March 1: Happy Birthday Ron Howard and Harry Belafonte


Our two headliners today were photographed together at the 2014 Oscars.

America could be said to have watched Ron Howard, who is 63 today, grow up on our television screens and in movie theaters.  He was only six when he began an eight-season run as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.  During the show’s run he also appeared in prominent feature film roles such as Winthrop Paroo in The Music Man and Eddie Corbett in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

When his run on Andy Griffith ended, Howard had a few low-profile years, but he soon was back on the big and small screens.  In 1972 he was cast as a teenager named Richie Cunningham in an episode of the anthology series Love, American Style.  That led to two big developments.  First, George Lucas cast Howard in a major role in American Graffiti, which was a huge hit.  Second, the episode led to the creation of the hit series Happy Days, which starred Howard in, again, the role of Richie Cunningham.

During his time on Happy Days, Howard decided he really wanted to get into directing.  He directed his first feature, Grand Theft Auto, while still on the show, and left the series in 1980 to begin a full-time directing career.  Since then he has been a fixture in mainstream Hollywood.  Some of his films have been successful (Cocoon, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Da Vinci Code), while others have not (Far and Away, EDtv), but never to the point where he can’t get financing for his next project.  He won two Oscars for producing and directing A Beautiful Mind, and was nominated in the same two categories for Frost/Nixon.

Harry Belafonte is celebrating his 90th today.  As a young man he had hopes of a career in theater; he and a friend named Sidney Poitier often attended plays together.  But although his acting career brought him a Tony Award, he soon found his true vocation as a singer.  He made his public singing debut with the backing of none other than Charlie Parker.  His first album, a folk release, came out in 1954, but it was with his next two albums, both released in 1956, that he became a star.  Belafonte included a mix of musical styles, while Calypso was largely the kind of music implied by the title.  Both albums reached #1 on the Billboard 200, and the latter album included Belafonte’s most successful single:

In the 1960s Belafonte won an Emmy for the “Tonight with Belafonte” episode of the variety show The Revlon Revue, and two Grammys in the Best Folk Performance category.  He had an interesting film career that included major roles in films such as Carmen Jones, Odds Against Tomorrow, Buck and the Preacher, and Kansas City.  At the 2014 Oscars, he was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for a lifetime of public service activities.

Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, who is 34 today, won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave, and was the motion capture performer and voice actress for Maz Kanata in The Force Awakens.  Also an Oscar winner is Javier Bardem, who won Best Supporting Actor for No Country for Old Men and has been nominated twice for Best Actor.  Bardem is 48 today.  Jensen Ackles, who stars as Dean Winchester on Supernatural, celebrates his 39th.

Robert Conrad, who played James West on The Wild Wild West and Pappy Boyington on Baa Baa Black Sheep, turns 82 today.  Dirk Benedict, who is turning 72, played Lt. Starbuck on the original Battlestar Galactica and Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck on The A-TeamTim Daly, who turns 61, is known for his regular roles on Wings, Private Practice and currently on Madam SecretaryZack Snyder, who is 51 today, is known for directing films such as 300, Watchmen, Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman.  How favorably he is known is up to you.  George Eads, who starred as Nick Stokes on CSI for its entire 15-season run and currently plays Jack Dalton on the revived MacGyver, is turning 50.  Catherine Bach, who played Daisy Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard and in so doing inaugurated a fashion style, turns 63.  Director and writer Phil Alden Robinson, who turns 67, was an Oscar nominee for screenwriting for Field of Dreams, and shared an Emmy for directing on HBO’s Band of Brothers.

Our big sports birthday today is NFL star Ben Roethlisberger, who is 35.  Big Ben, one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now, has made five Pro Bowls in his career and led the Pittsburgh Steelers to victories in two Super Bowls.

Roger Daltrey celebrates his 73rd today.  He has had a productive solo music career but is best known as the lead singer and frontman of The Who.  Although Pete Townshend was The Who’s dominant creative influence, Daltrey’s potent vocals and onstage charisma were essential to their success.  Also turning 73 is Mike D’abo, the lead vocalist of Manfred Mann in the late sixties.  He is the father of Olivia D’abo and first cousin of Bond Girl Maryam D’aboGlenn Miller (1904-1944) was one of the biggest names of the big band jazz era, and the best selling musical artist in America from 1939-43.  In late 1944, when he was on a tour to entertain American troops in Europe, his plane disappeared over the English Channel.

Music birthdays that are a bit more contemporary include Justin Bieber, who turns 23.  Since he was discovered via recordings he posted on YouTube, Bieber has sold over 100 million records worldwide.  All four of his studio albums have reached #1 and he has had fifteen Top 20 singles.  Also celebrating is rapper and pop star Kesha, who is 30 today.  Her first seven singles reached the Top Ten, but her career has been sidetracked by a legal dispute with her producer.

David Niven (1910-1983) won an Oscar for Separate Tables, and was known for his starring roles in A Matter of Life and Death and Around the World in 80 Days, and for playing Sir Charles Lytton in The Pink Panther.  Director Jacques Rivette (1928-2016), a key figure in the French New Wave, is known for film such as L’amour fou and Celine and Julie Go BoatingJoan Hackett (1934-1983) was a prominent leading lady of the late sixties and seventies, and was a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for the 1981 film Only When I LaughAlan Thicke (1947-2016) starred as Jason Seaver on Growing Pains, and was the father of singer Robin Thicke.

Novelist Ralph Ellison (1913-1994) is famous for his National Book Award winning novel Invisible Man, one of the most important works of literature about the African-American experience.  Nevada Barr, who is 65 today, worked as a ranger for the National Park Service, and put that experience to good use in writing her series of mysteries featuring Anna Pigeon, a ranger with the National Park Service.

Our final music birthday today, a big one, is Frederic Chopin (1810-1849).  A virtuoso pianist, Chopin wrote almost all of his music for solo piano, and ranks among the greatest composers for the piano of all time.  A native of Poland, he spent most of his adult life outside his country of birth.

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 March 1, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I grew up on Happy Days as a kid, and I loved Ron Howard in American Graffitti, still one of my favorite films. But being a director is where he really shines. Night Shift, one of his early efforts, is underrated in my opinion, just a really funny film. Henry Winkler got a rare opportunity to show his range as an actor here beyond Fonzie.

    Ahhhh, Catherine Bach aka Daisy Duke, my earliest boyhood crush. You just never forget your first. Be still my beating heart.

    Zack Snyder is a real mixed bunch for me. I still think his remake of Dawn of the Dead was exceptional, one of the few remakes that I could say is as good as the original. I also really enjoyed 300 and Watchmen. If it was 2009, I would say he’s a good director. But Man of Steel was pretty lousy, and I while I didn’t bother with Batman V. Superman I heard much, much worse things about it. I’m not sure what happened with him.


    • But doesn’t credit for the Dawn of the Dead remake go primarily to the clever script by James Gunn? With 300 and Watchmen, a lot of the credit goes to the source material. And some (myself among them) would argue that while Snyder did a great job recreating the visuals of the comic books, he got the tone of Watchmen 100% wrong.


  2. Ron Howard, I thought he was great in “Happy Days”, but I think he made the right move to switch to directing, as I love “Night Shift” and think “A beautiful Mind” is pretty great.
    Harry Belafonte, he’s packed about four different careers in my lifetime, but probably my favorite project that he was a part of is 1984’s “Beat Street”.
    Dirk benedict, I thought he was good in 1973’s “Sssssss” and I loved him as Face in “The A-Team”.
    Catherine Bach, a real pin up gal and trend setter with those Daisy Dukes; she’s hard to forget.
    Kesha (no cash sign on her $ anymore? Oh right, the dispute), I like that song Tik Tok”; real motivating for me.
    David Niven, another performer with a long list of credits and accomplishments; I like 1976’s “Murder by Death” (love the title).
    Alan Thicke, yeah, I remember him best from “Growing Pains”.


    • When I posted this link to the “Growing Pains” message board on SitcomsOnline, somebody PMed me with this
      Stop making birthday threads for tv stars who have died. Alan Thicke died. It’s in very poor taste that you made him a birthday thread and he’s dead.
      Think before you post.


      • Re: Alan Thicke
        You’re putting words in my mouth. Stop it. You’re lucky this isn’t on the Family Ties board. There is a rule against arguing with moderators. You’re trying to upset me and it’s not cool.

        I never said you can’t mention Alan Thicke or his accomplishments. It’s just that he died 3 months ago. Show some respect. I doubt it if a family member of yours or close friend had died nad someone was saying Happy Birthday. If nothing else, out of respect for the Thicke family, back off. It would be different say if in 10 years someone were to say wow he would have been 79. Key phrase would have been.
        He was a great actor.

        I notice you go around and post different articles on show boards, many of which you don’t usually post on. You pull posts from other websites, etc. and copy and paste it here on SO. That’s another rule breaker.

        Since you obviously have a beef with me and have sent me 3 pm’s in a short period of time trying to egg me on, I suggest you leave me alone. Put me on your ignore list. If you continue to harrass me I will take it up with TJ.

        Thanks for ruining my night!

        Read more: Sitcoms Online Message Boards – Forums – Re: Alan Thicke


        • I find it hilarious that Jenny AKA Family Ties Forever accuses me of “ruining her night” when she was the one who PMed me in the first place in confrontation and complaining about posting about Alan Thicke’s first birthday since his untimely death!


      • There’s always someone out there that gets all bent out of shape and oversensitive when it comes to these types of acknowledgements, like their reading too much into the acknowledgement and get all defensive, to the point of taking it personal. If someone said “Ha, Alan Thicke, Happy Birthday six feet under!”, that would be offensive. Again, I go back to some individuals looking for reasons to be upset or offended. When it comes to this site though, those who haven’t ever visited here just don’t understand.
        I learned a few days ago that Alan Thicke & Kristy Swanson were once engaged in the late 1980’s, which definitely was news to me.


        • I actually don’t visit Sitcoms Online much myself, I’m only there to read comments about “Unsolved Mysteries, since technically that show, due to, well, unsolved mysteries, remains ongoing, and I usually get extra information or an update on a case (though I have to say that the Escape channel does a good job staying up to date, since they apparently had Dennis Farina record a one size fits all breaking news update line before the reformatting of the show ended).


        • Maybe Jenny thought that since Alan Thicke’s birthday incidentally, is only a mere months following the month that he died, it would’ve been too sensitive of a subject to publicly acknowledge that he would’ve been 70 had he lived. In effect, asking about what he would be doing if he were still around reeks of “too soon”. I see it as briefly celebrating about Alan Thicke’s life and career, not his death specifically.


        • People know who Alan Thicke was, I don’t think it would seem right to ignore his birthday just because he passed away a few months before. In the end, no one meant any harm.


  3. Every Superman Voice, Ranked Worst To Be


    After the unprecedented success of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Timm and his collaborators turned their attention toward reinvigorating the Man of Steel in similar fashion. The producers had already showcased their preternatural understanding of what made iconic DC characters work, a revolutionary animation style, and movie-worthy scores, but perhaps the most important key to Batman’s success had been the casting of big name, live-action actors, something that didn’t generally happen in kid’s television animation at the time.

    By the mid-1990s, Tim Daly had already appeared in dozens of TV shows and films, but he was best known as the lead on the long running NBC sitcom Wings, where he was the uptight, stressed-out owner of a small airline. He may have seemed a somewhat peculiar choice to voice Superman, but he immediately made the role his own.

    Daly’s greatest innovation was perhaps that there was very little difference in how he voiced Superman and Clark Kent. The latter was never portrayed as a Christopher Reeve-like bumbling nerd; this version of Clark was self assured and competent. Daly’s Superman set the template for how the character has been voiced ever since.


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