March 28: Happy Birthday Reba McEntire and Lady Gaga
Our recent abundance of musical birthdays continues today. Our headliners today are known, respectively, as the Queen of Country and the Princess of Pop (although neither is the sole claimant to her title).
Reba McEntire celebrates her 62nd birthday today. She was studying to be a teacher at Southeastern Oklahoma State University when country singer Rod Steagall heard her sing the national anthem at a rodeo competition, and helped her land a recording contract with Mercury. Her first album came out in 1977, but she didn’t begin to be a major success until the early 1980s. Her fifth album, Unlimited, resulted in her first two #1 Country singles, but she soon moved to MCA in order to have more creative control over her recordings. In 1986 Whoever’s in New England became her first #1 Country album, while the title song won her her first Grammy.
McEntire has had over twenty #1 singles and sold in the vicinity of 80 million records. She has played the character of Annie Oakley both on television, in the CBS movie Buffalo Girls, and on stage in the musical Annie Get Your Gun. She has made ventures into series television, most notably with her sitcom Reba, which ran for seven seasons on The WB and brought her a Golden Globe nomination. And many of us will always remember her debut film role, as Heather Gummer in Tremors.
Stefani Germanotta, known as Lady Gaga, turns 31 today. She dropped out of NYU at 19 years of age to pursue her music career. After a couple of false starts, she signed a record deal and her first album, The Fame, came out in 2008. It won a Grammy, as did the album’s biggest hit single:
Lady Gaga has sold over 110 million records and won six Grammys. Her most recent win was for Cheek to Cheek, an album of traditional pop and jazz standards which she recorded in collaboration with Tony Bennett. Like our other headliner, she has also had an acting career, which began with an uncredited cameo on The Sopranos in 2001. In addition to a number of movie cameos she had a more significant part in Machete Kills, and she won a Golden Globe for her role on American Horror Story: Hotel.
Several directors are celebrating today. Mike Newell, who turns 75, won a BAFTA Award for Best Direction for Four Weddings and a Funeral, and has also directed Mona Lisa Smile and the fourth Harry Potter film. Brett Ratner, who is 48 today, first became known for the Rush Hour series and also directed X-Men: The Last Stand. Richard Kelly, who turns 42, made his feature debut with the cult favorite Donnie Darko and also directed the sprawling hyperlink movie Southland Tales.
Vince Vaughn, who is known for films like Swingers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Wedding Crashers, turns 47 today. He was in last year’s Term Life and Hacksaw Ridge. When she was making films like 10 Things I Hate About You, Save the Last Dance, and Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Stiles, who is 36 today, seemed like she might be on a path to be a major star. But she’s more likely to be found in supporting roles today; she did receive Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for season 5 of Dexter. Nick Frost, who celebrates his 45th, is best known for his work with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright—the British sitcom Spaced and the “Cornettos” trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End.
Dianne Wiest, who is 69 today, is a two-time Oscar winner, for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway, and was nominated a third time, for Parenthood. She is also a four-time Emmy nominee, winning once for In Treatment. Conchata Ferrell, a two-time Emmy nominee on Two and a Half Men, turns 74 today. Orla Brady, who stars on AMC’s Into the Badlands, is turning 56.
Cheryl “Salt” James, who is a member of the rap trio Salt ‘n’ Pepa, is celebrating her 51st birthday. Composer Jay Livingston (1915-2001) combined with lyricist Ray Evans to write three songs that won the Oscar for Best Original Song, including “Que Sera Sera” for The Man Who Knew Too Much; they also wrote the Christmas song “Silver Bells” and the theme song for Bonanza. Pianist Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991) was a leading interpreter of much of the standard Classical and Romantic piano repertoire, especially Beethoven and Brahms. Samuel Ramey, one of the leading operatic basses of the past 30 years, turns 75 today. Along with appearing in most of the world’s major opera houses he has done quite a bit of crossover work.
Sports birthdays today include Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who turns 73. Barry is the only player to lead the NCAA, NBA and ABA in scoring average for a season during his career. He led the Golden State Warriors to the 1975 NBA title and made 90% of his career free throws, at the time of his retirement an NBA record. Bart Conner, who is turning 59, helped the US Men’s Gymnastics team win the team gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and won an individual gold in the parallel bars; he is also known for his subsequent marriage to Romanian gymnastics star Nadia Comăneci.
American television audiences of a certain generation would surely remember Marlin Perkins (1905-1986), the zoologist who became the host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for over 20 years. Other TV viewers might be more likely to remember Jimmie Dodd (1910-1964), who was the adult co-host and MC of the classic version of The Mickey Mouse Club.
Dame Flora Robson (1902-1984) had a distinguished stage career, and was also known for film roles, especially in costume dramas. She played Queen Elizabeth I of England twice, in Fire Over England and The Sea Hawk, and also played Empress Elizabeth of Russia in Catherine the Great. Freddie Bartholomew (1924-1992) was a child actor of the 1930s, known for the title roles in David Copperfield and Little Lord Fauntleroy and as Harvey Cheyne in Captains Courageous. By the late thirties, though, he was becoming a pawn in legal struggles among his adult relatives, all of whom apparently wanted a cut of his earnings. Sir Dirk Bogarde (1921-1999) was for many years one of the top box office stars in Great Britain. He won BAFTA Awards for The Servant and Darling and also starred in films like A Tale of Two Cities, Death in Venice, and A Bridge Too Far. Ken Howard (1944-2016) won a Tony for Robert Morasco’s Child’s Play, played Thomas Jefferson in both the stage and screen versions of the musical 1776, starred on the CBS series The White Shadow, and won an Emmy for the HBO movie Grey Gardens.
In the world of art and literature, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, usually known as Raphael (1483-1520) is considered one of the three great masters of Italian Renaissance art, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Some of his best known work is found in the four “Raphael Rooms” at the Vatican Palace, each decorated with frescoes by Raphael. Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) was a Russian novelist and playwright who was a founder of the “socialist realism” movement. He is known for plays such as The Lower Depths and Summerfolk and his novel The Mother. Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who turns 81 today, was the 2010 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. His best know books include Conversation in the Cathedral, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and The War of the End of the World.
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 28, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Dianne Wiest, Dirk Bogarde, Flora Robson, Julia Stiles, Lady Gaga, Mike Newell, Nick Frost, Raphael, Reba McEntire, Vince Vaughn. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.