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February 26: Happy Birthday Michael Bolton and Johnny Cash

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Two-time Grammy winner Michael Bolton is turning 64 today.  Early in his career, both as a solo artist and with the band Blackjack, Bolton was a hard rock/heavy metal man, but in the early 1980s he reinvented himself as a pop-rock singer/songwriter and began to have a string of hits.  Some of his singles were covers of old standards, like “When A Man Loves a Woman” and “Georgia on My Mind.”  However, others, including his first #1 hit, were songs he wrote or co-wrote.

“How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” won Bolton his first Grammy, both of which have been in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category.  Some estimates put his total record sales worldwide in the vicinity of 75 million to date.  He continues to release albums regularly; some of his recent work has ventured into Great American Songbook territory.

Johnny Cash (1932-2003) has a fairly well-known story, since he was the subject of the 2005 biopic Walk the Line, in which he was played by Joaquin Phoenix.  His career began when he auditioned for Sam Phillips of Sun Records, and impressed him enough to get a record contract.  His career had ups and downs—an initial decade of success fizzled out in the mid-sixties as he struggled with substance abuse issues.  Then he married June Carter, cleaned up for nearly a decade, and had several new hits, including his most successful single on the Hot 100:

What Walk the Line leaves out is that Cash’s battles with substance abuse did not end with his second marriage—he had at least three further periods in rehab later in his life.  He continued to have professional ups and downs, but in his final decade he had something of a resurgence with his series of American Recordings albums, one of which included his famous recording of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt.”

Film audiences might recognize Priscilla Lopez, who turns 69, for roles like playing Jennifer Lopez’s mother in Maid in Manhattan.  Broadway theatergoers, however, known her for playing Diana Morales in A Chorus Line (and singing the show’s anthem, “What I Did For Love”), and winning a Tony for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the UkraineBill Duke, who is 74 today, is known for his supporting roles in a variety of action films, notably opposite Ah-nult in Commando and Predator, and for directing films such as Deep Cover and Hoodlum.  Character actor Greg Germann, who turns 59, was a two-time Emmy nominee as Richard Fish on Ally McBeal, and currently plays the recurring role of Hades on Once Upon a Time.

Australian actress Teresa Palmer, who turns 31 today, made her debut in the teen drama 2:37, and her Hollywood debut in The Grudge 2.  Although major stardom has eluded her so far, she has kept busy in the last decade; in 2016 alone she appeared in five feature films, including Triple 9 and Hacksaw RidgeJames Wan, who turns 40, is known for his involvement with the Saw, Insidious and Conjuring horror franchises (as writer, driector and producer at various points), for directing Furious 7, and is currently working on the upcoming Aquaman feature.  Shiloh Fernandez, who has starred in films such as the 2013 remake of Evil Dead and Return to Sender, turns 32 today.  Drew Goddard, who is 42 today, is currently the executive producer and showrunner on Daredevil.  He has written for Buffy, Angel, and Lost, and his film screenplays include Cloverfield, World War Z, and The Martian (for which he was Oscar-nominated).

Other music birthdays today include Erykah Badu, who is turning 46.  The soul/R&B artist has won four Grammys and had hits such as “On & On” and “Bag Lady.”  Antoine “Fats”Domino, who celebrates his 89th, was one of the pioneering figures of 1950s rock.  He is known for hits like “I’m in Love Again,” “Blueberry Hill,” and “Whole Lotta Loving.”

Baseball Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887-1950) won 373 games in his career and starred for the St. Louis Cardinals when they won the 1926 World Series.  He was played by none other than Ronald Reagan in a 1952 biopic.  Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk is turning 44.  The star running back rushed for over 12,000 yards in his career, made eight Pro Bowls, and led the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Robert Alda (1914-1986), the father of Alan Alda, worked regularly on Broadway for many years, winning a Tony for originating the role of Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls.  In film, he was best known for playing George Gershwin in Rhapsody in BlueJackie Gleason (1916-1987) was famous for his film roles such as Minnesota Fats in The Hustler and Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Smoky and the Bandit films, for his various TV variety shows, generally titled The Jackie Gleason Show, but above all as Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners.  William Frawley (1887-1966) appeared in over 100 movies, but is most likely to be remembered as Fred Mertz on I Love LucyMadeleine Carroll (1906-1987) was said to be the highest-paid actress in the world in the late thirties.  She starred in The 39 Steps as the first of Hitchcock’s great blonde heroines and also in the 1937 version of The Prisoner of ZendaJean Negulesco (1900-1993) was nominated for Best Director for the 1948 film Johnny Belinda, and also directed films such as The Mask of Dimitrios, the 1953 Titanic, and How to Marry a Millionaire.

Singer and actress Betty Hutton (1921-2007) began appearing in musicals for Paramount in the early forties.  Her breakout role was Trudy Kockenlocker in The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and she also starred in the film version of Annie Get Your GunTony Randall (1920-2004) was a six-time Emmy nominee; five of them, including his one win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, were for playing Felix Unger on The Odd Couple.  He was also known for films such as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and Pillow Talk.  English actress Margaret Leighton (1922-1976) was a two-time Tony winner for the plays Separate Tables and The Night of the Iguana, won an Emmy for a made-for-television version of Hamlet, and was an Oscar nominee for The Go-Between.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was one of the giants of French literature.  Internationally he is best know for his novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (aka The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).  In France he is also known as one of the nation’s greatest poets.  Neither Elizabeth George, who is 68 today, nor Sharyn McCrumb, who turns 69, are on the same literary heights as Hugo, but they have both been successful writers.  George is known for her series of 19 mysteries featuring aristocratic Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his working class partner, Sergeant Barbara Havers.  McCrumb first made her reputation with a series of mysteries about forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson, and subsequently has written the Ballad series, which explore the history and culture of Appalachia.

Buffalo Bill Cody (1846-1917) played a part in the history of the American West, and then, as the owner and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, played a much bigger part in making the “Western” an important genre in almost every popular media in this country for over a century.

Animation great Tex Avery (1908-1980) began his career working for Walter Lantz, but began to emerge as a creative talent when he moved to “Termite Terrace,” the Warner Brothers animation studio.  After several years there, he moved on to work MGM for over a decade, where he created Droopy and Screwy Squirrel.  One of his most significant cartoons helped establish the basic personality of one of the most famous Toons of all:

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 26, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Michael Bolton, I heard “How I Am Supposed to live Without You” a lot of the radio in those days and liked it a little (though never said that aloud), but didn’t really think of him much again until the film “Office space” had a character named Michael Bolton (ha!).
    Johnny Cash, I loved his cover of “Hurt”, and thought he was the perfect musician for it, while I also like songs such as “I’m An Easy Rider” and “Ring of fire”. I liked his whole thing of dressing in black too; I thought overall he was very authentic.
    Bill Duke, as an actor his role as Malcolm in 1987’s “No Man’s Land” sticks with me, while as a director I’m fond of “Deep Cover”.
    Greg Germann, I was introduced to him through “Ally McBeal” and retroactively caught up to his role in the “Miami vice” series finale ‘Freefall’.
    Tony Randall, I like “The Odd couple” and “Pillow Talk”.

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  2. I know it’s definately not cool to admit you like Michael Bolton, but he really does have an impressively powerful singing voice. That dude can sing. I’m probably going to lose some cool points for admitting this, but I did like some of his songs back in the day.

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  3. Jackie Gleason, The Great One. The Honeymooners is still one of my favorite sitcoms of all time, and how amazing is it that it ran only one season? That’s right, Honeymooners ran just 39 episodes and for just one year.

    Jackie Gleason had signed a contract – a very lucrative contract – to do two seasons of The Honeymooners for CBS, but Gleason had exacting standards and worried that his writers would not be able to consistently deliver the same level of quality for another year, so he ended the show himself. Gleason passed up a lot of money to hold to his own strict sense of quality.

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