January 30: Happy Birthday Gene Hackman and Vanessa Redgrave


Gene Hackman celebrates his 87th today.  The five-time Oscar nominee worked for nearly 50 years in film, television and theater.  He had been acting for about a decade when he had his first big break, receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1967 as Buck Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde.  He picked up a second Oscar nomination for 1970’s I Never Sang For My Father, and then was cast in one of the relatively few genuine starring roles in his career:

Hackman swept almost all of the major Best Actor awards for 1971, including winning the Oscar, as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection.  He did not go on, though, to become a really major leading man.  He has had some good lead roles—his Oscar-nominated FBI agent in Mississippi Burning, Coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers, and a pair of PI-types named Harry in The Conversation and Night Moves—but by and large he is known for villains and character roles.  His villains include Lex Luthor in three Superman films, and Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven, for which he won his second Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor.  One of his more interesting character parts was Harry Zimm in Get Shorty.

Retired from acting since 2004, Hackman has written a number of novels, many of them historical fiction.

Vanessa Redgrave is turning 80 today.  One of the most highly-regarded actresses of the past fifty years, she is a winner of the unofficial Triple Crown of Acting.  She made her film debut in Behind the Mask, a medical drama in which she and her father, Sir Michael Redgrave, played father and daughter.  In 1966, she had her first Oscar-nominated role in the comedy Morgan—A Suitable Case for Treatment.  She has received a total of six Oscar nominations, winning Best Supporting Actress for Julia.  She has also worked regularly in British and American television, winning two Emmys; the second for the 2000 HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk 2:

Redgrave has also had a very active stage career; she made her West End debut in 1958, the same year as her film debut.  She won an Olivier Award for a 1984 revival of The Aspern Papers and a Tony for a 2003 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  Recent years have been tough on her at a personal level—the deaths, in a period of just over a year, of her daughter Natasha Richardson and her siblings, Corin and Lynn Redgrave, were followed a few years later by a severe heart attack.  But she continues working both on screen and stage; last year, for example, she appeared as Queen Margaret in a West End production of Richard III starring Ralph Fiennes.

Christian Bale, who turns 43, first came to people’s notice as an adolescent actor in Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun and Branagh’s Henry V.  He won an Oscar in David O. Russell’s The Fighter and has subsequently been nominated for American Hustle and The Big Short.  He is also a regular with Christopher Nolan, starring in five of Nolan’s films, including playing Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy.

Olivia Colman, born the same day as Bale, recently won a Golden Globe for the British miniseries The Night Manager and is also a three-time BAFTA winner for her work in British television.  Brett Butler, who turns 59 today, was a two-time Golden Globe nominee for starring on Grace Under Fire and more recently had a recurring role on Anger ManagementCharles Dutton, who is 66, is a three-time Emmy winner, twice for Outstanding Guest Actor, on The Practice and Without a Trace, and once for directing the TV movie The CornerNorbert Leo Butz is a two-time Tony winner as Best Actor in a Musical, for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Catch Me if You Can, and also stars on Netflix’s Bloodline.  Butz turns 50 today.  Daphne Ashbrook, who is celebrating her 54th, has appeared in both the Star Trek and Doctor Who franchises, on Deep Space Nine and in the 1996 television movie, respectively.

Wilmer Valderrama, who celebrates birthday number 37, played Fez on That ’70s Show and currently plays Carlos Madrigal on From Dusk Till Dawn: The SeriesLena Hall, who shares a birthday with Valderrama, won a Tony for starring in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and is the lead singer of the band The Deafening.  Danielle Campbell, who turns 22, starred in the Disney Channel movie Starstruck and plays Davina Claire on The OriginalsKylie Bunbury, who stars on Fox’s Pitch as Ginny Baker, celebrates her 27th.  Eiza Gonzalez, who is turning 26, is a costar of Wilmer Valderrama, as Santanico Pandemonium on From Dusk Till Dawn: The SeriesValene Kane, who is 30 today, stars on the British-Irish crime drama The Fall, and appeared as Lyra Erso in Rogue One.

Dorothy Malone, who turns 93, won Best Supporting Actress for Written on the Wind and later was a two-time Golden Globe nominee for the TV soap opera Peyton Place.  Some, however, will always remember her best for a memorable cameo in The Big Sleep.

Director Michael Anderson is turning 97 today.  He is known for films like the World War II film The Dam Busters (which was given homage in the Death Star attack in Star Wars), the 1956 Best Picture winner Around the World in 80 Days, and the seventies sci-fi film Logan’s Run, which we have some content about here.

Phil Collins is our big music birthday today; he turns 66.  Collins is known for his long tenure with Genesis, as the drummer and, after Peter Gabriel’s departure, lead vocalist.  He has had as much, if not more, success as a solo artist, especially from about 1984-1990, when he had seven #1 hits.

Marty Balin, the founder and a lead singer of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, turns 75 today.  Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi, turns 33.  He is known for his Grammy-nominated hip-hop single “Day ‘n’ Night.”

Hugh Marlowe (1911-1982) was a prominent character actor of the forties and fifties, known for his roles in films like Twelve O’Clock High, All About Eve, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.  Like Marlowe, John Ireland (1914-1992) was a busy character actor.  He was an Oscar nominee in All the King’s Men, and played gunslinger Cherry Valance in Red River and the gladiator Crixus in SpartacusDavid Wayne (1914-1995) was known to film audiences for his roles in movies like Adam’s Rib, and later played the Mad Hatter on Batman in the 1960s, but his greatest achievements were as a two-time Tony winner on Broadway.  Tammy Grimes (1934-2016) was best known for her stage work, winning Tonys as Molly in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and as Amanda Prynne in Private Lives.  She and Christopher Plummer were married for many years; actress Amanda Plummer is their daughter.  Comedian Dick Martin (1922-2008) was, along with Dan Rowan, the co-host of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-InDelbert Mann (1920-2007) won an Oscar for Best Director for Marty and also directed Desire Under the Elms and That Touch of Mink.

Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007) was a prolific author of children’s literature, most notably the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain.  The last of the five book series, The High King, won the Newberry Medal, while parts of the first two were adapted into the Disney animated feature The Black CauldronBarbara Tuchman (1912-1989) was one of the finest writers of popular history of the 20th Century.  She won two Pulitzer Prizes in History, for The Guns of August and for Stillwell and the American Experience in China; her other notable books included The Proud Tower and A Distant Mirror.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was the 32nd President of the US.  He has been played on screen by actors such as Ralph Bellamy, Edward Herrmann, Jason Robards, John Lithgow, and Kenneth Branagh.  Richard Cheney, who turns 76, was the 46th Vice President of the US.  Evaluating the political careers and accomplishments of either man is far beyond the scope of this blog.

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 30, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Huge fan of Gene Hackman. His Lex Luthor in Superman was my introduction, but as I grew up I began to appreciate his acting and his career even more. Unforgiven, The Conversation (his Enemy of the State feels very much like an unofficial sequel), French Connection, Bonnie and Clyde are classics, he’s even superb in comedies like Heartbreakers and thrillers like Crimson Tide which I think were a tad underrated.

    Phil Collins was one of the biggest – and unlikeliest – of pop stars in the 1980’s. For a time he was a hit-making machine with his songs being inescapable on Top 40 radio. Which I was fine with as I’m a fan of his music. I’m sure I still have his No Jacket Required on cassette tape somewhere in the basement….

    Christian Bale. I still have never seen his debut Empire of the Sun, is it worth checking out? He’s had several worthwhile films to his career but for some reason I still can’t help but think of his temper tantrum on the set of Terminator: Salvation. The audio tape is on Youtube and let me tell you, it’s an earful!


  2. Gene Hackman is terrific. My first exposure to him would have been in Superman. A lot of comic book fans are critical of the lighthearted approach to the villain. I will admit, it wouldn’t be my choice to make Lex Luthor such a clown, but Hackman’s performance is wonderful.

    I really can’t point to a specific role for Vanessa Redgrave. It just seems like she’s always been around as this respected actress. I have seen her in supporting roles in lots of movies in which she adds a touch of class.

    Christian Bale is the most over-rated Batman. Fine Bruce Wayne but his Batman voice is silly.

    I had no idea what Wilmer Valderrama was up to. He used to have a reality show on MTV that Mindy liked to watch.

    I know it’s uncool to admit you like Phil Collins. I will go so far as to admit I used to like Phil Collins a lot.


  3. bale was amazing batman and bruce wayne. I think Keaton was good batman but his bruce wayne was awkwarad not charming and suave. Hackman amazing actor. lebeau iam wondering hope popular was he in his prime. was he as big as deniro pacino or jack nihcolson


  4. I always saw Gene Hackman as a real sturdy performer who was fun to watch. Ready and reliable, he could play and good or bad guy, sensitive or bossy, and even funny at times. Glad he’s had success with his writing too.
    My first exposure to Vanessa Redgrave was “Prick Up Your Ears”, which I think is a fantastic film. After that, I caught up on films like “Yanks” and “Murder on the Orient Express”.
    Christian Bale, well, I first saw in in his younger films like “Empire of the Sun” (HBO ran it a lot back in the day), “Newsies”, and “Swing Kids”, but I didn’t really lock in on him until “American Psycho” (murders and executions, ha ha). I’ve heard he’s done Batman too.
    Brett Butler, a name I first associated with a baseball player; I think she’s had her moments. “Grace Under Fire” is kind of like a single mom version of “Roseanne”, and I thought that worked.
    Charles Dutton (or Charles S. Dutton), I first knew about from the FOX TV show “Roc”, which I watched quite a fit back when it originally aired. He became a really solid character actor (not too many people probably care about 1995’s “Nick of Time”, but I thought he was awesome in that).
    Daphne Ashbrook, I know her best from guest appearances in shows like “The A-Team” and “Knight Rider”, and playing the girlfriend in 1986’s “Quiet Cool” (I’m all about the Quiet Cool).
    Wilmer Valderrama I know from “That 70’s Show”, which I viewed quite a lot in its era, at least until the end of the 1990’s. I think he did a voice for the Scarface game too. I think he has a fun name; I wish him and Rae Dawn Chong would’ve been a couple for awhile, just for the name fun.
    What’s in the air tonight is Phil Collins; many gamers have saved him a bunch of times if they have played “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories” (that manager of his in the game, Barry, is a disaster). I like a lot of his songs, but I’ll go with “Don’t Lose My Number” as my favorite. He’s a legendary drummer too, and I thought he did well in the 1988 film “Buster”.
    FDR was definitely a transcendent president.


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