February 10: Happy Birthday Laura Dern and Elizabeth Banks


Laura Dern is turning 50 today.  The daughter of Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, she had small parts in a pair of her mother’s films in the seventies and her first significant role in the 1980 film Foxes.  In 1985 she co-starred in Mask and had her first lead role in Smooth Talk.  A year later, she worked with David Lynch for the first time in Blue Velvet.  She starred in Lynch’s Wild at Heart in 1990 and a year later, received her first Oscar nomination, for Best Actress, as the title character in Rambling Rose:

Dern then appeared in a major role in the box office smash Jurassic Park; however, she never really became a major film star.  She has had more success on the small screen, as her television career has brought her three Golden Globes.  The first two were for the HBO movies Afterburn and Recount, while the third was for starring, again on HBO, as Amy Jellicoe in Enlightened.  She reunited with David Lynch for his 2006 film Inland Empire and received a second Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress, for Wild in 2014.

Elizabeth Banks is celebrating her 43rd birthday.  She didn’t begin acting until the late nineties, after completing studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the American Conservatory Theater.  However, in the last decade and a half, she has been a very hard-working actress, often appearing in 5-6 feature films a year along with frequent television guest appearances.  She has received three Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Guest Actress category, one for Modern Family and two as Avery Jessup on 30 Rock:

Banks has been involved in three major film franchises.  She played Betty Brant in the Spider-Man trilogy and Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games films.  Her involvement in the Pitch Perfect films has been more significant—not only has she appeared in each film (including the upcoming Pitch Perfect 3), she has co-produced them and directed Pitch Perfect 2.  She has had major roles in films such as Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The Next Three Days, and Every Secret Thing, and this spring she will appear in Power Rangers as Rita Repulsa.

Michael Apted, who is 76 today, has directed a Bond film, The World is Not Enough, as well as films like Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, Blink, and Enigma.  He is also known for the “Up” series of documentaries—7 Up, 14 Up, etc.  Alexander Payne, who directed Laura Dern in Citizen Ruth, turns 56.  He is a three-time Oscar nominee for screenwriting, for Election, Sideways, and The Descendants, winning for the latter two films.  He was nominated for Best Director for Sideways, The Descendants, and NebraskaVince Gilligan, who celebrates his 50th, is best known for being the creator, executive producer, and head writer of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  He has received a total of 15 Emmy nominations for his work on those two series as well as The X-Files, winning two Emmys for Breaking Bad.

Chloë Moretz celebrates her 20th today.  She has been acting since she was seven, and is known for her roles in the Kick-Ass films, Let Me In, Hugo, and The 5th WaveMakenzie Vega, who played Grace Florrick on The Good Wife, turns 23.  Karen Fukuhara, who is 25, made her debut as Katana in Suicide SquadEmma Roberts is 26 today.  She first became known as the star of Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous and currently stars on Fox’s Scream Queens.  Her film roles have included Scream 4 and We’re the MillersUzo Aduba, who is turning 36, is a two-time Emmy winner for the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange is the New BlackKeeley Hawes, who is turning 41, is known for her work on British television, where she has starred on series like Spooks, Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty, and The Missing.  Another veteran of British television is Claire Goose, who currently stars on The Coroner; she turns 42.

Robert Wagner, who is turning 87, is best known for his starring roles on television series such as It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart.  He also had a long film career, with prominent roles in the 1953 film Titanic, A Kiss Before Dying, and The Pink Panther.  More recently, he played Number 2 in the Austin Powers films.

Roberta Flack is 78 today.  The jazz/soul singer became the only solo artist to win two consecutive Grammys for Record of the Year when she was honored for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” in the early seventies.  Leontyne Price, one of the finest operatic sopranos of the last half of the 20th century, celebrates her 90th today.  She won 19 Grammys in her career and is remembered as one of the finest Verdi sopranos ever.  Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004) was one of the most prolific composers of film and television music ever.  He was nominated for 18 Oscars, although he won only once, for The Omen.  Among his output you can find the scores for Patton, Alien, five Star Trek films, Hoosiers, and two films in our 1997 Bracket Game, Air Force One and L.A. Confidential.  Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen (1944-1992) won an Oscar for the theme song to Arthur, and wrote hits like “I Honestly Love You,” for Olivia Newton-John, and “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” for Melissa Manchester.  The jukebox musical The Boy from Oz featured his music and was about his life.

Greg Norman, “The Great White Shark” of the golf world, turns 62 today.  He was one of the world’s top golfers in the 1980s and 1990s.  He won the British Open twice and has become a very successful businessman in his retirement.  Mark Spitz, one of the greatest competitie swimmers ever, turns 67.  He was the dominant swimmer of the 1972 Olympics in Munich, winning seven gold medals and setting a world record in every event he competed in.  Bill Tilden (1893-1953), aka “Big Bill,” was one of the all-time greats of tennis.  He was ranked #1 in the world from 1920-25 and won the US Open seven times in the 1920s.

Alan Hale, Sr. (1892-1950) was a hard-working supporting player in silent and sound pictures both.  He is known for having played Little John opposite Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood in 1922, and then playing the same character opposite Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.  He was a regular sidekick to Flynn, appearing in films such as Virginia City, The Sea Hawk, and Gentleman Jim.  And yes, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island was his son.  Lon Chaney, Jr. (1906-1973) played Lennie in the 1939 film of Of Mice and Men and starred in The Wolf Man and several subsequent Universal Monsters films.  Jimmy Durante (1893-1980) was a star of vaudeville, Broadway, film and radio who was known for his signature tune “Inka Dinka Doo” and his radio sign-off, “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash.”  Dame Judith Anderson (1897-1992) was a great stage actress who worked extensively in both Britain and the US, and also found time to work in films ranging from Laura to Star Trek IIIJohn Farrow (1904-1963), father of Mia, won an Oscar for his screenplay for Around the World in Eighty Days and was an Oscar nominee for Best Director for Wake IslandStella Adler (1901-1992) was famous as the teacher of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars at her Stella Adler Studio of Acting—her schools alumni included Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Salma Hayek, Harvey Keitel, Mark Ruffalo, and Elaine Stritch.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1958, is known worldwide for his novel Doctor Zhivago.  Russians and students of Russian literature also know him as one of the country’s most influential 20th century poets.  Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was one of the leading playwrights of the 20th century and a prominent theatrical director as well.  His most well-known works include the “play with music” The Threepenny Opera (music by Kurt Weill) and Mother Courage and Her ChildrenE. L. Konigsburg (1930-2013) was a writer of children’s literature and a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The View from Saturday.

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 10, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Our headliners are both actresses I like a lot. Dern has had an interesting career which includes big Hollywood movies like Jurassic Park as well as being David Lynch’s muse. She is confirmed as being part of this year’s Twin Peaks reunion. I’m going to need to subscribe to Showtime in a few months…

    Elizabeth Banks is obviously gorgeous, but also extremely funny. I think that combination causes her to be underappreciated sometimes. She’s too beautiful to be taken seriously as a funny lady and too funny to be taken seriously as a beauty. It’s weird. I always enjoy seeing Banks when she makes an appearance. And while I haven’t watched the Pitch Perfect movies, she has successfully transitioned behind the camera. Hopefully she’ll continue directing.

    I won’t hold The World is Not Enough against Michael Apted. Alexander Payne movies are always worth a look. I greatly enjoyed Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, but Better Call Saul may just be better.

    There was a time when it seemed like Chloë Moretz was going to be a major star. That time seems to have passed which is weird since she’s still a year shy of being able to legally drink an alcoholic beverage. I like Emma Roberts but Scream Queens is wretched. So was American Horror Story: Coven. Uzo Aduba is a stand-out in an excellent cast on Orange is the New Black.

    We just had a pretty lengthy discussion about Robert Wagner during the Movies of 1997 Bracket Game. His part in the Austin Powers movies was lots of fun.

    When you’re listing movie composers, Jerry Goldsmith is going to be near the top of the list.


    • I agree with you on Elizabeth Banks, in that she doesn’t fit into an absolute category. Over time, I think many beautiful & funny performers have had the same distinction.


  2. Once again it’s one of those days where we have several people in the article who are part of larger film/television families—Laura Dern, Emma Roberts, Makenzie Vega, Alan Hale, Sr., and Lon Chaney, Jr.

    If any of you are wondering how so many opera people keep ending up in these articles—we’ve even had two headliners, three if you count Mozart—it’s all Leontyne Price’s fault. When I was a senior in college, I think, I was listening to the local classical music station one night and found myself listening to a live broadcast of Verdi’s Aida from the Metropolitan Opera. Price was singing the title role, and it was a special night—it was her final performance in a live opera. Before the evening was over, I was hooked on opera, and as anyone with a similar experience knows, once you’re bitten by the opera bug, you are never un-bitten. 🙂


  3. Laura Dern, I first saw her in “Mask” (later I caught up to “Smooth Talk”, a film in which Treat Williams played a character who was no treat), and I thought her performance was sweet. Then there’s “Blue Velvet”, “Wild at Heart”, “Citizen Ruth”, and “Dr T. and the Women”? (yes). I plan on seeing “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” someday, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I also remember her marriage to Ben Harper.
    I always thought Elizabeth Banks was pretty fun to watch, even in fare no one cares about, like 2012 “Man on a Ledge” (I like it, but “The hunger Games” was released the same year too, so things were good for her anyway), and I thought she made and played a great Laura bush in “W.”. Hey, I even like her in those Old Navy commercials.
    Emma Roberts, there’s something about her looks that I find scary and intimidating, but I think she’s alright. I guess she just makes me think of some Goth chick that plans to put a spell on someone (I think she would’ve been great for “The Craft” back in the day, if that was her time).
    Robert Wagner, well, here he is again after being discussed pretty well on here just about a week ago. Hey, I’ve watched a few episodes of “To Takes a Thief”, and I like it.
    Roberta flack, yeah, I like “Killing Me Softly with His Song”.
    Greg Norman, he overcame some epic chock jobs to win some majors, which must have been very rewarding for him.
    Mark Spitz, I’ve heard his name was been used when people either put down there swimming ability or someone else does: “You’re/I’m no Mark Spitz”, so he was so great he became one of those pop culture people.
    Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolf Man of Hollywood (ahhooooo!!!), but I think it’s great he also has “Of mice and Men” to his credit.


    • Eh, the show didn’t really do it for me anyway. I thought it was alright and my commitment to the art of the TV series is flimsy at best, but I’ve been hearing and reading negative comments from viewers and critics alike since day one about that show. Surprised it lasted that long; maybe it had something to do with Jamie Lee Curtis (sure didn’t have anything to do with Richard Lewis).


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