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February 16: Happy Birthday Elizabeth Olsen and Mahershala Ali

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Elizabeth Olsen is celebrating her 28th today.  As a young girl, she made some appearances in The Adventures of Mary Kate and Ashley, a series of videos starring her older sisters (aka the Olsen Twins), as well as in their TV movie How the West Was Fun.  She resumed her acting career in 2011 as the star of the indie film Martha Marcy May Marlene, winning a lot of film critic association awards.  In the next two years she appeared in several films, including Liberal Arts and the US remake of Oldboy.

In 2014 she began to be involved in a pair of big-budget franchises.  She played Elle Brody in Godzilla, the first in the Monsterverse series that continues this year with Kong: Skull Island, and also had an end credits cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which turned out to be her first appearance as Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; she has continued in the role in Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.  She and MCU compatriot Jeremy Renner co-star in the thriller Wind River, which premiered at Sundance last month.

Mahershala Ali is 43 today.  He earned a master’s in acting at NYU and began getting regular roles in television early in the 2000s—as Trey Sanders on the first season of Crossing Jordan, as Richard Tyler on The 4400, and more recently as Remy Danton on House of Cards and as Cottonmouth Stokes on Luke Cage.  His film career had been relatively quiet until last year, when he had major roles in Free State of Jones, Hidden Figures, and most notably as Juan in Moonlight, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Christopher Eccleston is celebrating his 53rd.  He currently stars on HBO’s The Leftovers and the BBC’s The A Word.  His film roles range from Jude Fawley in Jude (adapted from Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure) to Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, while Doctor Who fans know him as the Ninth Doctor.  Sarah Clarke, who played the treacherous Nina Meyers on 24 and currently appears as Eleanor Wish on Amazon Studios’ Bosch, turns 45 today.  LeVar Burton became well-known for playing the young Kunta Kinte on Roots, and later played Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He celebrates his 60th today.  William Katt, who is turning 66, starred as Ralph Hinkely on The Greatest American Hero.

Ice-T (given name Tracey Marrow), the Grammy-winning rapper who also had some significant early 1990s film roles, turns 59 today.  Andy Taylor, who is turning 56, was the guitarist for Duran Duran during their most successful years.  Canadian singer-songwriter Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, is 27 today; he won two Grammys in 2016 and was nominated for an Oscar for “Earned It” from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.  Sonny Bono (1935-1998) was half of the pop duo Sonny & Cher, who had a #1 hit in 1965 with “I Got You Babe” and several other charted singles in the sixties and early seventies.  Patty Andrews (1918-2013) was the youngest of the Andrews Sisters, the close harmony trio who were extremely popular in the 1940s and sold over 75 million records.

Tennis great John McEnroe turns 58 today.  He won seven Grand Slam men’s singles titles during his career, along with nine men’s doubles titles, mostly with Peter Fleming.  He was the end-of-season #1 player in the world from 1981-84.  NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis is turning 45.  A star at running back for over a decade with the Rams and Steelers, “the Bus” is the #6 all-time rusher in NFL history, made six Pro Bowls, and helped the Steelers to a win in Super Bowl XL.  Another retired running back, Ahman Green, who turns 40, led Nebraska to two NCAA titles while in college and made four Pro Bowls during his career.  Baseball Hall of Famer Sliding Billy Hamilton (1866-1940) was a 19th century star who led the National League in stolen bases five times and still ranks #3 all time in career stolen bases.

Director John Schlesinger (1926-2003) was an Oscar winner for Midnight Cowboy, and was nominated two additional times for Best Director, for Darling and Sunday, Bloody SundayRobert Flaherty (1884-1951) directed the first feature-length documentary to be a box office success, the 1922 film Nanook of the North, and went on to make other documentaries like Moana as well as one of the first docudramas, Louisiana Boy.

Brian Bedford (1935-2016) was an English stage actor who was nominated for seven Tonys, winning in 1971 for starring in an English language version of Moliere’s The School for Wives.  His short film career included voicing Robin Hood in the 1973 Disney animated feature.  Katharine Cornell (1893-1974) was a leading Broadway actor of the 1930s and ’40s.  She was one of the first actresses honored with a Tony for Best Actress in a Play, for starring in a revival of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.

Edgar Bergen (1903-1978) was a comedian and radio actor but was most famous as a ventriloquist, in which he was assisted by Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.  Vera-Ellen (1921-1981) was an actress and dancer best known for her work in film musicals; she starred opposite Gene Kelly in On the Town and with Danny Kaye in White ChristmasHugh Beaumont (1909-1982) worked in film for many years but his signature role was as Ward Cleaver on Leave It to BeaverChester Morris (1901-1970) was nominated for Best Actor for the early sound film Alibi, and later starred in a series of Columbia mysteries about reformed criminal Boston Blackie.  Ken Takakura (1931-2014) was a Japanese film star, sometimes known as “the Clint Eastwood of Japan,” who is known to American audiences for appearances in films such as The Yakuza and Black Rain.

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.

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Posted on February 16, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I feel silly for not having realized that Elizabeth Olsen was related to the Olsen twins. I saw the Godzilla remake, but it didn’t make much of an impression. As you guys can probably imagine, what immediately comes to mind for me is her role in the Marvel Universe.

    Mahershala Ali, I know from House of Cards. I haven’t caught up with Luke Cage on Netflix yet as I have taken some time off from my subscription. I sampled Christopher Eccleston’s Dr. Who but didn’t really give it much of a shot until last year. I remember seeing him in Jude and eXistenZ back in the late nineties.

    I liked but never truly loved the Next Gen crew on Star Trek. LeVar Burton seems like a cool guy. He’s also got Roots and Reading Rainbow on his resume. I used to watch William Katt on The Greatest American Hero. Later, I saw him in Carrie. You have to give him credit for surviving working with Sean Young in Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.

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  2. Ha, Just an hour ago I picked up a small piece of paper in which I wrote LeVar Burton’s on it (I was looking up his filmography a few months ago).
    William Katt, I think I watched 1986’s “House” around the same time I was viewing reruns of “The Greatest American Hero” (I didn’t watch “Carrie” until later).
    Ice-T, I liked Body Count, and his roles in “Ricochet” and “New Jack City” left an impression on me. I think the guy’s cool. The sign says Lemonade!
    Sonny Bono, females have compared me to him, maybe due to the bad voice and the mustache. Too bad about his skiing accident, I remember when that went down.

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