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December 27: Happy Birthday Gerard Depardieu and Marlene Dietrich

1227depardieudietrich

Gérard Depardieu turns 68 today.  He has been acting for nearly fifty years, and his extensive filmography includes over 200 film and television credits.  He has been nominated for a record 17 Cesar Awards for Best Actor, winning twice.  His first Cesar, in 1980, was for Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro, and kicked off what was probably his most successful period in French film.  In the mid-1980s he starred in Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette, and he capped the decade by winning his second Cesar, for the title role in Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, a performance that also brought Depardieu his one Oscar nomination.

Starting in 1990, Depardieu has worked steadily in American film as well.  He made his Hollywood debut in Peter Weir’s Green Card and won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.  He has played Christopher Columbus in Ridley Scott’s 1492, starred in a remake of his French film My Father the Hero, played Porthos in The Man With the Iron Mask, and more recently appeared in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) began acting in German and Austrian film and theater in the 1920s.  Her 1930 film The Blue Angel was co-produced by Paramount, and when it was successful they brought Dietrich to Hollywood to be their “answer” to MGM’s Greta Garbo.  Her first Hollywood film, Morocco, brought her an Oscar nomination (her only one), and she had major successes in Shanghai Express, The Song of Songs, and The Scarlet Empress.  She hit a dry patch in the mid-1930s, but revived her career when she starred opposite James Stewart in Destry Rides Again in 1939:

While Dietrich never quite recovered her early-1930s level of stardom, she continued making major movies through the early 1960s; notable ones included A Foreign Affair, Rancho Notorious, and Touch of Evil.  Beginning in the early 1950s, she also had a very successful career as a cabaret singer, giving concerts all over the world for over two decades.  The AFI named her the 9th greatest female star of Golden Age Hollywood.

Emilie de Ravin, who is 35 today, played Claire Littleton on Lost and appeared in Rian Johnson’s debut film, Brick; she is currently a regular on Once Upon a TimeElizabeth Rodriguez, who celebrates her 36th, was a regular in the first season of Fear the Walking Dead, and plays Aleida Diaz, who is now a regular character on Orange is the New Black after being a recurring role for seasons 1-3.  Olivia Cooke is developing a bit of a scream queen rep, with her regular role on A&E’s Bates Motel and major roles in horror films like The Quiet Ones and Ouija.  She turns 23 today.  Chloe Bridges, who is 25, was a regular on The Carrie Diaries and had a supporting role in The Final GirlsHayley Williams, lead singer of the rock band Paramore, turns 28; she won a Grammy for Best Rock Song for the Top Ten single “Ain’t It Fun.”

Former Bond Girl Maryam d’Abo turns 56 today; she was Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights.  We have a bit of content here about Bond Girls and about the d’Abo familyIan Gomez, who currently is seen in the recurring role of Snapper Carr on Supergirl, is 52 today.  He has had regular roles on shows like Felicity and Cougar TownSalman Khan, known as “the Tiger of Bollywood” and other nicknames, is 51 today.  The two-time Filmfare award winner is one of the most successful actors in Indian cinema.  Gaspar Noé, who is turning 53, is an Argentine-born director who lives and works in France.  He is known for a quartet of art-house films that have won a lot of film festival awards—Irréversible, which starred Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, may be the best known.  Sarah Vowell, who turns 47, is known for her decade-plus as a contributor to the public radio show This American Life, for her seven books on American cultural history, and for voicing Violet Parr in The Incredibles.  Actor and director Joe Mantello is 54 today.  He is a two-time Tony winner for directing the play Take Me Out and the musical Assassins.  Stage director Marianne Elliott turns 50.  She has won an Olivier Award and two Tony Awards for directing.

Tovah Feldshuh, who is 63 today, may be known these days as Deanna Monroe on The Walking Dead, but she has had a long and fairly distinguished career.  She received the first of four Tony nominations for playing the title character in the original Broadway production of Yentl, and she is also a two-time Emmy nominee, most recently for her recurring role of Danielle Melnick on Law & Order.

John Amos, best known for starring on the first two seasons of the 1970s sitcom Good Times and for his Emmy-nominated performance as the older Kunta Kinte in Roots, turns 77 today.  French actor Michel Piccoli, who turns 92, has worked in European cinema for around 60 years, and with almost every major French director during that period; he has made a few Hollywood films like Atlantic City and Hitchcock’s TopazLenny  Kaye, the longtime guitarist with the Patti Smith Group, turns 70 today.

Sydney Greenstreet (1879-1954) spent several decades acting in theater in American and Britain before compiling a memorable film record in the 1940s.  His film debut was as Kasper Gutman, the Fat Man, in The Maltese Falcon, where he played opposite Humphrey Bogart and Elisha Cook, Jr., among others.  The role brought Greenstreet a Best Supporting Actor nomination.  Greenstreet and another of his Maltese Falcon costars, Peter Lorre, made nine films together.  Musician and actor Arthur Levant (1906-1972) is best know for his long run on the radio quiz show Information Please, and for his supporting roles in musicals like An American in Paris and The Band Wagon.  The late Charmian Carr (1942-2016) had only two films to her credit; however, one of those roles was Liesl von Trapp, the eldest daughter in The Sound of Music, so she remained a little bit famous after leaving the entertainment business for a career as an interior designer.  These days, Cliff Arquette (1905-1974) is known for his famous acting descendants, but fans of 1950s radio and television, or of the first decade of Hollywood Squares, remember him as “Charley Weaver.”

Anna Russell (1911-2006) was an English singer, actor and comedian.  She had a “straight” theater and opera career, but her fame came from her comedy concerts where she would do routines like “How to Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera” and, most famously, her “commentary” on Richard Wagner’s Ring operas.

Yes, I know it’s a long video.  Set some time aside and watch it anyway. 🙂

Our final birthday today is Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), a French chemist, microbiologist and benefactor of mankind.  He is famous for his development of vaccines for rabies and anthrax, for his research that supported the germ theory of disease, and for his development of the method of pasteurization to kill bacteria in milk, wine and other beverages and prevent them from spoiling.

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 27, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Garald Depardieu, I liked him in “Green Card”, but I don’t know him from much else (on a somewhat related note, I just realized that I like Andie MacDowall, considering that I enjoy such films as “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”, “Groundhog Day”, and “Multiplicity”, and I think she brings something to the table in those films).
    John Amos, I liked him in projects that weren’t “Good Times” as well, such as the first Die Hard sequel , “Lock Up”, and his guest spots in “Two and a Half Men”.
    I remember that d’Abo smackdown article from this site awhile back; I kind of forgot about Maryam until then. I’d still prefer Olivia.

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  2. I enjoyed Gerard Depardieu in Green Card, but otherwise I’m more impressed with his French films. Jean de Florette is a very good human drama, and I have been a fan of Rostand’s Cyrano since we read it in AP English in high school. The film is a terrific adaptation.

    Except for Touch of Evil, I’m not sure if I’ve every seen any of Marlene Dietrich’s work, but there’s no doubt she was a big star of the early sound era.

    Maryam d’Abo played one of my favorite Bond Girls (as I’ve said here before), Kara Milovy, the sweet-natured blonde with some steel in her backbone.

    Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre were quite a team. They started out doing supporting parts, but a couple of times Warner Brothers gave them lead roles; The Mask of Dimitrios, adapted from Eric Ambler’s novel A Coffin for Dimitrios, was one of their times in the limelight.

    Anna Russell can always make me laugh.

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  3. I first saw Gérard Depardieu in Green Card. His coming to Hollywood was a pretty big deal at the time. The movie was okay, but I really couldn’t see this big, not traditionally handsome middle-aged French guy catching on in the US. In retrospect, that was a pretty easy call to make.

    Marlene Dietrich was part of Hollywood’s Golden Age. We’ll never have stars like that again.

    I have seen Emilie de Ravin on Lost and Once Upon a Time although I left the latter not long after she showed up. I knew Elizabeth Rodriguez from Orange is the New Black which clued me in that she probably wouldn’t last too long on Fear the Walking Dead.

    Regular readers know I love the d’Abo cousins. Forced to pick a favorite, I will go with Olivia, but you really can’t go wrong. Maryam was a terrific Bond girl.

    The Walking Dead has a history of casting these really talented actors most people have never heard of and then killing them off. Tovah Feldshuh was one of those.

    Sydney Greenstreet continues a trend of Casablanca-related birthdays.

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  4. Credit has to go to Terrence here, but I do try to spread the word as best as possible.

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