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 DesireDavid Hyde Pierce, who turns 58, won four Emmys as Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier and a Tony for the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical CurtainsWayne 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 WaterCobie 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 GameAdam 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 OneRachel 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 PygmalionJan Sterling (1921-2004) was a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for The High and the MightyDooley 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 , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. When I was growing up in the 80’s, Eddie Murphy was the biggest name in comedy, and one of the biggest stars in the world. There aren’t really any comedians today that can compare to Eddie Murphy’s massive success back then: Kevin Hart comes to mind as a comedian that crossed over into film recently, and sure he’s been in a few hit movies but he hasn’t been a star in huge blockbusters like 48 Hours or Trading Places or Coming To America, and has not appeared in a film that has become a pop cultural phenomenon like Eddie did with Beverly Hills Cop. There is simply no comedian today that has had the level of success that Eddie did in his prime.


  2. As a child of the 70’s, I’m more aware of Marlon Brando for his legacy as one of the great actors of his generation, for The Godfather of course, and….. Superman: The Movie. The Salkinds paid Brando several million dollars for what amounted to several days of work. And I would say they got every penny’s worth. Not because of Brando’s performance as Kal-El, per se, but moreso because his appearance (along with Gene Hackman) legitimized this comic book movie.

    Ok sure, it was a big-budget lavish production, and Superman was the most famous comic book character of all time, but still the Salkinds were smart enough to realize they weren’t really appealing to the kids at the box office, those kids are going to want to see this no matter what, who they are really appealing to is all those older parents that would not otherwise give a hoot about some comic book movie, even if it is Superman. Having respected, established actors like Brando and Hackman above the bill over the unknown guy who was playing Superman was a calculated move on their part. This was a way to get the parents of those kids to be willing to go see this movie. And it paid off handsomely, Superman was one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.


    • Superman, like Star Wars the year before, came out at a time when families still went to movies together and when adults were still part of the target audience for blockbusters. So even though Brando was, in Roger Ebert’s words, paid “$500,000 per cliche” for playing Jor-El, he did play a role in getting audiences of the time to take the film seriously. Of course, once they were in the theaters, Reeve and Kidder, along with Donner’s direction, did the rest.


  3. Alec Baldwin explains his cold war against “scrawny little man” Harrison Ford

    It doesn’t take a close read of Alec Baldwin’s new, dishy memoir Nevertheless, to notice the thinly-veiled animosity he holds for for Harrison Ford, who replaced him as Jack Ryan following The Hunt For Red October. As Baldwin tells it, he had no idea that he was being ousted from the Tom Clancy franchise, and Ford was curtly unsympathetic to his situation. Ford had dropped out of a film with Hunt director John McTiernan in order to play the part that Baldwin had once had. “John told me he spoke with Ford and asked if he was aware that Paramount was in active negotiation with me,” Baldwin writes. “Ford’s reply, according to John, was ’Fuck him.’” (For what it’s worth, this is not the first time that Baldwin has shared this story, and studio exec David Kirkpatrick has disputed his account of how things went down.)

    It would be one thing if the Ford anecdote ended there, but Baldwin goes on to dwell on the fact that Indiana Jones hasn’t won an Oscar and describe him in distinctly unflattering terms. Baldwin explains that he met Ford ”years later,” and notes: “I realized then that the movies really do enhance certain actors, making them seem like something they really aren’t at all. Ford, in person, is a little man, short, scrawny, and wiry, whose soft voice sounds as if it’s coming from behind a door.” It’s a brutal assessment, that pointedly undercuts the tough image on which Ford has built his career. The message here seems to be: Do not fuck with Alec Baldwin lest you want to be excoriated in print.


  4. ‘Blowhard bully’ Alec Baldwin bashes ‘untalented Hollywood producer’ in Twitter spat over love scene in 2006 film with underage actress Nikki Reed


  5. I didn’t know that Eddie Murphy and Marlon Brando shared a birthday, for that matter Alec Baldwin.
    I’ve always been extremely fond of Eddie Murphy, strengthened by his two most famous comedy performances, “Beverly hills Cop”, and “48 hrs.”. His 1980’s success/high height of fame would’ve been a tough act to follow for anyone, but especially for someone who’s background was comedy, and who left the comedy act completely behind for a film career. I kind of dig “The Distinguished Gentleman” and “Boomerang”, while I think the two Nutty Professors are pretty alright.
    Happy belated birthday, jestak2; I haven’t been online much in the last week, and when I have I kind of ignored my mail, which also causes me to blow off the Leblog.


    • Alec Baldwin’s career at least has always been a serious anomaly. While he’s still successful and unlike his ex-Kim Basinger, never completely fell into irrelevancy, you none the less always suspect that he in theory should’ve been a much bigger star. I just think that his off-camera antics (i.e. frequent his temper tantrums including his outburst at his daughter, his messy exit from the Jack Ryan franchise, which made him a star in the first place, after just one movie, his tempestuous relationship with Basinger, etc.) and physically “letting himself go” may have killed his A-list leading man career.


      • Alec Baldwin definitely hit a major valley on his way to matinee idol status; he kind of re-purposed himself as a character actor, narrator, commercial pitchman, and game show host, but yeah, for a time it looked like he was going to be on top for a long time, but that phase of his career fizzled out.


        • I think that Alec Baldwin still has a relatively successful career despite all of the controversies in his personal life (i.e. fighting with photographers, being caught on tape being verbally abusive towards his daughter, etc.) because A) Hollywood simply put, like his politics and B) He for the most part, “plays the Hollywood game” like the professional he his. Alec for the most part, does not badmouth his bosses or TPTB. He also shows up and smiles when told to do so. That’s more than likely why he still has a career.


        • Why Me? Alec Baldwin’s disappointment, undimmed by success.

          “Forever Lulu,” Baldwin’s first film, in 1987, was bad. But within a couple of years he had played six memorable supporting roles in six better-than-average movies—“She’s Having a Baby,” “Beetlejuice,” “Married to the Mob,” “Working Girl,” “Talk Radio,” and “Great Balls of Fire!”—with some beguiling note of severity, even cruelty, in each. Baldwin had a precise, self-contained style: his performances suggested that although he might accept an audience’s attention, he cared little for its approval. Even in “Beetlejuice,” some inner killjoy seemed to pull against the innocent, newlywed scampering required of Baldwin’s character. This was the last time a director asked Baldwin to play a blameless square—a Darrin Stephens—and one can survey Baldwin’s twenty-odd-year film career without finding a fully persuasive rendering of happiness. One has to be satisfied with flared nostrils and a dangerous flash of teeth.

          In 1990, in a big step up, Baldwin played Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October,” the submarine thriller. The film eventually made two hundred million dollars. That success brought Baldwin the first of many invitations to guest-host “Saturday Night Live”—so launching an admired secondary career as a mimic, and a parodist of such alpha males as Robert De Niro. (For many years, this skill was quite segregated from his day job as an alpha male.) In Hollywood, the success of “Red October” earned him “an all-access pass that lasts for five years,” Baldwin recently said. “You have to capitalize. And, if the movies you make don’t make money in that period, your pass expires.” In Baldwin’s estimation, it did expire. First, “Patriot Games,” the sequel to “Red October,” slipped away from him—he had a conflicting offer to play Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on Broadway, and, as Billy Baldwin described the negotiations, “to a certain extent, he played chicken.” Alec Baldwin’s view is that he wasn’t reckless; rather, the sequel’s producers already had their eyes on another actor. Either way, in both “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger,” Jack Ryan was played by Harrison Ford. (In the Times, Frank Rich described Baldwin’s Stanley, in “Streetcar,” as “the first I’ve seen that doesn’t leave one longing for Mr. Brando.”)

          Then began a period where, in Baldwin’s description, “I ignored all of my instincts and started to do what other people suggested I do, but I knew it was wrong.” Baldwin is perhaps too easily seduced by a narrative of grand failure, rather than accepting a quieter story of qualified success; but by his account—one that hurries past some fine performances—almost everything he did in film from that point on was, at best, dissatisfying. A year after “Red October,” Baldwin made “The Marrying Man,” and started a romance with Basinger, his co-star. The film was a commercial and critical disaster. Baldwin said, “After that, I did ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ where I only had a very small role, regardless of how appreciative people are of it. Then I did ‘Prelude to a Kiss’ ”—based on a very successful theatrical production, in which Baldwin starred—“and that was a bomb. In 1992, I did ‘Malice,’ with Nicole Kidman. And that movie was a very cookie-cutter thriller. It did pretty well. In ’93, I did the remake of ‘The Getaway,’ with my wife. That was a bomb. I did ‘The Shadow.’ That was a bomb. In ’94, I did ‘Heaven’s Prisoners.’ That was a bomb. In ’95, I did ‘The Juror.’ That was a bomb. In ’96, I did ‘The Edge’ and ‘Ghosts of Mississippi.’ And that’s when you hear the sound of the wheels of the train screeching to a halt. ‘The Edge’ and ‘Ghosts of Mississippi’ were my last shots at the arcade, so to speak. Both movies were out in ’97. They bombed.” (“L.A. Confidential,” starring Basinger, was released the same year; she won an Oscar. Not long afterward, the couple provided voices for cartoons of themselves on “The Simpsons.” Basinger was shown ostentatiously polishing her statuette. “Honey, why don’t you give that thing a rest? You’re taking the finish off,” Baldwin says. “When you win one, you can take care of it however you want,” she replies.)

          “Do you want to know the truth?” Baldwin said to me not long ago. “I don’t think I really have a talent for movie acting. I’m not bad at it, but I don’t think I really have a talent for it.” He described the film actor’s need to project strength and weakness simultaneously. “Nicholson’s my idol this way. Pacino. There’s a mix you have to have where the character is vulnerable, the character is up against it, but there’s still a glimmer of resourcefulness in his eye—you look at him and the character is telegraphing to you this is not going to last very long. ‘I’m down’—Randle McMurphy, Serpico, whatever it is—‘but it’s not going to last, I’m still going to figure my way out of this.’ ” In contrast, he referred to Orson Welles. “Welles was a powerful actor, but he wasn’t always a great actor,” Baldwin said, with, perhaps, a faint nod to his own career. “Even when Welles was lost, he was arrogant.”

          In the late nineties, Baldwin began to take leading roles in smaller films, and (at last) in comic films—most notably in “State and Main,” directed and written by David Mamet—as well as more modest roles in big studio productions. For a movie star just turned forty, he was prematurely willing to take a generational leap; in “Outside Providence,” in 1999, Baldwin played the father of a teen-age boy. (Long before he was fifty, Baldwin had become independent cinema’s first choice for divorced father, tough patriarch, creepy boss.) As Baldwin sees it, if his career had now moved past the stage of leading man, that was in part because he had become a father himself. Ireland, his daughter, was born in 1995, two years after Baldwin and Basinger were married, on an East Hampton beach. “I just became—you know I’m not saying this to sound like a good guy—I just was obsessed with being with my daughter, and trying to parent my daughter. I always wanted children. And I think, in hindsight, I probably made a mistake, in the sense of my career.” He compared himself with his brother Billy. “My life, in some ways, has been a half-measure. I didn’t commit myself all the way to my marriage and family, because I would have given up more. And I didn’t go all the way with just being completely selfish. I always wonder where my career would be if I was more selfish. Billy is someone who gave it all up for his family. And he has a lovely family. He’s happily married. He stayed married to one person. . . . ”


  6. What Really Happened to Amanda Bynes?


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