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March 19: Happy Birthday Glenn Close and Bruce Willis

0319CloseWillis

Glenn Close celebrates her 70th birthday today.  After graduating from William & Mary, she pursued an acting career, and made her Broadway debut in 1974 in a revival of William Congreve’s Love for Love.  She worked steadily both on and off Broadway for the next decade, and won a Tony for Best Actress in a Play for the original Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.  By this time, she had also begun a film and television career; her first three film appearances, in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, and The Natural, all brought her Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress.  She then received her first nomination for Best Actress for a 1987 thriller:

Close followed up her performance as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction with another Oscar-nominated turn as the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liasons.  In the 1990s, she won two more Tonys, for Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Sunset Boulevard.  A few high points of her more recent film career have been appearing as Cruella de Vil in the live-action 101 Dalmatians, receiving her sixth Oscar nomination as the title character in Albert Nobbs, and playing Irani Rael, Nova Prime in Guardians of the Galaxy.  She has won three Emmys, one for the NBC movie Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story and the other two for the FX series Damages.

Bruce Willis turns 62 today.  Willis was a virtual unknown, with a couple of uncredited film roles and a few TV guest spots under his belt, when he was cast as David Addison on Moonlighting in 1985.  When the show went off the air four years later, he had an Emmy and a Golden Globe on his shelves.  What’s more, he seemed to have taken care of any potential typecasting problem as of 1988, when he made the first of his five appearances so far as a New York cop who, somehow, always seemed to be on hand to save the day, wherever trouble might be brewing:

Ever since he became identified with John McClane of Die Hard, Willis has consistently found work in various sorts of action films, whether as a cop, a PI, a current or former soldier, an assassin, or a retired badass (maybe he just replaced one kind of typecasting with another).  He has made various attempts at roles at least somewhat outside that range—some successful (Pulp Fiction, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom), some not (Color of Night).  In the last few years he has, in addition to the latest Die Hard film, starred as retired CIA operative Frank Moses in the Red films, and as Mr. Church in the first two Expendables films.  This year he will appear as Paul Kersey in the remake of Death Wish.

Ursula Andress, the first big-screen Bond Girl, is turning 81.  Swiss by birth, she had small roles in a few Italian films, but Dr. No was her first major acting role.  She later appeared in the non-canonical Bond film Casino Royale from 1967.  Some of her other films through the years included 4 for Texas, The Blue Max, The Fifth Musketeer, and Clash of the Titans (the 1981 version).  Stage and screen actress Patricia Morison, who is turning 101 (!) today, starred on Broadway in the original production of Kiss Me, Kate, and in films such as Song of the Thin Man and Kiss of DeathRenee Taylor, who is turning 84, co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Lovers and Other Strangers with her husband, Joe Bologna, and played Sylvia Fine on The Nanny.

Harvey Weinstein, along with his brother Bob, was the co-founder of Miramax, which hopefully needs no introduction to film fans..  The two ran Miramax, first as an independent company, then a division of Disney, until 2005, when they left to form The Weinstein Company.  Harvey Weinstein turns 65 today.  Playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute is 54 today.  He is best known as the author of the play In the Company of Men, and for writing and directing the 1997 film adaptation.  Jake Weber, best known for starring opposite Patricia Arquette on Medium, is turning 53.  Jack Gill, who turns 62, has been a stunt performer and coordinator and second unit director for over 40 years, working on several of the Fast and the Furious films, Captain America: Civil War, and many more.

Rachel Blanchard, who played Cher Horowitz on the TV series adaptation of Clueless and is now starring on You Me Her, turns 41 today.  Also turning 41 is Nicholas Stoller, who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the Neighbors films.  Jorma Taccone, who is 40, is one-third of the sketch comedy trio The Lonely Island and wrote and directed the film MacGruberJosie Loren, who celebrates her 30th, starred on Make It or Break It and the final season of The Mentalist.

Like John Updike, Philip Roth, who is 84 today, is one of America’s leading novelists of the post-World War 2 era.  He won the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for American Pastoral, and is also known for books such as Goodbye, Columbus, Portnoy’s Complaint, Sabbath’s Theater, and The Plot Against America.  Our sports birthday today is Richie Ashburn (1927-1997), a Baseball Hall of Famer who starred in center field for the Philadelphia Phillies for over a decade.  While somewhat overshadowed by his contemporaries at the position—“Willie, Mickey, and the Duke”—he was a great leadoff hitter and defender in center field.

Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009) starred on British television in the series Danger Man, an action-espionage series, and The Prisoner, a psychological drama; he later played King Edward I of England in BraveheartTige Andrews (1920-2007) played regular roles on the crime series The Detectives (from 1959-62) and The Mod Squad (as Capt. Russo, from 1968-73) and also played a Klingon on an episode of Star TrekKent Smith (1907-1985) was a second-string leading man of the 1940s who starred in films like Cat People and The Spiral Staircase.  Character actor Roy Roberts (1906-1975) was a regular in film noir in the late forties and early fifties, appearing in films like Force of Evil, He Walked by Night, and The Enforcer, and had a number of recurring roles on television in the sixties.  Ricky Wilson (1953-1985), along with his sister Cindy, was a founding member of the new wave rock band the B-52’s, but died of AIDS related complications at only 32.

Two men who played big parts in the European exploration of Africa in the 19th century shared this date as a birthday.  David Livingstone (1813-1873), of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame, spent much of his adult life as a religious and medical missionary in central and southern Africa.  During one of his last journeys, he completely lost touch with other Europeans, until he was tracked down by journalist Henry Stanley, who may or may not have delivered the famous question/greeting quoted above.  Livingstone shared with Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) an almost obsessive interest in finding the source of the Nile river.  Burton was famous for his travels in Asia and the Americas as well as Africa, but his African journeys with his sometime friend, sometime rival John Hanning Speke were among his most famous.  The 1990 film Mountains of the Moon is primarily about Burton and Speke, but Livingstone is also a character in the film; Patrick Bergin plays Bergin and Bernard Hill plays Livingstone.

Other historical birthdays today include William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925).  Bryan, known as the “Great Commoner,” was a leading spokesman for populism at the turn of the 20th century, a 3-time Democratic presidential candidate, and Secretary of State under President Wilson.  Earl Warren (1891-1974) was a Governor of California and a vice-presidential nominee, but most significantly he was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.  Under his leadership, the Supreme Court issued important decisions ending segregated schools, promoting the “one man, one vote” principle, revising criminal justice procedures, and much more.  John Sirica (1904-1992) was a name recognized in virtually any household in the US in the early seventies when he presided over the trial of the Watergate burglars, and provided the first crack in the Nixon Administration’s stonewalling when one of the burglars wrote a letter to Sirica informing him that the defendants had been pressured to plead guilty by the White House.  Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was a gambler and sometime lawman in the American West who is remembered for his part in the famous “O.K. Corral” gunfight.  He settled in Southern California in his later years and became friends with early Western stars Tom Mix and William S. Hart.  Earp has been played in film by Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster, James Garner, Kurt Russell, and Kevin Costner, to name just a few.

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 19, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Glenn Close, she’s pretty much done all mediums of performance entertainment, and done it all well. I thought she was great in “The World According to Garp” (so did the academy) and “Jagged Edge” (though her character, as written, was kind of a blockhead towards the end). I liked her in “Cookie’s fortune” too.
    Bruce Willis, he’s lived free and died hard, all while having the juice and respecting himself. In all seriousness, I think he’s had a rather versatile career; I’d say 1989’s “In Country” is my favorite performance of his.
    Harvey Weinstein, thoughts on him are mixed, but I liked the material Miramax released to the public, especially in the late 1980’s- early 2000’s.
    Neil LaBute, yeah, I mentioned “The shape of Things” for the Rachel Weisz birthday article, and that’s my favorite LaBute film. I like “Nurse Betty” quite a bit too.
    Jake Weber, I know him from supporting roles in films such as “Pushing Tin” and “The Pelican Brief”.
    Rachel Blanchard, she was in that scene in 2005’s “Where the Truth Lies” (I thought it was a good film) that had the censors all shaken up, and I remember her in “Snakes on a Plane” too, she sat next to the guy that was preoccupied with germs.

    Like

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