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-Team. Tim Daly, who turns 61, is known for his regular roles on Wings, Private Practice and currently on Madam Secretary. Zack 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’abo. Glenn 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 Boating. Joan 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 Laugh. Alan 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 Catherine Bach, David Niven, Frederic Chopin, Harry Belafonte, Javier Bardem, Justin Bieber, Lupita Nyong'o, Robert Conrad, Roger Daltrey, ron howard. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.