March 6: Happy Birthday Rob Reiner and Stephen Schwartz
Rob Reiner is celebrating his 70th today. The son of nine-time Emmy winner Carl Reiner, he first became known in the 1970s for the role of Mike “Meathead” Stivic on All in the Family, winning a pair of Emmys of his own as Archie Bunker’s liberal son-in-law and foil. In the 1980s he began directing. His first feature was the cult classic This is Spinal Tap. He followed with the coming-of-age story Stand by Me, the fantasy/romance The Princess Bride, and a pair of romantic comedies, the second of them one of his biggest hits:
Reiner began the nineties strongly. Misery was a critical success and brought Kathy Bates an Oscar, while A Few Good Men, which he also produced, was Reiner’s biggest financial success and a Best Picture nominee. But North was a giant flop and although a few of his films since then have been moderately successful, Reiner never really seems to have gotten his touch back. He’s still making movies—mixed in with political activism—but his latest film LBJ currently lacks a distribution deal.
Musical theater and film composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz is turning 69 today. He began working on a potential musical while at Carnegie Mellon University in the sixties, but his first big success came when he was asked to contribute music and lyrics for a book written by another CMU alum. This became the musical Godspell, which became a hit all over the world starting in 1971 and came to Broadway in 1976. Schwartz then returned to his own musical, Pippin, which opened on Broadway in 1972 and ran for nearly 2000 performances. He followed with a third hit, The Magic Show, which also ran for nearly 2000 performances when it opened in 1974—when Godspell made it to Broadway, Schwartz had three hit musicals running at once.
Schwartz then had a dry spell when it came to musical theater (although less so when it came to film; see below), but in 2003 he made a triumphant return to Broadway with a new musical adapted from a novel by Gregory Maguire, a musical which is still in its original run, over 13 years and well past 5,000 performances later.
Schwartz has also had a very successful career writing film music. He has worked regularly with Alan Menken, contributing lyrics to Menken’s music for Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted, and wrote the music and lyrics for the Dreamworks animated feature The Prince of Egypt. He has won three Oscars and three Grammys and is a six-time Tony nominee.
Director Lewis Gilbert, who turns 97, is best known for directing three James Bond films, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, and two of Michael Caine’s better-known films, Alfie and Educating Rita. He made a number of documentaries early in his career and also directed the World War II film Sink the Bismarck.
Moira Kelly, who celebrates her 49th, never fulfilled the promise suggested in this article, but she had a busy nineties in films like The Cutting Edge and Chaplin, doing voice work in the Lion King films, and playing Donna Hayward in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. During the 2000s she was a regular on One Tree Hill. Connie Britton, who turns 50, has done several films but is best known for her television work. She is a four-time Emmy nominee, for Friday Night Lights (twice), American Horror Story, and Nashville. Born the same day as Britton, Shuler Hensley is best known for his musical theater work. He won an Olivier Award as Jud Fry in the 1998 West End revival of Oklahoma! (starring opposite Hugh Jackman), and added a Tony a few years later in the same role when the production moved to Broadway. Tom Arnold, who is 58, first became known for his recurring role on Roseanne (and for his marriage to the show’s star) and also played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sidekick in True Lies. Amy Pietz, who is 48, was a SAG Award winner as Annie Spadaro on Caroline in the City and is currently a regular on The CW’s No Tomorrow. Yael Stone, who plays Lorna Morello on Orange is the New Black, is turning 32.
The biggest name today in sports, no pun intended, is Shaquille O’Neal, who turns 45. The Basketball Hall of Famer and 15-time NBA All-Star won four championships in his career, three with the Los Angeles Lakers and a fourth with the Miami Heat. Lefty Grove (1900-1975) was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, possibly the best left-hander of all time. He won 300 games with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox from 1925-41 and two World Series with the A’s and made the Hall of Fame. Willie Stargell (1940-2001), who spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hit 475 career home runs and led the Pirates to two World Series titles; like Grove, he is in the Hall of Fame.
Hal Needham (1931-2013) was a top-notch stuntman in the sixties and then directed several films starring his friend, Burt Reynolds, such as Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run. One of Poland’s greatest filmmakers was Andrzej Wadja (1926-2016), known for his trilogy of films about World War 2 that ends with the classic Ashes and Diamonds, and for directing four films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, including Man of Iron, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1981. Lou Costello (1906-1959) was one half of the Abbott and Costello comedy duo, known for their work on stage, in radio, and in over 30 films. Guy Kibbee (1882-1956) started his career on the stages of Mississippi riverboats, then moved to Broadway, and into film in the thirties. He appeared in pictures like 42nd Street, Captain Blood, Babes in Arms, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, often but not always in comic roles.
David Gilmour, who is turning 71, was the longtime guitarist and lead vocalist for Pink Floyd, and also has had two solo albums reach #1 in the UK and the Top 1o in the US. Dave Alvin, who is 62 today, was a founder of the roots rock band The Blasters and has had an extensive solo career. Bob Wills (1905-1975), the “King of Western Swing,” was one of the pioneers of that dance-oriented subgenre of country. In his heyday in the late thirties and forties he had hits like “San Antonio Rose” and “Smoke on the Water.” Mary Wilson, who is 73 today, was a founding member of The Supremes and the one member of the original group to remain with them until they disbanded in 1977; she has also written two volumes of best-selling memoirs. Operatic soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was born the same day as Wilson. During a four-decade career in opera houses all over the world, she was particularly renowned for her work in the operas of Mozart and Richard Strauss. Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) was one of the most prominent American-born conductors of the 20th century, and had lengthy tenures as music director at the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
The biggest art or literary birthday today is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, universally known as Michelangelo (1475-1564). He is known for his great works of sculpture, such as the Pietà and David, for his fresco paintings, such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Last Supper, and as the architect who designed buildings like the Laurentian Library in Florence. Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655), a French playwright and duellist, was immortalized in Edmond Rostand’s play Cyrano de Bergerac. The play has been adapted into multiple films, including one starring Gerard Depardieu. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was a Victorian poet remembered for her collection titled Sonnets From the Portuguese, and for her romance with poet Robert Browning. Ring Lardner (1885-1933) was one of the first important sports journalists and also a short story writer and satirist. He appears as a character in John Sayles’ Eight Men Out, played by Sayles himself.
Valentina Tereshkova, who turns 80 today, was the first woman to fly in space when she was the one-person crew of the Soviet space flight Vostok 6 in 1963. Alan Greenspan, who chaired the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1987-2006 and was probably the world’s first “rock star” central banker, turns 91.
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 6, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Bob Wills, Connie Britton, Hal Needham, Lewis Gilbert, Michelangelo, Moira Kelly, Rob Reiner, Shuler Hensley, Stephen Schwartz. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.