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March 13: Happy Birthday William H. Macy and Neil Sedaka

0313MacySedaka

William H. Macy is celebrating his 67th birthday today.  Currently starring on Showtime’s Shameless, Macy began acting in college, and then went on to found Chicago’s St. Nicholas Theatre Company along with David Mamet and a couple of other colleagues.  He did a lot of off-Broadway work in the 1980s and made his Broadway debut in 1988.  He also began appearing in film and on television.  He had roles in several of Mamet’s films, beginning with House of Games.  But his first really big film role was as an overmatched-by-life businessman in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo:

Macy was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Jerry Lundegaard.  He has been an in-demand character actor ever since, appearing in a variety of films such as Air Force One, Boogie Nights, Pleasantville, Mystery Men, Seabiscuit, Wild Hogs, and The Lincoln Lawyer.  To name just a handful.  His television career has also prospered; in the last two decades he has received twelve Primetime Emmy nominations, winning two for the 2002 TV movie Door to Door, for starring and for co-writing the script.

Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka turns 78 today.  He had dated Carole King while in high school, and his first Top Ten hit “Oh! Carol” was named for her.  He became one of the quintessential Brill Building songwriters of the late fifties and early sixties.  He penned several hits for other performers, such as Connie Francis’s “Stupid Cupid” and “Where the Boys Are,” generally working with Howard Greenfield.  He also had a number of hit singles recording his own songs, such as “Calendar Girl” and “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” the latter reaching #1.

In the mid-sixties, Sedaka was one of many performers who were nearly obliterated by the British Invasion.  Unlike most of them, Sedaka made a major comeback.  After spending a some time touring in Australia, he moved to England, where he connected with Elton John, who helped him prepare a new album for release in the US, the aptly titled Sedaka’s Back.  It contained the #1 hit “Laughter in the Rain,” as well as “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which became a #1 hit for The Captain and Tenille in 1975.  Sedaka had several more charted hits in the seventies, including the #1 single “Bad Blood,” with backing vocals from Elton John, and a reworking of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” as a ballad, which reached #8.

Kaya Scodelario, who celebrates her 25th, made her debut on English television in the teen drama Skins.  She plays Theresa Agnes in the Maze Runner films and will appear later this year in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesEmory Cohen, who turns 27, played Tony Fiorello in the 2015 Best Picture nominee Brooklyn and stars on the Netflix web series The OAGeorge MacKay, who played Bodevan Cash in last year’s Captain Fantastic, is turning 25.  Emile Hirsch, who is 32 today, starred as Chris McCandless in Into the Wild and is also known for films like The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and The Girl Next Door.

Glenne Headly, who is 62 today, has had a noteworthy stage career, is a two-time Emmy nominee, and is known for films like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Dick TracyDana Delany, who celebrates her 61st, won two Emmys as Colleen McMurphy on China Beach and starred on ABC’s Body of Proof.  Her best known films have included Tombstone and Fly Away HomeGuillermo Arriaga, who is 59, wrote the screenplays for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Death Trilogy,” and was Oscar nominated for 21 Grams.  He also wrote The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Burning Plain and has had several novels published.

Danny Masterson, who played Hyde on That ’70s Show, is turning 40 today.  Icelandic actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who turns 44, is a major star in his home country and has appeared in American films like The Last Witch Hunter and A Walk Among the TombstonesAnnabeth Gish, known for roles in films like Mystic Pizza, Beautiful Girls, and Steel, turns 46 today.

Terence Blanchard, who is 55 today, is a Grammy-winning jazz musician—a trumpeter, bandleader and composer—and also has done a substantial amount of film and television scoring.  He has scored several of Spike Lee’s films, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for 25th HourSammy Kaye (1910-1987) was also a jazz bandleader, who also hosted several TV music/variety shows in the fifties.  Julia Migenes, who is 68, is an operatic soprano and mezzo-soprano, known for roles like Carmen, and also has done quite a lot of musical theater work.  She was just 15 when she played Hodel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.  Rapper Lonnie Rashid Lynn, better known as Common, turns 45.  After several years as an underground success he had a mainstream breakthrough in the 2000s, winning a pair of Grammys.  More recently he and John Legend shared an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for “Glory,” from the movie Selma (in which Common also played civil rights leader James Bevel).

Sports birthdays today include Frank “Home Run” Baker (1886-1963).  Part of a great Philadelphia Athletics team that won three World Series from 1910-1913, Baker led the American league in home runs all four seasons in that span.  He hit a total of 39 home runs over the four years, which would be an unremarkable single-season total today—but you have to remember that he was playing in the pre-Babe Ruth, “dead ball” era of baseball.  Meanwhile, the short life of Andrés Escobar (1967-1994) cautions us that there is such a thing as taking sporting events much too seriously.  Escobar, a Colombian footballer, was one of the stars of the nation’s national team in 1994.  He was engaged to be married and was about to transfer to AC Milan, one of the top club teams in the world.  But in the US-Colombia match at the 1994 World Cup, Escobar tried to block a pass by US midfielder John Harkes, and mishit it into his own goal, contributing to a 2-1 loss for Colombia.  A few days later, having returned to Colombia, Escobar was shot to death outside a bar.  Witnesses said the shooter shouted “Goal!” with each shot he fired.

Henry Hathaway (1898-1985) worked in Hollywood for over 50 years, primarily as a director.  He was known for adventure films like The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, film noir thrillers like Kiss of Death and Niagara, and Westerns like the 1969 version of True Grit with John Wayne.  Actor Paul Fix (1901-1983) was also known for Westerns; he co-starred on TV’s The Rifleman and appeared in a long list of Western features, including The Sons of Katie Elder (directed by Hathaway).  Wrestler and mob enforcer turned actor Lenny Montana (1926-1992) is remembered for playing Luca Brasi in The Godfather.

Joseph II (1741-1790) was the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Archduke of Austria, and a bunch of other titles during various periods of his life.  He was played by Ed Rooney Jeffrey Jones in Amadeus and Danny Huston in Marie AntoinetteEllen Raskin (1928-1984) was a children’s novelist; her Newberry Award winning novel The Westing Game is considered one of the best children’s novels ever written.  L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) wrote a variety of science fiction novels but is better known as the founder of the ever-controversial Church of Scientology.

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.

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Posted on March 13, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I was just beginning to be aware of popular music when Neil Sedaka began his comeback in the mid-seventies, so I first got acquainted with him through his music from that period. Only later did I get to know his Brill Building era hits, such as the original, more uptempo version of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

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  2. Fargo was my introduction to William H. Macy, and what a brilliant introduction it was. To this day Fargo is one of my favorite films of all time. Macy also killed it in Boogie Nights, another classic film from that era. And Pleasantville is underrated.

    “You’re darned tootin'”

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  3. Yeah, “Fargo” has to be where I became familiar with William H. Macy; sure, I can watch “House of Games” (love it) and say, “Hey, William H. Macy is the guy at the bus station” but I’ve done that with a lot of performer. Of course there’s “Boogie nights”, but then after that, he appeared as a guest star on “Sports Night” (I thought it was a good show) with his wife Felicity Huffman, so I thought he was getting the right kind of exposure. He’s really great at this character actor thing, but I loved him in “The Cooler” (viewed that film numerous times) in a main role, and I’m a big fan of “Pleasantville” too.
    Glenne Headly,out of everything she’s done, her role in 1996’s “2 Days in the Valley” really sticks out for me.
    Dana delany, now there’s what I’d call a Super Cougar; I sure like her voicework as Lois Lane in “Superman: The Animated Series”.
    Danny Masterson, yeah definitely “That 70’s Show”. I used to know a guy that looked a lot like him, especially when he played Hyde on that show.
    Common, I like his lyrics, I think they’re very poetic.

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  4. The 20th Anniversary of the Death of Frank Grimes

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer%27s_Enemy#Production

    Hank Azaria provided the voice of Frank Grimes, even though such a role would normally have been performed by a guest star. The producers decided Azaria was more suitable because the role involved a great deal of frustration and required extensive knowledge of the show.[3] Azaria felt that the role should instead go to William H. Macy. According to Azaria, “I based the character on William Macy. I can’t really copy him vocally, but I tried to get as close as I could and copy his rhythms and the way he has that sort of seething passion underneath that total calm exterior.”[8]

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    • Ah yes, Frank Grimes, ol’ Grimey; even as a teenager I found his situation relatable and funny at the same time (the Kent Brockman montage, especially when the bird tries to grab his engineering diploma and he has to fight for it back, as it demonstrated he struggled for everything). As I got older I found his character even more relatable, as I learned that even if you work hard & have talent, that doesn’t mean things will shake out for you. Then there’s Homer Simpson, a dim & lazy man, where things just work out for him (all Grimey got was that haircut & briefcase:-(. I don’t know, that might be one of my favorite episodes of that show ever, along with the one in which Homer becomes a food critic (Homer: “People change Marge, my palate has grow more sophisticated”. Marge, to Homer: “Oh yeah, what’s a palate?”. “Homer: Well, it’s special time in a little boy’s life…/takes pork chops he was criticizing/ gotta run!”).

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