March 4: Happy Birthday Paul W. S. Anderson and Len Wiseman

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On a day without a lot of really big names, our headliners are a pair of directors who have some things in common: 1) they are each responsible for a durable action-horror franchise, which 2) features a heroine who kicks loads of ass.  Further, 3) each director married the actress who stars  in his respective franchise (although one couple is now separated).

Paul W. S. Anderson is turning 52 today.  He began as a writer for British television and then made an independent crime film called Shopping.  His next films included a video game-to-film adaptation, Mortal Kombat, and the sci-fi/horror film Event Horizon.  But it was in 2002 that he began his association with another video game adaptation, about a world beset by a zombie apocalypse.

Anderson has written and produced all six of the Resident Evil films (the latest of which is apparently the last), and directed all but two of them.  His other films have included Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, and Pompeii.  He and Milla Jovovich, who plays Alice in the Resident Evil series and also was Milady in The Three Musketeers, were married in 2009.

Len Wiseman, who turns 44 today, began his film career working as a property assistant (also called a prop assistant) on a number of 1990s features, including Independence Day and Men in Black.  He worked in advertising and directed music videos before directing, and co-writing the story, for a 2003 film about an ages-old conflict between vampires and werewolves (or “lycans,” if you prefer).

Wiseman directed the first two Underworld films himself and has produced all five (with a potential sixth in the offing in a couple of years).  His other directing efforts include Live Free or Die Hard and the 2012 version of Total Recall, as well as a number of TV series pilot episodes.  He married Underworld star Kate Beckinsale in 2004; they separated in late 2015.

Catherine O’Hara, who is 63 today, has been nominated for Emmys for both acting and writing, winning in the Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series for SCTV Network in 1982.  Her film career includes playing Kate McCallister in two Home Alone movies and appearing in most of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries.  Adrian Lyne, who turns 76, is known for directing films like Flashdance, Fatal Attraction, and UnfaithfulMykelti Williamson, who played Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump and recently played Gabriel Maxson in Fences, is turning 60 today.  Patricia Heaton, who is celebrating her 59th, was a seven-time Emmy nominee for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, with two wins, as Debra Barone on Everybody Loves RaymondEmilio Estefan, who is 64, has had a career as a musician but is most important as a producer, initially for his wife, Gloria Estefan, but also for other Latin artists including Shakira, Celia Cruz, and more.  Kay Lenz, who also turns 64, is a five-time nominee for Primetime Emmys, winning Outstanding Guest Actress for an appearance on NBC’s Midnight CallerPatsy Kensit, who turns 49, is known to US audiences from her role in Lethal Weapon 2, and has had a long career in British television.  Sam Taylor-Johnson, the director of Nowhere Boy and Fifty Shades of Grey, is 50 today.

Tamzin Merchant, who turns 30, starred on the just-completed WGN series Salem as Anne Hale and also on Showtime’s The TudorsScott Michael Foster, who is 32 today, played Cappie Jones on ABC Family’s Greek and more recently was a regular on the short-lived Blood & OilJosh Bowman, best known as Daniel Grayson on Revenge, turns 29 today.  Andrea Bowen, who played Julie Mayer on Desperate Housewives, is celebrating her 27th birthday.

Sports birthdays today include Baseball Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance (1891-1961), who won nearly 200 games despite not establishing himself in the major leagues until he was past 30 years of age.  Lefty O’Doul (1897-1969), a near-contemporary of Vance’s, had a relatively short playing career but is important to the game’s history because of his role in popularizing baseball in Japan in the mid-20th century.  Knute Rockne (1888-1931) starred in football at Notre Dame and then became the university’s coach, leading them to five national championships in just over a decade.  His death in a plane crash in 1931 led to important advances in aircraft design and improvements in air travel safety.  Pat O’Brien played Rockne in the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All AmericanLandon Donovan, probably the best player the US Men’s National Soccer Team has ever had, turns 35 today.  He is the all-time US leader in both goals and assists.  Scotland’s all-time leading goalscorer is Kenny Dalglish, who turns 66 today.  He scored 30 goals for his national side and over 200 for his club teams in his career.

Novelist James Ellroy is turning 69 today.  He has written over a dozen novels—mostly crime fiction, often set in the recent past rather than the present, much of it taking place in Los Angeles.  Some of his best known books make up the L.A. Quartet, among them The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential.

Pearl White (1889-1938) has a claim to be the first action heroine in film history.  She starred in the 1914 silent serial The Perils of Pauline as the title character, and followed up in the lead roles in other serials of the decade such as The Exploits of Elaine and The Iron Claw.  Writer and director Herbert Biberman (1900-1971) is remembered as a victim of the anti-communist blacklist and for directing pro-union 1954 film Salt of the EarthJohn Garfield (1913-1952), who starred in films like The Postman Always Rings Twice and Force of Evil, was also blacklisted in the early 1950s, prior to his death from a heart attack.  English actress Joan Greenwood (1921-1987) was known for appearing in films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, and Best Picture winner Tom Jones.

Miriam Makeba (1932-2008) was a South African singer and human rights activist.  She was introduced to American audiences thanks to support from Harry Belafonte, and later shared a Grammy with him for the 1966 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba.  She spent decades in exile from her native country because of her opposition to apartheid, but returned home in 1990 at the urging of Nelson Mandela.

Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal (1394-1460) was important to history because of his role in sponsoring many of the early exploratory voyages of the so-called Age of Discoveries; his captains sailed down the then unknown coast of Africa and made the first voyages to Madeira and the Azores.  John Buford (1826-1863) was a US Army cavalry officer during the US Civil War who played a pivotal role at the Battle of Gettysburg; Sam Elliott played Buford in the movie Gettysburg.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was one of the leading composers of the Baroque era.  His best known works include a wide variety of instrumental concertos.  One group of four, Le quattro stagioni or The Four Seasons, were extremely popular, almost to the point of overexposure, during the 1980s.

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 4, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Paul W.S. Anderson, I like “Shopping” (looking forward to the sequel “Shopping II: The Amazon Years”), “Event Horizon” (I’m normally not in for Sci-Fi, but this is one I liked), and I also thought 1998’s “Soldier” is pretty good. As for the Resident Evil series, I watched the first one, but neither the rest of the series or video games (I did just watch a playthrough of “Resident Evil: Biohazard”, which I thought was intense) I haven’t watched or played.
    Catherine O’Hara, how about her bent ice cream vendor character in “After hours”? But yeah, I identify with her most from the first two Home Alone films and the Christopher Guest mockumentaries.
    Adrian Lyne, I’ve liked a few of his films, like the ones mentioned in the article, but there was a “Jacob’s Ladder” article posted on here a year or so ago, and I think that’s his best film. Actually, his directing credits are pretty sparse (sort of like Philip Kaufman’s).
    Mykelti Williamson, he was in the pilot episode of “Miami Vice”, and I remember him from the 1997 film “Truth or consequence N.M.” (I like that film). I thought he was excellent in “Forrest Gump” too.
    Patricia Heaton, I enjoy “The Middle”.
    Kay Lenz, I’m just drawn to certain people, and something about her just sucks me in, even her small role in 1986’s “House”. I’m fond of her, and therefore her work.
    Patsy Kensit, there’s “lethal Weapon 2”, but I recall that Mia Farrow biography that she starred in too, “Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story”.


  2. Catherine O’Hara is on the list of the top five worst Whose Line UK panelists.


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