February 3: Happy Birthday Nathan Lane and Isla Fisher
Two-time Tony winner Nathan Lane is 61 today. He dropped out of college in the mid-seventies to go into acting, and paid his dues in the theater business for several years before making his Broadway debut in 1982. It was not until the early nineties, though, that he had his first really big success, receiving his first Tony nomination for playing Nathan Detroit in the very successful 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls.
Lane began doing periodic film and television work in the eighties. He has been nominated for six Primetime Emmys in the Outstanding Guest Actor category (three for playing Pepper Saltzman on Modern Family), and has won a pair of Daytime Emmys for voice work. One of them was for reprising his voice role of Timon from The Lion King. The high point of his feature film career was probably starring as Albert Goodman in The Birdcage, which brought him a Golden Globe nomination and a lengthy list of other acting accolades:
While he has had some major screen successes, at heart Lane seems to be a man of the theater. He has been friends with playwright Terrence McNally for many years and appeared in several of his plays. He has won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical twice, as Pseudolius in the 1996 revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and as Max Bialystock in the 2001 revival of The Producers. Recently he has starred in a 2016 Broadway revival of The Front Page, as Walter Burns, and he will appear later this year in a London production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, as Roy Cohn.
Isla Fisher celebrates her 41st birthday today. Her parents are Scottish, she was born in Oman, but she spent most of her youth in Australia and began her acting career there, where she became one of the very long list of Australian actors who have appeared on the long-running soap opera Home and Away. Her first significant film role was in Scooby-Doo in 2002, following which she had a small role in I Heart Huckabees and then had a major role in a film that was a bit of a surprise hit in 2005:
In the last decade Fisher has had major roles in the rom-com Definitely, Maybe (as April, “the copy girl”), in the caper film Now You See Me (as magician Henley Reeves), in The Great Gatsby (as Myrtle Wilson), and in the Elmore Leonard adaptation Life of Crime (as Melanie Ralston). She has done voice work in films like Horton Hears a Who and Rango, and published a children’s book called Marge in Charge. Last year she had major roles in The Brothers Grimsby (produced and written by her husband, Sacha Baron Cohen) and in Keeping Up with the Joneses.
Blythe Danner turns 74 today. She won a Tony for the play Butterflies Are Free and more recently a pair of Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actress as Isabelle Huffstedt on Huff. She played Dina Byrnes in Meet the Parents and its sequels, and she and her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, played mother and daughter in the TV movie Cruel Doubt and in the feature film Sylvia. Morgan Fairchild, who is 67, was a Golden Globe nominee for the NBC series Flamingo Road in the early eighties and an Emmy nominee for a guest role on Murphy Brown. Maura Tierney, who is celebrating her 52nd, has had starring roles on NewsRadio, ER, and currently is seen on Showtime’s The Affair, for which she won a Golden Globe last year. South African actor Marius Weyers is 72 today; he is best known internationally for starring in The Gods Must Be Crazy. Frank Coraci, who has directed a number of Adam Sandler’s films, such as The Wedding Singer and Click, turns 51. Kenneth Anger, an underground/experimental filmmaker who has made a wide variety of shorts and featurettes, turns 90 today.
Warwick Davis, who turns 47, played the title character in Willow and Professor Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter films. Bridget Regan, who is 35 today, starred as Kahlan Amnell on Legend of the Seeker and on the third season of The Last Ship. Elisa Donovan, who celebrates her 46th, played Amber Mariens, Cher’s rival, in both the film and TV series Clueless, and Morgan Cavanaugh on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and later starred as the title character on In Gayle We Trust.
The sports world today will be noting the birthdays of two NFL Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. Bob Griese is turning 72 today. He spent his entire pro career with the Miami Dolphins, making six Pro Bowls and leading the Dolphins to three Super Bowls, winning the last two. He was a part of the Dolphins famed unbeaten team of 1972, although ironically, he missed over half of the regular season with a broken leg. When the Dolphins returned to the Super Bowl a year later, they faced off against the Minnesota Vikings, quarterbacked by Fran Tarkenton, who is 77 today. Tarkenton spent most of his 18 year NFL career with the Vikings, and when he retired he held almost every major career record for quarterbacks. Like Griese, he led his team to three Super Bowls, but unfortunately for the Vikings, the other teams they faced—the Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders—were always better.
Carl Dreyer (1889-1968) may be the biggest name in the history of Danish cinema; his most famous film was The Passion of Joan of Arc. Robert Earl Jones (1910-2006) was the father of a recent headliner; one of his best known film roles was as Luther Coleman in The Sting. Joey Bishop (1918-2007) starred in a sitcom and hosted a talk show during the sixties, both named for him, but will likely be most remembered as one of the “Rat Pack.” John Fiedler (1925-2005) had a long career as an actor and voice actor, and will be remembered as Juror #2 from 12 Angry Men and as the voice of Piglet in many of Disney’s Winnie-the-Pooh productions. Victor Buono (1938-1982) was an Oscar and Golden Globe nominee for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and played King Tut on the Batman TV series. Michael Cimino (1939-2016) won an Oscar for Best Director for The Deer Hunter, but then went on to direct the legendary film industry disaster known as Heaven’s Gate.
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), the author of the quasi-memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and novels like The Making of Americans, spent most of her adult life in France. Her Paris literary salon was frequented by the likes of Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Kathy Bates played Stein in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. James Michener (1907-1997) was known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection Tales of the South Pacific (the basis for the Broadway musical South Pacific, which also won a Pulitzer) and for multi-generation historical novels like Centennial and Chesapeake. Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) was one of the great early figures of economic and political journalism, known for his nearly two decades as editor of The Economist and as the author of The English Constitution and Lombard Street. The painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was one of the most popular artists in American history. He was known for paintings like The Problem We All Live With and for his nearly 50 years worth of cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post.
For the third time in eight days it’s the birthday of a great from the world of classical music. Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was one of the greatest prodigies in music history, composing his classic Octet in E flat for Strings at the age of 16. He is remembered for his 3rd and 4th Symphonies, his Violin Concerto, and his oratorio Elijah along with many smaller-scale works. He was also one of the most influential conductors in history, using his position as music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra both to champion then-new composers like Schubert and Berlioz, and to revive interest in the music of J. S. Bach.
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 February 3, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Nathan Lane, Isla Fisher, Blythe Danner, Felix Mendelssohn, Carl Dreyer, Michael Cimino, Morgan Fairchild, Maura Tierney, Gertude Stein. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.