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January 6: Happy Birthday Eddie Redmayne and Loretta Young

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Eddie Redmayne celebrates his 35th birthday today.  He made his screen debut as a teenager on British television and began a stage career while studying art history at Cambridge.  He made his film debut in the 2006 Anglo-Australian co-production Like Minds, and that same year had a small role in his first American film, The Good Shepherd.  He first began to be noticed with his starring role as Colin Clark in My Week With Marilyn, and then played Marius in the feature film version of Les Misérables.

Redmayne then starred as one of the most prominent scientific thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking, in the biographical romance The Theory of Everything.  Redmayne’s highly praised performance gave him a clean sweep of the major Best Actor awards for 2014: Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and SAG Award.

Redmayne’s next film, Jupiter Ascending, brought him a Razzie nomination, but he balanced that out by receiving his second consecutive Best Actor nomination for The Danish Girl.  He is currently starring as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Loretta Young (1913-2000) began working regularly in film in the late silent ear, and became an established leading lady in the early sound era while still in her late teens.  Platinum Blonde, Taxi! and Zoo in Budapest were some of the early films that established her as a star.  She was never, I think, what today we would call an A-list actress, but she had steady work as a leading lady for over 20 years.  She worked at all five of the major studios at different times (plus a stint at Columbia), and in almost every genre that was common at the time.

In 1947, she starred in a romance titled The Farmer’s Daughter, and unexpectedly won the Oscar for Best Actress.

When her stream of film offers dried up in the early 1950s, she transitioned smoothly to television, becoming both host and star of an anthology series titled, aptly, The Loretta Young Show.  She won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama three times during the show’s run.  She came out of retirement in the mid-eighties and won a Golden Globe for starring in the 1986 TV movie Christmas Eve.

Norman Reedus, who turns 48 today, is known for playing Murphy MacManus in The Boondock Saints and its sequel, and for starring on The Walking Dead as Daryl Dixon.  Kate McKinnon, who celebrates her 33rd, is a four-time Emmy nominee for her work on Saturday Night Live (she has been a regular since 2012) and appeared earlier this year as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in the Ghostbusters reboot.

We have a number of actors from around the world born today.  The best known is undoubtedly English actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, who is celebrating his 62nd.  He is most famous for starring in the hit British comedy series Blackadder and Mr. Bean, as well as two Mr. Bean movies.  Belgian actor Jérémie Renier turns 36.  He most commonly works in French film and is a three-time Cesar nominee; he has appeared in English-language films such as Atonement and In Bruges.  Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi was born the same day as Renier.  She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Babel, and may also be known to American viewers from The Brothers Bloom and Pacific Rim.  Irish actress Genevieve O’Reilly, who has played Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, is 40 today.  Australian actress and model Courtney Eaton, who is turning 21, played Cheedo the Fragile in Mad Max: Fury Road and Zaya in Gods of Egypt.  Closer to home (if home is in the US), Canadian actress Tara Spencer-Nairn, who played Constable Karen Pelly on the hit Canadian series Corner Gas, turns 39.

Several directors share today as a birthday.  Anthony Minghella (1954-2008) won the Oscar for Best Director for The English Patient.  Some of his other notable films include Truly, Madly, Deeply, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Cold MountainJohn Singleton, who celebrates his 49th, received a Best Director nomination for his debut film, Boyz n the Hood; he remains the youngest nominee for that honor ever.  His subsequent career and failure to live up to the potential he showed are covered in a WTHH articleVincenzo Natali, who is 48 today, is known for sci-fi films, often mixed with horror, such as Cube, Cypher and Splice.

Karin Slaughter, who is 46 today, is a very successful author of crime and suspense fiction, who sets almost all her fiction in Georgia.  She is known for her Grant County novels, her Atlanta novels featuring GBI investigator Will Trent (the two series were effectively merged beginning with her 2009 novel Undone), and for standalone novels like Cop Town and Pretty Girls.  She is also known for putting her characters, especially the women, through nine kinds of hell.

Syd Barrett (1946-2006) was a founding member of Pink Floyd, and the group’s lead singer and principal songwriter until 1968, when his erratic behavior got him forced out of the band.  He had a short career as a solo artist and then largely withdrew from the public eye.  The German Romantic composer Max Bruch (1838-1920) was responsible for over 200 works, but is best known for two of them, his Violin Concerto No. 1 and his Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra.  Earl Scruggs (1924-2012) was a legend of bluegrass, known for popularizing the “Scruggs style” of three-finger banjo picking which is one of the key elements in the sound of bluegrass music.  He performed and recorded for over sixty years, but is most famous for his years with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, and then in partnership with Lester Flatt.

Comedian and actor Danny Thomas (1912-1991) was best known as the star of the durable sitcom Make Room for Daddy (later retitled The Danny Thomas Show), which ran on ABC and later CBS for over a decade.  Thomas was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy four times, winning in 1954.  Vic Tayback (1930-1990) was best known for playing diner owner Mel Sharples in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore as well as in the television series adaptation AliceTom Mix (1880-1940) starred in nearly 300 films in his career, most of them silent Westerns.  Along with William S. Hart, Mix was one of the first big stars of film Westerns.  Bruce Willis played Mix in the 1988 film Sunset.  French model and actress Capucine (1928-1990) was nominated for a Golden Globe for her first English-language film, Song Without End.  She starred opposite John Wayne in North to Alaska and with Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther and What’s New Pussycat?

American author Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was a three time Pulitzer Prize winner.  Two were for Poetry, the third was in History, for his Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

King Richard II of England (1367-1400) reigned from 1377-1399.  He was the subject of Shakespeare’s history play Richard II; among the actors who have played him in modern times are Sir John Gielgud, Maurice Evans, Paul Scofield, Derek Jacoby, Kevin Spacey, Ben Whishaw and David Tennant.

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 6, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Ahhh, Vic Tayback. Now that name takes me back. Or shows my age. Regardless I used to watch Alice regularly back when I was a kid (“Kiss my grits!”), yet I never realized Mel had a last name on the show. Mel Sharples. Who knew? That’s some fine research Jestak.

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      • Impressive. But did your ex know that Boss Hogg and Sheriff Enos from The Dukes of Hazzard made a visit on an episode of Alice in 1983? Boss Hogg, visiting one of the waitresses (a distant cousin) at Mel’s Diner decides to try to swindle Mel out of his diner. All told one of the stranger crossovers in television history, as you would never expect The Dukes of Hazzard (set in fictional Hazzard, Georgia) and Alice (set in Phoenix, Arizona) to ever cross paths. The Alice episode actually exists complete on Youtube.

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        • Nope. She wasn’t a fan of the Dukes. She liked Alice, Mama’s Family and the Threes’ Company spin-off, Three’s a Crowd. I guess you could say there were warning signs.

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        • Alice, Mama’s Family and Three’s A Crowd? Say, what’s her number! ha ha just kidding. I was a huge Three’s Company fan growing up (don’t judge me) but even back then I knew that Three’s A Crowd had a considerable drop in quality, even as a much less demanding kid in his early teens. The only thing that saved it from complete disaster was John RItter’s considerable charms, but even that made it barely watchable. No wonder it lasted only one season.

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        • Sadly, I have misplaced her number. 😉

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  2. Eddie Redmayne has certainly come into his own in the last few years. I did sit through Jupiter Ascending and I can attest that his performance was insanely bad. Like, take-your Oscar-back-level bad. Lucky for him, I’m in the minority in that most people haven’t subjected themselves to the Wachowski opus.

    I am surprised to discover how unfamiliar I am with the filmography of Loretta Young.

    As someone who writes weekly recaps of The Walking Dead, I know Norman Reedus from that show. He is easily the most popular character on the show which is strange because he’s one of the few characters who was created for the show and was not brought in from the comic book.

    I haven’t watched SNL on a regular basis in many, many years. So I discovered Kate McKinnon in this summer’s Ghostbusters. The movie itself wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than people gave it credit for. McKinnon’s loopy performance was a highlight. The movie needed more of that vibe. I also caught her as Hillary Clinton in some of SNL’s sketches on the election. Contrary to what I have read on Twitter, the sketches were hysterical.

    My grandmother (“granny”) doesn’t know who Rowan Atkinson, but she loves to watch Mr. Bean. He is also the voice of Zazu in The Lion King. When I initially saw Jérémie Renier, I thought it was Hawkeye’s birthday.

    We have some very different directors today who have all made movies I enjoyed. While I thought the English Patient was highly over-rated, I liked Anthony Minghella’s take on The Talented Mr. Ripley. John Singleton’s debut, Boyz in the Hood, will probably always be his best movie. And while neither The Cube or Splice are great movies, there sure are fun.

    Oh boy. Vic Tayback’s name brought back some memories. My ex-wife was a huge fan of the TV show Alice. She was probably Vic Tayback’s biggest fan.

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    • Regarding Norman Reedus, you bring up a very interesting point. There is no denying that Reedus has become so insanely popular on The Walking Dead that it is inconceivable that his character would ever be killed off, as I’m sure a legion of rabid fans would literally storm the writer’s room and burn them alive with torches ala Frankenstein if that ever happened, and yet as you point out his character was never part of the comic that the show is based on. I’d bet my bottom dollar that the writers never anticipated Daryl would become the fan favorite character on the whole show. Also, I wonder if the writers had planned to kill him off before he became a fan favorite….

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      • I’m sure no one saw the popularity of Daryl Dixon coming. If you watch the first season, he’s barely there. It was in the second season when they re-envisioned him as a tough guy with a gentle heart who won’t give up on looking for a missing child and makes efforts to comfort her distressed mother that the character developed a fan base. And none of that was in the source material. Not only did Daryl not exist, but Carol died and Sophia lived on to be adopted by Glenn and Maggie. If you ever get the sense the writers don’t know what to do with Daryl, it’s probably because they don’t have a road map to follow. They can’t kill him off and they can’t radically change his status quo without risking a viewer revolt – which they can scarcely afford at a time when their ratings are declining.

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    • I’m not especially familiar with Loretta Young’s filmography either. The one film of hers I know I’ve seen all the way through is a sort of romantic comedy Western called Along Came Jones, where she stars opposite Gary Cooper, who is cast against type as a man who can’t shoot at all; as I recall it’s her crack shooting that saves his life.

      Oh, and Hawkeye’s birthday? You won’t have long to wait. 😉

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      • Apparently not!

        I did Google Loretta Young and saw some unsavory stories about Clark Gable but I didn’t read them to determine their veracity so I won’t repeat them here.

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  3. Rowan Atkinson, my friend and I loved “Mr. Bean” in the theater. Whistler’s Mother, te he.
    John Singleton, of his recent work I really liked “Four Brothers”; I thought it was fierce.
    Syd Barrett, he seemed troubled but interesting.
    Didn’t Danny Thomas own part of the Miami Dolphins football team in the beginning?
    Tom Mix, I heard of him through Rory Calhoun’s cowboy character in the 1984 film “Angel”.
    Kate McKinnon, I think she’s pretty funny.

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  4. A few favorites of mine found their way into this article. I love Rinko Kikuchi’s performance as Bang-Bang in The Brothers Bloom; she leaves an impression even though she has about two lines of dialogue.

    I usually enjoy Karin Slaughter’s novels, although sometimes I think she could stand to torment some of her characters a bit less. 🙂

    Capucine was delightful as Simone Clouseau in the original Pink Panther.

    And of course, as a bluegrass fan, I had to give Earl Scruggs his due.

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