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January 18: Happy Birthday Mark Rylance and Cary Grant

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Mark Rylance, who is celebrating his 57th today, is the newest of England’s long line of “theatrical knights.”  He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982.  During his stage career, he has worked extensively on both the West End and Broadway.  He has won two Olivier Awards, as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and in the lead role in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.  To go with them, he has three Tonys, one for Jerusalem, one for a revival of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing-Boeing, and one for playing Olivia in an all-male performance of Twelfth Night.  He served for 10 years as the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Rylance’s first major film role was as Ferdinand in Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, a very loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He has won two BAFTA Television Awards for Best Actor, for the 2005 TV movie The Government Inspector, and for the 2015 miniseries Wolf Hall, adapted from historical novels by Hilary Mantel, in which he plays the lead role of Thomas Cromwell.  The latter role brought him nominations for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.  Last year, Rylance won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies.

Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.

~Cary Grant 🙂

Cary Grant (1904-1986) was named by the American Film Institute as the second greatest male star of Hollywood’s Golden Age (behind Humphrey Bogart).  He began working in vaudeville in his teens and toured both in England and the US, and also began doing some theater.  He signed a contract with Paramount in 1931 and first drew real notice starring opposite Mae West in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel.

Grant’s career hit a few rough patches in the mid-thirties, but as the decade progressed he proved to be an ideal leading man for the screwball comedies of the era.  He starred in films like Holiday, The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story, and perhaps best of all, a pair of brilliant films directed by Howard Hawks, Bringing Up Baby, followed by His Girl Friday:

At the same time, Grant began moving beyond purely comic films.  Gunga Din and, even more so, Only Angels Have Wings (with Hawks again) showed that he could handle lead roles in action-adventure films.  Penny Serenade and None but the Lonely Heart, both of which brought him Oscar nominations, demonstrated his aptitude for drama.  He remained a major leading man until he retired in the mid-sixties; in addition to his films with Hawks, he worked very successfully with Alfred Hitchcock on films such as Notorious and North by Northwest.

Kevin Costner is today’s WTHH subject birthday; he turns 62.  Since the 2011 date of his WTHH article, he has won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries for Hatfields & McCoys.  His major films include Man of Steel, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and CriminalTakeshi Kitano, also known as Beat Takeshi, turns 70 today.  Like Costner, he is prominent as both an actor and a director.  He has been acting in Japanese film since the late sixties and directed for the first time in 1989.  Some of his most important films include Sonatine, Hana-bi, and Zatoichi.

English filmmaker John Boorman turns 84 today.  At different times a producer, director and writer, he received Best Picture and Best Director nominations for both Deliverance and Hope and Glory, and added a Best Original Screenplay nomination for the latter.  His filmography also includes Point Blank and ExcaliburPaul Freeman, who celebrates his 74th, has worked in film and television for fifty years, and will always be remembered as Indiana Jones’ adversary, Rene Belloq, from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Pro wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista, who has had significant roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre, is turning 48.  Also turning 48 is Jesse L. Martin, who originated the role of Tom Collins in Rent, reprised the role in the film, and is currently a regular as Det. Joe West on The FlashAlison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, turns 55 today. Writer and director David Ayer, who turns 48, has done films such as the gritty police procedural End of Watch, the World War 2 film Fury, and the comic book adaptation Suicide Squad.

Jason Segel, who has starred in films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets and was a regular on How I Met Your Mother, turns 37 today.  Antje Traue, known to many American viewers for playing Faora in Man of Steel, turns 36.  She is a rising star of German film.  Devin Kelley, who turns 31, is currently a regular on The CW’s Frequency and has had regular roles on The Chicago Code and Resurrection.  Singer-actress Samantha Mumba, who starred in films like The Time Machine and Boy Eats Girl, and had a #4 hit with “Gotta Tell You,” turns 34.  Zane Holtz, who is 30 today, plays Richie Gecko on From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.

Tennis star Angelique Kerber, currently the top-ranked women’s singles player in the world, turns 29 today.  Reaching the #1 ranking capped a terrific 2016 for Kerber, who won her first Grand Slam titles, the Australian Open and the US Open.  Hockey great Mark Messier, who is the only player in NHL history to captain two different teams to Stanley Cup victories (the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers), turns 56 today.  Curt Flood (1938-1997) was a very good baseball player, but was more famous for his off-the-field activities.  Specifically, for his legal challenge to baseball’s reserve clause, which went all the way to the US Supreme Court.  Although he lost, the case did spur baseball players to organize to try, and eventually succeed, at ending the reserve clause through other means.

The multi-talented Danny Kaye (1911-1987) did so many things in his career that there’s only time to mention a few high points here.  He was a popular singer, with some of his most successful recordings teaming him with the Andrews Sisters.  He did vaudeville and acted on Broadway, for instance in the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin musical Lady in the Dark.  And he did films (often with substantial musical elements), including one of my favorites, The Court Jester.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) wrote a lot of literature for adults, including 18 plays and 3 novels, but he lives on almost entirely in his children’s literature—two poetry collections, and two collections of short stories about a bear named Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was known for his facility with the spoken, rather than written, word.  A long-time Senator from Massachusetts in 19th Century America, he was famous for his oratory on the Senate floor and also as an advocate before the Supreme Court of the US.

Our big music birthday today is David Ruffin (1941-1991), best known for his years as a lead singer with The Temptations during their “Classic Five” era, during which he provided lead vocals on hits like “My Girl.”  Oliver Hardy (1892-1957) was one of the great names in film comedy, known for the 106 short films and features he made with Stan Laurel between 1921 and 1951.

Sir Thomas Sopwith (1888-1989) was a pioneering aviator who founded the Sopwith Aircraft Company in 1912.  The company made over 18,000 military aircraft during World War One, including nearly 6,000 of the famous Sopwith Camel.  Sources disagree as to whether one of them was ever piloted by a beagle.  Ray Dolby (1933-2013) was an American audio engineer, the inventor of the noise reduction systems for audiotape that collectively go under the label of Dolby NR, and the founder of the Dolby Laboratories.

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 18, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I have not seen Bridge of Spies, so I’m largely unfamiliar with Mark Rylance. My wife and youngest loved The BFG.

    I want to be Cary Grant. In middle school and high school, I discovered old movies. Humphrey Bogart was the guy with all the merchandise and thus his posters adorned my walls. But Grant was my favorite. The capper to my high school career was getting to play Mortimer (the role Grant played) in our production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Picking a favorite Cary Grant movie is too hard to do. So I will cheat. Favorite with Hitchcock: North By Northwest. Favorite non-Hitchcock: Bringing Up Baby.

    Is Kevin Costner in anything these days? No one ever brings him up around here, so I assume not.

    Deliverance and Hope and Glory are both good movies. I remember watching the heck out of John Boorman’s Excalibur. I had no idea who Paul Freeman was until you said Belloq. Then I knew exactly who he was.

    I would have bet against Dave Bautista’s acting career. Shows what I know. I did not know that Jesse L. Martin had a background in theater. There was an episode of The Flash set in an alternate universe (about 1/3rd of them are lately) in which his character is a lounge singer. They let him show off.

    We all grew up hating Alison Arngrim, right? I know I did. I haven’t seen any of David Ayer’s movies outside of Suicide Squad. It didn’t make a strong first impression, but I will assume he didn’t have a lot of control over it either.

    I sat out How I Met Your Mother, but I generally find Jason Segel to be funny. An ex of mine was a massive Danny Kaye fan. My wife can’t stand A. A. Milne’s creation, Winnie the Pooh. She also hates Tinkerbell.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cary Grant did every type of genera and was good at it. There were very few actors who can pull this off- Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks, and Brendan Fraser come to mind for me.

    Grant was also absolutely gorgeous. It’s no wonder he was able to charm the ladies (and Randolph Scott) with his dashing good looks and high class.

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  3. I enjoy far too many of Cary Grant’s films to pick a single favorite; fortunately, I was able to work mention of almost all of them into the article. Except Charade.

    I have not gotten to see Suicide Squad yet, but I have liked David Ayer’s End of Watch and Fury very well.

    I know Danny Kaye primarily from The Court Jester. The “vessel with the pestle” sequence is one of the greatest comic moments in film that I’ve ever come across, and there are some other really funny scenes in it as well.

    I know that when I was younger I saw a couple of Laurel and Hardy films, but it’s been a very, very long time.

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    • Yeah, Laurel and Hardy movies played. But at a young age, I saw no distinction between them and the Stooges, Our Gang or any of the other old comedies the local channel would play on Sundays.

      It’s been a long time, but I remember enjoying Charade. It felt a little like knock-off Hitchcock but with those two leads, I can forgive that.

      My dad was quite insistent that Fury was hot garbage. I shouldn’t let that dissuade me, but whenever I thought about watching it I heard dad’s ranting. Suicide Squad feels like a rush job with studio interference because that’s what it is. It’s almost worth watching just to see how these kinds of movies go wrong. The seams are visible.

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      • Yeah, “Charade” is considered a very Hitchcock-like film, but if that stopped me, I’d ignore most of what Brian De Palma has done:-) I’ve seen it and liked it, and I agree, the two leads go a long way.

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  4. Cary Grant, I like watching his various characters onscreen. I think he really had quite the presence, I real “Stop the presses!” quality about him.
    Kevin Costner, I leave the accolades to Syriandude, but I will say “American Flyers” left an impression on me that has stood the test of time, while Costner’s easygoing screen persona is fine by me.
    John Boorman, I think “Deliverance” is great and I really like 1981’s “Excalibur”, but I don’t have too much that’s nice to say about that Exorcist sequel (I thought about that film yesterday due to James Earl Jones’ birthday; I don’t think that film was a good look for anybody). I also like 1985’s “The Emerald Forest” (Powers Boothe? Cool name).
    Jesse L. Martin, I know him from “Ally McBeal” , “Law and Order” , and “Rent” (film version); I think he’s good.
    Jason Segel, I first knew about him from “Freaks and Geeks”; overall I think he plays very relatable nice guys.
    Mark Messier, he won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers; he made it there, so he can make it anywhere.
    Danny Kaye I know best from “White Christmas”, a film I catch a little of during the Christmas season most every year. I learned some years back that he was someone George Carlin was influenced by when he was growing up.
    Ray Dolby, I’m more familiar with the last name than the man himself; nice to put a full name to the technology.

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  5. what a great birthday gift for kevin appearing in a number 1 movie I think with the success of hidden and man of steel in the last 4 years hes wiped away shame of postman

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  6. The Real Reason We Don’t Hear from Jason Segel Anymore

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