January 19: Happy Birthday Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin
Country superstar Dolly Parton turns 71 today. Born in eastern Tennessee, she began performing on Knoxville radio and television stations at about the age of ten, and she moved to Nashville the day after she graduated from high school. In 1967, country star Porter Wagoner invited her to become a regular on his show, and then persuaded his label, RCA, to sign her.
Parton began recording duet albums and singles with Wagoner along with several solo efforts, and gradually built a fan base. Her 1970 single “Joshua” became the first of 25 #1 country hits in her career, a record for a female performer. It also received one of the earliest of her 47 Grammy nominations (she has won seven). Like any musical artist active over a long period, she has had ebbs and flows to her success; her heyday was from about 1974-85.
Parton made some efforts to parlay her musical fame into an acting career. She had some success with 9 to 5 and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, but ultimately did not make it as a movie star (although she has received a pair of Oscar nominations for Best Original Song). Over the years, she has also collaborated frequently with other top performers, both in and out of country music circles. Two of her favorite collaborators have been Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.
Janis Joplin (1943-1970) began performing seriously while a student at the University of Texas; she dropped out in 1963 and moved to San Francisco, becoming part of the music scene there. A few years later she was invited to join a psychedelic rock band with the cumbersome name of Big Brother and the Holding Company. As the band began developing a reputation and releasing records, Joplin developed into the face of the band. Their second album, Cheap Thrills, reached #1 on the Billboard 200, but tensions within the group drove Joplin to split with them and pursue a solo career.
Joplin released her first solo album in 1969. It was successful although some listeners did not appreciate Joplin’s evolving towards a more blues-oriented sound. She began recording a second album, Pearl, in September 1970. But her tumultuous personal life was catching up with her; she had had substance abuse problems for several years. On October 4, 1970, she did not show up to a recording session—she was found dead in her Hollywood motel room of a drug overdose. Her final album, released with one track an instrumental because she had not recorded the vocals, became her best-seller, and also included her most successful single.
Several notable directors were born on January 19. Richard Lester, who celebrates his 85th, made two mid-sixties with The Beatles, adapted Dumas’s The Three Musketeers into a two-film sequence in the seventies, and directed Superman II and III. Antoine Fuqua, who is turning 51, is known for a variety of action/thriller films, including three starring Denzel Washington—Training Day (written by David Ayer, noted in yesterday’s article), The Equalizer (adapted from the TV series) and last year’s remake of The Magnificent Seven. Damien Chazelle, who is 32 today, is getting lots of attention these days as the director and writer of La La Land, which recently won a record seven Golden Globes (two for Chazelle himself). His 2014 feature Whiplash received five Oscar nominations.
Tippi Hedren, known for her films with Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds and Marnie, for her troubled relations with the director, and as the mother of actress Melanie Griffith, turns 87 today. Shelley Fabares, who turns 73, starred on The Donna Reed Show as teenage daughter Mary. She had a #1 hit in 1962 with “Johnny Angel,” made three movies with Elvis in the mid-sixties, and later starred on Coach for nine seasons. Michael Crawford, who celebrates his 75th, has played many stage and screen roles during his career, but his most notable was the title character in The Phantom of the Opera, which he originated both on the West End and Broadway, winning an Olivier and a Tony for the respective performances. Larry Clark, known for his controversial films such as Kids, and for his collections of photography such as Tulsa, is turning 74.
Katey Sagal, who celebrates her 63rd, is the first of two actresses in today’s article famous for playing a television wife and mother—in her case, Peg Bundy on Married… with Children; more recently she starred on Sons of Anarchy. Shawn Wayans, who turns 46, is one of the youngest of that numerous clan. He first became known for his work on In Living Color, and went on to appear in and co-write the first two entries in the Scary Movie franchise. Drea de Matteo, who is 45 today, won a Primetime Emmy as Adriana Le Cerva on The Sopranos, was a regular guest on Sons of Anarchy and joined the regular cast for its final season, and is now a regular on Shades of Blue. Nash Edgerton, who turns 44, is a stunt performer who regularly doubles for both his brother, actor Joel Edgerton, and for Ewan MacGregor. He has also directed several short films and music videos.
Jodie Sweetin, who played Stephanie Tanner on Full House and returned to the role on Fuller House, turns 35 today. She is also the author of a memoir, unSweetined, which describes her battles with substance abuse in the years after Full House ended its run. Logan Lerman is 25. He has had major roles in a variety of films: playing the title character in the Percy Jackson films, D’Artagnan in the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, the central character in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the newbie in the tank crew in David Ayer’s Fury. Luke MacFarlane, who celebrates his 37th, was a regular on Brothers & Sisters and is currently featured on Killjoys and Mercy Street.
Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson turns 25 today. She won four medals at the 2008 Olympics and three golds at the 2007 World Championships, and went on to win season 8 of Dancing With the Stars. A sadder note concerns football Hall of Famer Junior Seau (1969-2012). Seau is remembered for his exceptional talents on the gridiron—making 12 Pro Bowls and the NFL All-1990s Team—and for the tragic aftermath to his career. He committed suicide in 2012, and postmortem exams found that he had concussion-related brain damage.
On many days, Phil Everly (1939-2014) would be the number one music birthday, as one half of the Everly Brothers (with older brother Don). With tight harmonies and some great tunes written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, they were one of the great duos in rock history. They were together as a duo for nearly two decades, but their heyday was from 1957-62, when they had 20 charted singles, including 13 which reached the Top Ten.
Jean Stapleton (1923-2013) was most famous for playing Edith Bunker on All in the Family. She won three Emmys and two Golden Globes for the role. She also had a substantial stage career and is in the American Theatre Hall of Fame. Rose Louise Hovick, better known as Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-1970) was a burlesque performer famous for her striptease act. She was the title character of the musical Gypsy. English rocker Robert Palmer (1949-2003) is remembered for his #1 hit from 1986, “Addicted to Love.” Actor Fritz Weaver (1926-2016) won a Tony Award for Robert Marasco’s Child’s Play and was an Emmy nominee for the 1978 NBC miniseries Holocaust.
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) wrote over 20 novels, many of them psychological thrillers of some kind. Several of her novels—The Talented Mr. Ripley and at least two of its sequels, Strangers on a Train, The Price of Salt (adapted into the movie Carol) and The Two Faces of January, among others—have been adapted into feature films. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was a pioneer of both mystery fiction and horror fiction, with short stories such as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Black Cat” being examples of his efforts in the two genres. He is also remembered for poetry such as “Lenore” and “The Raven.”
Our big historical birthday is Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), famous for his exploits as a General for the Confederate side in the American Civil War. He has been played onscreen by actors such as Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall.
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 19, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Antoine Fuqua, Damien Chazelle, Dolly Parton, Edgar Allan Poe, Janis Joplin, Jean Stapleton, Jodie Sweetin, Logan Lerman, Phil Everly, Richard Lester, Shelley Fabares, tippi hedren. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.