February 17: Happy Birthday Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jim Brown
Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns 36 today. He began acting as a child and started to become well known for a pair of roles he played as a teenager, Tommy Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun and Cameron James in 10 Things I Hate About You. He scaled back his acting career for a few years while studying at Columbia University, but eventually dropped out and returned to film and television. One of his first films after doing so was a film noir pastiche set in a high school:
In the past decade Gordon-Levitt has emerged as a major actor, if not quite an A-lister. He has been nominated for two Golden Globes, for 500 Days of Summer and for 50/50. He has starred in moderately budgeted films such as Hesher and Premium Rush while playing major supporting parts in big-budget pictures like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and Lincoln. In 2013 he made his feature directing debut with Don Jon (which he also wrote and starred in), and last year he played the title role in Snowden.
NFL superstar and actor Jim Brown celebrates his 81st today. Brown played nine seasons at running back with the Cleveland Browns, and was a Pro Bowl selection every year. He led the NFL in rushing eight of his nine seasons and retired as the all-time leader in rushing yards. He led the Browns to the 1964 NFL Championship. And then, still at the top of his game, he retired to commit to a full-time acting career.
Brown’s first film role was in the 1964 Western Rio Conchos. In the late sixties he had a number of major roles in action and suspense films such as Ice Station Zebra, Dark of the Sun, and 100 Rifles. He then starred in a number of blaxploitation films of the early seventies, such as Slaughter and Three the Hard Way, and continued to work in film on a fairly regular basis through the mid-2000s. One of his best-known roles was as Robert Jefferson, one of The Dirty Dozen:
Rene Russo, a major star of the nineties known for films like Lethal Weapon 3, In the Line of Fire, and Get Shorty, turns 63. She recently played Frigga in the two Thor films and gave an acclaimed performance in Nightcrawler. Irish actress Brenda Fricker, who is 72 today, won Best Supporting Actress for My Left Foot. Daniel Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy, is 54 today. He was part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and starred on Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. Lou Diamond Phillips, who is 55, starred as Richie Valens in La Bamba and was a Golden Globe nominee for Stand and Deliver, and later received a Tony nomination for the 1996 revival of The King and I. Christina Pickles, who is celebrating her 82nd, was a five-time Emmy nominee as Helen Rosenthal on St. Elsewhere and also received a sixth Emmy nomination for her recurring role of Judy Geller on Friends. Director Michael Bay, who is 52 today, is known for movies that blow lots of stuff up, make a lot of money, and are generally disliked by critics.
Bond Girl Denise Richards celebrates her 46th. Besides her Razzie-winning role as the unfortunately-named Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough, she is known for films like Wild Things and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Jerry O’Connell is 43 today; he made his feature film debut in Stand By Me, and has starred on television on Sliders and Crossing Jordan. Rory Kinnear, who played Bill Tanner in the three most recent Bond films, turns 39. He is also a two-time Olivier Award winner, most recently as Iago in a 2013 revival of Othello. Dominic Purcell, who starred on Prison Break and plays Mick Rory on Legends of Tomorrow, is 47 today. Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, celebrates her 26th. Sasha Pieterse, who is 21, plays Alison DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars, currently in its final season.
Hal Holbrook, who turns 92 today, is a five-time Emmy winner and won a Tony for his one-man play Mark Twain Tonight! He recently was an Oscar nominee for Into the Wild and played Francis Blair in Lincoln. Patricia Routledge, who is celebrating her 88th, has won a Tony, for the musical Darling of the Day, and an Olivier, for a revival of Candide, for her work in musical theater, and is also known for starring on the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Julia McKenzie, who is turning 76, is also an award-winning musical theater star, winning Olivier Awards for her roles in revivals of Guys and Dolls (as Miss Adelaide) and Sweeney Todd; she is also known for starring in Agatha Christie’s Marple as Miss Marple.
Music birthdays include Loreena McKennitt, who is turning 60. The Canadian singer is known for her Celtic-influenced music and had a mainstream hit with the top 20 single “The Mummer’s Dance.” Billie Joe Armstrong, who celebrates his 45th, is the primary songwriter, lead singer and guitarist for the punk band Green Day, who have won five Grammys, including Record of the Year for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Taylor Hawkins, born the same day as Armstrong, is the drummer for Foo Fighters, who are eleven-time Grammy winners. Ed Sheeran, an rising star of pop music from England, has eleven Grammy nominations to his name at the age of 26, and won his first two last year for “Thinking Out Loud.” Gene Pitney (1940-2006) was a pop star of the sixties who wrote hits like Ricky Nelson’s “Hello, Mary Lou” and The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel,” and had several charted singles of his own.
Writers born today include Andre Norton (1912-2005, birth name Alice Mary Norton), one of the most prominent authors of science fiction and fantasy of the 20th century. She wrote or co-wrote over 150 novels, including the roughly 20 novels and numerous short stories of the Witch World series. Chaim Potok (1929-2002) was one of the most influential of Jewish-American authors, known for novels such as The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev. Andrew B. “Banjo” Paterson (1864-1941) was one of Australia’s leading poets; he was the author of “The Man from Snowy River,” which was the basis for the movie of that title, “Clancy of the Overflow,” and “Waltzing Matilda,” which is considered Australia’s unofficial national anthem.
Arthur Kennedy (1914-1990) was a five-time Oscar nominee, four of them for Best Supporting Actor, but never won. On stage he won a Tony for playing Biff Loman in the original production of Death of a Salesman, and also originated three other major roles in Arthur Miller’s plays.
Finally, Jim Brown is not the only sports legend with a birthday today. Michael Jordan is very possibly the greatest basketball player of all time. His Airness led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, won five MVP awards, and holds an extraordinary list of NBA records. He is celebrating his 54th birthday today.
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 17, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Arthur Kennedy, Banjo Paterson, Denise Richards, Hal Holbrook, Jim Brown, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia McKenzie, Michael Jordan, Patricia Routledge, Rene Russo. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.