down Twin Peaks which I’m sure isn’t fair at all. I did see Janine Turner in Cliffhanger though.

    I think I first saw JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist, but I saw an edited for TV version of The Big Chill shortly thereafter. She was also in Kramer vs. Kramer and the TV movie that haunted us all in the Reagan era, The Day After. I know we have some Amadeus fans who will celebrate Tom Hulce’s birthday. To me, he will always be Pinto.

    We have some TV actors primarily known for shows I don’t watch. But since I have kids, there are some obscure celebs I know from their time on the Disney Channel. I know Stefanie Scott from ANT Farm and had no idea she had graduated to scream queen. I looked up Insidious and she has changed her hair color which made her unrecognizable to me.

    This is another day that is a little light on megawatt star-power, but even when that is the case there are always interesting tales to tell.

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  2. Another birthday of note today is Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk who spent most of his 16 year NFL career with Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins and was a part of 3 Super Bowl winning squads. In 1984 Monk broke the record for most catches in a single season with 106 and eight years later he broke the record for most catches in a career. Both records have since been broken several times over but at the time his numbers were pretty crazy. This is the player I was trying to get inducted into the Hall of Fame prior to commenting here and is why my name was RemembertheRedskins initially. Once we succeeded in getting him inducted the website naturally became a ghost town and the name was easily changed when I started posting here.

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    • I’m glad you were successful in that endeavor freeing you up for this site! 🙂

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      • Hopefully I can get back on the horse soon. Work has been a little weird lately and I’m coming home fried.

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        • I know the feeling! My Nov output was lacking. My mood was torpedoed earlier last month and I still haven’t shaken it. I haven’t been real thrilled with my 2016 output if I’m being honest. But I’m hoping to get back in the saddle this month and really kick things into high gear next year.

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    • Good catch on Art Monk. I realized as I went to bed last night that I had left him out.

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    • Good catch (no pun intended) on Art Monk; I was always bugged that it took so freaking long for him to get elected to the Hall of Fame. Those HOF voters, they’re really hard on receivers (I think it took too long for Tim brown as well). I’m not a Redskins fan, but I’ve liked some of their players (Doug Williams, Darrell Green, Charles Mann, Gary Clark, Earnest Byner, Ricky Sanders, Jim Lachey, Monk himself) from that era.

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      • It was a really interesting experience getting involved in stumping for a player. Most of the voters are there because they really love the game and want to honor the greatest players they can, but there are definitely some who have personal issues that effect who they vote for. The late Paul Zimmerman was especially open about this. He proclaimed that Ken Stabler would never be voted in because of how badly he had treated some members of the press (this wasn’t just garden variety jerkery, but some really honestly awful crap the Snake pulled) and actually admitted that his personal issues with ‘Skins owner Dan Snyder (again, yes a pretty heinous tool) had made him “hate” the franchise. I don’t think it’s any surprise that both Zimmerman and Stabler had to pass away before Snake got inducted posthumously.

        Meanwhile they really have had a bottle neck at the wide receiver position for years now and they handled it really poorly. From 1989 to 1994 they didn’t induct any at all and then the same happened from 1997 to 2000. Part of the problem was a big disagreement about the qualifications of ex-Steelers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth because their stats kept looking more and more pedestrian as the years went on. Some voters dug in their heels and refused to vote for any other receivers until Swann and Stallworth went in, while other voters were just as adamant about their weak resumes. This caused a big back log of receivers waiting for the whole thing to get sorted out and Monk was one who got caught up in it. If those guys hadn’t been in the way he probably would have been voted in on his second or third try, but by the time that mess was over, the arguments against Monk had become too well-practiced and entrenched. We traditional ‘Skins fans (Snyder has kind of dampened my enthusiasm in recent years) were disappointed when James Lofton was voted in instead of Monk in 2003 but we figured Monk was up next. It wasn’t until 2006 when they inducted 2 quarterbacks and two “senior” candidates and nobody else that I realized something was truly amiss. Then they put Michael Irvin in ahead of Monk in 2007, which really helped to motivate ‘Skins fans. I know that’s when I started taking an active role. First, of course, I honed my arguments on the internet with the help of someone who had started a website dedicated to the issue. This involved in part doing a lot of statistical and video research on Monk and other possible candidates. Eventually I created a power point presentation explaining point-by-point why the arguments against Monk were bunk and why he was a superior candidate to the other receivers on the ballot. I sent this thing out to many media outlets and to several of the voters. I even took a day off of studying (I was in grad school at the time) when I found out Joe Theismann was going to be making an appearance locally so I could go personally put a copy in his hands.

        I don’t know if my document was in any way influential, but I did see other fans on line quoting my arguments and stat groups. In the end, Monk and Darrell Green were inducted together in 2008 and I made the trip to Canton, Ohio to attend the ceremony. The comments I read from voters afterward seemed to indicate that the unrelenting pressure we’d put on them had finally broken the committee. They didn’t want to hear from us anymore. Sometimes you don’t actually have to convince people you’re right in order to get them to do the right thing.

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        • I’m sure the petitioning helped, and the practice of bothering people until they relent doesn’t hurt (it seemed to work for Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption” when he wanted more books for the prison library).
          I remember that Stallworth/Swann HOF deal was a real struggle, and once Stallworth got in, Swann followed. There really shouldn’t have been such an issue there at all, since although Swann’s regular season numbers were pedestrian, he came up big in the playoffs (Stallworth’s regular season numbers are pretty good, and he played five more years than Swann).
          I still think it’s a shame that Ken Stabler didn’t make the Hall before he passed, but I have a feeling he finally made the Hall because he passed. A hollow victory there.
          Actually ol’ Dr. Z., Paul Zimmerman, is still alive, but a series of strokes has sapped his ability to the point that he was moved into assisted living. He held grudges for sure (I can’t say I’m a Daniel Snyder fan either, I think he’s a weasel), but he really had an asute mind forPro Football.

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        • Hmm…I could have sworn a member of the voting committee told me Z had passed. Maybe I got fed bad information.

          The voting is crazy sometimes. I remember telling upset Cris Carter fans that he would get in the next year (Monk was put in first), but Carter was pretty whiny about having to wait so it seems they went ahead and made him do it a little longer than anyone anticipated.

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        • I don’t think how it went down with Cris Carter should’ve been all that complicated either: 130 touchdowns and the best possession receiver of his era? Sold! Yeah, he’s a little on the preachy, scolding side, but he did work.
          I’d like to get that old Left Tackle that played for the Atlanta Falcons, Mike Kenn, get in this year. He’s been retired since 1994 and played at an all-pro level for the majority of his career, albeit with some bad Falcons teams.
          I’ve been keeping up with the status of Dr. Z’s health and read Peter King’s SI articles pretty frequently, and he mentions Dr. Z. quite often, wishing that he could still write and communicate effectively, so I was pretty sure he was still alive. Upon further digging online, it still seems that way. I know the internet isn’t perfect, but it would definitely have something concrete if he had passed. For his stature at Sports Illustrated, I don’t believe information on him regarding that wouldn’t be quiet.

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  3. I am not terribly familiar with most of Apatow’s work but he’s clearly a pretty successful filmmaker and TV producer/writer.

    Like lebeau, I mostly remember Agnes Moorehead from Bewitched. Interestingly, although she was nominated for an Emmy as Endora six times, the one Emmy she won was for a guest appearance on The Wild Wild West. Besides her work with Orson Welles, another of her films worth checking out is Dark Passage.

    I am always fascinated to think that Pinto from Animal House and “Wolfie” from Amadeus were played by the same actor. And as one of the Amadeus fans here, all I can say is—wait for Mozart’s birthday. 🙂

    When I lived in Southern California, one of the local classical stations (we actually had two) carried Adventures in Good Music, so I was one of the countless listeners who got part of their classical music education from Karl Haas.

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  4. Judd Apatow was a writer on the 2005 remake of “Fun with Dick and Jane” and I like that film, although it wasn’t well-received (economic factors have evolved and society is constantly updated since the original film, a feel a remake of that type is just fine). “Freaks and Geeks” may be one of those shows in which I lost faith in being committed to a TV series; nowadays my faith flickers.
    Agnes Moorehead I know best from “Bewitched”, but I’ve seen her in other projects, including the unfortunate 1956 film “The Conquerer”.
    Janine Turner: yeah, I remember “Northern Exposure. She was also the girlfriend in George Romero’s 1988 film “Monkey Shines” (monkey shines on for me, I like that film), and once dated Troy Aikman.
    Tom Hulce, know him best from three films: “Amadeus” (outstanding!), “Nation Lampoon’s Animal House” (I think it’s slightly overrated, but I think it’s alright”, and the kooky 1987 film “Slamdance”, which he plays a cartoonist.
    Last I saw of Jobeth Williams she was playing Rita’s overbearing mother in season 2 of “Dexter”, but I’ll always remember her for her roles in “Kramer vs. Kramer”, “The Big Chill”, the first two Poltergeist films (in the first, she was really rocking the early 1980’s short shorts), and the 1989 TV movie “My Name is Bill W.”.
    I’m not nearly as familiar with Baby Face Nelson as I am some other bank robbers/gangsters, as most of the documentaries and TV shows I’ve viewed concerning that subject usually only mention him in passing.

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    • Most of the time when Baby Face Nelson appears in movies, it’s as a secondary character in a movie about John Dillinger—e.g., John Milius’s Dillinger or Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. The exception is the film with Mickey Rooney from 1957, appropriately titled Baby Face Nelson.

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