December 7: Happy Birthday Ellen Burstyn and Sara Bareilles
Ellen Burstyn turns 84 today. She made her Broadway debut in 1957 and then spent over a decade paying her dues in television guest roles. In the early 1970s, she made a big breakthrough, receiving three Oscar nominations in four years. After a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Lois Farrow in The Last Picture Show, she was nominated for Best Actress in consecutive years, for The Exorcist and as the title character of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore:
Burstyn’s performance as Alice Hyatt won her an Oscar, and the same year, she also won a Tony for starring in Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year. The film version of the play brought her a Golden Globe and her fourth Oscar nomination (out of a total of six in her career). Burstyn keeps busy working both in film and television; in the last decade she has won a pair of Primetime Emmys, making her a winner of the unofficial Triple Crown of Acting.
With several major names in music to choose from as today’s second headliner, I decided to go with the relatively new face. Sara Bareilles is turning 37 today. After graduating from UCLA, Bareilles spent about three years working at open-mike nights at Southern California clubs and bars. She released an independently produced album in 2004 that led to a contract with Epic Records. In 2007, Epic released her first major label album, Little Voice, along with her first single:
Although she has yet to have another hit single as successful as “Love Song,” Bareilles’ next two albums reached #1 and #2 on the Billboard 200. She has been nominated for six Grammys. The most recent is for the original cast album of the musical Waitress, adapted from the Adrienne Shelly film. Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics and was nominated for a Tony for Best Original Score.
Nicholas Hoult, who turns 27 today, has been acting for 20 years. His first major role was in the 2002 film About a Boy. He played Beast in X-Men: First Class and its sequels and Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. Also in the cast of X-Men: First Class was Caleb Landry Jones, who played Banshee; Jones was born the same day as Hoult. Emily Browning, who celebrates her 28th, first became known as Violet Baudelaire in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. She has since been seen in Sucker Punch, Sleeping Beauty, Pompeii and Legend. Shiri Appleby, who is turning 38, played the lead role of Liz Parker on Roswell. She has been in films like Swimfan and Charlie Wilson’s War and currently stars on Lifetime’s Unreal. Jack Huston, who is 34 today, is a fourth generation film and television performer (yes, he’s part of that Huston family). He played Richard Harrow on Boardwalk Empire and the title role in this summer’s remake of Ben-Hur. Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, who is turning 38, is known for the role of Tormund Giantsbane on Game of Thrones. Jennifer Carpenter, who is celebrating her 37th, starred on Dexter as Debra Morgan, and more recently on the short-lived CBS series Limitless.
Independent director and writer Jeff Nichols turns 38. He is known for well-received films such as Take Shelter and Mud, and this year had two films come out: the sci-fi thriller Midnight Special and the historical drama Loving. Mark Duplass, who turns 40, is another independent director-writer, who usually works in tandem with his brother Jay; their films include The Puffy Chair and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Duplass also starred on the FX sitcom The League.
James Keach is another member of a well-known film/television family. Keach is known for starring in The Long Riders as Jesse James; his brother Stacy played Frank James. Keach also worked as a director on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman—which starred his then-wife, Jane Seymour—and was a producer of Walk the Line. He turns 69 today. C. Thomas Howell, who is turning 50, was at the fringes of the Brat Pack in the 1980s; he had a small role in E.T. and starred in The Outsiders, Red Dawn, and The Hitcher. Jeffrey Wright, who turns 51, won a Tony for his role in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America as well as a Golden Globe for the television adaptation. He played Felix Leiter in two of the Daniel Craig Bond films and currently stars on Westworld. Still another member of an entertainment family is Tony Thomas, who turns 68. The son of actor Danny Thomas, he is a prominent television producer, generally in partnership with the husband-and-wife team of Paul Junger Witt and Susan Harris. He has worked on shows such as Soap, Blossom, Beauty and the Beast, and The Golden Girls. Priscilla Barnes, who is 61 today, had the tough job of replacing Suzanne Somers on Three’s Company during its final three seasons. Her film appearances include a small role in Licence to Kill.
Singer-songwriter and actor Tom Waits turns 67 today. Although he has never been a big commercial hit, he is enormously respected and has won Grammys for his albums Bone Machine and Mule Variations. His songs have been covered by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles. His score for the film One from the Heart was Oscar-nominated, and he has had a number of small but memorable film roles. And his singing voice—one of a kind:
The sports world celebrates a few big birthdays. Larry Bird turns 60 today. As noted earlier this year, Bird’s rivalry with Magic Johnson, and that of their respective teams, gave a huge boost to the NBA in the 1980s. Bird was a three-time MVP of the NBA, and is the only person in NBA history to be the league’s MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year. Baseball fans will remember Johnny Bench, who turns 69. The Hall-of-Fame catcher, one of the all-time greats at the position, was one of the stars of a powerhouse Cincinnati Reds team that has gone down in history as The Big Red Machine. And not to leave the NFL out, Terrell Owens turns 43. An enormously talented wide receiver, who holds a number of NFL records and is second all-time in total receiving yards, he also had a huge talent for wearing out his welcome.
American novelist Willa Cather (1873-1947) was one of the great fictional chroniclers of the American West—particularly the Great Plains. Her best known novels include O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning One of Ours. Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) was a science fiction novelist; she was known as the “queen of space opera” for her novels and stories about Eric John Stark. She was also a screenwriter. She worked a number of times with Howard Hawks, on films like The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo and El Dorado, and also contributed—just how much is unclear—to the script for The Empire Strikes Back.
Eli Wallach (1915-2014) began acting in the late 1940s and was still making film appearances as late as 2010. He will be long remembered for a pair of Western roles, as the bandit leader Calvera in The Magnificent Seven, and as Tuco, “The Ugly,” in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Ted Knight (1923-1986) was a six-time Emmy nominee for playing the talentless anchorman Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, winning Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy in 1973 and 1976. Rod Cameron (1910-1983) was a leading man in a variety of B-movies in the 1940s, and transitioned to doing a lot of television work in the fifties and sixties; a lot of his roles were always in Westerns.
Our final big music name today is Harry Chapin (1942-1981). The folk-rocker, who was known both for his music and his humanitarian activities, left behind a body of heartfelt, often incredibly intricate “story songs” when he died in an auto accident in the summer of 1981. Everybody knows his #1 hit “Cat’s in the Cradle,” but the test of a true Chapin fan is the ability to join in at the appropriate points in this song:
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 7, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Eli Wallach, Ellen Burstyn, Emily Bowman, Harry Chapin, Jeff Nichols, Jeffrey Wright, Larry Bird, Nicholas Hoult, Sara Bareilles, Shiri Appleby, Tom Waits. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.