February 6: Happy Birthday Bob Marley and Babe Ruth
Today we had a very limited selection of living celebrities, while those no longer with us included a pair of outright legends (and also a former US President).
Bob Marley (1945-1981) was, it is safe to say, the most significant reggae musician ever, when you consider his career both with the Wailers and as a solo artist. Before his death from cancer, at only 36, he had popularized the music of his native Jamaica worldwide and influenced artists from Eric Clapton to The Clash to Sinead O’Connor. Although commercial success on a worldwide basis came only in the last few years of his life, he sold some 75 million records worldwide and ranks as the best-selling reggae performer ever.
For someone who isn’t hugely into reggae, picking a song to represent Marley was not easy, but I gave it my best shot:
George Herman “Babe” Ruth (1895-1948) was one of the handful of baseball players who could reasonably be argued to be the greatest ever to play the game. Moreover, he was the sport’s first true superstar, someone who was a favorite of fans all over the nation in a way that the game’s earlier stars had not been. And as the first great home run hitter in the game’s history, he had a major, and permanent, influence on the way the game is played.
Ruth began his career with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher—and a good one—but even then his hitting ability was showing itself. By the 1918 season he was playing the outfield regularly on days he didn’t pitch, and a year later he was a full-time outfielder who took the mound every week or two; that season he hit the remarkable-for-the-time total of 29 home runs, establishing a major league record.
After the 1919 season, financial pressures forced Red Sox owner Tom Frazee to sell Ruth’s contract to the New York Yankees, and it was a Yankee that Ruth became truly famous. In his first season with the Yankees, he nearly doubled the home run record he had set the season before, belting 54. He then upped the record to 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927. He led the Yankees to four World Series victories (along with three he won with the Red Sox) and was part of the “first five” inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mike Farrell, who celebrates his 78th today, is best known for playing B.J. Hunnicut on MASH for eight seasons; he was later a regular on Providence. Rip Torn, who is 86, was an Oscar nominee for Cross Creek and played Agent Zed in the first two Men in Black films. Kathy Najimy, the longtime voice of Peggy Hill on King of the Hill, turns 60 today. She was a regular on Veronica’s Closet and the final season of Unforgettable. Fabian Forte, usually known simply as Fabian, was a teen idol of the late fifties and early sixties. He had a few pop hits while still in high school and was featured in early sixties films like North to Alaska, Five Weeks in a Balloon, and Ride the Wild Surf. He is 74 today. Writer and director Jim Sheridan is 68 today. He is know for films like My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, and In America, which between them have brought him six Oscar nominations.
Alice Eve is celebrating her 35th today. She had her first major film roles in 2006 in the romantic comedy Starter for 10 and the crime film Big Nothing. She has continued to find work in rom-coms like She’s Out of My League and The Decoy Bride, but also in other genres like the indie noir Cold Comes the Night. The role of Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness might have been a breakthrough for her had the filmmakers given her more to do than provide gratuitous fanservice.
Dane DeHaan, who turns 31, starred in the low-budget sci-fi film Chronicle, a surprise success of 2012, and played Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and film legend James Dean in Life. Crystal Reed, who starred on MTV’s Teen Wolf as Alison Argent, turns 32 today. Alice Greczyn, who had regular roles on Lincoln Heights and The Lying Game, is celebrating her 31st.
Other music birthdays today include Axl Rose, who is turning 55. He is the longtime lead singer of the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses, who had a huge success with their debut album Appetite for Destruction in 1987; it sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Later albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II were also very successful.
Natalie Cole (1950-2015) had success as an R&B singer in the 1970s, with hits like “This Will Be,” and later had a big hit with her album Unforgettable…with Love, where she covered a number of songs made famous by her father, Nat King Cole. She won nine Grammys during her career. Kate McGarrigle (1946-2010) and her sister Anna formed a durable and successful Canadian folk duo. Claudio Arrau (1903-1991) was a Chilean pianist who was known for her performances of the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann and Liszt.
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) had significant roles in films such as Knute Rockne, All American, Santa Fe Trail, King’s Row, and the 1964 remake of The Killers, and hosted television’s General Electric Theater. And of course, he was the 40th President of the US. Patrick Macnee (1922-2015) starred on British television as John Steed of The Avengers, and later had a supporting role in A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s last James Bond film. Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016) starred in films ranging from the classic Moulin Rouge to the not-even-a-cult-classic Queen of Outer Space, but was better known for her nine marriages and for not being the Beverly Hills Police Department’s favorite person. Thurl Ravenscroft (1914-2005) was a voice actor and singer who worked on many Disney films, voiced Tony the Tiger, and was the singing voice for the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Michael Maltese (1908-1981) was a writer, or storyman as they were known, for animated cartoons. He was known for his long partnership with director Chuck Jones at Warner Brothers, and later worked at Hanna-Barbera for many years. Haskell Wexler (1922-2015) was a two-time Oscar winner for cinematography, for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bound for Glory, and was nominated on three other occasions. The International Cinematographers Guild ranked him as one of the ten most influential cinematographers in history.
François Truffaut (1932-1984) was one of the most influential directors of the French New Wave. As a young critic writing for Cahiers du Cinéma in the fifties, he was one of the first to articulate the auteur theory that identifies the director as the “author” of a film. His first film as a director, The 400 Blows, came out in 1959. Among his other major films are Shoot the Piano Player, Jules et Jim, and Day for Night. American audiences would recognize him for playing Claude Lacombe in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
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 6, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged alice eve, Axl Rose, Babe Ruth, Bob Marley, Francois Truffaut, Haskell Wexler, Jim Sheridan, Natalie Cole, Ronadl Reagan. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.