December 8: Happy Birthday Nicki Minaj and Jim Morrison
Hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj turns 34 today. In a musical genre that tends to be male-dominated, Minaj has been one of the most successful women. Born in Trinidad, she moved to the US at a young age, and after graduating from high school, she began working as a musician. Truly a 21st Century musician, she was initially “discovered” through recordings she posted to her Myspace page. She then released a series of mixtapes that earned increasing attention, and by the end of the 2000s she had a recording contract, releasing several singles and her first album in 2010.
Minaj has released three studio albums to date, all of them reaching #1 or 2 on the Billboard 200. She has had more singles chart on the Hot 100 than any other female rapper, and has received ten Grammy nominations. She has made a few film appearances, with supporting roles in The Other Woman and Barbershop: The Next Cut.
In a generation full of legendary figures in music, Jim Morrison (1943-1971) was one of the biggest legends. A songwriter and poet, he was best known as the lead singer of The Doors. While studying in the film school at UCLA he met a grad student named Ray Manzarek, who played keyboards; some time after Morrison’s graduation the two connected with guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. They began playing at Los Angeles area clubs, and by 1967 Electra had released their first album and singles:
Morrison and The Doors were both a big commercial success—every album they released during Morrison’s life reached the Top 10—and a huge artistic influence. Unfortunately, Morrison was not only a music legend, he was a legend when it came to self-destructive behavior. His substance abuse and eccentric behavior put him increasingly at odds with his band-mates. In the spring of 1971 Morrison took what was meant to be a sabbatical from the group, going off to Paris with his girlfriend. He never returned, dying of what was apparently an accidental heroin overdose in July of 1971.
WTHH subject Kim Basinger turns 63 today. Her signature performance remains her Oscar-winning turn in L.A. Confidential; at this blog we must also point out that she was a Bond Girl in Never Say Never Again. Another former Bond Girl, Teri Hatcher (from Tomorrow Never Dies) is celebrating her 52nd. Hatcher starred as Lois Lane on Lois & Clark and won a Golden Globe as Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives. Wendell Pierce, who turns 53, currently appears as Teddy on The Odd Couple. Enormous former wrestler Tyler Mane, who turns 50 today, played Sabretooth in the first X-Men film and Ajax in Troy. Nancy Meyers, who is 67 today, is a writer, producer and director. She was Oscar-nominated for the screenplay for Private Benjamin, and more recently produced, wrote and directed the romantic comedy It’s Complicated, which earned her two Golden Globe nominations.
AnnaSophia Robb is 23 today. She stars on the PBS drama Mercy Street and played Carrie Bradshaw on The Carrie Diaries; she has done films like The Way, Way Back and Soul Surfer. Ian Somerhalder, who is turning 38, stars on The Vampire Diaries as Damon Salvatore and also played Boone Carlyle on Lost. Dominic Monaghan, who celebrates his 40th, played Merry Brandybuck in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and was also in the cast of Lost, as Charlie Pace. Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who is turning 39, won a Cesar Award for the French film Rust and Bone, and has had prominent roles in American films like The Drop and The Danish Girl.
Gregg Allman, who turns 69, is best known for his work with the Allman Brothers Band, the Southern rock ensemble who had a huge hit with “Ramblin’ Man” in the 1970s. The Irish flutist James Galway, who turns 77 today, is one of the few classical flute players to successfully become a star in the world of solo instrumentalists (such stardom is mostly reserved for pianists and string players). He has also made a variety of crossover recordings. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, who turns 74, and his band Toots & the Maytals, are one of the leading reggae and ska acts in the world. Finland’s greatest composer was Jean Sibelius (1867-1957), a late Romantic who is famous for his seven symphonies, his violin concerto, and tone poems like Finlandia and The Swan of Tuonela.
Our final music birthday today is Sinéad O’Connor, who is celebrating her 50th. Her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, received a Grammy nomination, and she followed it up with the hugely successful I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. She has never reached the same level of commercial success again, but has remained in the public view, in part because of her forthright, sometimes controversial opinions on a number of issues.
NBA star Dwight Howard turns 31. He has been named to eight NBA All-Star teams during his career. English football fans will want to remember that it is the birthday of Sir Geoff Hurst, who is 75. Hurst’s hat trick against Germany in the 1966 World Cup final brought England their only Cup title.
Before there was a Brat Pack or a Frat Pack, there was the Rat Pack, of which Sammy Davis, Jr., (1925-1990) was a member. Best known as a singer and dancer, Davis received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations as a TV performer. Sam Kinison (1953-1992) was a preacher turned stand-up comedian who became well-known during the 1980s, especially for the penetrating screams which punctuated his routines. Stage and screen actor Lee J. Cobb (1911-1976) was a two-time nominee for Best Supporting Actor, for On the Waterfront and The Brothers Karamazov, and played Willy Loman in the original Broadway production of Death of a Salesman. David Carradine (1936-2009), the eldest of the three acting Carradine brothers, starred in the 1970s series that made many Americans aware of Kung Fu, and also played Cole Younger in The Long Riders, opposite James Keach (who was in yestarday’s article) as Jesse James. James MacArthur (1937-2010) was also seen a lot on television in the 1970s, usually at the receiving end of the line “Book ’em, Danno!” on Hawaii Five-O. Comedian Flip Wilson (1933-1998) won a pair of Emmys for his 1970s variety series The Flip Wilson Show.
Maximilian Schell (1930-2014) was a Swiss actor and director who combined a lengthy acting career in English-language films with one as a director of, primarily, German-language films. He won Best Actor for Judgment at Nuremberg, and was nominated for two additional acting Oscars, for The Man in the Glass Booth and Julia. He also directed two films that were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, and won a Golden Globe for playing Vladimir Lenin in the HBO movie Stalin.
Georges Méliès (1861-1938) was one of the early pioneers of filmmaking, who developed a number of important technical and storytelling techniques in movies like A Trip to the Moon. He was played by Ben Kingsley in Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo. James Thurber (1894-1961) was a cartoonist, satirist, and the author of many stories and plays. His short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” has been adapted to film twice. Screenwriter Ernest Lehman (1915-2005) was a six-time Oscar nominee, but never a winner. He scripted a number of musical adaptations, including Best Picture winners West Side Story and The Sound of Music, and also Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
Mary Stuart, known to history as Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was, as her name implies, the Queen of Scotland for most of her life. She also had a claim to the throne of England, which ended up getting her beheaded for plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. She has been played in film by actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and Samantha Morton; a very fictionalized version of Mary, played by Adelaide Kane, is the protagonist of the CW’s Reign. American inventor and businessman Eli Whitney (1765-1825) made two important contributions to the economic development of the US, one of them the invention of the cotton gin, the other the promoting and popularizing the idea of using interchangeable parts in manufacturing.
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 8, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged AnnaSophia Robb, David Carradine, Georges Melies, jim morrison, Kim Basinger, Matthias Schoenaerts, Maximilian Schell, Nancy Meyers, Nicki Minaj, Sinead O'Connor. Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.