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April 11: Happy Birthday Joel Grey and Joss Stone

0411GreyStone

Joel Grey turns 85 today.  The father of WTHH subject Jennifer Grey, he has had a distinguished career in musical theater.  He is a four-time Tony nominee and is known for roles such as Charley in Goodtime Charley, Amos Hart in Chicago, The Wizard in Wicked, and Moonface Martin in the much-acclaimed 2011 revival of Anything Goes.  He received a Golden Globe nomination for Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and an Emmy nomination for a guest appearance on Brooklyn Bridge; his television career also includes a recurring role in season 5 of Buffy and a guest spot on The Muppet Show.

He is most famous, though, for the role that brought him a Tony (for the original Broadway production), along with an Oscar and a Golden Globe (for the film adaptation)—the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.

British R&B/soul star Joss Stone is 30 today.  When she won a BBC talent competition at the age of 14, it led to an audition with Steve Greenberg of S-Curve Records and a recording contract.  Her first album came out in 2003, but it was her second album, consisting mostly of songs she wrote or co-wrote, Mind, Body & Soul, that she established herself.  She became the youngest female artist to have a #1 album in the UK, while it reached #11 in the US and led to three Grammy nominations, including one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Stone released her seventh studio album, Water for Your Soul, in 2015.  She won her first Grammy for a cover of “Family Affair” in collaboration with John Legend and Van Hunt.  She has made a few film and television appearances.  Most of them have been as herself, but she had a supporting role in Eragon, and played Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII’s fourth wife) in The Tudors.

Jennifer Esposito, who currently plays Alex Quinn on NCIS, turns 44.  She previously starred on Blue Bloods and has had significant roles in films like Breakin’ All the Rules and CrashKelli Garner, who is 33 today, played Marilyn Monroe on the Lifetime miniseries The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe and has been featured in films like Thumbsucker and Lars and the Real GirlTricia Helfer, who is 43, played the humanoid Cylon Number Six on Battlestar Galactica and is now a regular on Fox’s LuciferDakota Blue Richards, who is 23, made her debut as Lyra Belaqua in The Golden Compass and currently appears on the British crime series Endeavor.

Carl Franklin, who turns 68, acted on television for several years, notably in a recurring role on The A-Team, and then went into directing.  He made a few features for Roger Corman, then made two extremely well-received crime films, One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress.  More recently he was an Emmy nominee for directing on House of Cards.  Writer and director John Milius is 73 today.  He was an Oscar nominee for co-writing the screenplay for Apocalypse Now and wrote the first two Dirty Harry movies.  As a director, his output includes Dillinger, Conan the Barbarian, and Red Dawn.  Independent filmmaker Vincent Gallo, who is turning 56, is known for writing, directing and starring in Buffalo ’66 and The Brown Bunny.

Fans of Animal House will remember Peter Riegert, who is 70 today, as Donald “Boon” Schoenstein; he also starred in Local Hero, was an Emmy nominee for Barbarians at the Gate, and directed the Oscar-nominated short By CourierBill Irwin, who is turning 67, is known for his vaudeville-style comic stage shows.  He won a Tony for Best Actor in a Play for starring in a revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (starring opposite Kathleen Turner), and has made a number of film appearances.  Louise Lasser, who celebrates her 78th, might be considered Woody Allen’s first “muse,” as she starred in several of his early films, such as Take the Money and Run and Bananas.  She later starred as the title character of the syndicated series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Lisa Stansfield, who turns 51 today, is a British R&B singer and songwriter who had worldwide success with her 1989 album Affection and the hit single “All Around the World,” which brought her a pair of Grammy nominations.

Paul Douglas (1907-1959) worked on Broadway for over a decade before making his film debut in A Letter to Three Wives, which also starred Kirk Douglas (no relation).  He worked steadily in Hollywood for the last decade of his life as a supporting player or co-lead.  Johnny Sheffield (1931-2010) will be remembered for playing Boy in several Tarzan films, and then going on to play Bomba the Jungle Boy in a dozen low-budget features from Monogram.  Meshach Taylor (1947-2014) is most likely to be remembered for his Emmy nominated role as Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women and as the flamboyant Hollywood Montrose in the Mannequin films.  Fashion designer Oleg Cassini (1913-2006) worked in film for several years, particularly on films starring Gene Tierney (the two were married for several years), and later was the unofficial “Secretary of Style” to the White House when Jacqueline Kennedy was First Lady.

Our historical birthdays today include two US Secretaries of State.  Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948) had a long life in public service that included being Governor of New York and two stints on the US Supreme Court, first as an Associate Justice from 1910-1916 and then Chief Justice from 1930-41.  He was Secretary of State for President Harding, a beacon of ability and integrity in a cabinet otherwise known for corruption.  He nearly became President himself, narrowly losing to Woodrow Wilson in 1916.  Dean Acheson (1893-1971) was brought into the State Department by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, and promoted to Undersecretary in 1945 by President Truman.  He moved up to Secretary when George Marshall retired in 1949 and served until the end of President Truman’s term.  He was a major architect of US foreign policy in the early Cold War and after leaving office became one of the “Wise Men” who informally advised Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the sixties.

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 April 11, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m pretty sure I first became aware of Joel Grey from his Muppet Show appearance. Over time I’ve become aware of his prominence on Broadway, where he has been a major figure for fifty years or more.

    I wasn’t really familiar with Joss Stone before researching today’s article; sounds like I may want to check some of her recordings out.

    Had The Golden Compass been more successful, and the remainder of the His Dark Materials trilogy been filmed, Dakota Blue Richards might have gone on to big things. She was a terrific Lyra Belaqua and is young enough to still have a successful career.

    Carl Franklin started the nineties with two terrific features in One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress (a terrific adaptation of the Walter Mosley novel). I haven’t seen all of this subsequent films but those I’ve checked out have been less impressive.

    Oleg Cassini and Gene Tierney were the victims of one of Hollywood’s most famous tragedies when their daughter Daria was born with severe birth defects (she was deaf and mentally disabled), owing to Tierney unknowingly having been infected with German measles by a fan who had broken a medical quarantine to meet her.

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  2. Joel Grey, I thought he was great in “Cabaret” and though the characterization comes off uncomfortable now, I had to be convinced that it was him playing that character in the Remo Williams film, a film I still enjoy.
    Jennifer Esposito, seems that she had a lot of medical issues that dealt mostly with her celiac disease, amazing she was able to labor through TV series work. Glad she’s doing better,
    Carl Franklin, totally remember him from “The A-Team”, and definitely noticed some of his directing credits as well.
    John Milius, he wrote a film in the 1980’s meant to be titled “Fatal Beauty” (not the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle), but he couldn’t get it funded, so the script was turned into an episode of “Miami Vice” titled ‘Viking Bikers From Hell’ (I think it’s alright, but one can tell it had production problems, as all of the story elements don’t really mesh) and Milius used Walter Kurtz (nice reference) as a pseudonym as writing credit for the episode.
    Vincent Gallo, I like “Buffalo ’66” and have “The brown bunny” on DVD. The guy’s from Buffalo, so I suppose he’s like the rest of us weirdos here.
    Peter Riegert, I remember him from what was listed in the article, and I’d like to also mention 1991’s “Oscar” and “The Mask”.

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