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December 26: Happy Birthday Kit Harington and Steve Allen

1226haringtonallen

Kit Harington, who turns 30 today, began acting while in school.  He made his West End debut while still in college, and still maintains his stage career.  He recently starred in the title role in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (interestingly, he was named after Christopher Marlowe).  His feature film debut was in the horror sequel Silent Hill: Revelation.  He starred in the historical disaster film Pompeii, and has been cast in the title role in the upcoming film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, with a supporting cast including Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates.

But the role he’s known for is, of course, Jon Snow in HBO’s Game of Thrones.  Harington was nominated for an Emmy for the show’s sixth season, a season that was simply packed with revelations about Jon (warning for those who are behind in watching the series—there may be teensy spoilers in the upcoming video).

Steve Allen (1921-2000) was a multi-talented individual, who had two areas of major accomplishment.  He was a pioneer of television talk shows, first as the initial host of the Tonight Show, then as the host of his own program, The Steve Allen Show.  Allen was also an extremely prolific composer.  “The Gravy Waltz,” for which he wrote the lyrics, won a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition, while he also wrote both the lyrics and music for this very often recorded standard:

Caroll Spinney is celebrating his 83rd today.  The puppeteer and voice actor is known for his two famous Sesame Street characters, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch; he has been performing both since 1969.  Spinney has won several Daytime Emmy awards for his work on Sesame Street and a pair of Grammys for associated recordings.

Jared Leto turns 45 today.  He has been working in film for over 20 years, while also pursuing a music career as lead vocalist with Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band he formed along with his brother Shannon.  He won an Oscar and several other Best Supporting Actor awards for Dallas Buyers Club, played the Joker in Suicide Squad, and is in the cast of next year’s Blade Runner 2049.

Joshua John Miller, who turns 42, is known for co-writing the screenplay for The Final Girls and as the co-creator of Queen of the South; he collaborated on both with his partner M. A. Fortin.  Eden Sher, who plays Sue Heck on ABC’s The Middle, turns 25 today.  Beth Behrs, who celebrates her 31st, stars as one of CBS’s Two Broke Girls.  English indie writer and director Shane Meadows, who celebrates his 44th, is best known for the This is England feature film and subsequent miniseries.

Lars Ulrich, who is 53 today, is the drummer and a co-founder of the heavy metal band Metallica; when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ulrich became the first Danish inductee.  Byron Howard, who turns 48, has been working for Walt Disney Animation Studios for over 20 years.  His credits include co-directing Bolt, Tangled, and Zootopia.  TV producer and writer Bill Lawrence, who is also turning 48, is the creator or co-creator of Spin City, Scrubs, and Cougar TownJohn Walsh, who is 71 today, was known to TV audiences for over thirty years as the creator and host of America’s Most WantedMichael Nankin, who is turning 61, has worked as a writer, director and producer on a variety of TV shows, including Life Goes On, Chicago Hope, the Battlestar Galactica revival, and currently on Van Helsing.

Temuera Morrison, who turns 56, won critical acclaim for his performance in the New Zealand film Once Were Warriors, but is much more likely to be recognized for his appearances in the Star Wars prequels, as Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones and Commander Cody in Revenge of the Sith.  Likewise, actress and model Tahnee Welch, who turns 55, is most likely to be remembered for her performances as Kitty in the Cocoon films (and for being Raquel Welch’s daughter).

Songwriter and record producer Phil Spector is 77 today.  He produced albums for girl groups like The Ronettes and The Crystals, for Ike and Tina Turner, and later for John Lennon and George Harrison.  He wrote or co-wrote a wide variety of hits.  And he is spending this birthday in prison, having been convicted in 2009 of second degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Two baseball Hall of Famers are celebrating today.  Carlton Fisk turns 69.  He spent his career with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox and was one of the best catchers of his time.  He was never as good as Johnny Bench at his peak, or Gary Carter at his, but he had a longer career than either.  He still holds career records for most hits and runs scored by a catcher.  Red Sox fans will always remember his home run to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  Ozzie Smith, who turns 62, is often considered the greatest defensive shortstop in the game’s history.  “The Wizard of Oz” won 13 Golden Gloves for his defensive prowess and led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1982 World Series victory and National League pennants in 1985 and 1987.

Richard Widmark (1914-2008) made his film debut with a bank, receiving an Oscar nomination as the psyshopathic Tommy Udo in the noir classic Kiss of Death.  While his ability to play villains was never in doubt, Widmark also established himself quickly as able to play morally ambiguous protagonists, both in film noir (Jules Dassin’s Night and the City, Sam Fuller’s Pickup on South Street) and in Westerns (The Last Wagon, Warlock).  He later starred in the late 1960s crime film Madigan and in a TV series adaptation thereof.  Like Widmark, Elisha Cook, Jr. (1903-1995), was a mainstay of westerns and especially of film noir.  His most memorable roles include the gunsel Wilmer in The Maltese Falcon, “harmless little guy” Harry Jones in The Big Sleep, and ex-Confederate soldier “Stonewall” Torrey in Shane, who is famously gunned down by Jack Palance.   English actor Denis Quilley (1927-2003) was a stage mainstay, a member of Olivier’s National Theatre company for several years and later of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  He also starred, as the title character, in the original West End production of Sweeney Todd.  One of Quilley’s notable film roles had him appear with Richard Widmark in the all-star cast of Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

A few important historical figures were born today.  Mao Zedong (1893-1976), leader of the Chinese Communist Revolution, probably could compete with Joseph Stalin in terms of how much human misery he caused.  Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was an English mathematician, engineer and inventor.  He is considered to be one of the pioneers in the development of computers, for both conceiving of the idea of a machine that could execute programs, and for designing a workable model of what was called a “difference engine” that was a first step towards the creation of computers.

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.

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Posted on December 26, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Obviously, I know Kit Harington from Game of Thrones. Any time I see him in one of those car commercials he does, I think “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” I was always kind of aware of Steve Allen’s place in TV history without having actually seen him as much other than a guest on other people’s shows. Caroll Spinney influenced my an many other childhoods. Happy birthday, Big Bird!

    I will admit that I had written off Jared Leto prior to The Dallas Buyer’s Club. Still not a fan of his Joker though. I have watched a good amount of Bill Lawrence’s TV shows. A lot of Scrubs and some Cougar Town. I was on the set of America’s Most Wanted and got to hear everyone who worked on the show complain about what a diva John Walsh was.

    I’m just going to walk past the wreckage that is Phil Spector. Happy birthday, I guess.

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  2. I’ve never seen much of Steve Allen (a little less than I’ve seen of Jack Benny), but I know of his legend.
    Caroll Spinney was a Trivia Today question, and I got it right, although it was just a guess. Still, I learned something neat about two characters from a show that I watched as a kid.
    Jared Leto, I remember him from “My So-Called Life” back in the day, and I loved him in “Dallas Buyer’s Club”. I also remember the 2002 film “Highway”, when this woman who he was having relations with wanted him to play “Jack and Jilly went up the hilly”, and he was reluctant to play (that’s funny to me).
    I didn’t know that John Walsh was a diva (I find that very believable), but I watched “America’s Most Wanted” very regularly in it’s beginning years, then basically never really watched it after that (I’m more of an “Unsolved Mysteries” guy anyways).

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  3. No really big names today, but several interesting ones. Jon Snow has been a great role for Kit Harington; hopefully, his future will be bright.

    Richard Widmark and Elisha Cook, Jr., are names known to any fans of film noir and/or Westerns; they left their marks on both genres. Widmark had the more distinguished career; he had a number of very good roles in his first decade-plus in film. And it was interesting to me to have two of the cast from what is probably the best big-screen adaptation of Agatha Christie turn up in the same birthday article.

    I was going to college in the St. Louis area around the time when Ozzie Smith was traded to the Cardinals, so I got to see some of his glory years at pretty close range. One of the greats of the game.

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    • Yeah, Ozzie Smith, The Wizard, a slick fielder who’s offense got better as he got older. He also could pull off a great backflip. I didn’t see him play in his absolute prime, but when he still played at a high level.

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