March 11: Happy Birthday Bobby McFerrin and Peter Berg


Ten-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin is turning 67 today.  McFerrin put in a number of years paying his dues, including as part of the show band for the Ice Follies as well as with cabaret acts and cover bands.  Over the course of the 1970s he developed the talents that would make him one of the most gifted and innovative of modern jazz vocalists, known for his skills at improvisation and at singing with no instrumental accompaniment.

His eponymous debut album came out in 1982, but it was with his second album, The Voice, on which he sang with no other musicians and no instruments, that he really began to make his mark.  He won his first Grammys, in 1985, for his collaboration with Jon Hendricks and Manhattan Transfer on “Another Night in Tunisia.”  McFerrin capped the eighties with his hugely successful single “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” which won three Grammys, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and which became the first a cappella song to reach #1 on the Hot 100.

Actor and filmmaker Peter Berg celebrates his 53rd today.  He began his career working as a production assistant in the late eighties, while also picking up small acting jobs.  He starred in the modestly budgeted World War 2 film A Midnight Clear in 1992 and in 1995 was cast as Dr. Billy Kronk on seasons 2-5 of Chicago Hope.  During the show’s run he also wrote and directed his first feature, Very Bad Things.

Much of his subsequent directing career has consisted of films that were not well received critically—Corky Romano and Battleship likely being the most widely panned.  However in recent years, he has received more respect.  His two topical films from 2016, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, were both generally well received, while he was nominated for two Emmys for directing and producing the television adaptation of his film Friday Night Lights (the film also being an exception to the low regard for his earlier features).

French actress Dominique Sanda turns 66 today.  She made her name in a pair of Italian films from the early seventies, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist and Vittorio di Sica’s Oscar-winning The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, and has worked in German and American film, as well as French.  Mark Metcalf, who played Doug Neidermeyer in Animal House and The Master on Buffy and Angel, is turning 71.  Jerry Zucker, who turns 67, was one-third of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio who created films such as Airplane!, Ruthless People, and the Naked Gun series.  Nancy Kovack, who is 82, was familiar to 1960s TV audiences for her long string of guest appearances, which included both Star Trek and Batman.  She largely retired from acting after marrying conductor Zubin Mehta.  Composer David Newman, part of the creative family who have given so much music to American movies, turns 63.  He was an Oscar nominee for the score for Anastasia; his other scores include Heathers, The Phantom, Galaxy Quest, and Serenity, to name a very few.  Voice actor Rob Paulsen, who is celebrating his 61st, has done an enormous variety of roles, but will probably be best known as the voice of a mouse named Pinky.

Alex Kingston, who turns 54, has a long list of credits in British film and television.  American audiences may remember her as Dr. Elizabeth Cordray on ER, while Doctor Who fans know her as River Song.  Whoniverse fans will also recognize John Barrowman, who turns 50, as Captain Jack Harkness (also featured in the spinoff series Torchwood).  Barrowman is also a distinguished stage actor who was nominated for an Olivier Award for The Fix Terrence Howard, who is 48 today, was an Oscar nominee for Hustle & Flow and had a one-film visit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as James Rhodes in Iron Man (he was replaced in subsequent films by Don Cheadle).  Johnny Knoxville, who is celebrating his 46th, was the co-creator and one of the stars of MTV’s reality stunt series Jackass, and also had a major role in the subsequent film series.  Veteran Canadian actor Elias Koteas, who turns 56, is currently a regular on Chicago P.D.  English producer and director Simon Curtis, who is 57 today, has done a great deal of television work and directed the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn.

WTHH subject Thora Birch, who turns 35 today, is best known for her roles as Jane Burnham in American Beauty and Enid in Ghost World.  German actor Matthias Schweighöfer celebrates his 36th.  He starred in the title role of The Red Baron in 2008, the same year that he made his English-language debut in Valkyrie.  Also turning 36 is LeToya Luckett, best known as a founding member of Destiny’s Child.  Jodie Comer, who turns 24, has been working in English television for several years and will star in the upcoming Starz series The White Princess as Elizabeth of York.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) was the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which began as a British radio series, and developed into a series of novels that became international bestsellers.  Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) was one of the leading authors of children’s literature of his time, best known for his Caldecott Medal winning book The Snowy Day.

Raoul Walsh (1887-1980) was a prominent figure in the film industry for several decades.  In the silent era, he is remembered for playing John Wilkes Booth in The Birth of a Nation and for directing The Thief of Bagdad (with Douglas Fairbanks) and What Price Glory?  His early sound pictures were not enormously distinguished, but when he moved to Warner Brothers in the late thirties, he began a very productive period.  He made gangster films like The Roaring Twenties, High Sierra, and White Heat, and also became Errol Flynn’s primary director beginning in 1941.

Dorothy Gish (1898-1968) was a major star of silent films, although not as big as her older sister Lillian.  As with many silent stars, a great deal of her filmography is now considered lost.  Actor and comedian Shemp Howard (1895-1955) is best known for his work as a member of the Three Stooges.  Lawrence Welk (1903-1992) was a musician and bandleader, and a fixture on television for over thirty years as the host of The Lawrence Welk ShowLouise Brough (1923-2014) was a leading tennis star of the mid-20th Century, who won Wimbledon four times between 1948 and 1955.  Before his death in a very strange auto accident last summer, Anton Yelchin (1989-2016) had been a very busy young actor best known for playing Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot series and Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation.

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 11, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Anton Yelchin was extremely talented. I’ve only seen him in the “Star Trek” movies and in “Charlie Bartlett”, but like River Phoenix, he always gave an outstanding performance no matter what role he played.

    RIP Anton. I still miss you.


  2. I just found out that today is also the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Disney Winnie the Pooh feature film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The film was the result of multiple Pooh animated shorts which were stitched together along with a new story and connective tissue and featured ten songs written by the legendary Sherman brothers.


    • I never saw the feature itself, but I can definitely remember seeing the shorts that were the main components of the film on television when I was growing up. And some of the songs are etched firmly into my memory.


      • Apparently Winnie the Pooh is the 3rd most profitable franchise of all time at Disney, behind just Star Wars (which now belongs to them) and the princesses.


  3. Bobby McFerrin, that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” song takes me back to playing “Arkanoid” at The Pointe pizzeria.
    Peter Berg, his most famous acting job has to be “The Last Seduction”, and I like “Very Bad Things” watched it multiple times (good, funny darkness to me).
    Jerrt Zucker, my fondness for spoofs has leassened over the years, but I still like the classics such as “Airplane!” and “Top Secret”; I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of “Ruthless People” too.
    Terrence Howard, I think “Hustle and Flow” rules; it is hard out there for a pimp, I’ve heard.
    Elias Koteas, I first really remember him from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as Casey Jones, I thought he was a riot there, but he was in 1995’s “The Phophecy” with Christopher Walken and Eric Stoltz (who he was in “Some Kind of Wonderful” with).
    Thora Birch, I guess she’s been doing more acting recently. No matter what from here on out, at least she has “American Beauty” and “Ghost World” on her resume.
    Anton Yelchin, he had a good career going; I liked him in “Alpha Dog” and 2005’s “Fierce People”. His death by accident was messed up.
    Another thing messed up is Daylight Saving Time; it’s so corny.


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