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January 7: Happy Birthday Jeremy Renner and Nicolas Cage

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Jeremy Renner is turning 46 today.  He went into acting after taking a community college drama course.  He made his film debut in a supporting part in National Lampoon’s Senior Trip.  Over the next decade he had a number of guest roles on television and supporting parts in major films like S.W.A.T. and North Country.  He also had lead roles in independent films like the horror biopic Dahmer and the rural noir A Little Trip to Heaven.  His big break came when Kathryn Bigelow cast him in the lead role of Sergeant William James in The Hurt Locker; the film won Best Picture while Renner was nominated for Best Actor.

In the last six years Renner has become a major figure in the action movie scene, becoming involved in three major action franchises.  He has appeared as Hawkeye in four Marvel Cinematic Universe films so far, with more doubtless to come.  He has played William Brandt in two Mission: Impossible films, and was the star of The Bourne Legacy.  He also found time to pick up a second Oscar nomination for The Town and to play a significant role in American Hustle.  He and fellow Avenger Elizabeth Olsen star in the upcoming thriller Wind River, which will premiere at Sundance later this month.

Nicolas Cage turns 53 today.  He started working in film in his late teens; his debut, in a small role, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (the only film role in his career where he was credited as Nicolas Coppola) was followed by a lead role in Valley Girl.  He then went on to lead roles in Peggy Sue Got Married and Raising Arizona, and received his first major acting award nomination (for a Golden Globe) in a film that some people probably voted for in our current bracket game:

Cage is the subject of a detailed WTHH article which spells out the course of his career.  He went from being at least a borderline A-list leading man in the 1990s—winning an Oscar for Best Actor in Leaving Las Vegas and headlining action hits like The Rock and Face/Off—to an actor who, apparently, will never turn down a role, and who never seems to get a good one.

Lyndsy Fonseca, who turns 30, was a regular on the CW’s Nikita and played the recurring role of Penny Mosby on How I Met Your Mother; she also appeared as Katie Deauxma in the Kick-Ass movies (the first of which also featured Nicolas Cage).  Haley Bennett made her debut in Music and Lyrics in 2007, and this year had major roles in The Magnificent Seven and The Girl on the Train; she is 29 today.  Irish actor Robert Sheehan, who turns 29 as well, is known for his work on the British sci-fi series Misfits and the Irish television series Love/Hate, and recently joined the cast of the British thriller series Fortitude for its second season.  Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee on The Walking Dead, turns 35.  Ruth Negga, who was born the same day as Cohan, stars as Tulip O’Hare on AMC’s Preacher and previously played Raina on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  She is currently a Golden Globe nominee for starring as Mildred Loving in LovingBrett Dalton, who turns 34, is also known for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in the roles of Grant Ward and Hive.  Liam Aiken, who is celebrating his 27th, is known for playing Ned Rifle in Hal Hartley’s trilogy of Henry Fool, Fay Grim and Ned Rifle.  Also turning 27 is Camryn Grimes, the youngest ever winner of an acting Daytime Emmy Award (at 10) for playing Cassie Newman on The Young and the Restless.

David Caruso, who turns 61, first became well known as Det. John Kelly on the first two seasons of NYPD Blue.  He was unable to parlay that role into feature film success, but returned to television to star as Horatio Caine on CSI: MiamiErin Gray was well known to 1980s TV audiences, starring as Col. Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers and then going on to a lead role on Silver Spoons.  She turns 67 today.  Linda Kozlowski, who is 59 today, played Sue Charlton in Crocodile Dundee, a role that brought her a Golden Globe nomination, and reprised the role in two sequels.  TV and online journalist Katie Couric, whose career includes stints with the news divisions of all three major networks (most notably 15 years hosting NBC’s Today Show), turns 60.  Terry Moore, who had a run of lead and major supporting roles in the late forties and fifties—including the original version of Mighty Joe Young and an Oscar-nominated role in Come Back, Little Sheba—is celebrating her 88th.

In music, Kenny Loggins is turning 69.  His mid-seventies partnership with Jim Messina produced several charted singles, and he went on to a successful solo career.  Highlights have included winning the Grammy for Song of the Year for co-writing the Doobie Brothers’ hit “What a Fool Believes,” and contributing songs to the soundtracks of films like Footloose and Top GunClint Mansell, who is 54 today, is the former lead singer of the British band Pop Will Eat Itself.  He has gone on to a notable career composing film scores; he has scored several of Darron Aronofsky’s films and received a Grammy nomination for the score for Black Swan.

Irrfan Khan, one of the top stars in Indian cinema, turns 50 today.  He has won a number of Indian and Asian acting honors, including three Filmfare Awards.  He has also had prominent roles in a variety of Hollywood films, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Life of Pi, and Jurassic World.  Khan’s compatriot Bipasha Basu turns 38.  She is a six-time Filmfare nominee and also starred in the 2013 British film The Lovers.

Vincent Gardenia (1920-1992) was a two-time Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor, once for Bang the Drum Slowly, the second for playing Cosmo Castorini in Moonstruck. Although Alan Napier (1903-1988) had a long career in British and American film, he will most likely be remembered as Alfred the butler in the 1960s Batman series.  Television producer and writer Gene L. Coon (1924-1973) is best known for his work as a writer and executive producer on the first two seasons of Star Trek.  Cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-1988) is known as the creator of The Addams Family in a series of one-panel New Yorker cartoons, which were the basis for the subsequent television series and feature films.  Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen (1911-1995) made her film debut in the horribly stereotyped role of Prissy in Gone with the Wind, after which she had a hard time escaping being typecast as a maid or other domestic servant.  Adolph Zukor (1873-1976) was one of the film industry’s great “moguls.”  Out of several major players involved in the creation of Paramount Pictures, Zukor was the one who ended up in control.

Our sports birthday today is Johnny Mize (1913-1993), “The Big Cat,” a Baseball Hall of Famer.  Mize was a star first baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Giants for several years—a career interrupted by three years of military service—and closed out his career as a valuable platoon player and pinch hitter with the New York Yankees, playing on five consecutive World Series winners.  Our political birthday is Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), the 13th President of the US and the second man to move up from the Vice Presidency after a President (Zachary Taylor) died in office.  And our literary birthday is Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960).  The novelist, short story writer, journalist and folklorist is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Bernadette Soubirous, better known as St. Bernadette of Lourdes (1844-1879), was the subject of the movie The Song of Bernadette, for which Jennifer Jones won the Oscar for Best Actress for playing the title character.

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 7, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Well, that didn’t take long. 24 hours later, it’s Hawkeye’s birthday. Jeremy Renner isn’t an actor I necessarily seek out, but I have enjoyed several of his performances.

    Nicolas Cage is usually interesting to watch even in bad movies. Although when he phones in a performance, he really phones it in. I was hoping that the remake of Left Behind would at least have one of his trademark off-the-wall performances, but instead he slept-walked through the whole thing. Still like him as an actor even if most of his movies are crap.

    I didn’t watch How I Met Your Mother or Nikita, so I mostly know Lyndsy Fonseca from her time on Agent Carter. I saw Kick-Ass but really don’t remember her character all that well. Lauren Cohan is one of the brighter spots on The Walking Dead even if the writers never have any idea what to do with her. I have seen Ruth Negga on both Preacher and Agents of SHIELD, but didn’t connect the dots to recognize where I had seen her before until you pointed it out.

    During the first season, Brett Dalton kind of represented what was wrong with Agents of SHIELD. He was a good looking guy, but dull as dish soap. That changed a bit when he was revealed as a traitor. But eventually he wore out his welcome even as a bad guy.

    For a long time, David Caruso was a cautionary tale about jumping ship on a hit show. He’s lucky to have recovered. Things didn’t work out as well for Katherine Heigl. As we know from the Buck Rogers article, Erin Gray has many fans here. I count myself among them. Linda Kozlowski had an affair with, then married and divorced her Crocodile Dundee costar and director, Paul Hogan.

    Which Kenny Loggins song to play for his 69th birthday? So many to choose from, but I think I’m going to go with I’m Alright

    When he hits 70 next year, we’ll go right into the Danger Zone and maybe at 71 we’ll cut Footloose.

    I I remember primarily from Little Shop of Horrors. Alan Napier was the perfect Alfred for the 60’s Batman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Renner is certainly keeping busy these days. When it comes to his action films, my impression is that he fits in better as a part of an ensemble (The Avengers or MI films) better than as a solo lead.

      Because I watch a fair amount of French film, and because I missed Renner’s breakout performance in The Hurt Locker when it was in theaters, I was actually familiar with Jérémie Renier before I really was aware of Renner.

      Alan Napier was a great Alfred; I’ve only seen a few of his many film roles. One that’s worth checking out is his appearance as a criminal master planner in the noir classic Criss Cross.

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      • A few years ago, my brother looked at Renner’s upcoming line-up of movies which included sure-fire hits like Mission Impossible and The Avengers and predicted that Renner would be a big star. I pointed out that Renner himself wasn’t the leading man in any of them. Maybe if he had successfully replaced Matt Damon on the Bourne franchise, but that was a long shot. I agree he seems to work best as a supporting player in these kinds of movies.

        I’ll have to keep an eye out for Criss Cross. It would be a kick to see the 60’s era Alfred in a noir.

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  2. Yeah, after “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town” I became aware of Jeremy Renner. Now he has a commercial for bourbon. I had no idea he was in his mid-40’s though. I think he’s a strong performer.
    I’ve enjoyed a lot of Nic Cage’s work, as he’s been pretty unpredictable over the years. He’s made me laugh, shake my head, stop and think, lots of emotions overall. In early times, he’d be good entertainment of a King (though for Nic Cage, he’d probably rather play THE King, and get a shook up).
    David Caruso, I don’t know, I guess I can understand why he did what he did with “NYPD Blue” all those years ago, as he toiled for years in bit parts (“First Blood”, “Blue City”, which was the blue he REALLY should’ve quit). I liked the remake of “Kiss of Death” (there’s Nic Cage again), but in the end he had to settle with some respect from “CSI: Miami”.
    Erin Gray was discussed on here just over a month ago; really moved the needle for males on Buck Rogers. Hey, I liked her in that episode of HBO’s “The Hitchhiker” as well.
    Katic Couric, I thought she was great on “Today” and serviceable in the evening. I think she’s okay.
    Linda Kozlowski I only really know from “Crocodile Dundee…” (always liked the American poster art for that film).
    I’m all right, nobody worry about me, because it’s Captain Loggins’ birthday!
    Vincent Gardenia, I thought he was great in “Little Shop of Horrors” (first film I saw him in; watched that film a lot in 1987-1988), “Death Wish”, and “Moonstruck”.
    Millard Fillmore, there’s a hospital in Buffalo that bears his name.

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  3. cage is actually a talented actor he just picks a lot of crappy films that require him to be over the top . When he picks good scripts he really shows his talents. maybe going broke made him go to b movie route who knows. I hope quienten is considering him for a role. Renner is a talented actor he went from being dubbed that guy to a respected actor. I remmeber reading a review ebert describing him as paunchy which is disrepectufl because i hate when critics bring up acotrs personal life or personal appearance it has nothing to do with acting. Plus no disrespect to ebert god bless his souls but he was not in slender side himself

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    • Yeah, with performers I pay attention and acknowledge looks (“good-looking guy”, “she’s pretty”, “she’s kinda hot”, that sort of thing), but it is by no means my main source of criteria. If I like the material and the performances within the material are good, I’m happy and then go from there.
      Ebert tended to use certain adjectives to describe performers: one I particularly remember is when he called Peter Sarsgaard “sleepy-eyed” (I thought that was a good description).

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