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February 23: Happy Birthday Robert Lopez and Kelly Macdonald

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Songwriter Robert Lopez is turning 42 today.  He began writing songs as a child and wrote two musicals during his studies at Yale.  After graduation, he teamed with another songwriter, Jeff Marx, on a musical called Avenue Q.  An innovative musical which featured Sesame Street style puppets interacting with human characters, Avenue Q ran for over 2500 performances on Broadway and won three Tonys including Best Musical and Best Musical Score.

In 2003, Lopez was approached by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, of South Park fame, who had seen Avenue Q and had the beginnings of an idea for a musical.  It took the threesome seven years of development, but in 2011, the musical The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway.  It went on to win nine Tonys, including two that Lopez personally shared in, Best Book and Best Original Score.  The original cast album also won a Grammy.

Beyond his accomplishments on Broadway, Lopez has won two Daytime Emmys for his contributions to the Nickelodeon animated series Wonder Pets.  In 2007, Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote the music for a 40-minute Finding Nemo stage show that is performed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  The two also collaborated on several songs for the 2011 Disney feature Winnie the Pooh, and in 2013 they wrote the songs for Disney’s Frozen, one of which, “Let It Go,” won the Oscar for Best Original Song, making Lopez the youngest ever winner of the unofficial EGOT.

Kelly Macdonald is celebrating her 41st.  She was working as bartender in her native Glasgow when she heard about an open casting session for a movie, and she ended up with the role of Diane Coulston in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.  During the early 2000s she appeared in several interesting films, including the indie romance Two-Family House, Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, the blackly comic hyperlink movie Intermission, as Peter Pan in Finding Neverland, and in Nanny McPhee.  She also appeared in the BBC miniseries State of Play and the television movie The Girl in the Café, for which she won an Emmy.

In 2007, she ventured far from her roots, and left her Glasgow accent completely behind, to play a West Texas native in a film by the Coen Brothers:

In the past few years, Macdonald has starred in the romantic comedy The Decoy Bride and provided the voice of Merida in Brave.  She also starred on all five seasons of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and received two Emmy nominations.  Last year she starred in Ricky Gervais’s Special Correspondents, and she will appear later this year in T2 Trainspotting.

It’s highly appropriate that Josh Gad, who turns 36, celebrates his birthday today, as his most significant credits include originating the role of Elder Arnold Cunningham in The Book of Mormon and voicing Olaf the Snowman in FrozenEmily Blunt, who is 34 today, is a five-time Golden Globe nominee, with a win for Best Supporting Actress for the British TV movie Gideon’s Daughter.  She most recently starred in The Girl on the TrainAziz Ansari, born the same day as Blunt, starred as Tom Haverford on Parks & Recreation and is the co-creator and star of Netflix’s Master of NoneDakota Fanning, who celebrates her 23rd, was a child star of films like I Am Sam, Uptown Girls, and Man on Fire.  More recently she has played Cherie Currie in The Runaways and starred in Very Good Girls and Every Secret Thing.

Patricia Richardson, a four-time Emmy nominee for the role of Jill Taylor on Home Improvement, turns 66 today.  Kristin Davis, who is 52, was an Emmy nominee as Charlotte York on Sex and the CityMarie-Josée Croze, who is turning 47, has starred in French films like Tell No One and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, as well as playing smaller roles in Hollywood films like Munich and Taking LivesNiecy Nash, who is also 47 today, won a Daytime Emmy as the host of Style Network’s Clean House and was nominated twice for Primetime Emmys for HBO’s Getting OnPeter Fonda, who is 77, was an Oscar nominee (for co-writing the screenplay) for Easy Rider and is known for a variety of films, most notably the 1997 indie drama Ulee’s Gold, which co-starred Patricia Richardson.

Our short list of sports birthdays includes Fred Biletnikoff, who is 74.  He was a star wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders for 14 seasons, who made 4 Pro Bowls and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XI.  Tom Osborne’s football fame is as a coach; as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers for 25 seasons, he won over 250 games and three NCAA championships.  He turns 80 today.

William L. Shirer (1904-1993) was one of the most prominent American journalists of the mid-20th Century.  He reported on Europe for the Chicago Tribune and other papers, and then was recruited by Edward R. Murrow to become CBS Radio’s European bureau chief.  He smuggled his diaries out of Nazi Germany and turned them into Berlin Diary, his first book.  After the end of World War 2 he wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, an international bestseller, and The Collapse of the Third RepublicBernard Cornwell, who is 73 today, is an English author of historical fiction.  He is best known as the author of the two dozen novels of the Richard Sharpe series; both the Sharpe books and Cornwell’s Saxon Stories have been adapted to television (the latter as The Last Kingdom).  John Sandford (real name John Camp), who shares a birthday with Cornwell, is a journalist turned writer who specializes in crime thrillers set primarily in Minnesota.  Best known is his Prey series, now at 26 novels, featuring protagonist Lucas Davenport.

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (1932-2008) was known as the “First Lady of Star Trek” for her marriage to Gene Roddenberry and her involvement in several Star Trek series and feature films.  She played Christine Chapel in The Original Series as well as Number One in the pilot episode, and Lwaxana Troi on The Next Generation and Deep Space NineNorman Taurog (1899-1981) was only 32 when he won Best Director for Skippy, and remains the youngest ever winner in that Oscar category.  He worked as a director for over 40 years, including directing six of the Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin films and nine of Elvis Presley’s pictures.  Victor Fleming (1889-1949) worked as a director for 30 years; he is best remembered as the director of record for both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of OzJon Hall (1915-1979) is remembered for starring in The Hurricane with Dorothy Lamour and for a series of “Easterns” he made for Universal in the 1940s—adventure films with a Middle Eastern setting, also starring Maria Montez and frequently Sabu and/or Turhan Bey.  Oleg Yankovsky (1944-2009) was a major star of Russian film during the Soviet and post-Soviet eras who was known for his work with director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Today’s historical figures include Mayer Rothschild (1744-1812), the banker who was the patriarch of the Rothschild banking dynasty.  W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was an African-American sociologist and historian who did pioneering research on race in the US and was a co-founder of the NAACP.

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 23, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I didn’t immediately recognize either of today’s headliners. Given my lack of familiarity (a nice way of saying ignorance) with musical theater, it’s not all that surprising that Robert Lopez’s name doesn’t ring a bell. I have heard of Avenue Q and Book of Mormon and I know the songs to Frozen by heart.

    I have seen Kelly Macdonald in movies like Trainspotting and No Country For Old Men but had never put a name to the face before. Didn’t realize she was the voice of Merida either. I did know Josh Gad was the voice of Olaf. I also watched that show he did with Billy Crystal, The Comedians.

    I like Emily Blunt a lot. I would have first seen her in The Devil Wears Prada, but didn’t really figure out who she was until Edge of Tomorrow. I’m cautiously optimistic about her upcoming Mary Poppins movie.

    Aziz Ansari I know from Parks and Rec. I’ve heard good things about Master of None, but haven’t seen it. Dakota Fanning was one of those child stars who seemed like she might go the Macaulay Culkin route. Probably for the best she didn’t. Hopefully she has a career more like Jodie Foster.

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  2. i wish them long life and prosperity

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  3. Love Kelly McDonald!

    First saw her in No Country for Old Men and was really startled to see her talking in her Scottish accent in interviews because I thought she nailed that Texas accent.

    I also enjoyed her in Boardwalk Empire, though I felt like her character got some of the weaker storylines.

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  4. I know Kelly Macdonald from “Trainspotting”, “Stella Does Tricks”, “Gosford Park”, “The Girl in the Cafe”, and “No Country for Old Men”. I think she’s good.
    I started paying attention to Emily blunt after her performance in “Looper”.
    Dakota Fanning, I first remember young lady Dak from “The Cat in the Hat”, but I thought she did really well in “The Runaways”.
    Patricia Richardson, okay, we know about “Home Improvement”, but she’s also briefly in “C.H.U.D.” (which John Heard and Daniel Stern point out in the DVD commentary for that film).
    Kristin Davis, there’s “Sex and the city”, and I remember her on “Melrose Place” back in the day too.
    Peter Fonda, he shows up in some unexpected places; my last recollection of him was guest starring on season 3 of “Californication” and he voiced the character The Truth (so very Peter Fonda) in “Grand theft Auto: San Andreas”.

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  5. I first saw Kelly Macdonald in The Girl in the Café many years ago, and she has become one of my favorites. She is very good in films like Intermission and The Decoy Bride, and of course she absolutely nailed everything about Carla Jean Moss in No Country for Old Men, including that West Texas accent, which was good enough to draw praise from native Texan Tommy Lee Jones.

    She is also the fourth major cast member from No Country for Old Men to rate being a headliner on her birthday (after Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin), with Javier Bardem’s birthday still to come.

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