January 20: Happy Birthday David Lynch and George Burns
David Lynch, often considered to be America’s leading surrealist filmmaker, is turning 71 today. After many years of making short films, Lynch first came to people’s notice with the horror film Eraserhead, which became a popular midnight movie during the late 1970s. He followed up with the highly acclaimed The Elephant Man, and went on to explore various genres through the years—epic science fiction (Dune), contemporary noir (Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive), road movies (Wild at Heart), and more. Three of his films—The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive—have brought him Best Director nominations.
Lynch has at various times sampled being a singer-songwriter and a painter and photographer. However, his other big venture has been the Twin Peaks project, which has so far consisted of the 1990-91 TV series, a 1992 prequel feature film, and the upcoming revival miniseries on Showtime. The original series has often been ranked among the greatest TV programs of all time.
George Burns (1896-1996) had a long career in vaudeville, radio, film and television, working with his wife Gracie Allen as the comedy duo Burns and Allen. She was the comic, he was the straight man. Their 1950s television series, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, received eleven Emmy nominations during its 8 year run. By the late 1950s, Allen was ready to retire, having had heart trouble for several years (she died in 1964).
After Allen’s death, Burns spent a number of years on the nightclub circuit, then had a film career resurgence in the mid-seventies in a variety of “elder statesmen” roles. He appeared in films like Oh, God! (which was successful enough to have two sequels), Going in Style, Just You and Me, Kid, but above all the one which brought Burns an Oscar, The Sunshine Boys.
If you mention Doctor Who to people of a certain generation, the image which will be conjured up is of a tall man with a mass of curly brown hair topped by a felt hat. He will wear a frock coat and a very, very long, multicolored scarf. While Tom Baker, who celebrates his 83rd today, has had plenty of other roles on film and British television (he was a great villain in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), he will always be remembered as the Fourth Doctor.
James Denton, who played Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives and currently is a regular on Good Witch, turns 54 today. Margaret Avery, who is turning 73, won Best Supporting Actress for The Color Purple and is currently seen on BET’s Being Mary Jane. Comedian and television host Bill Maher, known for his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, is turning 61 today. Lorenzo Lamas, who turns 59, was a Golden Globe nominee on Falcon Crest and starred in the syndicated 1990s series Renegade. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 11 mission who was the second man to walk on the moon, turns 87 today.
Rainn Wilson, a three-time Emmy nominee for playing Dwight Schrute on The Office (American version), turns 51 today; he is also known for his recurring role of Arthur Martin on Six Feet Under. Skeet Ulrich, who is celebrating his 47th, will be remembered as Billy Loomis, Sidney Prescott’s homicidal boyfriend from Scream. Stacey Dash, who is turning 50, is also remembered for a 1990s film role, as Dionne “Dee” Davenport in Clueless (and in the television series adapted from the film).
No less than three actors from X-Men: Days of Future Past share today as a birthday. Evan Peters, who played Quicksilver, turns 30. He has been a regular on American Horror Story since its debut and returned to the role of Quicksilver last year in X-Men: Apocalypse. The towering Daniel Cudmore, who is 36 today, was returning to the role of Colossus, which he played in X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand. Cudmore has also had parts in the Twilight films and the Percy Jackson series. French actor Omar Sy, who played Bishop, starred in the French comedy Intouchables, and won the Cesar for Best Actor. Sy, who is 39 today, also appeared in Jurassic World.
Paul Stanley (given name Stanley Eisen) turns 65 today. He is best known as the rhythm guitarist, frequent lead vocalist and one of the main songwriters for the hard rock band KISS, and is one of the two members to have been with the group throughout their existence. Huddie Ledbetter (1889-1949) was often know by his nickname of “Lead Belly” and sometimes as the “king of the 12-string guitar.” He is remembered for his influence on folk and blues music, and for a body of songs that he either wrote, or discovered and popularized, such as “Goodnight Irene,” “Rock Island Line,” “Alabama Bound,” and “Bourgeois Blues.”
DeForest Kelley (1920-1999) worked for nearly 20 years in film and television before landing the role that made him famous. Western fans would recognize him from prominent roles in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (as Morgan Earp), The Law and Jake Wade, and Warlock. But for innumerable film and television viewers around the world, he will always be the man who was “a doctor, not a _____.”
Director Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was one of the giants of Italian cinema. He directed four films that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for Best Director several times. A few of the films recognized as among his greatest are La Strada, La Dolce Vita, 8½, Giulietta degli spiriti, and Amarcord. Scottish actor Finlay Currie (1878-1968) was a leading character actor of English film in the thirties and forties, in roles such as Ruairidh Mhór in Powell and Pressburger’s I Know Where I’m Going, and Abel Magwitch in David Lean’s Great Expectations. He then began working in Hollywood, with major roles in historical dramas like Quo Vadis (as St. Peter), Ivanhoe, and Ben-Hur. Patricia Neal (1926-2010) won the Oscar for Best Actress for the 1963 film Hud. She was later nominated for a second Oscar for The Subject Was Roses, and won a Golden Globe for starring in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which was a de facto pilot for The Waltons (she did not appear in the series itself). The short-lived Colin Clive (1900-1937) is remembered for playing Dr. Henry Frankenstein in the 1930s horror classics Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.
Two prominent American leaders of the Revolutionary era were both born on January 20. Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794) was one of the leaders of Virginia during the Revolution; as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress he introduced the motion to declare the American colonies independent of England. Lee later served as one of the first members of the US Senate. In the musical 1776, Ronald Holgate plays a comic Richard Henry Lee who bears little resemblance to the historical figure. Robert Morris (1734-1806) was one of the wealthiest merchants in Philadelphia at the time of the Revolution. His essential role in repeatedly helping to get George Washington’s troops paid and supplied earned him the title of “Financier of the Revolution.” Like Lee, he later served as one of the first US Senators.
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 20, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged David Lynch, DeForest Kelley, Federico Fellini, George Burns, Huddie Ledbetter, Margaret Avery, Omay Sy, Patricia Neal. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.