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January 19: Happy Birthday Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin

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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 IIIAntoine 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 SevenDamien 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 BlueNash 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.

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Posted on January 19, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Country music is popular even today, but it never crosses over into mainstream radio anymore, i.e. Top 40 or Top 10 radio. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, it often did. And Dolly Parton was one of the biggest mainstream country successes of that era. I’m not sure if anybody ever actually labelled Dolly the queen of country music, but I would readily bestow that title upon her.

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    • I can remember when, in the late 1970s, Parton’s “Here You Come Again” was all over the airwaves. A few years later her “9 to 5,” the theme song from her movie debut, was an even bigger mainstream hit (and got her an Oscar nomination as well as winning a pair of Grammys).

      As for “queen of country music,” Loretta Lynn might have something to say about that. 🙂

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  2. Superman II was one of my earliest lessons in life of how important exactly a director is to a film. Richard Donner directed Superman: The Movie and created what I still regard as the best superhero movie ever made. Superman II was a solid and very enjoyable sequel, but even as a kid I could tell something was different. The tone of the film was different, it was more jokey. I would later learn that Richard Donner had been directing both films at once, and due to budget concerns only completed maybe 80% of part II.

    The producers later brought Richard Lester in to finish the sequel, but according to rules established in Hollywood a director only gets credit if he is responsible for at least 51% of a finished film. So the producers, not wanting Richard Donner to get screen credit, told Lester to re-film 30% of the scenes already completed for part II just so Lester would get sole directing credit. To his credit, Gene Hackman absolutely refused to play along and told them to use what Donner already filmed, so every shot of Hackman is a Donner shot. But you can tell what’s Donner and what’s Lester as Lester went for a cornier, jokier tone. I think Donner’s work largely saves Superman II and Lester’s humor works in small doses, but if you watch Superman III that is all Richard Lester. Nowhere as good.

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    • Totally agree. But I wanted to cast some doubt that Hackman’s refusal to reshoot had anything to do with loyalty to Lester. I just don’t think he wanted to do it. He was a big star and he had fulfilled his contractual obligation. Reeve and the others had no choice.

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    • I think it’s awkward what happened with “Superman II”. I have nothing against Richard Lester, but it can’t be a good idea to fire a director when he’s almost through with a film, unless it’s an extreme circumstance, like a major crime or something. I think a dysfunctional shoot will lead to a dysfunctional film, and it’s kind of amazing that Supes II worked as well as it did.

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      • Does Richard Lester get too much unfair grief from fans? I think that the real “bad guys” in all of this are the Salkinds for dumping Richard Donner in the first place (either or both, feeling that he was running up the budget or not making the movie more decidedly campy and silly).

        *Maybe Lester should’ve done some research before joining the project, but Lester admitted that he wasn’t allowed to read comic books growing up. So of course, it makes sense that we got all of this strange, made up on the fly powers from Superman and General Zod and company.

        *Lester was owed money by the Salkinds over I believe, their Musketeers films. So had he been paid properly before all of this, Lester wouldn’t have been near the Superman films in the first place.

        *Lester was put in a rock and a hard place because he had to finish the movie (a huge Summer blockbuster no less) on time and around the framework that Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz already set up. Plus, Lester pretty much had to make half of a new movie in order to get properly credited as director.

        *Gene Hackman didn’t want to work w/ Lester (basically, any footage of Hackman in Superman II sans the weird body double/sound a like in order to fill in gaps, was shot by Richard Donner) even though Lester wasn’t the one who forced Richard Donner out. How come nobody wants to accuse/cite Gene Hackman for being somewhat unprofessional and petty?

        *Tom Mankiewicz like Gene Hackman, didn’t want to work w/ Lester either out of loyalty to Richard Donner. So of course, for Superman III he was saddled w/ the decidedly inferior talents of the Newmans.

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        • I’ll agree with you that the Salkinds are the real villains. But I’m not going to find fault with Hackman or Mankiewicz for taking a stand. Mankiewicz in particular was standing by a friend – not to mention Donner brought Mankiewicz on to Superman in the first place.

          I don’t have any problem with Lester taking the job. But as a grownup, he could have read a few Superman comics after he got it. Or hired a consultant. There’s really no excuse for Superman III.

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        • It’s really too bad about the events of “Superman II”, as it sent a promising franchise in the wrong direction. But yeah, “Superman III” was all on Lester.

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    • As you said, all of the scenes involving Gene Hackman in “Superman II” were shot by Richard Donner. Hackman out of loyalty to Donner, refused to come back to work under Richard Lester. This is why (if you look and listen closely) there are some shots in which a body and voice double (doing a really rough Gene Hackman imitation) for Lex Luthor are used in some parts to fill in the gaps.

      Why isn’t Gene Hackman ever called out for being a tad bit unprofessional and self-serving. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame him for wanting to support his friend and I think that most people agree that in hindsight, it was a huge mistake on the Salkinds part to let Richard Donner go.

      But it would be quite ignorant to not assume that Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and company weren’t too please to see Donner let go. But they still had a job to do and had to make the most and the best out of the circumstances. Gene Hackman in a way, inadvertently helped sabotage the movie (or make the situation worse) by not cooperating.

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      • You don’t have to look too hard to spot Hackman’s stand-in. If you don’t see his face, it’s probably not Hackman.

        Totally disagree with you on any hint that Hackman was being unprofessional. Why should he be expected to reshoot scenes just because the producers had an axe to grind. No one is blaming Hackman because he was on the right side of things. No one in the cast was happy about the way things went down. Kidder was critical in interviews which is why the Salkinds reduced her part to a cameo in the third movie. But only Hackman was in a position to refuse reshoots.

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  3. Growing up, Dolly Parton was everywhere. Even if she wasn’t on a show, her famous endowments were often a punchline. As singers-turned actresses go, she had a fairly successful run in cinema. I will sheepily admit to having paid admission to see Straight Talk in 1992. Why? I don’t remember. James Woods maybe? I remember thinking it was perfectly serviceable. I keep meaning to get down to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. I hear it is in the grey area between a regional amusement park and one of the great Orlando-style theme parks.

    Janis Joplin is one of those recording artists like Jimi Hendrix or Elvis or Frank Sinatra that I respect more than truly appreciate. I’m able to listen to and enjoy their music. But unless I’m in just the right mood, I will likely turn the channel if they come on the radio. I’ve never been accused of having good taste.

    Let’s remember Richard Lester for what he was good at (A Hard Day’s Night and Help!) and not the Superman movies. A while ago, I heard an interview with Jack O’Halloran who played Non. He is quite a character, let me tell you. He seems to have barely tolerated Lester and says he didn’t know what the heck he was doing. O’Halloran also told a story in which he choked out Christopher Reeve to teach him a lesson. I forget what Reeve had done to offend the former boxer, but the gist of it was O’Halloran thought Reeve was being snooty. There was some perceived disrespect that crossed a line and O’Halloran felt the need to remind Reeve he wasn’t actually Superman.

    Antoine Fuqua’s done very well for himself since The Replacement Killers. I enjoyed Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash and I look forward to La La Land.

    Tippi Hedren is iconic just for The Birds. Truth is, I prefer Marnie, but the Birds has some imagery that sticks in the collective imagination. I am completely fascinate by Hedren’s decision to live among real, live wild cats resulting in the mauling of her daughter, Melanie Griffith, by a lion. Truly a case of WTHH?

    I’m not a musical theater guy, but I recognized the name Michael Crawford from Phantom. That play and soundtrack were just huge back in the day. Katey Sagal is a better actress than Married With Children would leave you to believe. That’s probably true of the whole cast excepting David Faustino.

    Shawn Wayans was a Razzie regular for a while. He can usually be counted on for a nomination any year in which he makes a movie. His brother Marlon is on the Razzie shortlist for nominations to come in a few days.

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    • While I’ve never gotten to Richard Lester’s movies with the Beatles, I have always enjoyed his Musketeers films from 1973-4. But there’s no doubt that he was a much poorer fit for the Superman films than Richard Donner was.

      Antoine Fuqua is a director who you can count on to handle the action elements in any sort of action/thriller film very capably. He often seems to be trying to life his films above strict genre fare—not always successfully, but the effort is there.

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      • I don’t think I have ever watched Help! or Hard Day’s Night from start to finish. I’m a Beatles fan, but I prefer their later work to the early Beatlemania stuff. But we’ve all seen clips. Those movies set the groundwork for music videos. I have seen and enjoyed Lester’s Musketeers. I don’t think Superman III makes Lester a bad director. He just wasn’t the right guy for that movie.

        Agree on Antoine Fuqua.

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  4. Dolly Parton, hey, I saw 1992’s “Straight Talk” in the theater; I think it’s a nice little film (James Woods as a kinda- good guy? That doesn’t happen often). I like the “9 to 5” song too. She’s a legend, no doubt.
    Janis Joplin went to high school with former University of Miami, Dallas Cowboys, and Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson. She called him “Scar Head” and he called her “Beat Weeds”. For the short time she was around, I think she had a unique vision.
    I love “Training Day”, so that’s what I really know Antoine Fuqua from. I also don’t mind “Bait” (though it isn’t great), but I don’t automatically think of him when it comes to that film either, it’s “Training Day” all the way.
    Tippi Hedren, ever since I’ve known about “The birds” I’ve known about her, but for some time I really wasn’t aware that she was Melanie Griffith’s mother until she mentioned it in an interview (just wasn’t something I knew).
    Shelly Fabares, I watched a lot of “Coach”, so I mostly know her from that, being married to Mike Farrell, and voicing Martha Kent (along with Mike Farrell as Pa Kent, how neat) in “Superman: The Animated Series”.
    Larry Clark, he really dug deep into teenage sleaze, not with just “Kids”, but also with 2000’s “Bully”.
    Katey Sagal, yeah, Peggy Bundy, one of the first significant characters for the FOX Network, and “Married…With Children” was one of the shows that put FOX on the map.
    Robert Palmer, my favorite song from him is “Hyperactive”.
    Edgar Allan Poe, I have a few of his books, and I like his writing style. The game of football wasn’t even invented yet when he was around, but it’s cool that a football team (Ravens) are named after one of his famous pieces. Poe is something of a literary hero for me.
    This is a long list, and I could go on, but I won’t.

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