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 Hope. Richard 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 Desire. Tom 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 188.8.131.52. Ashley Madekwe, who is 33 today, currently stars on WGN’s Salem and was a regular on the first two seasons of Revenge. Sarah 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.