February 14: Happy Birthday Simon Pegg and John Barrymore


Simon Pegg is celebrating his 47th today.  He began working in British television, as both a writer and an actor, in the mid-nineties.  In 1999, he and actress Juliet Hynes created a sitcom called Spaced; the two wrote the episodes and starred, while Edgar Wright directed and Pegg’s friend Nick Frost had a co-starring role.  In 2004, Pegg and Wright made the first of three films collectively called the “Cornetto” trilogy, a “romantic zombie comedy” called Shaun of the Dead; Pegg starred, Wright directed and the two co-wrote the screenplay, while Frost costarred, and Hynes had a cameo.  Three years later came the second of the Cornetto films, a wildly comic take on buddy cop movies:

In 2013, Pegg, Wright and Frost finished off the Cornetto trilogy with the sci-fi comedy The World’s End.  Pegg has also had major roles in a pair of big-budget franchises, playing Benji Dunn in the last three Mission: Impossible films and Montgomery Scott in the rebooted Star Trek series (and also co-writing the latest in the series).  A handful of the other films on this busy man’s filmography have been Burke and Hare, Paul (co-written with Nick Frost), and Kill Me Three Times.  In the coming year he will appear in the thriller Terminal and reprise his role as the junk dealer Unkar Plutt in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

John Barrymore (1882-1942: some sources give February 15 as his birth date) was one of the most famous members of a very famous acting family; both his parents, his two elder siblings, two of this children and one granddaughter had acting careers on stage, screen or both.  John Barrymore made his reputation as a stage actor in the early 20th century, where his performances in roles like Richard III and Hamlet earned him the reputation of “America’s greatest living tragedian.”

In the 1920s he moved into film.  His physical presence was an asset in silent films; he starred in movies such as Sherlock Holmes, The Sea Beast, and Don Juan.  With his stage actor’s vocal training he adapted readily to sound, starring in early classics like Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight, and Twentieth Century.  Sadly, during the 1930s his alcoholism started catching up with him, and his career went into decline in the years prior to his death in 1942.

Harriet Andersson is celebrating her 85th today.  Highlights of her career of over sixty years included starring in several of Ingmar Bergman’s films, including Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, and Cries and Whispers.  She is no relation to Bibi Andersson, another Bergman regular.

Meg Tilly, a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for Agnes of God, turns 57 today.  More recently she starred in the acclaimed Canadian series Bomb GirlsEnrico Colantoni, who played Keith Mars on Veronica Mars and has also had regular roles on Just Shoot Me! and the Canadian series Flashpoint, is turning 54.  Tom Burlinson turns 61.  A veteran of both stage and screen in Australia, he is best known in the US for starring as Jim Craig in The Man from Snowy RiverZach Galligan, who is 53 today, played Billy Peltzer in the two Gremlins movies.  Director and producer Angela Robinson, who celebrates her 46th, is known for the lesbian rom-com D.E.B.S. and the web series Girltrash! as well as her work on The L WordTeller (born Raymond Teller), who turns 69, is a magician and comedian who is known for his partnership with Penn Jillette.

Brett Dier, who had a recurring part on Bomb Girls and stars on Jane the Virgin, is turning 27.  Freddie Highmore, the child star of Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, turns 25; he currently plays Norman Bates on A&E’s Bates MotelDanai Gurira, who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead, is 39 today.  She also is a playwright who wrote the Tony-nominated play EclipsedAllie Grant, known for her roles on Weeds and Suburgatory, is turning 23 today.

In music, Tim Buckley (1947-1975) was a folk-rocker who developed an eclectic style that incorporated jazz, funk, psychedelic music and more.  Although he had little commercial success before his death of a drug overdose, he is very highly regarded in retrospect.  His son Jeff went on to a distinctive music career of his own, which sadly also ended prematurely.  Rob Thomas, who is 45 today, won three Grammys for his collaboration with Santana on the 1999 hit “Smooth.”  He is the lead singer and songwriter for the band Matchbox Twenty and also performs and records as a solo artist.  Four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming turns 58.  The lyric soprano is known for singing roles ranging from Mozart to Richard Strauss, and for performing in six languages during her career.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is 57 today.  Kelly starred at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills for over a decade, orchestrating the Bills’ “K-Gun” offense and leading them to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early nineties; unfortunately, the other team was always a little bit better and Kelly ended up on the losing end all four times.   Another former star NFL quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, is turning 45.  He starred for the New England Patriots during the 1990s, making four Pro Bowls, but will probably be remembered more for being replaced by Tom Brady at quarterback in 2001.  Woody Hayes (1913-1987) was one of the legendary figures of college football coaching during his long tenure at The Ohio State University, during which he guided the Buckeyes to five national titles and 13 Big Ten championships.  Johnny Longden (1907-2003) was one of the most famous jockeys of the 20th Century; the high point of his lengthy career was riding Count Fleet to a Triple Crown in 1943.

Carl Bernstein, who turns 73 today, was one of the Washington Post reporters who became famous (along with Bob Woodward) for his investigations of the Watergate break-in in 1972.  Dustin Hoffman played Bernstein in the movie All the President’s Men.

Jack Benny (1894-1974) was a fixture on radio and/or television for over thirty years.  The Jack Benny Program, featuring Benny, Mary Livingstone (Benny’s real-life wife), Eddie Anderson (as valet Rochester van Jones) and others, began on NBC radio in 1932.  By the time the radio show’s run had ended in 1955, the television counterpart had been airing for five years, and continued to run until 1965.  Florence Henderson (1934-2016) will always be remembered as Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch (and a whole bunch of “Bunch” reunions).  She also had a significant career in musical theater which included starring in the original Broadway cast of Harold Rome’s Fanny.

Gregory Hines (1946-2003) was Tony-winning stage actor, noted as a dancer and choreographer, who also was known for films like The Cotton Club, White Nights, and Running ScaredLois Maxwell (1927-2007) won a Golden Globe in 1947 for That Hagen Girl, but the role she’s known worldwide for is as Miss Moneypenny in the first fourteen James Bond films.  Thelma Ritter (1902-1969) was a six-time Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress, including nominations in four consecutive years, from 1950-53.  Edward Platt (1916-1974) had a long film and television career, including playing Cary Grant’s attorney, Mr. Larrabee, in North by Northwest, but his biggest role was as Thaddeus, the Chief, on Get SmartVic Morrow (1929-1982) was known for starring in the 1960s series Combat!, as the father of WTHH subject Jennifer Jason Leigh, and for his death in a helicopter crash on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

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 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Simon Pegg’s film Shaun of the Dead is a modern-day zombie classic. The short-hand they used for it’s release (“Rom-Zom-Com”) is almost as iconic as the film itself. As a lifelong Star Wars fan while I had some complaints about The Force Awakens (it’s essentially a remake of George Lucas’ classic original film) I did enjoy Pegg’s performance as the slimy junk dealer Unkar Plutt.

    Pegg will return in Ep. 8? SPOILER ALERT! Ha ha, seriously, even as a big Star Wars fan I had no idea he was set to return in the sequel.


  2. Simon Pegg, I really like “Hot Fuzz”.
    Meg Tilly, she seemed to voluntarily drop from sight for quite a long time. I like 1988’s “Masquerade” probably more than other people do.
    Zach Galligan, other than the “Gremlins films”, I remember him from 1993’s “All Tied Up”.
    Rob Thomas, I remember when Matchbox 20 was pretty mainstream, and I’ve seen him on Bill Maher’s panel in the past too.
    Jim Kelly, although I live near Buffalo and like Buffalo, I don’t like the local sports teams, but Kelly scared me when he played, because he had heart and ability. I definitely respect him.
    I like Drew Bledsoe, and he helped the Patriots dig out of their late 1980’s- early 1990’s mess, which eventually led to greatness. In my mind, he’s a player who laid the groundwork for what the Patriots have become today. Today I hear he & his wife run their own winery; good for them.
    Jack Benny, I’ve caught some of his program; I like it.
    Florence Henderson, well, she’ll always be the mom of “The Brady Bunch” to many, as well as myself.
    Gregory Hines, that guy could really dance, and I also liked his acting (other than the films named in the article, I thought he was good in “Wolfen” and did what he could with 1991’s “Eve of Destruction”).
    Vic Morrow, him and those two kids died a brutal death, and like what happened to Brandon Lee, it never should’ve occurred. I like film, but they’re not worth dying over.


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