January 15: Happy Birthday Andrea Martin and Lloyd Bridges


Andrea Martin celebrates her 70th today.  The actress and comedian began her screen career as something of a scream queen, in Cannibal Girls (an early Ivan Reitman film) and Black Christmas.  More recently her filmography has included roles in Boris and Natasha: The Movie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel.  Her television resume includes a very long list of guest roles, along with starring in the Hulu series Difficult People.  But the high point of her screen career remains her work on Second City Television from 1976-1984, for which she won two Emmys for writing and received one nomination for acting in roles like Edith Prickley:

Martin’s greatest success, however, has come on stage.  She did a little stage work in the 1970s, but did not make her Broadway debut until 1992, in the musical adaptation of the movie My Favorite Year.  She won a Tony for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical in the role of Alice Miller.  She has subsequently received five additional Tony nominations, winning Outstanding Featured Actress a second time for 2013 revival of the musical Pippin.

Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998) began appearing in films in his teens, although largely in uncredited roles.  He began getting substantial credited roles in the forties, in World War 2 films like Sahara and A Walk in the Sun.  In 1952, he had a major supporting role in High Noon as Will Kane’s ambitious deputy Harvey Pell.  Later in the 1950s, he began working extensively in television.  He was the star of Sea Hunt, playing an ex-Navy frogman, and had a long list of guest credits.

Starting in 1980, Bridges began to reinvent himself, playing a lot of comic characters who often seemed to parody his earlier, straight roles.  Examples include Admiral, later President Tug Benson in the Hot Shots! films as well as his characters in Joe Versus the Volcano and Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.  But the first, and probably the best, was airport manager Steve McCroskey, who invariably picked the wrong week for, well, almost anything:

Mario Van Peebles, who directed and starred in New Jack City and Posse, and played Malcolm X in Ali, celebrates his 60th today.  Regina King, a two-time Emmy winner on ABC’s American Crime, turns 46.  She has been working since her teens, with regular roles on 227 and SouthlandKellita Smith, who is 48 today, played Wanda McCullough on The Bernie Mac Show and currently stars on Syfy’s Z NationChad Lowe, who won an Emmy for playing HIV-positive teen Jesse McKenna on Life Goes On, is 49 today.  He currently plays Byron Montgomery on Pretty Little Liars. Irish actor James Nesbitt, who is 52 today, is a hard-working mainstay of English and Irish theater and television, known for the BBC series Murphy’s Law and Jekyll and the British TV movie Bloody Sunday; however, the role that more people have seen him in is Bofur in the Hobbit trilogy.

Eddie Cahill, who celebrates his 4oth, starred on CSI: NY for nine seasons and is currently seen on ABC’s Conviction.  Cahill also had a small role in Lords of Dogtown, which featured Victor Rasuk, who is turning 33.  Rasuk starred in the indie teen romance Raising Victor Vargas, and plays Jose Rodriguez in the Fifty Shades films.  Australian actor Ryan Corr, who celebrates his 28th, received a lot of praise for his role in the romantic drama Holding the Man and is just starting to work in film outside his native country.  Dove Cameron, who turns 21, stars on the Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie as the title characters (identical twin sisters), and has been in several Disney Channel TV movies and co-starred opposite Hailee Steinfeld in Barely Lethal.

Phyllis Coates, who turns 90 today, was a B-movie actress of the forties and fifties who is remembered for playing Lois Lane in the independent feature Superman and the Mole Men and in the first season of Adventures of Superman, both opposite George Reeves.  Margaret O’Brien, who is 80 today, was a child star of the 1940s, opposite Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis and in literary adaptations like The Secret Garden and the 1949 version of Little Women, but never transitioned to adult roles with any success.  Edwin Sherin, who is turning 87, had a long career directing and producing, largely on stage and later in television.  He directed the feature Valdez is Coming (an Elmore Leonard adaptation) and won an Emmy as a producer on Law & Order.  He and Jane Alexander have been married for over 40 years.

Sports birthdays include Randy White, who turns 64.  The Football Hall of Famer was a star defensive lineman at Maryland and for the Dallas Cowboys.  He made nine Pro Bowls and was named MVP of Super Bowl XII.  Drew Brees, like White, has nine Pro Bowls to his name (with, in his case, the potential to add to the total as he is still active).  Also like White, the quarterback has been a Super Bowl MVP, for leading the New Orleans Saints to their only title.  Brees turns 38 today.

Ivor Novello (1893-1951) starred in two of Alfred Hitchcock’s earliest films, the silent features The Lodger and Downhill.  He also composed and starred in a series of popular English stage musicals of the thirties and forties.  Goodman Ace (1899-1982) is remembered for writing and co-starring (with with his wife Jane) in the popular radio comedy series Easy Aces from 1930-45.  Maria Schell (1926-2005) was Austrian born and her “home base” was in German-language films, but she also appeared in French, Italian, English and American productions.  She was an eight time winner of a Bambi Award, the oldest award in German media (more than any actress other than Sophia Loren) and appeared in Superman: The Movie as a Kryptonian scientist.   Torin Thatcher (1905-1981) was a character actor of the forties and fifties, often in villainous roles in action pictures like The Crimson Pirate and The 7h Voyage of SinbadGene Krupa (1909-1973) was a leading jazz drummer of the big band era who went to become a top bandleader in his own right.  He also became known for his “drum battles” with Buddy Rich.

Greek-Argentine shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975) made one of the largest fortunes in the mid-20th Century world.  He was known for his relationships with opera star Maria Callas and with Jacqueline Kennedy.

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known by his stage name of Molière (1622-1673), was one of France’s greatest playwrights, a master of comedy.  Among the plays he is famous for are Tartuffe, Le Misanthrope, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

Finally, the big historical figure born today was of course Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).  Space does not permit doing justice to King’s life, career, and enormous importance to American history here.  So I will simply refer you to an author mentioned in yesterday’s article, Taylor Branch, author of the three-volume America in the King Years, and leave you with a few words from Dr. King himself.

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 January 15, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I didn’t get to watch SCTV very often. I remember seeing it at a friend’s house once during a sleepover and being pretty fascinated by it. I do remember seeing Andrea Martin for the first time.

    I have always liked Lloyd Bridges. It probably won’t surprise anyone to know that my favorite of his roles was in Joe Vs. the Volcano. Yes, Airplane! is hysterical. But the way Bridges says “Boobaru” cracks me up.

    Mario Van Peebles isn’t exactly celebrated today, but the success of New Jack City cracked open the door a little for African-American filmmakers. I knew Regina King from Boyz N the Hood and Higher Learning. I haven’t seen much Chad Lowe has done, but the name is familiar through his marriage to Hillary Swank. He’s also done some voice work on superhero cartoons. He’s played Cosmic Boy and Captain Marvel.

    Dove Cameron is a pretty big deal in our house. My youngest likes Liv and Maddie and The Descendants. No, not the one with George Clooney. Phyllis Coates was my first Lois Lane. Margot Kidder will always be special, but Coates is right up there.

    Today I learned that MLK Day is not necessarily celebrated on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. I had been wondering about that. If I had thought about it seriously, I would have realized that was an impossibility since the holiday always falls on a Monday. D’uh, lebeau.

    I was vaguely political towards the end of my comments the other day and I will repeat that decision today. The message of Martin Luther King is as important today as it was in his lifetime. I hope people hear it as we celebrate his birthday in these divisive times.


  2. I see we went funny with the headliners. Good; chuckles are important.
    In saying that, I mostly know Andrea Martin from “Black Christmas” (and Margot Kidder was the funny one there), but I’ve seen her in some interviews, and I thought she displayed a great sense of humor.
    The reinvented Lloyd Bridges, the spoof Bridges, is the one I’m most familiar with. That whole “I picked the wrong week to quit…” gag (the amphetamines one is my favorite) from “Airplane!”? I think it’s great.
    Mario Van Peebles, I loved his character in “Heartbreak Ridge”, and I thought “New Jack City” was great. There was also this 2000 film “Blowback” that also starred James Remar that I caught on HBO in the early 2000’s that I liked for what it was.
    Regina King, I caught some episodes of “227” a few years ago; I liked it, but I first remembered her from “Poetic Justice” (that film where Tupac went postal, in a pleasant way).
    Chad Lowe, I only knew him from being married to Hilary Swank.
    Martin Luther King Jr., I think most everyone has an understanding of his significance.


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