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 40Diedrich 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 StarBarry 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 FamilyLee 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 , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” took pop culture by storm for awhile; talk about the crazy life.
    Ava Gardner kind of put down her acting abilities, but from what I’ve seen of her I thought she held up, and there was an honesty about her performances. She was pretty sultry too.
    My favorite film directed by Nicholas Meyer is “Time After Time”; I just love it.
    I didn’t know Lee Daniels was the producer for “Monster’s Ball’; wow, he’s been doing work for awhile then. Nowadays his name is placed in front to promote upcoming projects, but it looks like he’s always had the touch.
    Mary Higgins Clark, ha ha, I’ve viewed some of those TV movies with her name in the title; some have starred Patsy Kensit, others have starred Sean Young.
    Diedrich Bader, I like him well enough as an improv guy, but I don’t care for those Time Warner Cable Cable commercials (especially since they’re reall Spectrum Cable now, but they call themselves whatever they feel like. Real okie dokes, and I feel their products have been on the shoddy side for the better part of this decade. Sorry for the ramble).
    Howard Hughes, I think he’s a fascinating man to this day.


  2. Why you never hear from Ricky Martin anymore

    Way back in 1999, it seemed like you couldn’t go to any club, restaurant, or store without hearing Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” in the background. Nowadays, you rarely hear from Martin at all. Why is that?


  3. I have never been a Ricky Martin fan per se, but I do appreciate Livin’ la Vida Loca. I remembered from the Movieline interview we had with Ava Gardner that there were some fans of hers on the site.

    I tolerate Ryan Seacrest just barely. Diedrich Bader does a lot of voice work. He played Batman on the extremely fun Brave and the Bold cartoon. Nicholas Meyer may not have single-handedly saved the Star Trek movie series, but he sure did have a big hand in it. Star Trek II probably would have been a disaster if he hadn’t come in and cobbled together the screenplay. I have enjoyed some of his non-Trek work as well including Time After Time.

    I enjoyed Lee Daniels’ The Butler. He seems to be on a roll these days. Ugh, Stephenie Meyer. I remind myself that not everything is meant for everybody. My wife loves the Twilight books and movies, so I should just let her and millions of other fans enjoy them. But sparkling vampires are just wrong. I used to like Mark Millar back before he became popular. Early on, he was working with Grant Morrison and his writing was in a similar vein. But then he discovered that if he pushed the envelope of violence and good taste, he could eclipse his mentor in sales and his books have gotten progressively worse to the point of being utter trash.

    Michael Curtiz directed one of my favorite movies of all times. In high school, I had Casablanca posters hanging in my room instead of… whatever other kids had. Definitely agree that Howard Hughes defies a sound bite. Crazy, complex figure in history and pop culture.


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