February 12: Happy Birthday Josh Brolin and Darren Aronofsky
Our two headliners today have never worked together but I was still able to find a picture of them together (with Marion Cotillard in between).
Josh Brolin turns 49 today. He made his acting debut as Brand Walsh in The Goonies and in the late 1980s starred as Wild Bill Hickock on ABC’s The Young Riders. Despite a solid beginning and an industry background (actor James Brolin is his father), Brolin’s career seemed to be making little progress for a long time—the best parts he could get seemed to be supporting roles in lesser films.
That all changed in 2007, when Brolin had a very productive year. He played the villain in the Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse, and solid supporting roles in the well-received In the Valley of Elah and American Gangster. Most significant, however, was his highly-praised performance in the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men as Llewelyn Moss.
Brolin followed up the best year of his career with, arguably, an even better one. In 2008 he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Dan White in Milk, and also received some accolades for playing George W. Bush in Oliver Stone’s W. Since then, he has continued to work with the Coens, in True Grit and Hail, Caesar! and starred in Gangster Squad, Sicario, and Inherent Vice. He is playing Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this year he will appear in George Clooney’s Suburbicon and return to his Sicario character of Matt Graver in Soldado.
Director Darren Aronofsky is 48 today. He studied film at Harvard and then at the AFI Conservatory. He financed his first film, Pi, by soliciting donations from friends and family. After it made $3 million (on a $60,000 budget) in limited release, Aronofsky was able to get a bigger budget for his second feature, an adaptation of Hubert Selby’s novel Requiem for a Dream.
Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Best Actress for Requiem, the first of several acting Oscar nominations tied to Aronofsky’s films. His third film, The Fountain, was a financial failure at release but has gained a cult following in recent years. The Wrestler, released in 2008, brought Oscar nominations to Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, while Black Swan is his biggest financial success by far. Natalie Portman won Best Actress as prima ballerina Nina Sayers. Aronofsky’s latest film was the biblical epic Noah, which probably had a larger budget than all of his five previous films combined.
It’s another Bond Girl birthday today, as Maud Adams is turning 72. She is of course the two-time Bond Girl, appearing as Andrea Anders in The Man With the Golden Gun and the title character on Octopussy (plus an uncredited cameo in A View to a Kill). Another veteran of the Bond films, Joe Don Baker, turns 81 today. He appeared in The Living Daylights as the villainous Gen. Whitaker and in the first two Brosnan films as Jack Wade of the CIA, and is also known for films like Charley Varrick and Walking Tall. Joanna Kerns, who celebrates her 64th, is remembered as Maggie Seaver on Growing Pains. Michael Ironside, who is 67 today, is know for a variety of villain or tough guy roles, such as the Top Gun instructor Jester in Top Gun or the villain’s right hand man in Total Recall. Sigrid Thornton, who turns 58, has had a lengthy career in Australian television and is known internationally for playing the spirited Jessica Harrison in The Man from Snowy River. John Michael Higgins, a regular in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries and a star on TV Land’s Happily Divorced, turns 54. Judy Blume, the children’s and young adult novelist known for books such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which have sold over 80 million copies worldwide, turns 79 today.
Australian actor Jesse Spencer, who is turning 38, spent several years on the Aussie soap opera Neighbors, before relocating to the US, where he played Dr. Robert Chase on House and now stars as Matthew Casey on Chicago Fire. Christina Ricci is turning 37. She was a child and teen star of the nineties in movies such as the Addams Family films (as Wednesday), Now and Then, and Casper. As an adult, she has largely stuck to smaller-budget films, with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer being exceptions. Sarah Lancaster, who played Ellie Bartkowski on Chuck, was born the same day as Ricci. Indonesian actor Iko Uwais, who turns 34, is know as the star of martial arts films like Merantau and The Raid and had a cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
A pair of prominent European directors have birthdays today. Costa-Gavras, the Greek director known for his political thrillers, turns 84. He has spent much of his career working in French film, but has made several English-language films, including Missing (with Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon) and Betrayed (with Debra Winger). Italian director Franco Zeffirelli is 94 today. He is known for his Shakespeare adaptations—he was nominated for Best Director for the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet and made Hamlet with Mel Gibson—and for the 1977 TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. He has also been a stage director for opera productions in Europe and the US, and has made feature film adaptations of operas such as Verdi’s La Traviata and Otello.
Music birthdays include Michael McDonald, who turns 65. He was the lead singer and a songwriter for the Doobie Brothers from 1976-82, when they had hits like “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “What a Fool Believes,” both of which he wrote or co-wrote. A highlight of his solo career was the #1 single “On My Own,” a duet with Patti Labelle. Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) was the keyboard player of the Doors, and later formed the band Manzarek-Krieger with fellow former Door Robbie Krieger. Chynna Phillips, who is 49 today, has been a member of the intermittently active pop rock trio Wilson Phillips; she is the daughter of John & Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Paps, while her bandmates Carnie and Wendy Wilson are the daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Roy Harris (1898-1979) was a leading 2oth century American composer, known for his Symphony No. 3 and a variety of other orchestral and choral works.
NBA legend Bill Russell is turning 83. During his 13-year with the Boston Celtics, Russell made the NBA All-Star team 12 times and led the Celtics to eleven NBA championships; only Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadians of the NHL has equaled his total for career championships as a player. Dominick DiMaggio (1917-2009), like Russell, spent his entire athletic career in Boston, playing center field for the Boston Red Sox. While, contrary to a song of the time, he was not “better than his brother Joe,” he was a very good player who made seven All-Star teams.
Lorne Greene (1915-1987) was one of the most popular television fathers of all time as Ben Cartwright on Bonanza, and also played Commander Adama in the original Battlestar Galactica. Forrest Tucker (1919-1986) was also best known for a role in a television Western series, starring as Sergeant Morgan O’Rourke on F Troop. Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was one of the most famous ballerinas of her time, a principal with the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes.
Several important historical figures were born on this date. Omar Bradley (1893-1981) was one of the top American army commanders in Europe in World War 2, commanding the 12th Army Group during the liberation of France and the invasion of Germany. He later became the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Karl Malden played Bradley in the 1970 film Patton. John L. Lewis (1880-1969) was one of the most important labor leaders in US history. He headed the United Mine Workers for forty years and was the first president of the CIO in the 1930s. Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), the eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, was a fixture in Washington, DC, for decades, known for her pungent sense of humor. When asked, for instance, about the subject of “grass roots” support for the Republican presidential candidate running against Franklin Roosevelt, she said that it would be “the grass roots of 10,000 country clubs.”
Our two most important historical figures were both born on February 12, 1809. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th President of the US, and is almost universally considered one of the greatest for his leadership of the nation through the four years of the American Civil War. Lincoln has been played in film by Henry Fonda, Raymond Massey, Hal Holbrook, Gregory Peck, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) revolutionized the biological sciences when he developed the core concepts of common descent and evolution through natural selection. It would be pretty hard to find another single day in history when two people as influential as Lincoln and Darwin were both born.
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 12, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Christina Ricci, Costa-Gavras, Darren Aronofsky, Franco Zeffirelli, Jesse Spencer, Joe Don Baker, Josh Brolin, Lorne Greene, Maud Adams, Michael McDonald, Sarah Lancaster. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.