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January 14: Happy Birthday Faye Dunaway and Emily Watson

0114dunawaywatson

Faye Dunaway is celebrating her 76th birthday today.  She made her Broadway debut as Margaret More in A Man For All Seasons shortly after graduating from Boston University.  A few years later came her film debut in The Happening in 1967; that same year she received her first Oscar nomination as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde.  A year later, she co-starred with Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair:

Dunaway was one of the top leading ladies of the 1970s, picking up two more Best Actress nominations, as Evelyn Mulwray in Chinatown and Diana Christensen in Network, winning for the latter film.  She also starred in Little Big Man, Richard Lester’s Three Musketeers duology, Three Days of the Condor, and Eyes of Laura Mars.  Her star clearly declined in the 1980s—around the time she starred as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest—although she did get some good roles in later years in TV miniseries like Ellis Island and Gia, both of which she won Golden Globes for.

Two-time Oscar nominee Emily Watson turns 50 today.  Like Faye Dunaway, she began her acting career on stage, and made several appearances with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the early nineties.  She made her feature film debut in Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves in 1996.  She won several film critics circle acting awards, and was nominated for an Oscar and several other major awards, for the role of Bess McNeill.  Two years later, she delivered another acclaimed performance, in a biopic of the brilliant but short-lived cellist Jacqueline du Pré:

Since Hilary and Jackie, Watson has had well-received performances in films such as Angela’s Ashes, Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, Red Dragon, and The Proposition.  She has done a number of television movies, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and later winning a BAFTA Award for Appropriate Adult.  She was an Olivier Award nominee for Sam Mendes’ production of Uncle Vanya, and recently has appeared in films like The Book Thief and The Theory of Everything.

Two big names in directing—one screen and one stage—share today as a birthday.  Steven Soderbergh, who turns 54, burst on the scene when he won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1989 for Sex, Lies, and Videotape.  He had a great year in 2000, when he received Best Director nominations for both Erin Brockovich and Traffic, winning for the latter film.  He is also known for the terrific Elmore Leonard adaptation Out of Sight and for the Ocean’s Trilogy of caper films.  Sir Trevor Nunn, one of the leading stage directors of our time, turns 77 today.  He has served as Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre.  He has won three Tonys for directing, for the musicals Cats and Les Misérables, and the play The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and has also won three Olivier Awards for his directing on the West End.

Lawrence Kasdan, who turns 68, has also directed (films such as Body Heat and The Big Chill) but is best known as a writer.  He wrote the screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and three Star Wars films, and has been Oscar-nominated for the screenplays for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist, and Grand CanyonCarl Weathers, who is 69 today, played Apollo Creed in several of the Rocky films and also was in Predator, part of our current bracket game.  Mark Addy, who is turning 53, was a BAFTA Award nominee for The Full Monty and played King Robert Baratheon in Game of ThronesHolland Taylor turns 74.  She was an Emmy winner on The Practice and was a regular for all 12 seasons of Two and a Half MenKerri Green’s short acting career included appearances in The Goonies and Lucas; she celebrates her 50th.  Jason Bateman, who is turning 48, was a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee for starring on Arrested Development; he has recently starred in Horrible Bosses and Identity Thief.

Grant Gustin, who turns 27, stars as Barry Allen on The Flash and has also appeared in the same role on Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of TomorrowKevin Durand played Little John in the 2010 version of Robin Hood (with Mark Addy as Friar Tuck) and Fred Dukes in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  He turns 43.  Emayatzi Corinealdi, who is turning 37, starred in Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed film Middle of Nowhere, and more recently co-starred opposite Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead, Cheadle’s biopic of Miles Davis.

Don Garlits, known in the drag racing world as “Big Daddy,” is our big name in sports today.  A pioneer in making drag racing an organized sport and the winner of 17 world championships, he turns 85.

In music, rapper LL Cool J (born James Todd Smith) turns 49.  He has had nine studio albums (out of 13 total) reach the Top Ten and won two Grammy awards.  Joseph “T Bone” Burnett is 69 today.  He has toured with Bob Dylan and done some solo recording and performing but is best known for producing records and film soundtracks.  He won four Grammys for his work on the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and two more for his work on Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising SandDave Grohl turns 48 today.  He was the drummer for Nirvana and has been the frontman for Foo Fighters for over 20 years.  Allen Toussaint (1938-2015) had a recording and performing career in R&B but was most remembered for the hits he wrote for others, including “I Like it Like That” for Chris Kenner, “Working in the Coal Mine” for Lee Dorsey, and “Southern Nights” for Glen Campbell.

Several prominent names in journalism of all sorts were born today.  Andy Rooney (1919-2011) worked in print and broadcast journalism for nearly seventy years; he was best known for the “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” segments he did for over 30 years on 60 Minutes.  Nina Totenberg, who is turning 73, has been with NPR for over 40 years, primarily as their legal affairs correspondent.  She won a Peabody Award for her reporting on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court.  Maureen Dowd, who turns 65 today, has worked for the New York Times since the early eighties and won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1999.  Independent journalist and historian Taylor Branch, who celebrates his 70th, is best known for his three-volume series America in the King Years, the first volume of which, Parting the Waters, won the Pulitzer Prize for History.

Director Joseph Losey (1909-1984) worked for a short time in Hollywood before running afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Unlike some blacklist victims, he was able to continue his career abroad with great success, receiving two BAFTA Award nominations for English films, and winning a Cesar for the French film Monsieur KleinHal Roach (1892-1982) worked in film for several decades, most notably as a producer of the Our Gang shorts and the Laurel and Hardy films.  Bebe Daniels (1901-1971) began working as a child actress in the silent era and starred in early sound musicals like Rio Rita and 42nd StreetWilliam Bendix (1906-1964) starred opposite Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia and in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, and then played the title role in The Babe Ruth Story and starred on television’s The Life of RileyWarren Mitchell (1926-2015) won two Olivier Awards in a long British stage career, along with a BAFTA Television Award for starring on the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part, the inspiration for All in the Family (Mitchell’s character was the counterpart to Archie Bunker).

Novelist John Dos Passos (1896-1970), part of the “Lost Greneration” of writers who came of age during World War One, was best known for his “USA trilogy,” consisting of the novels The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big MoneyHugh Lofting (1886-1947) was the author of the Doctor Dolittle books, classics of children’s literature.

Our infamous person born today is Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), the American Revolutionary War general who changed sides and tried to betray a key American post to the British.  Our benefactor to mankind is Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian medical work in Africa and was also a noted theologian and musicologist.

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 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I feel like Faye Dunaway gets some love from readers for her highlights like Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown and Network. But she’s probably been more closely linked to the Razzie articles just because she was such a frequent nominee. I have never felt like that was fair. The Razzies started just as Dunaway made a career misstep that changed her image from one of our most promising and respected actresses to a hammy joke. I still think she’s terrific. Her performance in Mommy Dearest was committed. The problem with the movie was one of tone. I blame the director more than the performer.

    I have always enjoyed Emily Watson in everything I have seen her in. You just reminded me about that Peter Sellers movie. Never did catch that one.

    Steven Soderbergh is a favorite of mine. We had a screening of sex, lies and videotape… at my college theater and I was quite taken with it. He struggled a bit after that. The Limey was something of a comeback for him followed by some movies that brought his indie sensibility into the mainstream like Out of Sight and obviously Ocean’s Eleven. Soderbergh is one of those directors where even if he doesn’t hit it out of the park, there’s always going to be something I enjoy.

    I also really liked Lawrence Kasdan back in the 80’s when he was making movies like Body Heat and The Big Chill. Something happened to the man in the 90’s apparently. His gold touch faded away. I know a lot of fans were geeking out about his participation in new Star Wars movies based on his having written Raiders and Empire, but he also wrote Mumford. Current Kasdan ain’t the same guy who wrote those earlier, better movies.

    Carl Weathers will always be Apollo Creed. Predator is up against Lethal Weapon in the bracket game today. Will the birthday boy take home a win? In recent years (relatively) Weathers had a recurring role on Arrested Development and he played Combat Carl on a Toy Story Halloween special.

    Combat Carl gets it done.

    Speaking of Arrested Development, Jason Bateman has never been funnier.

    We’ll be talking about The Full Monty again soon. I enjoyed that movie quite a bit. Mark Addy also played Fred Flintstone in the sequel. Kerri Green made the most of her brief career as a child actor in the 80’s. Grant Gustin makes a likable Flash. My wife is one of the many ladies who love Cool James.

    Nina Totenberg and Maureen Dowd are among the members of the media I trust to bring me the news, The press is going to be challenged in the years ahead. I hope they are up to the task. We need them more than ever before. This shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but some will probably consider it to be. #SorryNotSorry

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    • I’ve read on IMDb that perhaps, Carl Weather’s didn’t become a bigger film star on his own (“Action Jackson” seemed to be clearly designed as a launching point for him to become a solo action star) because he was (during his prime in the ’80s) was an unironic black action hero. In other words, he was somebody that looked physically impressive, as opposed to a lanky, regular guy like Eddie Murphy. Also, Weathers unlike Eddie Murphy, didn’t have to depend on a stand-up comedian/improv shtick (that not to say that Weathers can’t be funny as evidence in “Happy Gilmore” or “Arrested Development) for half the dialogue.

      This isn’t to take away from Eddie Murphy, it’s just that maybe Carl Weathers peaked at the wrong time. In the 1980s, if you were a black actor and you weren’t Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor, you arguably weren’t considered A-list.. Aafter the ’70s era, the black cultural element was gone, and was now all about the “fish out of water” scenario of most of Eddie’s starring vehicles (e.g. “Beverly Hills Cop”, “The Golden Child”, “Coming to America”),

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      • That’s probably how it went down with Carl Weathers; “Action Jackson” did okay financially, but I guess it didn’t do numbers that encouraged the companies that held the rights to the film to make anymore Jacksons. I don’t know if I wanted to see more sequels anyway (diminishing quality), but I do know I really liked the film, and I saw plenty of Weathers in the 1980’s with the Rocky films and “Predator” that if he had more starring vehicles, I would’ve liked that.

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    • Maybe if she were about ten or 15 years younger, then I’m quite certain that Faye Dunaway would’ve been perfect for a “What the Hell Happened to…” article. I don’t know for sure if “Mommie Dearest” was really what set her career off on the wrong track as most would commonly want to believe.

      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001159/board/flat/241437670?p=1

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      • As with those IMDB comments, I feel it’s a combination of factors when it comes to Dunaway: age, offered weaker parts, a little bit of burnout (possible public burnout on her too). At least she did “Barfly” in the 1980’s though, which made no money (unlike “Mommie Dearest”), but that I thought was a good part for her and an excellent film.

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      • Why was Faye Dunaway only hot for two seconds?

        https://www.datalounge.com/thread/13543411-why-was-faye-dunaway-only-hot-for-two-seconds-

        People think it was “Mommie Dearest” that critically wounded her career. But it was actually the universally-panned “The Eyes of Laura Mars” two years earlier.

        I think she was a marginal actress who had a good run of luck. One of the last of the Hollywood pretty girls who could appear talented with the right Director and right Editor.

        —Anonymous

        reply 41 02/06/2014

        Faye’s worst quality was no sense of humor. If she handled Mommie Dearest the way Patty Duke handled Valley of the Dolls, then Faye would have a ton more exposure these days.

        She just can’t laugh at herself.

        If she did Mommie Dearest screenings/signings she would make tons of money.

        —Michael Reidel

        reply 50 9 hours ago

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  2. It is also the birthday of Dave Grohl and supermodel/singer-songwriter Karen Elson, and me.

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  3. I think Faye Dunaway was one of the best actresses of the 1970’s (I say the best, and there was strong competition); I’ve mentioned this before, but I also enjoyed her performance in 1987’s “Barfly” (as her Wanda character tells it, she has better legs than brains). In general I’ve enjoyed her overall body of work (which includes “Mommie Dearest”, which for all the backlash, I’ve known quite a few people who liked her in it). Oh, and she’s my mother’s favorite actress.
    I first seen Emily Watson in the 2000 film “Trixie”; I liked her in it, but not the film all that much. However, I really liked “Gosford Park” and 2005’s “Separate Lies”, and I later caught up to “Hilary and Jackie”. I think she’s good.
    Steven Soderbergh, I used to own a copy of “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and that film blew me away with it’s slow boil-like mood that it had. Since then, I’ve enjoyed some of his other directorial efforts.
    Lawrence Kasden, I’ve seen “Body Heat” more times than I can count, but I generally like how L. Kasden writes characters. Also, when westerns weren’t big, he did “Silverado”, which breathed some (it had to be dusty) air into the genre.
    Carl Weathers, I was bummed with what happened to Apollo in “Rocky IV” (there’s no easy way out, but check that, you CAN win!) and I thought he was all that in “Action Jackson” (Coach Craig T. Nelson was so eeevilll in that film).
    Holland Taylor, she’s more of a retroactive performer for me, since after I viewed her in “Two and a Half Men” I realize how many other films I’ve seen her in (like in “To Die For”).
    Jason Bateman, I first remember him from “The Hogan Family”, but later on he craved out a nice film career (I especially like 2009’s “Extract”). I also always thought his sister was pretty attractive.
    LL Cool J, he has had a nice transition to film and television, but I still recall quite vividly his early music career.
    I feel Dave Grohl (the last name even SOUNDS grungy to me) is one of the more prolific musician of the last 25 years.
    Andy Rooney, yeah, I liked those segments that he had, as I found his viewpoints interesting.

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