February 22: Happy Birthday Drew Barrymore and Lea Salonga
Drew Barrymore turns 42 today. The granddaughter of John Barrymore, she became famous in her own right at a very young age for playing Gertie in E.T. and then starring in Irreconcilable Differences. But her childhood was far from idyllic—google “Drew Barrymore” along with “rehab” and you’ll probably learn more than you wanted to.
In the early nineties she began working regularly in film, although often in films that weren’t very well-received by either critics or audiences. 1996 was a bit of a turning point, as she appeared in Woody Allen’s ensemble film Everyone Says I Love You and was memorably terrified in the opening scene of Scream. Two years later she starred in a pair of financially successful films that showed she had a talent for romance, The Wedding Singer, her first film with Adam Sandler, and a somewhat revisionist take on a classic fairy tale:
Barrymore went on to have a decade or so as a fairly major star. She formed her own production company and produced or co-produced several of her films form 1999 on, including Never Been Kissed, the Charlie’s Angels films, Fever Pitch, and He’s Just Not That Into You. She made her directing debut in 2009 with Whip It, which was critically well received although not terribly successful at the box office. She was an Emmy nominee for the HBO film Grey Gardens and currently stars on Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet.
Lea Salonga celebrates her 46th birthday today. She began her performing career as a child in the Philippines, appearing in musical productions (including starring in Annie when she was nine), hosting a TV show when she was in her early teens, and releasing a pair of albums. Her international career began when the producers of a new musical conducted a worldwide talent search for a lead actress from an East Asian background. The outcome was that Salonga was cast as Kim in Miss Saigon, originating the part first in London, where she won an Olivier Award, and then on Broadway, where she won a Tony and several other acting awards.
From Miss Saigon, Salonga moved to the “other” Boubil-Schönberg musical. In early 1992 she joined the Broadway production of Les Misérables as Eponine, and in 1995 she was selected as part of the “Dream Cast” for the 10th Anniversary concert performance of Les Miz, which aired on PBS in the US before being released on home video.
Salonga has returned to Broadway in a revival of Flower Drum Song in 2002, in the 2006 revival of Les Misérables (replacing Daphne Rubin-Vega as Fantine), and most recently in the musical Allegiance. She also sang Fantine in the 25th Anniversary concert performance of Les Miz. She has provided the singing voices of two Disney Princesses, Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in Mulan.
English actress Julie Walters turns 67 today. She is a two-time Oscar nominee, for Educating Rita and Billy Elliott, and has won six BAFTA Awards, two for film and four for television. Kyle MacLachlan, who is 58, is best known for his work with David Lynch. He played Agent Dale Cooper on Twin Peaks, winning a Golden Globe and being nominated for two Emmys, and also starred in Lynch’s Dune and Blue Velvet. Director Jonathan Demme, who is 73, won Best Director for The Silence of the Lambs, and then directed Tom Hanks in an Oscar-winning performance in Philadelphia. Karin Dor, who is turning 79, played a bad Bond Girl in You Only Live Twice and starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz. Ellen Greene, who is 66 today, hit the peak of her career starring as Audrey in the stage musical Little Shop of Horrors and its 1986 film adaptation. Miou-Miou (given name Sylvette Herry), who turns 67, is a ten-time Cesar Award nominee, winning Best Actress for the 1979 film La Dérobade.
Jeri Ryan, who turns 49 today, is known to sci-fi fans as Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager, and also has been a regular on Boston Public and, most recently, the second season of Amazon’s Bosch. Thomas Jane, known for his roles in films such as Deep Blue Sea, Original Sin, and The Punisher, is 48. Elodie Yung, who celebrates her 36th, plays Elektra Natchios on Daredevil and will also reprise the role on The Defenders. Zach Roerig, who is turning 32, played Matt Donovan on The Vampire Diaries. Comedian and actress Rachel Dratch, who turns 51, was a seven-year cast member of Saturday Night Live and in 2012 published a memoir, Girl Walks Into a Bar. Stuntwoman Sara Holden turns 36. At 5-2 she frequently doubles smaller actresses like Kristen Bell or Michelle Williams. Paul Lieberstein, who celebrates his 50th, is an actor, writer, director, and producer. He is best known for his association with The Office, where he played Toby Flenderson, wrote and directed several episodes, and was the showrunner for several seasons (winning a Primetime Emmy in the process).
Sports birthdays today are headed by basketball legend Julius Erving. “Dr. J,” who turns 67, starred in the last few seasons of the American Basketball Association, leading the New York Nets to two titles, before joining the Philadelphia 76ers in, appropriately, 1976, and eventually winning an NBA title as well. He was a pioneer in popularizing the “above the rim” style of play that nowadays, in the post-Michael Jordan era, seems commonplace. Niki Lauda, who is 68, was a three-time world champion of Formula One auto racing. He was played by Daniel Brühl in the 2013 movie Rush. George “Sparky” Anderson (1934-2010) was the first Major League Baseball manager to win World Series titles in both leagues, and ranks 6th all time in total games won. Bill Klem (1874-1951) was one of the first two baseball umpires named to the Hall of Fame. A variety of stories are told about his umpiring days, such as the time a young player was so irate when Klem called him out on strikes that he threw his bat into the air. Klem calmly responded “Son, if that bat comes down, you’re out of the game.”
American singer Marni Nixon (1930-2016) had a career that included appearing in opera, on Broadway, and as a cabaret singer, but she was best known as a playback singer in movie musicals. She provided the singing voices for Deborah Kerr in The King and I and An Affair to Remember, for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. She also provided the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in Mulan. And in The Sound of Music, she got to appear onscreen as Sister Sophia.
I believe that Nixon is the one whose singing part begins “She waltzes on her way to Mass…”
Robert Young (1907-1998) was a hard working film actor of the thirties and forties, appearing in such films as Northwest Passage and Crossfire. He then became a television mainstay, first as Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best, then as the title character on Marcus Welby, M.D., winning three Emmys over the two series. John Mills (1908-2005) won best Supporting Actor for Ryan’s Daughter, the high point of a career of over 100 films, including David Lean’s Great Expectations (as the adult Pip) and Disney’s The Swiss Family Robinson (as the father). Jules Munshin (1915-1970) was a prominent stage actor, known for Call Me Mister, Barefoot in the Park, and other plays and musicals, and for his work in MGM musicals in the forties and fifties, such as Easter Parade and On the Town. Marguerite Clarke (1883-1940) was an early 20th Century stage actress who began working in silent films around 1914 and became a major silent film star; sadly, almost all her filmography is lost.
Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) is almost always ranked among the greatest filmmakers ever. Born in Spain, he spent much of his career based in either Mexico or France. Among his most highly-regarded films are Un Chien Andalou, Los Olvidados, Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Belle de jour, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Italian actress Giulietta Masina (1921-1994) was the wife and longtime collaborator of director Federico Fellini, starring in many of his best-known films such as La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and Juliet of the Spirits.
Steve Irwin (1962-2006) became one of the most famous Australians in the world during the heyday of his wildlife documentary show, The Crocodile Hunter. Some readers may recall the shocking day when he died from being stabbed in the heart by a stingray. Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941) had an influence on young people all over the world as the founder of the Boy Scouts Association and of the Girl Guides. His wife Olave Baden-Powell (1889-1977) was born the same day as he and was herself a major leader in the Girl Guides.
The biggest birthday of all today, of course, is one George Washington (1732-1799), the commander-in-chief of the American army during the American Revolution, the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and the first President of the US. Actors who have played Washington on screen include Barry Bostwick, Jeff Daniels, Kelsey Grammer, and David Morse.
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 22, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Drew Barrymore, George Washington, Giulietta Masina, Jeri Ryan, Julie Walters, Julius Erving, Kyle MacLachlan, Lea Salonga, Luis Bunuel, Marni Nixon, Robert Young. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.