April 3: Happy Birthday Eddie Murphy and Marlon Brando
For reasons that will become clear as you read on in the article, today is unofficially declared to be “Stanley Kowalski Day.”
Eddie Murphy turns 56 today. The man ranked 10th on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest standup comics of all time began writing and performing his own routines in his teens and joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1980. His first comedy album, in 1982, was a Grammy nominee, and his follow up album, Eddie Murphy: Comedian, won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album. In 1987, Eddie Murphy: Raw was released as a feature and became a substantial box office success, grossing over $50 million.
Murphy’s acting career was also a big success in the 1980s. He made his film debut in 1982 as Reggie Hammond in 48 Hrs., and received Golden Globe nominations for that film and the next year’s Trading Places. But it was in 1984 that he made his first appearance in his best known film role.
As Murphy’s WTHH article notes, his career has had not just a rise and a fall, but several. A couple of high points for him have been his successes as a voice actor, as Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in the Shrek films, and his Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe winning performance as James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls.
The film industry has seldom been taken by storm the way it was by Marlon Brando (1924-2004) in the early 1950s. After studying the “Stanislavski system” under Stella Adler and working on stage for several years, Brando made his film debut in The Men in 1950, but it was a year later that he really broke through, playing one of his stage roles, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and receiving a Best Actor nomination.
From 1951-54 Brando was nominated for Best Actor every year—for Streetcar, for Viva Zapata! as the title character, for Julius Caesar as Mark Antony, and finally for playing a longshoreman and ex-boxer named Terry Malloy.
After sweeping the main Best Actor honors for On the Waterfront, Brando went on to a fifth Best Actor nomination for Sayonara in 1957. He had a string of box office failures in the sixties that got him labeled “unbankable,” but rebounded in the early 1970s, winning Best Actor a second time as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (and famously refusing the award), and receiving his seventh nomination a year later for Last Tango in Paris. He closed out the decade by playing Jor-El in Superman and Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.
Singer and actress Doris Day turns 95. From her 1945 recording of “Sentimental Journey,” through her retirement, she was one of the most popular traditional pop and vocal jazz singers in the US. Many of her nearly 40 feature films were musicals ro romantic comedies like Pillow Talk, but she also starred in Hitchcock’s 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Alec Baldwin, the oldest and most successful of four acting brothers, turns 59 today. He has been an Oscar nominee, for the 2003 film The Cooler, and has starred in films such as Married to the Mob, The Getaway (1994 version), The Juror, and State and Main. On television, he won two Emmys as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock, while his stage career includes a Tony nomination as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. David Hyde Pierce, who turns 58, won four Emmys as Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier and a Tony for the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical Curtains. Wayne Newton, who turns 72, has made several records, appeared on film and television, but is best known as “Mr. Las Vegas” for his very long career as an entertainer in a certain American city. Marsha Mason, who is celebrating her 75th, was a four-time Best Actress nominee from 1973-1981; three of her four nominations were for films written by Neil Simon, her husband at the time.
Jennie Garth, who is turning 45, and Amanda Bynes, who celebrates her 31st, co-starred on The WB’s sitcom What I Like About You for four seasons. Garth is also known for her long run as Kelly Taylor on Beverly Hills, 90210, while Bynes made movies like She’s the Man and Sydney White.
Ben Foster is turning 37. He is the third actor in today’s article to have played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (at London’s Young Vic), and starred opposite Alec Baldwin on Broadway in Lyle Kessler’s Orphans. His films include 11:14, the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, and Hell or High Water. Cobie Smulders, known for playing Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and as Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother, is celebrating her 35th birthday. Matthew Goode, who turns 39, is known for films such as Match Point, Imagine Me and You, Watchmen, and The Imitation Game. Adam Scott, who played Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation, is 44 today. Ben Mendelsohn, who is turning 48, is an Emmy winner for Netflix’s Bloodline and played Orson Krennic in Rogue One. Rachel Bloom, who is 30 today, is known as the creator and star of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which she has won a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Sarah Jeffery, who currently is a regular on NBC’s Shades of Blue, is 21 today.
Leona Lewis, who turns 32, was the winner of the third season of the British music competition series The X Factor, and has gone onto a reasonably successful singing career with 20 million records sold and three Grammy nominations. Don Gibson (1928-2003) was a country singer and songwriter who had several charted hits in the fifties and sixties. His first #1 single was “Oh Lonesome Me,” but it was the B-side from that record, “I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” that is probably his best-known song; it has been recorded dozens of times and was a #1 hit for Ray Charles. Jeff Barry, who turns 79, was half of one of the most successful pop songwriting teams of the sixties, along with Ellie Greenwich, who he was married to for part of their partnership. This page covers their combined songwriting output.
Allan Dwan (1885-1981) worked as a director for over fifty years, making films like the Douglas Fairbanks swashbucklers Robin Hood and The Iron Mask, and the 1949 war movie Sands of Iwo Jima, which earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination. Leslie Howard (1893-1943) played Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, and was a Best Actor nominee for Berkeley Square and Pygmalion. Jan Sterling (1921-2004) was a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for The High and the Mighty. Dooley Wilson (1886-1953) will always be remembered as Sam the piano player from Casablanca.
Reginald Hill (1936-2012) was one of England’s most respected mystery/thriller authors of the last several decades. He is best known for the Dalziel/Pascoe novels, set in the Yorkshire region, and featuring Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and his subordinates, chiefly Peter Pascoe and Edgar Wield. Washington Irving (1783-1859) was one of the first American authors to become well-known worldwide, and probably the first to earn his living entirely by his writing. He is best remembered as the author of the stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” and is credited for giving the nickname of “Gotham” to New York City. Publisher and editor Henry Luce (1898-1967) began to create one of the world’s leading media corporations on the day in 1923 when the first issue of Time hit the streets. Over the years, he added Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated to the company that grew—and merged—into Time Warner, Inc. John Burroughs (1837-1921) was a naturalist and an essayist who was a leading member of the conservation movement in the post-Civil War US.
And finally, it’s my birthday today (I’m not telling which one).
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 April 3, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Alec Baldwin, Allan Dwan, Ben Foster, Cobie Smulders, Doris Day, Eddie Murphy, Jeff Barry, Leslie Howard, Marlon Brando, Marsha Mason, Reginald Hill. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.