December 15: Happy Birthday Michelle Dockery and Charlie Cox


The absence of any superstar names from today’s birthday list makes it a good day to highlight a pair of younger faces.

Michelle Dockery celebrates her 35th today.  The English actress made her stage debut in Nicholas Wright’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy.  She was an Olivier Award nominee for Peter Flannery’s play Burnt by the Sun, and also won accolades for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in Peter Hall’s 2007 production of Pygmalion.  She has had roles in films like Anna Karenina and Non-Stop, and appears in the upcoming The Sense of an Ending.

But the role she is best known for, the one that has brought Dockery three Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress, is playing Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey:

Charlie Cox turns 34 today.  He first became known through supporting roles in the films Dot the i and The Merchant of Venice (as Lorenzo).  He went on to star as Tristan Thorn in Stardust and Ian Hamilton in Stone of Destiny, and made a number of TV appearances, including one on Downton Abbey.  He was seen in seasons two and three of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Currently, he stars on the Netflix series Daredevil as Matt Murdock; he will also reprise the role in the upcoming series The Defenders.

There was a time when Don Johnson, who turns 67 today, would have been a likely choice for a headliner of this article.  Over a period of just over 15 years, Johnson landed a pair of plum television roles, as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice, and several years later as the title character in Nash Bridges.  After Miami Vice went off the air, Johnson had a few major film roles but could not convert his TV success to movie stardom.  Since Nash Bridges was cancelled Johnson has had a much lower profile, although he has had recent roles in films like Django Unchained and The Other Woman.

Writer and director John Lee Hancock is turning 60.  He is known for sports dramas like The Rookie and The Blind Side, and for historical films like The Alamo and Saving Mr. Banks.  Most recently he has directed The Founder, the Ray Kroc biopic, which just opened in limited release.

Helen Slater, who once starred in a movie that was supposed to launch a franchise, turns 53 today.  She also starred in films like Ruthless People and City Slickers and has done guest appearances on Smallville and Supergirl.  Comedian-actor Tim Conway, who is 83, has been working a long time, and has a nice collection of Emmys, including several for work on The Carol Burnett Show in the 1970s and a more recent one for a guest appearance on 30 Rock.  Stage and screen director Julie Taymor is celebrating her 64th.  She won multiple Tonys for the musical The Lion King, and is also known for some innovative Shakespeare adaptations for both stage and screen, and for the infamously costly musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the DarkMelanie Chartoff, who is 66 today, has had regular or recurring roles on Fridays, Newhart, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and won a Daytime Emmy for voicing Didi Pickles and Grandma Minka on Rugrats and All Grown Up!  Michael Shanks, who turns 46, starred on Stargate SG-1 as Dr. Daniel Jackson for ten seasons and currently stars on the Canadian medical drama Saving HopeRalph Ineson is known for playing Amycus Carrow in three Harry Potter films and has been seen in the British version of The Office, Game of Thrones and Coronation Street.  He is 47 today.  Star Trek fans will want us to note that Garrett Wong, who played Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager, turns 48 today.

Rachel Brosnahan, who celebrates her 26th, was an Emmy nominee as Rachel Posner on House of Cards and has appeared in films such as Beautiful Creatures and the upcoming Patriots DayCamilla Luddington, who is 33 today, plays Jo Wilson on Grey’s AnatomyAdam Brody, who starred as Seth Cohen on The O. C., turns 37.  Stefania Owen, who is 19 today, currently stars on the Hulu series Chance and previously had regular roles on Running Wilde and The Carrie DiariesEmily Head (daughter of Anthony Head of Buffy fame), turns 28.  She is known for her British television work on The Inbetweeners and more recently as a new addition to the cast of the long-running soap opera Emmerdale.

Music birthdays include legendary jazz bandleader Stan Kenton (1911-1979).  Kenton was a two-time Grammy winner who maintained a large ensemble at a time when “big band” jazz had largely become a thing of the past.  Eddie Palmieri, who turns 80, is also a Grammy-winning bandleader, in categories like Latin Jazz and Salsa.  Paul Simonon, who is turning 61, has worked with a number of bands, but most will remember him as the bassist for The Clash.  Cindy Birdsong, who celebrates her 77th, was a member of Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles for several years, then left to become Florence Ballard’s replacement with the Supremes.

Jeff Chandler (1918-1961) was a popular leading man of the 1950s who died prematurely of complications from surgery.  He was an Oscar nominee for playing the Apache leader Cochise in Broken Arrow in 1950.  Some readers will remember Cassandra Harris (1948-1991) for her connections to the James Bond films—she appeared in For Your Eyes Only, and was married to then-future Bond Pierce Brosnan for the last eleven years of her life.  Gordon Douglas (1907-1993) worked as a director for nearly 40 years.  He began by directing a number of Our Gang shorts—one of them, Bored of Education, won an Oscar—and then did a long list of features, mostly genre films.  His filmography includes a pair of well-regarded late 1960s films with Frank Sinatra, Tony Rome and The DetectiveJack Gwillim (1909-2001) was a British naval officer for over 20 years before going into acting.  He was often cast as an officer of some sort in war films like Sink the Bismarck and Patton and had a notable stage career as well.

Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was a French architect and civil engineer who was known for designing a certain Tower that a few of you may possible have heard of; his company was also responsible for the construction of the Tower.

Our final birthday today is one of the founding fathers of country music.  A. P. Carter (1891-1960) formed a band in 1927 along with his wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle (a cousin of Sara’s who was married to A. P.’s brother Ezra).  The group was called The Carter Family and they were soon signed to a contract with Victor Records.  While A.P. may not have been as important to the group musically as Sara and Maybelle, he was their collector of material; he traveled all over Virginia finding new songs for them to record.

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 15, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I skipped Downton Abbey, so Michelle Dockery is a new face for me. Charlie Cox, I know from Daredevil. I watched Boardwalk Empire, but I didn’t make the connection between the two shows.

    Don Johnson will make an excellent WTHH one day. I am looking forward to John Lee Hancock’s The Founder although from what I understand The Blind Side was largely fiction and I know Saving Mr. Banks was highly inaccurate.

    Helen Slater was a movie crush way back when. Not so much from Supergirl as from Ruthless People. I enjoy seeing her as Kara’s adopted mother on Supergirl. On that show, her TV husband is former Superman Dean Cain.

    Tim Conway was a staple growing up. Can I confess I never found him very funny? Julie Taymor went from smashing success with Lion King to abject failure with what seemed like a can’t miss proposition in Spider-man. I must have seen Melanie Chartoff on Newhart, but the name is unfamiliar. How funny that she went on to win an Emmy for Rugrats of all things.

    Garrett Wong played arguably the least interesting character in Star Trek history. Not his fault though.

    Rachel Brosnahan, I know from House of Cards. I’m familiar with Adam Brody from The O.C., but I never actually watched it. I don’t think I have ever seen Emily Head on anything, but I was a fan of her dad. We have talked about Cassandra Harris and her connection to the Bond franchise and marriage to Pierce Brosnan. Such a shame she died so young.


  2. You seemed to have overlooked one major aspect of Don Johnson’s career: for a brief time when Miami Vice was a pop cultural phenomenon, Don Johnson was also a successful pop singer. In 1987 he had a Top 5 single with “Heartbeat”, and his debut album went Gold peaking at #17 on the album charts. Perhaps just to save him from being known as a one-hit wonder, in 1988 he returned to the Billboard Top 40 with a Barbra Streisand duet “Till I Loved You” which peaked at #25.

    Don Johnson, pop singer. It doesn’t have a ring to it, but it happened anyway.


    • It’s not overlooking so much as deciding what you do and don’t have space to include in an article like this.


      • I think Craig’s tongue was implanted in his cheek with regards to the oversight.


        • Lebeau, you know me too well. It’s not like “Heartbeat” changed my life and resulted in me creating a Don Johnson Tribute band. No, that never happened. No sir.

          (I’m available to perform for weddings, parties and general get-togethers at a fairly short notice. Heartbeat y’all.)


        • Can you make it to the Le Blog New Years Blow Out? There’s no pay, but you can set out a tip jar. I’ll be tending bar while Daffy runs interference on Sean Young. We can’t have another repeat of last year.


        • As a Don Johnson Tribute Band, you can probably guess that gigs are few and far between. But don’t underestimate us, trust me when we roll out “Heartbeat” we can bring down the house. People really get into it. There’s diminished returns once we perform it for the 6th or 7th time however.

          With Sean Young in attendance, if we’re lucky maybe we can get her to be the Barbra Streisand to my Don Johnson on the syrupy love ballad “Til I Loved You”. After 7 performances of “Heartbeat” people will be eager for the encore.


        • Do it early. Sean’s no good after the first 30 minutes. Daffy tries, but he can’t keep her away from the hooch for long. The Catwoman costume comes out around 10:30 every year. Warning: It is ill-fitting.


        • Don Johnson + an intoxicated Catwoman singing a tender love ballad on stage = powerhouse encore.


    • Ah, the 80’s vanity album!


    • I joke about it from time to time, but I love “Heartbeat”, and I’m glad that the game “Grand Theft Auto V” included it in its soundtrack (along with Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time”!). I swear, the guitar solo in that song sounds like Tim Truman’s work from later seasons of “Miami Vice” (I think Truman is alright, but I prefer Jan Hammer).
      As for The Don himself, it seems people are divided on him, but he did “A Boy and His Dog” in 1976 and “Miami Vice” is a show that changed how television shows were treated (along with helping to revive South Beach with all those pretty pastels and Art Deco look), so I’m all set when it comes to him. I also like 1990’s “The Hot Spot”. So, I can feel the heat, and the heartbeat.


      • Same here about “Heartbeat”. I still play GTA 5 every now and then and hearing “Heartbeat” in the game made me realize that it’s actually still a solid pop-rock song. One thing that Rockstar have always been great at is picking their playlists for their Grand Theft Auto games, they have always been exemplary.


        • Oh yeah, I love driving around with the Michael character in a car that has the top down, playing “Heartbeat”, and letting Michael live his 1980’s fantasy (that he obviously loves, and he has the clothes for it too). That was great that Rockstar got Kenny Loggins as the DJ of that station, and included his song “I’m Free (Heaven Help The Man)”. I know later copies have Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, but I think that song’s a little more common, so I prefer the first choice.
          I agree that Rockstar has a really good feel for what to place on their GTA soundtrack. Heck, even for V, once I explored past the Classic Rock Radio, I discovered other songs I found to like, such as Yacht’s “Psychic City”, Neon Indian’s “Change of Coasts”, and Favored Nations’ “The Setup” (good choice using that tune for the game’s end credits, and I feel it’s the game’s theme song).


        • Rockstar getting Kenny Loggins as a DJ on GTA5 was a coup, no doubt. The inclusion of “I’m Free” and hearing it countless times finally made me realize that it’s a damn good pop song and an overlooked gem in Loggin’s career. The Doobie Brothers’ classic “What A Fool Believes” also gets played on this station and it is worth noting that it was co-written by Michael McDonald and – yep, you guessed it – Kenny Loggins.

          Another coup is Pam Grier as DJ for The Lowdown which plays 70’s-era soul music. Matter of fact while I probably listen to the Los Santos Rock station most frequently I do enjoy all the stations and switch among them while playing. I’m also a big fan of Rebel Radio, i.e. 70’s country music, and West Coast Classics which plays rap classics from the 80’s and 90’s.

          I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention West Coast Talk Radio which features Fernando Martinez who I just always find gut-splittingly funny. Long time GTA fans will recognize that Fernando Martinez has appeared on the radio in every single GTA game since 2001’s GTA III.

          For my money Fernando has never been better (or funnier) than as host of Emotions in Vice City. One of my favorite Fernando quotes: “Fernando knows many languages, but I mostly know the language of love. Some people call the radio station and ask Fernando, are you bilingual? And I say, I try anything once.”


        • Glad you mentioned Pam Grier for The Lowdown; I like that the DJ’s used their real names in “GTA V” (I was fine with, say, Axl Rose playing a character on The Dust for the San Andreas game, but I like this better), and Fernando is a Vice City classic, even on Vice City FM in Liberty City (“Fernando loves it when a boy meets a girl…this is ‘Waiting For a Star’.”).


        • Oh, hey, do you remember in which Vice City game Fernando talks about showing emotion, but not too much emotion, in case of getting a restraining order? I’m thinking it’s from the stories game after “Only the Lonely” is played, but I’m not sure (some things in the two Vice City games kind of bleed together for me). Actually, maybe he makes that statement after “Crockett’s Theme” (how can I not think of Don Johnson after hearing that instrumental?) in original Vice City? Wow, yeah, now I’m not sure.


        • I’m fairly positive the Fernando quote about not showing too much emotion is in the first Vice City. I also love when he reveals that he made it to America by outrunning the police speed boats off the coast, and he has a soft spot for the rock band Foreigner because he himself was once a foreigner and will never forget his roots.

          Thinking more about the celebrity DJ’s in GTA games, I tend to think that Axel Rose’s appearance in San Andreas as host of The Dust has been the only worthwhile thing he’s done in the past 25 years.

          I do like that we now get celebrities appearing as themselves as DJ’s. I especially dig when Kenny Loggins refers to himself as “Captain Loggins”, a subtle joke abut his part in what’s been called “Yacht Rock”, i.e. easy listening pop-rock songs from the mid 70’s to mid 80’s. I like that Kenny Loggins is willing to go with the joke.


        • You’re right, that Fernando line was from the first Vice City, and him telling how he outran the speed boats, ha ha, he said he became an American the courageous way.
          I have to agree that Axl Rose being the DJ of The dust was the most significant creative thing he’s done since, what Use Your Illusion I & II? I thought he was so good on The Dust too, it seemed effortless to me too.


  3. On to other performers who aren’t Don Johnson, my favorite Helen Slater role is easily “The Legend of Billie Jean” (fair is fair there, and we will be invincible), but Lebeau mentioned “Ruthless People”, and I feel Judge Reinhold (The Judge!) and her make a comical, sweet, & awkward husband and wife team in that film. I also liked her in “The Secret of My Suce$$”.
    Like Lebeau, I never really found Tim Conway that funny, but I did like that guest spot he had on “The Simpsons”, when Homer & Marge were kind of spoofing a Sonny & Cher-like variety show.


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