December 24: Happy Birthday Ricky Martin and Ava Gardner
Ricky Martin celebrates his 45th today. He became a member of the Puerto Rican boy band Menudo at the age of 12, and spend five years with them before striking out on his own. His first solo album, a Spanish-language one titled Ricky Martin, came out in 1991. Three more followed in the rest of the decade, each one increasingly successful. His fourth album, Vuelve, was Martin’s first significant crossover success, reaching #4o on the Billboard 200, and won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance.
Martin then made his first English-language album, again titled Ricky Martin. It was released in 1999 and reached #1 on the Billboard 200. The single “Livin’ la Vida Loca” became Martin’s biggest hit and sole #1 single:
While Martin has never again reached the level of success he had in 1999-2000 he has remained a popular performer. His second English language album, Sound Loaded, produced a pair of top 20 singles, including “Nobody Wants to be Lonely,” a duet with Christina Aguilera. His most recent album, A Quien Quiera Escuchar, won him his second Grammy, for Best Latin Pop Album.
Ava Gardner (1922-1990) got her start in movies when her brother-in-law, a New York City photographer, posted a picture of Gardner in the front window of his studio. Someone brought her to MGM’s attention, they signed her to a contract and began to put her through their star-making system. In 1946, after she had done a number of small parts, MGM loaned her out to producer Mark Hellinger, who was adapting Ernest Hemingway’s story The Killers into film:
Gardner remained a major star until at least the mid-1960s. She was nominated for an Oscar, for Mogambo, and a Golden Globe, for The Night of the Iguana (adapted from the play by Tennessee Williams). A few of her other notable films included One Touch of Venus, the 1951 version of Show Boat, The Barefoot Contessa, Bhowani Junction, On the Beach, and Seven Days in May.
Louis Tomlinson, who turns 25, is a member of the British boy band One Direction, who have had four #1 albums on the Billboard 200 and five top 10 singles. Ryan Seacrest, who is 42 today, is the longtime host of American Idol and of the syndicated radio show American Top 40. Diedrich Bader, who co-starred as Oswald Lee Harvey on The Drew Carey Show for nine seasons, turns 50 today. Australian actor Matt Passmore, who is turning 43, worked for several years on Australian television series like The Cooks and McLeod’s Daughters, before moving to the US and starring on A&E’s The Glades and the USA Network’s Satisfaction. Two stars of the Fox series Prison Break share today as a birthday: Amaury Nolasco, who played Fernando Sucre, turns 46, while Wade Williams, who played Brad Bellick, is celebrating his 55th.
Nicholas Meyer, who celebrates his 71st, was an Oscar nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which he adapted from his own novel of the same title. However, le Blog readers will most likely know him for his involvement in the Star Trek film franchise, as the director of Star Trek II and VI and the writer of Star Trek IV. Producer and director Lee Daniels turns 57. He is the producer of Monster’s Ball, produced and directed the 2009 Best Picture nominee Precious, and is the co-creator of two series on Fox, Empire and Star. Barry Elliott, who turns 72, was the co-creator, along with his younger brother Paul, of the long-running BBC comedy show ChuckleVision.
While no great literary names were born today, a variety of successful popular authors were. Stephenie Meyer, creator of sparkly vampires, turns 43 today. I imagine most of our readers here already know how you feel about the Twilight books. Mary Higgins Clark, who celebrates her 89th, has written over 50 novels, most of them suspense novels of some sort, which have sold somewhere around 100 million copies worldwide. Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) was an author of fantasy and science fiction; like Michael Moorcock, he was one of the earliest successful authors of sword-and-sorcery fantasy, known for creating the heroic duo known as Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Comic book writer Mark Millar, who turns 47, wrote for Marvel for many years—he is the author of the Civil War storyline, among others—and then started creating his own comics. Kick-Ass and The Secret Service (aka Kingsman: The Secret Service) may be the best known of his work owing to their successful film adaptations.
Michael Curtiz (1888-1962) was a great example of the kind of director who flourished in the old studio system. He was not a great writer-director like a Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges—indeed, given his notorious grammar-mangling, it’s hard to even imagine him as one. Nor was he the kind of director who could double as his own producer, the way that Howard Hawks or Alfred Hitchcock often did. But given a good producer, such as Hal Wallis, to backstop him (and to keep an eye on the budget), and a good script to work with, and he could produce outstanding results. He left behind a substantial body of work that still holds up very well today—many of his films with Errol Flynn such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk, Angels With Dirty Faces, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce, and above all Casablanca.
The complex life of Howard Hughes (1905-1976) cannot be adequately summarized here, but one facet of his life was his involvement in the film industry, first as an independent producer, later as the owner and head of RKO. Robert Joffrey (1930-1988) was a dancer, choreographer and teacher of dance who co-founded the Joffrey Ballet, one of the top ballet companies in the US. Ruth Chatterton (1892-1961) was a star of the early sound era who was nominated twice for Best Actress; she was also one of the pioneer women aviators of the 1920s and ’30s who made several solo flights across the US. Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) was the world champion of chess from 1894-1921 and is considered one of the greatest players ever; he was also a talented mathematician who made some original contributions to math theory. Caroline Aherne (1963-2016) won multiple BAFTA Television Awards for her mock-talk show Mrs. Merton and the BBC sitcom The Royle Family. Lee Dorsey (1924-1986) was an R&B singer, popular in the 1960s for his hits “Ya Ya” and “Working in the Coal Mine.” Composer Franz Waxman (1906-1967) was a 12-time Oscar nominee, winning Best Original Score twice in a row, for Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun. He also scored a number of Hitchcock’s films, including Rebecca, Suspicion and Rear Window.
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 24, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Ava Gardner, Franz Waxman, Howard Hughes, Lee Daniels, Louis Tomlinson, Michael Curtiz, Nicholas Meyer, Ricky Martin, Robert Joffrey, Ruth Chatterton. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.