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January 5: Happy Birthday Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton

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Our two headliners today appeared together in one of the greatest movies of all time, and fortunately had a few scenes where they were onscreen together.

Robert Duvall, a seven-time Oscar nominee, is turning 86 today.  He began acting in a summer theater on Long Island in the 1950s, and was very busy in the next decade plus with theater and television roles.  He had his first notable film role as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962, but it wasn’t until the end of the sixties that he began to get good film roles regularly—Ned Pepper in True Grit, Frank Burns in MASH, the title character in George Lucas’s THX 1138.

Duvall’s breakthrough as an actor came in 1972.  Francis Ford Coppola, the producer of THX 1138, cast Duvall in a central role in a film he was adapting from a best-selling novel about the Mafia:

Duvall was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Tom Hagen in The Godfather, and reprised the role in The Godfather II.  Since then he has remained a major actor for over 40 years, although he was never a conventional leading man type; even when he had leading roles they were almost always in character-oriented dramas.  He had what could be considered his career peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  He received two Oscar nominations for 1979 films, for The Great Santini (Best Actor) and for Apocalypse Now (Best Supporting Actor).  He then starred opposite Robert De Niro in Ulu Grosbard’s True Confessions, and in 1983 starred as Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies, the role that brought him the Oscar for Best Actor.

A few highlights of the last couple of decades for Duvall would include late nineties Oscar nominations for The Apostle and A Civil Action, playing Gen. Robert E. Lee in Gods and Generals, starring in Kevin Costner’s Open Range, and receiving his seventh Oscar nomination for the 2014 film The Judge.

Argentine actress Luciana Pedraza, who turns 45, has been married to Duvall for over a decade.  They have appeared together in the movies Assassination Tango and Wild Horses.

Diane Keaton celebrates her 71st today.  She dropped out of college in the mid-sixties to move to Manhattan and pursue an acting career.  She made her Broadway debut in the musical Hair and then starred in a play by Woody Allen titled Play It Again, Sam.  By the time she reprised her stage role in the film of the play, she had already become known to movie audiences as Kay Adams-Corleone in The Godfather.  She spent much of the rest of the seventies as Woody Allen’s “muse,” starring in five of his films, most notably the one which brought her an Oscar for Best Actress, and even made her a fashion icon:

At the same time as she was starring in Annie Hall and other classic comedies from Allen, Keaton was proving herself as a dramatic actress in films like Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Reds (for which she was Oscar-nominated).  She received her third and fourth Oscar nominations for Marvin’s Room and Something’s Gotta Give.  A few of her other notable films have included Shoot the Moon, Crimes of the Heart, the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride, and The Family Stone.  She currently stars in The Young Pope on HBO.

Bradley Cooper, who is turning 42, has emerged as a top leading man in the last decade.  He first became known for his role on Alias, and after several years in supporting film roles had a breakthrough role starring in The Hangover.  He has been nominated for acting Oscars for Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper, and has rejoined his Silver Linings co-star Jennifer Lawrence in Serena and Joy.  But he’s not all about the prestige pictures—he’s also played Templeton “Faceman” Peck in The A-Team and been the voice of Rocket in Guardians of the GalaxyShea Whigham, who celebrates his 48th, co-starred in Silver Linings Playbook as the brother of Cooper’s character, and is known for his regular TV roles on Boardwalk Empire and Vice Principals.

Chinese actor Jiang Wen, who is 54 today, starred opposite Gong Li in Red Sorghum and won a Hong Kong Film Award for The Soong Sisters; he is currently seen as Baze Malbus in Rogue One.  Fans of Stargate: Atlantis will remember Joe Flanigan, who played John Sheppard; he turns 50 today.  Vinnie Jones, who celebrates his 52nd, was the captain of the Welsh national football team for several years, and became known as an actor through his appearances in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and SnatchJanuary Jones, no relation to Vinnie, received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for starring as Betty Draper on Mad Men, and now stars on Fox’s The Last Man on Earth; her film roles include Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class.  Jones turns 39 today.  Indian actress Deepika Padukone, who turns 31, has won two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress in the last five years and will make her Hollywood debut in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, which will be released later this month.  Franz Drameh, who is 24 today, co-starred in Attack the Block and currently plays Jefferson “Jax” Jackson on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

Pamela Sue Martin, who played Nancy Drew on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and Fallon Carrington Colby on Dynasty, is turning 64.  Clancy Brown, who turns 58 today, played the Kurgan in Highlander and Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, and has had an extensive career as a voice actor.  Suzy Amis (now known as Suzy Amis Cameron), who turns 55, had some major film roles in the 1980s and ’90s—Rocket Gibralter, The Ballad of Little Jo, The Usual Suspects, a small part in Titanic—before retiring from acting in 1999.  She met James Cameron during the filming of Titanic and they were married in 2000.  Director Ron Maxwell, who is turning 68, is known for his Civil War era films, including Gods and Generals (in which he directed Robert Duvall) and GettysburgRoger Spottiswoode, known for directing Turner & Hooch, Shoot to Kill, and the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, turns 72 today.

Anime and manga fans know the name of Hayao Miyazaki, who celebrates his 76th today.  He is known for a string of highly-acclaimed anime feature films.  His 2001 film Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and two of his other features, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Wind Rises, were Oscar nominees.  His other notable films include Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke.

For the second straight day it’s the birth date of one of the NFL’s most successful coaches.  Chuck Noll (1932-2014) was hired in 1969 as head coach of one of the league’s perennial also-rans, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Within four years he had them in the playoffs and in his sixth year, he coached them to the first of four Super Bowl victories in a six-season span.  Recently retired NFL running back Warrick Dunn, who is turning 42, was a three-time Pro Bowler who rushed for nearly 11,000 yards in his career.

Marilyn Manson (given name Brian Warner), the controversial lead singer of the industrial rock band of the same name, turns 47.  The band has had seven Top Ten albums and received four Grammy nominations in the Hard Rock and Metal categories.  Classical pianist Alfred Brendel is celebrating his 86th.  During his performing and recording career of about sixty years, Brendel was known as a leading interpreter of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert.  Country-folk singer-songwriter Iris DeMent turns 56 today.  She has recorded six albums, receiving a Grammy nomination for her second album, and was heard on the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers’ True Grit singing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

Jane Wyman (1917-2007) worked in film and television for over sixty years.  She was a four-time nominee for the Oscar for Best Actress, winning for 1948’s Johnny Belinda, and starred on CBS’s prime time soap opera Falcon Crest as family matriarch Angela Channing, winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama.  George Reeves (1914-1959) had a film career that included a small part in Gone With the Wind, but is best known for playing Superman on the 1950s television series.  Ben Affleck played Reeves in Hollywoodland, an 2006 film about Reeves life and the mysterious circumstances of his 1959 death from a gunshot wound.

Umberto Eco (1932-2016) had a long academic career as a philosopher and semiotician, but was best known for his complex, highly intellectual novels, such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum.

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 January 5, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Two headliners – one picture! Yay!

    I can’t remember. Does anyone here like Robert Duvall? As a kid, I remember the Oscar hoopla over Tender Mercies. That’s probably when I first became aware of him. Too many good performances to pick a favorite.

    With Diane Keaton, of course I think of Annie Hall. The character is so clearly based on the actress who portrayed her. And it’s just such an iconic role. I have always enjoyed Keaton including her performances in several other Woody Allen movies (Love and Death is a favorite), but Annie Hall stands out.

    I remember watching Bradley Cooper on Alias and I have to admit his character kind of outlived his usefulness on the show. He was always on the edges of the story as one of the guys who wasn’t in on all the intrigue. Eventually, he got brought into that world, but it never really clicked. I was glad when his character was sent away – but that had nothing to do with Cooper himself. I also watched and enjoyed Kitchen Confidential while it lasted. A few years after its quick cancellation, The Hangover made Cooper a star.

    I know January Jones isn’t the most dynamic actress. She gets a lot of criticism for being just another pretty face. But whatever her limitations are, the were turned into strengths on Mad Men where her character had hidden depths – but even those were kind of shallow. I enjoy seeing Jones’ comedic side on Last Man on Earth which is a terrific show.

    I did not know Franz Drameh by name, but he plays one half of Firestorm on the CW shows. The other half is portrayed by Victor Garber who costarred with Bradley Cooper on Alias.

    I wasn’t aware Pamela Sue Martin was Nancy Drew back in the day. I did watch that show and the Hardy Boys as a kid. Clancy Brown is a great character actor. He also does a lot of voice work. He plays Mr. Krabs on Spongebob and has provided the voice for Lex Luthor on several animated shows. Suzy Amis I know mostly from her relationship with James Cameron.

    George Reeves was a staple as Superman when we were growing up. We only had one TV back then and of course there was no streaming or recording shows. I remember my brother and sister fighting over whether to watch Superman or Sesame Street when they were both on at the same time. My sister always got her way, but he liked Superman enough to continue pressing the issue.

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    • I think there might be somebody…

      George Reeves really did leave an impression on my childhood brain. Enough so that when I found out what his last days were like when I was in my twenties it genuinely shocked me.

      Shea Wigham’s character arc in season 4 of Boardwalk Empire is seriously unnerving.

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      • I’d never heard of Shea Wigham before I started Boardwalk Empire, but he ended up being one of absolute favorite actors on the entire show. He always did an excellent job.

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    • I have a hard time picking a favorite Duvall role, too, but I think for me it’s Gus in Lonesome Dove.

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  2. Ben affleck has so much in common with geroge reeves. Both where heartthrobs wanting to be taken seriously as actors. Both where embarrassed by playing superhero. Both had drinking problems both wanted to direct lastly both had career troubles. only difference is affleck was much more succesfull. He had the career george wanted. I think reason for that was switching from tv to movies was harder back then plus tv was seen as a low point for actors. With merging popularity of netflix and superhero flicks had reeves been born another era he woul been successful now.

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  3. I think that’s always great when the two headliners are in one single photo; I guess this one was relatively easy to dig up. But yeah, so many great performances from Duvall to pick a favorite so I’ll just say I’m glad he was in The first two “The Godfather” films (he did voice work for the two Godfather video games as well), “Network”, and “Falling Down”. My favorite Diane Keaton film is “Looking For Mr. Goodbar”; it isn’t for everybody and it’s not a critical favorite, but I thought it was a good examination of an individual breaking out of her shell, albeit in a destructive way.
    I’m glad Bradley Cooper didn’t just get typecast as a beefcake and has a really good career so far; I viewed Sean Penn’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and Cooper was one of the students who asked Penn a question, which I still think is neat.
    Vinnie Jones, I’ve liked him in some roles, particularly “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” and 2006’s “Johnny Was”. I didn’t know he was a former soccer player though, but now I see it makes sense.
    January Jones (no relation to Vinnie:-) I think is a pretty decent actress, and it seems she chooses her project well. She might be a little underestimated.
    Clancy Brown, I think he’s great: the animated voice of Lex Luthor, a punk in 1983’s “Bad Boys”, funny being undead in “Pet Sematary Two” (not a fan of those films overall though), his role in “The Shawshank Redemption”, and even his part in the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake, I’m all for it.
    Suzi Amis, Mrs. James Cameron, I remember her best from the first regular episode of “Miami Vice” titled ‘Heart of Darkness’ and the 1987 film “The Big Town” (in which she played a good girl, and mother to a young Sarah Polley).

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  4. Oh, and George Reeves: I didn’t become aware of how things shook out for him until much later, but I knew for a long time that he played Superman.

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    • When Superman II came out, I bought a glossy magazine that covered the history of Superman in media. It focused heavily on the Reeve movies obviously, but there was a substantial bit on George Reeves. The magazine went with the official story that Reeves committed suicide due to depression over his career. It wasn’t until the 90’s that I learned of the other theories on his passing. Either way, sad story.

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  5. Finally a bit of time to comment. Robert Duvall has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I am pretty sure that the first time I saw him was in Tender Mercies while I was in college. I was too young for The Godfather when it was in theaters, but nowadays I would pick Tom Hagen as my favorite Duvall role.

    Another Duvall and Keaton connection is that they both made films in the 1980s with director Bruce Beresford, who directed Tender Mercies and Crimes of the Heart.

    Besides her film career, Jane Wyman’s other little piece of history is being the first wife of Ronald Reagan.

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    • I was trying to remember where I knew Wyman from. Looking at her filmography, I’d seen her in things but not enough for the name to resonate. It’s her presidential connection that I was thinking of. Thanks, that was eating at me.

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  6. Duval is amazing actor but i feel he is underatted at times. He does get as much praise as pacino or deniro

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