December 29: Happy Birthday Jon Voight and Mary Tyler Moore
Our headliners today were both big names in the 1970s.
Jon Voight is turning 78 today. He began acting in the 1960s; one of his early roles was taking over the part of Rolf in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music. During that show he met his first wife, Lauri Peters, who was the original Liesl on Broadway.
Voight had several TV guest roles in the 1960s and made his film debut late in the decade. He first drew notice playing Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy in 1969; the film won Best Picture (the only X-rated film ever to do so), and Voight received a Best Actor nomination. During the 1970s, he starred in films like Catch-22, Deliverance and The Champ. His most important role, though, was as paraplegic Vietnam vet Luke Martin, starring opposite Jane Fonda:
Voight won Best Actor for Coming Home. He has subsequently been Oscar-nominated as the lead in Runaway Train, and for playing Howard Cosell (remember him?) in Ali. He received a Golden Globe nomination for The Rainmaker and appeared in films such as Heat, Enemy of the State and Varsity Blues. He recently won a Golden Globe as Mickey Donovan on Ray Donovan and can currently be seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Six-time Emmy winner Mary Tyler Moore turns 80 today. Five of those six Emmys were for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Two of them were for her role of Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, where she played the wife of television writer Rob Petrie (Van Dyke). The other three were for the role of Mary Richards, a single television news producer and the lead character of another show named after its star:
Since the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s run, Moore has made some efforts to get back into series television, none of them successful. She has made a number of TV movies, winning her sixth Emmy for 1993’s Stolen Babies. Her best known feature film role was her Oscar-nominated performance as Beth Jarrett in Ordinary People. She made her Broadway debut in a 1980 revival of Brian Clark’s Whose Life is it Anyway?, for which she received a special Tony Award. She later won a second Tony as a producer for the 1985 revival of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
Another major TV actor, Ted Danson, turns 69 today. While he has had starring roles on Becker and CSI, Danson will be best remembered for his Emmy-winning role of Sam Malone on Cheers. Gelsey Kirkland, who turns 64, is known for her distinguished career in ballet (which landed her on the cover of Time in 1978), and for her tell-all memoir Dancing on My Grave. Patricia Clarkson, who celebrates her 57th, is a two-time Emmy winner for her role on Six Feet Under and was an Oscar nominee for Pieces of April. German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, who is 59 today, is best known in the US for the Oscar-nominated film Die Untergang, or Downfall, about the final days of Adolf Hitler.
Jude Law, who turns 44 today, is a two-time Oscar nominee, for Best Supporting Actor for The Talented Mr. Ripley, and for Best Actor for Cold Mountain. He has also had a fine stage career, with two Tony and three Olivier Award nominations. At one point he seemed on the brink of becoming an A-list leading man; instead, he became a WTHH subject.
Lilly Wachowski (formerly Andy), who turns 49 today, is one half of the sibling creative team The Wachowskis. They remain best known for the Matrix trilogy; their recent activity has included the Netflix series Sense8, which has been well-received, and the film Jupiter Ascending, which was not. Jennifer Ehle, who is turning 47, is a two-time Tony winner for roles in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and The Coast of Utopia. She has had major supporting roles in films like Contagion and Zero Dark Thirty. Mekhi Phifer is 42 today. He made his film debut starring in Spike Lee’s Clockers and was a regular on ER for several seasons. Shawn Hatosy, who turns 41, currently stars on Animal Kingdom as Pope Cody; he is also known as a star of Southland and films like The Faculty and Outside Providence. Also a regular on Southland was Michael Cudlitz, more recently seen as Abraham Ford on The Walking Dead. He is turning 52. Danny McBride, the co-creator and star of the HBO series Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, is 40 today.
Diego Luna, who turns 37, currently stars in Rogue One. A major star in his native Mexico in films like Y Tu Mamá También, he has also had major roles in American films like Open Range, The Terminal and Elysium. Katherine Moennig, who is 39, is known for playing Shane McCutcheon on The L Word and Lena Barnum on Ray Donovan. Alison Brie, who is 34 today, starred as Annie Edison on Community. Iain De Caestecker, who plays Leo Fitz on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., turns 29 today. Jane Levy, who is 27, starred in the horror films Evil Dead (the 2013 reboot) and Don’t Breathe, and on ABC’s Suburgatory. Dylan Minnette, Levy’s costar in Don’t Breathe, is 20 today. Tori Anderson, who stars on the CW’s No Tomorrow, celebrates her 28th.
Dina Merrill, who is 93 today, was known for her roles in 1950s and 60s films like Operation Petticoat, Butterfield 8, and I’ll Take Sweden. She was also a guest-star on Batman as Calamity Jan. Inga Swenson, who is turning 84, was a two-time Tony nominee for the musicals 110 in the Shade and Baker Street, and was known for a memorable guest role on Bonanza, as Inger, the mother of Ben Cartwright’s second son Hoss.
Today’s music birthdays include Marianne Faithfull, who turns 70. The English rock and folk singer was known for hits like “As Tears Go By” and “Come and Stay With Me.” Yvonne Elliman, who is 65 today, first became known for her role in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar; her recording of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” was a successful single. She later had a #1 hit with “If I Can’t Have You,” part of the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever. Flutist and composer Ray Thomas, who is turning 75, was a member ofthe art rock band the Moody Blues for nearly 40 years. Singer-songwriter Rick Danko (1943-1999) was best known for being the bass player and one of the lead singers for The Band. Pablo Casals (1876-1973) was probably the world’s most eminent cellist in the first half of the 20th century
Sports birthdays include football Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke (1936-1998), who anchored the Green Bay Packers’ defense at linebacker as they won five NFL titles in the 1960s and the first two Super Bowls. Laffit Pincay, Jr., who turns 70, had more wins than any other jockey in horse-racing history when he retired (he is still #2 in all-time wins). Sean Payton, who is 53 today, has been head coach of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints for the past decade, taking the Saints to their first appearance and victory in the Super Bowl. The glow of that victory was tarnished when Payton was linked to a “bounty” scandal involving several Saints players and coaches.
The late Jon Polito (1950-2016) will be remembered for his many appearances in the Coen Brothers’ films, including Miller’s Crossing and Barton Fink, and for his portrayal of Det. Steve Crosetti on the first two seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street. Director George Marshall (1891-1975) worked in Hollywood for over fifty years; his filmography includes Destry Rides Again with Marlene Dietrich. Ed Flanders (1934-1995) was a four-time Emmy nominee for St. Elsewhere, winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama in 1983, and also won a Tony for a 1974 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten. Jo Van Fleet (1915-1996) won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for the film adaptation of East of Eden (the film where James Dean had his first major role), and a Tony for appearing in the original Broadway production of Horton Foote’s A Trip to Bountiful. Rajesh Khanna (1942-2012) was known as the “original superstar” of Indian film. He was a three-time winner of the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
Two women who had a significant impact on 18th century history were born December 29. Elizabeth of Russia (1709-1762) became Empress in a coup in 1741 and ruled until her death over 20 years later. Under her rule Russia became a major player in European great power politics; she was especially known for her hostility to Frederick the Great of Prussia. Jeanne Poisson (1721-1764), known as Madame de Pompadour, was the longtime mistress of Louis XV of France. She had a great deal of informal influence at Louis’s court and was a patron of the arts and of men of letters like the philosophers Voltaire and Diderot.
Other significant historical figures born today include William E. Gladstone (1809-1898), four-time Prime Minister of Great Britain and one of the most important British political leaders of the 19th Century. A number of actors, including Ralph Richardson, have played him on film. Billy Mitchell (1879-1936) was an American general during World War One, known for his efforts to create an independent Air Force and the many fights he picked with the Army hierarchy on this issue. Gary Cooper played him in a 1955 film.
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 29, 2016, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Dina Merrill, Ed Flanders, Jennifer Ehle, Jo Van Fleet, Jon Polito, Jon Voight, jude law, Lilly Wachowski, Mary Tyler Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Ted Danson. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.