March 17: Happy Birthday Kurt Russell and Rudolph Nureyev
Kurt Russell celebrates his 66th birthday today. He began working as a juvenile actor in 1960s television, including starring on a short-lived Western series, The Travels of Jamie McPheeters. He began to work regularly in features in the seventies, starring in a series of Disney films, most notably the three films featuring Medfield College undergrad Dexter Riley, beginning with The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.
In the late seventies Russell began to break with his Disney image, with an Emmy-nominated performance in the TV movie Elvis, and made an even more decisive break as Snake Plissken in Escape from New York. By the late eighties and early nineties, Russell was a credible leading man in many genres, including romantic comedy (Overboard), crime thriller (Tequila Sunrise, Unlawful Entry), and even Westerns:
Russell is the subject of a WTHH article with vast amounts of detail about his career. He has had a bit of a resurgence in the last couple of years. He appeared as Mr. Nobody in Furious 7, and will return in the role, apparently with a name, in this year’s The Fate of the Furious. He played John Ruth in The Hateful Eight, and will be seen later this year in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, in a role that may have some importance to the plot.
One of the biggest names in 20th century ballet, Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993) was born on a Trans-Siberian train and fell in love with ballet as a boy. He studied at the Vaganova Academy and joined the Kirov Ballet (known these days as the Mariinsky Ballet) in 1957. His talents won him a place as a principal almost instantly, but he soon grew frustrated with the lack of artistic and personal freedom, and defected to the West when the Kirov visited Paris in 1961.
Nureyev soon was invited to join the Royal Ballet in London, where he often partnered the legendary Dame Margot Fonteyn. He later became artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and also once paid a visit to The Muppet Show:
Sadly, Nureyev became one of the highest-profile victims of AIDS, dying at the relatively young age of 54.
Gary Sinise, who is 62 today, has won a Golden Globe for playing a US President (Harry S. Truman in HBO’s Truman) and an Emmy for playing a one-time presidential candidate (the title character on TNT’s George Wallace). He was also an Oscar nominee for playing Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Casey Siemaszko, who was once well known for movies like Three O’Clock High, Stand By Me, and Young Guns, turns 56. One-time Brat Pack member Rob Lowe is 53; he was an Emmy nominee while starring on The West Wing and is a seven-time Golden Globe nominee. Patrick Duffy, who is celebrating his 68th, is best known for the role of Bobby Ewing on Dallas, during 12 of the 13 seasons of the show’s initial run as well as on the revival on TNT. Mark Boone Junior, who turns 62, starred as Bobby Munson on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. Christian Clemenson, who is turning 59 today, was a three-time Emmy nominee as Jerry “Hands” Espenson on Boston Legal, winning Outstanding Guest Actor in 2006. Leslie-Anne Down, who is 63 today, first became well known as Georgina Worsley on Upstairs, Downstairs, and later became a familiar face on American soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful.
John Boyega, who plays Finn in The Force Awakens and will return to the role in The Last Jedi, is 25 today. He first became well known as the teenage protagonist of the low-budget sci-fi film Attack the Block. Also turning 25 is Eliza Bennett, who has had prominent roles in films like Nanny McPhee and Inkheart and stars on MTV’s Sweet/Vicious. Natalie Zea, who has had regular roles on Dirty Sexy Money and Justified and currently stars on TBS’s Detour, is turning 42 today.
William Gibson, who is 69 today, is a highly influential science fiction novelist, one of the pioneers of the “cyberpunk” subgenre. He is best known for his “Sprawl trilogy,” which begins with his debut novel, Neuromancer. He also wrote the short story “Johnny Menmonic,” the source for the film of the same title.
It’s only fitting that there be at least one Irish celebrity born on St. Patrick’s Day. Caroline Corr turns 44 today; the drummer for the family folk rock band The Corrs, she is known to fans as “chick with stick,” and sings and plays piano in addition to percussion instruments. John Sebastian, who is 73 today, was a founding member of The Lovin’ Spoonful and later had a solo #1 hit, “Welcome Back,” the theme song of the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back , Kotter. Billy Corgan, the lead singer, guitarist and co-founder of the alt-rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, is celebrating his 50th. Tamar Braxton, who is 40, was another member of a family band, one of The Braxtons with her four sisters, including past headliner Toni. Tamar Braxton has had some recent success as a solo artist, with albums like Love and War. Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was a highly successful jazz and traditional pop singer and pianist for over 20 years and became one of the first African-Americans to host a television variety show. Alfred Newman (1900-1970) was one of the most famous names in film music. He was nominated for over 40 Oscars, winning nine, and was also known for his many relatives who followed him into film composing—his younger brothers Emil and Lionel, his sons David and Thomas, and his nephew Randy.
Our sports birthdays today begin with a legend. Bobby Jones (1902-1971) was the most famous golfer of the 1920s. An amateur who competed in golf part-time, he nevertheless won all the major tournaments of the time, before retiring from competitive golf at the age of 28. He later helped design the famous Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters, which is held annually at Augusta. Sammy Baugh (1914-2008) set NFL records as a defensive back and a punter, but most famously as a quarterback, and led the Washington Redskins to two NFL championships during his career, which took him to Football’s Hall of Fame. Mia Hamm, who turns 45 today, made her debut with the US Women’s National Soccer Team at the age of only 15. By the time she retired she had scored 158 international goals for the US, and led the US to World Cup victories in 1991 and 1999, and Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004. Katie Ledecky, who won four gold medals in women’s swimming at the 2016 Olympics—the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle events and the 4×200 freestyle relay—turns 20 today.
Actor Gabriele Ferzetti (1925-2015) worked in Italian cinema for nearly seventy years, making his first films in his teens and his last in 2010. He also worked periodically in English-language films, including two well-known appearances, as the railroad tycoon Morton in Once Upon a Time in the West, and as Marc-Ange Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
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 17, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Alfred Newman, Bobby Jones, Caroline Corr, Gary Sinise, John Boyega, John Sebastian, Kurt Russell, Mia Hamm, Rudolf Nureyev, William Gibson. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.