February 11: Happy Birthday Jennifer Aniston and Sheryl Crow


Our two headliners today are apparently good friends, and have been photographed together on a few occasions, as at this fundraising event where they are joined by Courtney Cox and OmniPeace founder Mary Fanaro.

Jennifer Aniston celebrates her 48th today.  Both her parents had some acting experience; her father, John Aniston, has had a recurring role on Days of Our Lives for over 30 years.  She began acting after finishing high school, doing some Off-Broadway plays and landing roles in several short-lived television series, including Ferris Bueller (based on the movie), where she played Ferris’s sister Jeannie.

In 1994 her persistence with series television paid off as she landed a role on a new NBC sitcom, playing a runaway bride who moves in with an old friend from high school, and becomes one of a group of Friends.  Aniston played the role of Rachel Green for the show’s ten season run, and received five Primetime Emmy nominations during that time, winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2002; she also won a Golden Globe in 2003.

Aniston is the one member of the main cast of Friends to have a major career in film.  She has been in major box office successes like Bruce Almighty, The Break-Up, Marley and Me, and We’re the MillersCake brought her a Golden Globe nomination, and her performances in films like The Good Girl and Life of Crime have been very well received.

Sheryl Crow turns 55 today.  She spent several years “in the trenches,” doing everything from teaching music in an elementary school to being a backup vocalist for Michael Jackson, before recording her first album, Tuesday Night Music Club.  It sold over seven million copies and brought her three Grammys, and also included the most successful single of her career:

Crow has been nominated for over thirty Grammys, winning nine during her career.  Our readers who are James Bond fans know that she wrote and recorded the title song for Tomorrow Never Dies.  She is scheduled to release her ninth studio album, Be Myself, later this year.

English actor Damian Lewis, who is 46, has had a very successful career on American television.  Early in the 2000s he starred on HBO’s miniseries Band of Brothers.  He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Nicholas Brody on the first four seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and currently stars on Billions, airing on the same network.  Taylor Lautner, who played Jacob Black in the Twilight films and now is featured on the BBC series Cuckoo (aired by Netflix in the US), is 25 today.  For those who may have trouble keeping the acting Lawrence brothers straight, Matthew Lawrence, who turns 37 today, is the one who co-starred for several seasons on Boy Meets World.

Natalie Dormer, who celebrates her 35th, is known for her television work.  She played Anne Boleyn on The Tudors, Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones, and Jamie Moriarty on Elementary.  Bond Girl Carey Lowell turns 56 today.  Aside from her role as Pam Bouvier in Licence to Kill, she is known for playing Jamie Ross on Law & OrderTina Louise, who turns 83, made her Broadway debut in the original production of Li’l Abner, and won a Golden Globe for her film debut in God’s Little Acre.  However, her name will always be associated with Gilligan’s Island, where she played “a movie star,” Ginger Grant.  Georgia May Foote, who played Katy Armstrong on the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street for five seasons, turns 26 today.

Sarah Palin, who has been honored with being impersonated by Tina Fey, and who I believe once sought political office of some kind, turns 53.

Burt Reynolds, who is turning 81, was one of the biggest stars of the 1970s, know for films such as the dramatic thriller Deliverance and the sports/prison film The Longest Yard, for playing cops in films like Fuzz and Hustle, as well as rebels against authority in Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run.  More recently he starred in the winner of our Movies of 1997 bracket game, Boogie Nights.

Kelly Rowland turns 36 today.  She first became known as a member of Destiny’s Child, one of the most popular girl groups ever, and has since had a successful career as a solo R&B and dance-pop artist.  Brandy Norwood, usually known simply as Brandy, is celebrating her 38th.  She had considerable success as a pop star in the 1990s and also starred on the UPN’s Moesha.  Her recording career since then has been uneven, and she has had legal issues to contend with, but in 2015 she made her Broadway debut as Roxie Hart in ChicagoGerry Goffin (1939-2014) was a highly successful lyricist who was especially known for his partnership during the 1960s with his then-wife, Carole King.

For those who have trouble keeping the acting Gabor sisters straight, Eva Gabor (1919-1995) was the one who starred on Green Acres.  She also did voice work for Disney, as Duchess in The Aristocats and Miss Bianca in the Rescuers films.  Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010) had a lengthy acting career in serious roles, starring in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure.  Then, starting in 1980, he reinvented himself as a comic actor; he started by playing a doctor who did not like to be called Shirley in Airplane!  Billy Halop (1920-1976) spent many years as one of the Dead End Kids (also known as the East Side Kids or the Little Tough Guys at times); one of the most notable films they appeared in was Angels With Dirty FacesMax Baer (1909-1959) was a boxer who once held the heavyweight championship of the world.  He also had an acting career which included films such as The Prizefighter and the Lady, where he got to romance Myrna Loy, and The Harder They Fall, Humphrey Bogart’s final film.  Baer was played by Craig Bierko in the 2005 film Cinderella Man.  His son, Max Bare, Jr., played Jethro Bodine on The Beverly HillbilliesSidney Sheldon (1917-2007) won an Oscar for screenwriting for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and a Tony for the musical Redhead.  He worked on television shows like The Patty Duke Show and Hart to Hart, and in his fifties, began writing extremely successful novels like The Other Side of Midnight and Rage of Angels.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) had a lengthy career as a producer, writer and director.  He was twice honored with Oscars for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for the same film, for A Letter to Three Wives and then for All About Eve.  His son Tom Mankiewicz is known for his work as a writer on several James Bond films and for his contributions to Superman: The Movie.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), arguably the greatest inventor in American history, held over 1000 patents during his lifetime.  He is credited with major inventions like a practical electric lightbulb, the phonograph, the stock ticker, and the motion picture camera.  Moreover, his inventions had major social effects—it’s hard to imagine modern society without electric power and lighting, or without audio and video recording.  He has been played in film by Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy, and Benedict Cumberbatch will portray him in the upcoming The Current War.

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 11, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I kind of remember Jennifer Aniston in the Ferris Bueller show. She was never one of my favorite “Friends” (I prefer Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler) but I really liked her in 2002’s “The Good Girl”.
    Sheryl Crow, I like a decent amount of her songs, but my favorite is “Leaving Las Vegas” (“All I Wanna Do” was played like crazy by the radio, but I think that song is better).
    Even though I watched “Boy Meets World” a decent amount, it was before he was on the show, so I remember Matthew Lawrence best from “Mrs. Doubtfire”.
    Yeah, I remember Carey Lowell from “License to Kill”, and if one has a TV, it’s difficult to miss “Law & Order”. She was also married to Richard Gere for a while.
    Sarah Palin, I thought she was kinda hot.
    Burt Reynolds, I could do without so many of his race car films, as I think he went a little overboard with that conceit in his films (like films that aren’t even that well-regarded, like “Sharky’s Machine” and “Stick”), but otherwise I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work. I’ve also liked some of his voice work in video games such as “Gun”, “Saints Row The Third”, and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”.
    Kelly Rowland, I never really listened to Destiny’s child, but I knew who they were, and I remember Rowland from “Freddy vs. Jason”.
    Leslie Nelsen, I viewed him in suspense fare like “Prom night” and that one episode in “Creepshow” (which is probably my favorite one in the first two films), so I was surprised at first with the comedy of the Naked Gun series, but I got used to it pretty quickly, and I strongly like the first two films in that series, and I’m okay with 33 1/3.
    Sidney Sheldon, I remember when viewers were bombarded with TV adaptations of his books; I can’t remember what it was called, but I recall a scene in one of those flicks in which this woman throws her hairdryer into a bathtub and it electrocutes the guy taking a bath.


    • Dear Burt Reynolds,,83298.msg983751.html#msg983751

      I feel compelled to write this letter because I’ve been a fan of yours for about 20 years. And the past 10 years, Burt, haven’t been very pleasant. But I’m hanging in there, hoping for a respite from the drudgery you’ve been releasing. And I realize I’ll be waiting a little longer, because your new film, “Heat,” isn’t exactly a redemptive effort.

      Still, it’s good to see you back in front of the cameras. You’ve been gone from the screen for two years, ever since “Stick” bombed in 1985. It may have been smart to duck and cover for a while. After all, you’ve made only two marginally good films — “Paternity” and “Best Friends” — since the fantastic “Starting Over” in 1979.

      “Heat” is a move in the right direction, yet it, too, has serious flaws. The Nick Escalante character you play is an interesting man, an ex-mercenary who hires himself out as a bodyguard for high-rolling gamblers on the Las Vegas strip. You give Nick some depth and a few foibles, but William Goldman’s script is abysmally boring and always predictable. Once Nick runs afoul of a mobster’s son, we can see the final confrontation and ensuing shoot-out coming from a mile away.

      The most troubling thing about your career, Burt, is that unlike other actors of your generation — including Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Robert Duvall, Jon Voight and Jack Nicholson — you’ve digressed to the point of being the industry’s biggest joke.

      You forged your reputation as a man’s man in films like “Deliverance,” “White Lightning” and “The Longest Yard.” It was good, solid work for the most part; your performance in “Deliverance” was inspired. But you stayed in the rut and didn’t try to stretch, to show us what you were really capable of doing. Movies like “Rough Cut” and “Semi-Tough” were pitiful, and your one decent performance of that era came in a B-movie called “Hustle.”

      It must have appeared to you as if both the industry and the moviegoing public didn’t care to see you in anything but action films, but some of us did. By ignoring that small segment of the population and positive critical reaction to your risk-taking films, you were to the late 1970s what Sylvester Stallone is to the 1980s.

      Then came “Starting Over,” which boasted your best film performance. It displayed a maturity and ease that you’d never shown before. Critics talked you up for an Oscar nomination, but it didn’t come. Subsequently, you became bitter because you knew such recognition was deserved. Instead of plugging away in more quality projects, you took this perceived lack of respect to heart and began making a series of good 0l’ boy movies like “Smokey and the Bandit I” and “II,” “The Cannonball Run I” and “II,” “Hooper,” “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Stroker Ace.” The films were lamentable and served only to destroy any credibility you might have had left with both the artistic community and the public.

      There were also bad breaks along the way. I felt pity when I heard you were the first choice to play the drunken astronaut in “Terms of Endearment,” and that you backed out because of a “handshake” promise with your friend Hal Needham to make “Stroker Ace.” Jack Nicholson, of course, won an Oscar for his work in the part. It was a terrible thing to hear, because I remembered that Nicholson scooped you in the ’70s after you turned down the lead in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Jack won an Oscar for that one, too. While I can’t imagine you doing any better than Nicholson in the roles, you might have surprised everyone.

      But there’s no use crying about past mistakes. What you need to do is concentrate on the future. Take more roles in which your characters display a real vulnerability, not a manufactured one like Nick Escalante’s compulsive gambling in “Heat.” And get rid of that silly toupee; it looks like you’ve got an end-table on your head.

      Also, take a page out of Nicholson’s book by pursuing some meaty supporting roles. He’s become the most beloved and respected actor in the business by selecting parts for their quality, not because his character has more lines than all the others. It’s good, too, that you’re making movies without Dom DeLuise and Jerry Reed as sidekicks, and Loni Anderson for T &A. Dom’s funny, but you can only slap him so many times before it gets tiresome.

      And above all, Burt, stay away from the macho parts for a while. Get back into some comedy-dramas. You’re very good at them. People want to like you because they know how good you really are. Put the Hollywood movie star back in the closet and let the actor out. I know he’s in there somewhere.

      Don Porter


      • I thought that became a real problem with Burt Reynolds’ career, is that he took too many lightweight roles in cheeseball films; One “Smokey and the Bandit” would’ve been enough, or one “Cannonball Run”, but not both, and definitely not sequels. I think the article raised a good point that audiences believed Reynolds was better than that, which he was (I’m fine with his “Heat”, but I preferred either “Stick” or Sharky’s Machine” in that era).


        • MovieChat Forums > Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) > This Movie is God Awful

          It was at about this point in Burt’s career that he started taking his audience for granted and stopped working for creative and artistic joy and simply took big paydays in order to work with his buddy Hal Needham and the same group of cronies that seemed to appear with him at this time. How else to explain Cannonball Run and its sequel and Stroker Ace, the classic stock car racing movie in which Burt dressed as a chicken. He actually turned down Jack Nicholson’s Oscar winning role in “Terms of Endearment” to take a $3 million dollar check to appear in this crap.

          Sadly Burt’s career has never really recovered despite “Boogie Nights.” And this film is the beginning of that downfall.


        • MovieChat Forums > Burt Reynolds > The worst movie mega star of all time!

          [–] kapnkirk 4 years ago
          Your criticism is a little too harsh IMO. Sure, Burt went to the well a little too often and made a few too many “good ol’ boy” flicks but that doesn’t discount the fact that he sold a lot of movie tickets and he didn’t hold a gun to people’s heads and force them to see them. His agents and advisors deserve some of the blame too. Hollywood wasn’t complaining 40 years ago when they were reaping a lot of money off him and then tossed him aside. Besides, you may not care for them but Burt made some good ones too – Deliverance, Shamus, White Lightning, Longest Yard (1,000,000 times better than the Sandler version, at least Burt looked like a football player), Smokey 1, The End, Starting Over, Sharkey’s Machine, etc. Light, comedic actors don’t get the respect that so-called serious actors receive anyway.


      • The real reason you don’t hear from Burt Reynolds anymore

        With acclaimed roles in Deliverance and The Longest Yard, Burt Reynolds’s swagger and charm made him a huge star in the 1970s. His on-screen persona was cemented by Smokey and the Bandit, a massive financial success that spawned two sequels. But despite his box-office clout and sex symbol status, the once-great star has faded away, and if you want to know where the guy from Boogie Nights has gone, then keep on reading to find out whatever happened to Burt Reynolds.

        With acclaimed roles in Deliverance and The Longest Yard, Burt Reynolds’s swagger and charm made him a huge star in the 1970s. His on-screen persona was cemented by Smokey and the Bandit, a massive financial success that spawned two sequels. But despite his box-office clout and sex symbol status, the once-great star has faded away, and if you want to know where the guy from Boogie Nights has gone, then keep on reading to find out whatever happened to Burt Reynolds.

        Becoming a star

        Though Burt Reynolds had his breakout with Deliverance, it was far from his first role. Reynolds began his career in the late ’50s and worked steadily with small TV roles all through the ’60s. One time, he even appeared on an episode of The Twilight Zone, playing a cocky acting student who gets punched in the face by a time-traveling Shakespeare.

        Then in 1972, Deliverance gave Reynolds his first major movie role, and the picture was a hit that put Reynolds in the spotlight. But just before his breakout film was released, Reynolds decided to pose nude for Cosmopolitan. It was the first nude male centerfold of all-time, and the actor figured it would be funny, something people would look at and laugh and forget about a few days later. But his Cosmo edition flew off the shelves. The photo was everywhere, and though it made Reynolds the sex symbol of the ’70s, it also diminished his serious acting accomplishments in Deliverance. Burt Reynolds was now a huge star, but he was never really taken seriously, something that would bother him for the rest of his career.

        A few bad choices

        Through the ’70s, Reynolds was everywhere. His signature mustache and cocky smile won over male and female fans alike. Even in fairly silly films like Smokey and the Bandit, Reynolds made it work through sheer force of charisma alone.

        However, by the ’80s, his movies were getting further and further from critical acclaim. The Cannonball Run featured an all-star cast (and an early American film appearance by Jackie Chan) and made a lot of money, but critics weren’t pleased. Roger Ebert wrote, “The Cannonball Run is an abdication of artistic responsibility at the lowest possible level of ambition. In other words, they didn’t even care enough to make a good lousy movie.”

        In 1981, Reynolds starred in the well-reviewed drama Sharky’s Machine, but he followed it up with Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the forgettable Best Friends, and the horribly reviewed Stroker Ace. By the time 1984 rolled around, Reynolds returned for Cannonball Run II, which got even worse reviews and made $50 million less than the original. By sticking to a run of mediocre comedies, Reynolds was never going to be taken seriously, and his handsome charm could only impress audiences for so long.

        The last half of the ’80s were hard

        If the early ’80s seemed troublesome for Reynolds, the second half of the decade only got worse. After doing a cameo in the bizarre Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (Sheriff Justice hallucinates talking to Burt Reynolds at the end), Reynolds appeared in disappointing dramas like City Heat and Stick. Things didn’t get any better from there.

        After doing a PSA with Judd Nelson about the dangers of teen drug use, Reynolds decided to make Rent-A-Cop in 1988. Someone thought it would be a great idea to pair Reynolds and Liza Minnelli as a disgraced cop and a prostitute who fall in love while hunting down a criminal. The New York Times wrote of his performance, “Mr. Reynolds does his customary number, but somewhat more sluggishly than usual; he produces no sparks.” The old Reynolds charm was wearing off, and fan interest waned as the ’90s came around.

        Aging out

        Being the prime stud of the ’70s was great, but by the time the ’90s rolled around, Reynolds couldn’t quite pull off the ladies man schtick anymore. After all, the ’90s were a time of irony and disenchantment. So it makes sense that Nirvana and Burt Reynolds weren’t popular in the same era. Reynolds style of machismo and comedy had completely fallen out of fashion. Instead, movies like Reality Bites and Clueless were hits, and this kind of stuff was about as far away from a Reynolds film as you could get. Though the actor did have some box-office success in the ’90s with Cop and a Half, the movie was a critical failure.

        Too many refusals

        Over the years, Reynolds turned down a lot of roles that would wind up becoming iconic characters. In an interview with Business Insider, Reynolds admitted regret for some of the parts that could’ve been. For example, Reynolds says he could’ve played the first American James Bond, but he felt 007 was a role only an Englishman could play. Before Harrison Ford took a break from carpentry to play Han Solo, Reynolds was allegedly offered the role. But for some reason, the actor just didn’t connect with the part. “Now I regret it. I wish I would have done it,” Reynolds said.

        In 1990, Reynolds got first dibs on the role that would ultimately go to Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. Though it was a huge hit for Gere and made Julia Roberts famous, Reynolds didn’t mind missing out on this one. He felt he’d be a strange on-screen pairing for Julia Roberts. And since Reynolds was 54 at the time and Roberts was 23, it’s probably a good thing he didn’t wind up in the movie.

        The one film Reynolds really wishes he’d done was Terms of Endearment. James L. Brooks wrote the lead male character especially for Reynolds, but the star said no, as he’d already committed to playing in Stroker Ace. While all these choices didn’t affect his career at the time (Reynolds did just fine in the ’70s without Bond or Solo), overall they hurt his legacy. He could be an Oscar-winner now or part of one of the most popular franchises of all-time. Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, and Harrison Ford are all taken seriously, even today, in a way that Reynolds never was. But if he’d said “yes “a little more, things might’ve been totally different.

        Television success

        Though film success was elusive in the early ’90s for Reynolds, he came back to TV for the sitcom Evening Shade. The show found Reynolds playing a character named Wood Newton, a former pro-football player who returns to his hometown to coach the local high school team. The program featured familiar names like Michael Jeter, Hal Holbrook, Ossie Davis, and Charles Durning, and it was well-liked by audiences. In fact, Reynolds won his first and only Emmy for his performance, and he even tried his hand at directing, sucessfully stepping behind the camera for a number of episodes. Unfortunately, after four seasons, the show went off the air and Reynolds went back to making bad movies…well, until a young auteur named Paul Thomas Anderson came along, anyway.

        A thwarted comeback

        In 1997, Reynolds got the comeback role of a lifetime. In Boogie Nights, he played a notable porn director saddened that the art of adult films was fading away with the times. The film made Paul Thomas Anderson a new hot director, and it gave Reynolds acclaim that he hadn’t seen in a long time. As The New York Times wrote, “Burt Reynolds rises to this occasion by giving his best and most suavely funny performance in many years.”

        But while he was acclaimed by critics, Reynolds didn’t really go anywhere after playing the part of Jack Horner. So why didn’t Boogie Nights work for Reynolds like Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta? Well, first of all, Reynolds didn’t like Boogie Nights. Though he’s never watched the whole film, Reynolds told The Guardian that he still hates the movie and that working on it was a nightmare.

        Evidently, the actor considered Paul Thomas Anderson to be cocky, and that didn’t sit well with Reynolds. Elaborating on his feelings, Reynolds once said, “Every shot we did, it was like the first time [that shot had ever been done]. I remember the first shot we did in Boogie Nights, where I drive the car to Grauman’s Theater. After he said, ‘Isn’t that amazing?’ And I named five pictures that had the same kind of shot. It wasn’t original.”

        Reynolds also seemed to think this was just a glorified porn film, so he was rarely happy on set. He fought constantly with Anderson. In fact, the movie’s first assistant director recalled a screaming match where Reynolds called Anderson a “little punk kid” and said the director couldn’t tell him what to do.

        Reynolds also had problems with some of his fellow cast members. For example, Reynolds nearly punched out Thomas Jane. In his book But Enough About Me, Reynolds recalled a moment where Jane was allegedly getting a kind of physical with some of the people on set. “When he put his martial arts moves on me, I said ‘Don’t make the mistake of pushing me, I push back.'” Jane laughed, and Reynolds unleashed some R-rated language before storming off the set.

        Though the shoot was difficult, Anderson had no complaints about Reynolds’s performance. He even offered him a role in his next film, Magnolia. But Reynolds turned it down, saying, “I’d done my picture with Paul Thomas Anderson, that was enough for me.”

        Personal difficulties

        In addition to his flailing film career, things were also pretty difficult in Reynolds’s personal life. After marrying actress Loni Anderson, which later Reynolds called “a really dumb move,” they divorced in 1993. It was not amicable.

        Reynolds spoke terribly of Anderson, saying she was a bad mother and insinuating that she’d cheated on him. Anderson claimed that Reynolds abused her. All in all, it was a very vicious divorce. Reynolds agreed to pay Anderson a little under $250,000 for the settlement, though he didn’t complete the transaction right away. In fact, it took 22 years for Reynolds to complete his payments. By dragging the divorce out for decades, it made Reynolds look bad in the press and hinted at possible money issues.

        Money problems

        Reynolds made a lot of cash during the course of his lengthy career, but that doesn’t mean he was good at hanging onto his dough. In 1996, he filed for bankruptcy, but was able to keep his large ranch in Florida. In 2014, money was still a problem, so he held an auction of some of his personal belongings. Some of the items on sale were props and costumes from his films, and he even auctioned his award for being the biggest box-office draw of 1977. However, other items were a little more desperate, like his used credit card. In other words, when you’re trying to sell a voided American Express card, things aren’t going all that great.


  2. I looked up what Sidney Sheldon miniseries that was, and it’s “Windmill of the Gods”, which aired in February 1988 and starred Jaclyn Smith. The woman who tossed the hairdryer in the bathtub was played by Susan Tyrell (thanks for the review, Tom Shales, and the Washington Post for archiving it).


  3. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Taylor Lautner Anymore


  4. The Real Reason You Don’t Hear from Burt Reynolds Anymore


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