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February 21: Happy Birthday Kelsey Grammer and Sam Peckinpah

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Five-time Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer is turning 62 today.  After studying at Juilliard, he began working in theater and made his Broadway debut in 1981 in a revival of Macbeth—initially in a supporting part but eventually moving up to the title role.  He began working in television and soon landed the role of Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, joining the show’s cast in its third season and becoming a regular a couple of seasons later.  He received two nominations for Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor during his time on the show.

When Cheers ended its run, Grammer was asked to continue playing his character on a spinoff series.  Frasier ended up being one of the most successful spinoffs in television history, and Grammer won four Primetime Emmys (out of ten nominations) for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy.

Grammer has voiced the recurring role of Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons, and won a fifth Emmy; he also won a Golden Globe for starring in Starz’s series The Boss.  His film career has been less successful, although some may recall him as Hank McCoy in X-Men: The Last Stand.  He has made repeated returns to the stage, receiving a Tony nomination for a 2010 revival of the musical La Cage aux Folles and starring in the original Broadway production of the musical Finding Neverland.

Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) began working in film as a dialogue coach on several of Don Siegel’s 1950s films; Siegel was then able to help him find work writing for TV Westerns.  He created a short-lived TV Western series called The Westerner, following which the show’s star, Brian Keith, helped him get his first feature film directing assignment, The Deadly Companions.

While that film was unsuccessful, Peckinpah’s early work had attracted enough attention that he was next able to make Ride the High Country, another Western starring Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott as a pair of aging gunfighters trying to come to terms with the passing of the Old West.  While a financial failure in the US, it was a big success in Europe and with American critics.  His next film, Major Dundee, was less successful (and an early example of the director’s always stormy relationships with studios), but at the end of the sixties Peckinpah made the film that is usually regarded as his masterpiece.

The Wild Bunch was critically and commercially successful, and over time has cemented its status as one of the classic Westerns.  Peckinpah’s subsequent output was less successful.  He branched out from Westerns, making the dark, violent thriller Straw Dogs and the heist film The Getaway.  By the late seventies, alcohol and drug abuse were catching up with him—by the time he made Convoy in 1978, he reportedly spent most of the filming in his trailer, while James Coburn, engaged as a second unit director, actually directed most of the film’s footage.  He completed only one more feature before his death in 1984.

William Petersen, who celebrates his 64th, starred as Gil Grissom on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for the first eight seasons of its run.  He is also known for films like To Live and Die in L.A. and ManhunterChristine Ebersole, who is also turning 64, is another of those performers who is normally a supporting player on screen—although she’s starred on short-lived TV series such as Sullivan & Son—but a major stage star, who has won two Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.  Another Tony winner for her musical work is Tyne Daly, who is 71 today.  She is also a six-time Emmy winner, four of them for playing Mary Beth Lacey on Cagney & Lacey.  Daly shares her birthday with Anthony Daniels, who in addition to playing C-3PO in every Star Wars film to date, and in a bunch of other media, also voiced Legolas in Ralph Bakshi’s animated The Lord of the RingsMargarethe von Trotta, considered Germany’s leading female director and know  for films like Marianne and Juliane and Rosenstrasse, turns 75 today.

William Baldwin, who is 54 today, is the third of the four acting Baldwin brothers; he’s known for Flatliners, Backdraft, and the ABC series Dirty Sexy MoneyKim Coates, who is turning 59, is best known for his role on Sons of Anarchy as Alexander “Tig” Trager. Aunjanue Ellis, who turns 48, starred on the acclaimed miniseries The Book of Negroes and currently is a regular on ABC’s Quantico.

Sophie Turner, who is 21 today, began her acting career as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones.  She made her feature film debut in Another Me and last year appeared as Jean Grey in X-Men: ApocalypseEllen Page, who celebrates her 30th, was heralded as “the next A-lister” for a brief window of time in the mid-2000s when she gave acclaimed performances in Hard Candy and Juno, the latter of which brought her an Oscar nomination.  She also played Kitty Pryde in two X-Men films.  Born the same day as Page, Ashley Greene is known for playing Alice Cullen in the Twilight films.  Also turning 30 is Tuppence Middleton, who stars as Riley Blue on Sense8Hayley Orrantia, who plays Erica Goldberg on The Goldbergs, is turning 23 today.

Mélanie Laurent is celebrating her 34th.  She is a two-time Cesar Award winner, once for acting and once for directing the documentary Demain.  She made her Hollywood debut as Shosanna Dreyfus in Inglorious Basterds, and has since appeared in Now You See Me and Night Train to LisbonJennifer Love Hewitt, who turns 38, is best known for I Know What You Did Last Summer and a few other films and for her roles on Party of Five and (as the lead) on Ghost Whisperer.  She continues to get regular series television work, most recently on season 10 of Criminal Minds.  Two others who turn 38 today are Tituss Burgess, a two-time Emmy nominee for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt who also works regularly on Broadway, and Jordan Peele, who was part of the cast of MADtv for five seasons and then headlined Comedy Central’s Key & Peele.

In music, Mary Chapin Carpenter, a country singer with five Grammys, turns 59.  Her most successful years were in the nineties, when she had hit albums like Come On Come On and Stones in the RoadNina Simone (1933-2003) was one of the leading vocalists and pianists of the last sixty years, with a sound that blended jazz with classical, blues and gospel influences.  Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) was possibly the most important figure ever in classical guitar.  An important performer in his own right, he was also the teacher of the likes of Christopher Parkening, John Williams (not the film composer), and many more.

David Geffen, who celebrates his 74th, has been a major force on the business side of the entertainment industry for over 40 years.  He was the founder of a number of important record labels, including Asylum Records and Geffen Records, and was one of the co-founders of Dreamworks SKG along with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg.

Alan Rickman (1946-2016) was one of the most prominent character actors of the last 30 years.  He was a two-time Tony nominee, and won a BAFTA Award for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  His best-known roles include Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.  Ann Sheridan (1915-1967), known as “the Oomph Girl,” was a leading lady for over a decade in films such as Angels With Dirty Faces, Kings Row, and I Was a Male War BrideZachary Scott (1914-1965) frequently played villainous characters, in films such as The Mask of Dimitrios and Mildred Pierce.

W. H. Auden (1907-1973), one of the leading poets of the 20th century, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his long poem The Age of Anxiety.  Novelist and journalist Chuck Palahniuk, who turns 55 today, is best known for his novel Fight Club, the source of the film of the same title.

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 21, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have always been a fan of Alan Rickman, but if there’s one thing I absolutely love about him, it’s his voice. That may seem creepy, but it’s true. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone, though.

    I’ve only seen Ann Sheridan in one movie, and it’s “The Man Who Came To Dinner”. I like how she knew she was being manipulated by Bette Davis, but she went along with it anyway. It’s a shame Miss Sheridan died so young, though.

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  2. Hey, in my mailbox the entire article was posted, which is nice for reference, so I don’t have to continuously scroll down here and I’ll be in less danger of my comment not being post.
    Kelsey Grammer, he has a record-breaking run as Dr. Frasier Crane, and but wow, his family’s backstory is kind of tragic. I also liked in in films such as “Down Periscope” and 15 Minutes”.
    Sam Peckinpah, there’s a lot of films he directed I like: “The wild bunch”, “Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia”, “Straw Dogs”, “Convoy”, and “The Osterman Weekend”.
    William Petersen, yeah, this article hit on the two favorites of mine, “To Live and Die in L.A.” (“Frasier” cast member Jane Leeves is in it, although I don’t believe she has any lines) and “Manhunter”, plus I like the HBO baseball movie “Long Gone” that he was in, it’s a lot like “Bull Durham”, but a year before it.
    Christine Ebersole, she’s someone I know of and seen here and there, but I really can’t pinpoint any particular project.
    Tyne Daly, I loved her character in “The Enforcer”; her character really made that Dirty Harry film for me.
    William Baldwin, well, his career started well; I kind of like that TV Movie he did playing that robert Chambers guy, “The Preppie murder” (Chambers, in the end, wasn’t much of a preppie though, but good early role for W. Baldwin).
    Jennifer Love Hewitt, I guess she had a Palmer’s belly now; best of luck to her and her expected baby.
    David Geffen, he’s been one of the entertainment industry’s big time power players for a long time.
    Alan Rickman was the greatness: “Die Hard”, “The January Man”, “Dogma”, “Galaxy Quest”, anything really, I thought the man delivered.

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    • On this show, The CineFiles discuss the work of maverick director Sam Peckinpah.

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TroubledProduction/Film0ToL

      Sam Peckinpah walked a razor’s edge throughout the 1970s: his demanding personality and wild antics unnerved studios, but his films made enough money to justify hiring him. That is, until Convoy, which nearly destroyed Peckinpah’s career despite becoming his highest-grossing film.

      The film was an attempt to cash in on the trucking and CB radio fad of the late ’70s, using C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” as a hook. B.W.L. Norton wrote the original script, a lighthearted action comedy similar to Smokey and the Bandit. He pitched the script to EMI, who offered it to Peckinpah, then finishing post-production on Cross of Iron. Though dubious about the project’s potential, Peckinpah agreed on condition that he had complete control over the film. The studio agreed, and trouble promptly began.
      Peckinpah immediately started rewriting Norton’s script, re-envisioning it as a modern-day Western with truckers fighting against crooked lawmen and unfair interstate regulations, while also adding heavy-handed political satire. Unable to give these ideas much weight on their own, Peckinpah encouraged his stars (Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw and Ernest Borgnine among them) to write their own dialogue. James Coburn, working as Peckinpah’s assistant director, admitted that “There was no conflict. They didn’t know what the f*** was going on.”

      Production began in May 1977 and almost immediately spiraled out of control; within two weeks, Peckinpah was already behind schedule. Peckinpah refused to deal with producer Bob Sherman, enlisting his actors and crew members to run interference. The budget exploded as Peckinpah spent absurd amounts of time on individual scenes. One major set piece, a barroom brawl, took ten days to shoot. Entire action scenes were re-structured around accidental wrecks and botched stunts which Peckinpah left in the finished film. Then, production halted for several weeks when Kris Kristofferson left the shoot for a concert tour.

      But Convoy’s biggest bugbear remained Peckinpah, whose substance abuse spiraled out of control. He was taking heavy amounts of cocaine, Quaaludes and vitamin shots that left him both irritable and irrational. At one point, Peckinpah called his nephew David from the set, ranting that Steve McQueen and the Executive Car Leasing Company were conspiring to kill him. On the day the climactic funeral scene was set to film, with the cast, crew and 3,000 extras assembled, Peckinpah locked himself in the trailer for twelve hours, refusing to communicate with anyone. He also fired several crew members and assistants as filming dragged on. With their director incapacitated, Coburn and the other assistant directors essentially finished directing Convoy themselves.

      Filming finally wrapped in early September 1977, two months behind schedule and $3,000,000 over-budget. A month later, however, Peckinpah was assigned to re-shoot several scenes, which he did without incident. After several months of editing, Peckinpah delivered a rough cut without bothering to include the final half-hour of the movie. EMI finally lost patience with Peckinpah and took over editing; yet again, Peckinpah was barred from finishing his own movie.

      Amazingly, Convoy became a box office hit when it was finally released in the summer of 1978. However, Peckinpah’s meltdown convinced Hollywood studios that he was unemployable. It would be five years before Peckinpah made his next (and last) film, The Osterman Weekend, where he was given little control over the finished product.

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  3. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Jennifer Love Hewitt Anymore

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