December 19: Happy Birthday Jake Gyllenhaal and Ralph Richardson


Jake Gyllenhaal celebrates his 36th today.  In comparison with his older sister Maggie, he has had more of a mainstream film career, although it has been more focused on prestige pictures of various sorts than would-be blockbusters.  But as a Gyllenhaal, he of course has not neglected the world of indie films; one of his first major roles was in an indie cult classic:

Gyllenhaal was an Oscar nominee as Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain, an role that also brought him a BAFTA Award.  He has received major acting award nominations for his roles in Love and Other Drugs and Nightcrawler.  Besides Donnie Darko, a few of his other notable films have been October Sky, Proof, Jarhead, End of Watch, and Southpaw.

Sir Ralph Richardson (1902-1983) was one of the most famous of England’s “theatrical knights.”  His name is often combined in a triumvirate with those of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.  All three, of course, were great Shakespeareans, but whereas Olivier and Gielgud were known for their performances of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, Richardson was more comfortable in the comic and other character roles; his most famous Shakespeare role was Falstaff.

Richardson had a lengthy film career.  A few of his notable films include the classic 1939 version of The Four Feathers, Olivier’s 1955 adaptation of Richard III (as Buckingham), and Khartoum (as William Gladstone).  He was a two-time Oscar nominee, for Best Supporting Actor, as Dr. Austin Sloper in The Heiress (adapted from Henry James’ Washington Square), and as the Earl of Greystoke in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (the latter was a posthumous nomination as the film was released after his death).

Til Schweiger, who turns 53 today, has been involved in a number of award-winning German films as an actor, writer, director and producer.  He made his Hollywood debut in The Replacement Killers in 1997 and has appeared in several American films since, including King Arthur and Inglorious BasterdsKristy Swanson is 47 today.  Her film roles have included a famous cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“He’s sick”), playing the heroine in the 1994 action movie The Phantom, and most of all as the original Buffy Summers in the feature film Buffy the Vampire SlayerAlyssa Milano, who celebrates her 44th, first became known as a child actress, on ABC’s Who’s the Boss and as Ah-nult’s daughter in Commando.  As an adult, her signature role has been as Phoebe Hallowell on Charmed.

Jennifer Beals is turning 53 today.  She has done movies like Devil in a Blue Dress, and starred as Bette Porter on The L Word for its six season run on Showtime, but as this article notes, for many people she will always be “the girl from Flashdance.”  Filmmaker Gary Fleder, who turns 51, is primarily known as a director of thrillers of various sorts: Kiss the Girls, Don’t Say a Word, Runaway Jury, Homefront.  He also directed The Express, a biopic of short-lived Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis.  British producer Graham King, who is turning 55, has worked several times with Martin Scorsese, including sharing a producer’s credit on Best Picture winner The Departed.  King’s other credits, as either producer or executive producer, include Traffic, Ali, The Town, Argo and World War ZCriss Angel, who is 49 today, is one of the world’s leading magicians and illusionists.  In addition to stage shows all over the country, he has done a variety of television programs such as Criss Angel MindfreakTim Reid, who is celebrating his 72nd, was a mainstay of series television for over 20 years, with regular roles on series like WKRP in Cincinnati, Simon & Simon, and Sister, Sister.

Irish folksinger and songwriter Tommy Sands (not to be confused with the American pop singer of the same name) turns 71 today.  He has been performing and recording for over 40 years; his signature song, “There Were Roses,” is considered one of the finest ever written about the Irish Troubles and has been covered by Joan Baez, Kathy Mattea, Cara Dillon and many more.  Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner (1888-1963) moved to the US in the early 1920s.  He served as music director or principal conductor with several American orchestras, most notably with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  During his tenure in Chicago, the Symphony was often considered one of the finest in the world.  Of all the edgy, politically-active folk singers in the US in the 1960s, Phil Ochs (1940-1976) may well have been the edgiest and most political.  Although he was never a big commercial success, he was an enormously productive songwriter in the 1960s.  During the 1970s he struggled with writer’s block, alcoholism and what was eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder; sadly, he committed suicide in 1976.

In sports, Al Kaline, who turns 82, is a Baseball Hall of Famer.  In his 22-year career, all of it spent with the Detroit Tigers, he was selected to 18 All-Star Games and led Detroit to a World Series title in 1968.  Basketball Hall-of-Famer Kevin McHale, who turns 59, was a seven time NBA All-Star who starred for the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, playing on 3 NBA champions.  Arvydas Sabonis, who is 52 today, was the star center of the last gold medal winning basketball squad from the Soviet Union, at the 1988 Olympics, and later won two bronze medals with his native Lithuania.  He won the Euroscar as the outstanding European professional basketball player six times, and although physically past his peak when he finally reached the NBA in 1995 he played well enough to make the NBA All-Rookie team and help the Portland Trailblazers reach the playoffs.  Reggie White (1961-2004) was one of the greatest defensive linemen in NFL history, a 13-time Pro Bowler for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

Edith Piaf (1915-1963) was a French cabaret singer and actress.  Her signature song, “La Vie en rose,” has been a hit all over the world, and has been covered by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Grace Jones and Donna Summer.  Marion Cotillard won an Oscar playing Piaf in a 2007 biopic, also titled La Vie en roseRobert Urich (1946-2002) starred in the cult classic sci-fi film The Ice Pirates, but was best known for his television work.  After having a supporting role on S.W.A.T., Urich was cast as Dan Tanna on Vega$, and then went on to portray Robert B. Parker’s famous private eye on Spenser: For Hire.  Scottish actor Gordon Jackson (1923-1990) won an Emmy for playing Angus Hudson, the butler on Upstairs, Downstairs.  His best known film role was probably as Flight Lieutenant MacDonald in The Great Escape.

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 19, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. After a couple of jam-packed days, today is lighter.

    For a while there, it seemed like Hollywood was determined to make Jake Gyllenhaal a star but couldn’t seem to pull it off. I don’t know if Nightcrawler made Gyllenhaal a star, but it returned him to relevance. Kristy Swanson will have a WTHH article someday. Probably Jennifer Beals too.

    Alyssa Milano is currently shilling for Atkins. WTH?

    Watched Tim Reid in WKRP and also Frank’s Place (while it lasted) and It.


    • As the author of the articles I am grateful for these lighter days as I try to get several days ahead before leaving town for Christmas.

      Jake Gyllenhaal is not a big box-office draw, but he seems to be a star in the sense that you can plug him into a role in a prestige film and count on him to hold his end up.

      Alyssa Milano can at least take pride in the fact that Peter Quill’s spaceship is named for her. 🙂


      • I bet! Since I was catching up on comments from over the weekend, I didn’t mind a light day either. 😉

        Jake Gyllenhaal does have that prestige thing going for him. What I find interesting and sad is that his sister is just three years older and her opportunities seem to be drying up. But I bet Jake will continue to get great scripts for the foreseeable future even if box office hits are few and far between.

        I did not know that about Alyssa Milano. I remember when I heard the name of the space ship thinking it was named after a cookie. That’s where my mind goes.


  2. Jake Gyllenhaal, I like a lot of his stuff, mainly “Source Code” (somrthing about that film really clicks with me), “Brokeback Mountain”, and “Zodiac”. However, I’ve never been a fan of “Donnie Darko”, as I just couldn’t get into and gave up trying to.
    Kristy Swanson, well, I’ve always liked 1986’s “Deadly Friend” (with Anne Ramsey and a basketball; throw momma off the court!), as I thought it had heart (too bad about the studio interference), I thought her small part in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” was fun, she was the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I like films such as 1993’s “The Program” and 1994’s “The Chase” (driving and winning with Charlie Sheen), but after 1995’s “Higher learning”, I kind of forgot about her until I heard something about breaking up a marriage, then marrying the guy (such is life?).
    For a 4th grade class, two other kids and I were assigned to write to somebody famous, and we wrote to Alyssa Milano. She’s didn’t respond, but that’s okay.
    Jennifer Beals, I have always liked her, but man, since “Flashdance” I can say I really enjoyed two films she was in: 1994’s “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Cirle” and 1995’s “Devil in a blue Dress”. Glad she had success with “The L Word” though.
    Criss Angel, is he still a Mind Freak?
    Robert Urich, I thought that guy was the man; heck, I even liked those Bayer commercials he did back in the day. Gone too soon.


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