April 12: Happy Birthday Vince Gill and Saoirse Ronan
Country superstar Vince Gill turns 60 today. He has won 21 Grammys in his career, more than any country performer not named Alison Krauss. He began his career immediately after his high school graduation, spending about a decade in the bands of the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell and David Grisman. His first solo album came out in 1984, but it was at the end of the 1980s when he switched labels and emerged as a major star; his 1989 album When I Call Your Name reached #2 on the US Country chart and the title song won him the first of those 21 Grammys.
Gill won at least one Grammy every year from 1990-1999 and a total of 14 for the decade. He had 27 charted singles on the Country chart in that period, including several that reached #1. He hasn’t had the same level of success since the turn of the century but his albums still sell well and he continues to add to that impressive Grammy count.
Saoirse Ronan, who is celebrating her 23rd, had one of the most auspicious movie debuts in recent years when she starred as Briony Tallis in Atonement, which was filmed when she was 12—she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination and a number of other accolades. For the next several years, Ronan might well have been marking time, waiting for the day when she could plausibly be cast in adult roles. She starred in several adaptations of young adult novels, such as City of Ember and The Lovely Bones, played a teenage assassin in Hanna, and even made a vampire movie (Byzantium). She had a sizable role in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and then in 2015, at 21, she starred in the lead role of Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn, and received a Best Actress nomination.
Last year Ronan made her Broadway debut as Abigail Williams in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In the coming year she will appear in several films, including an adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull.
Two actors known for playing TV dads in the late eighties and early nineties have birthdays today. Ed O’Neill, who played Al Bundy on Married…With Children, is 71 today. He has since returned to television fatherhood as Jay Pritchett on Modern Family; the two patriarch roles have brought him nominations for three Emmys and two Golden Globes. Dan Lauria, one year younger than O’Neill, played Jack Arnold on The Wonder Years. He is currently a regular on Fox’s Pitch.
Andy Garcia, who was an Oscar nominee for The Godfather Part III and starred in films like The Untouchables, Black Rain, and Internal Affairs, is turning 61 today. David Cassidy, who is 67, starred on The Partridge Family, and has had a varied career since as a TV guest star, singer, and in musical theater. David Letterman, who celebrates his 70th, was a fixture on late night American television for over 30 years, as the host of, first, Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and subsequently Late Show with David Letterman after he moved to CBS.
Claire Danes, who turns 38 today, was a Golden Globe winner at 15 for starring on My So-Called Life. She has starred in films like Romeo + Juliet, The Rainmaker, Shopgirl, and Stardust, and is a three-time Emmy winner, the two most recent for starring on Showtime’s Homeland. Jennifer Morrison was born the same day as Danes; she played Dr. Allison Cameron on House and now stars as Emma Swan on Once Upon a Time. Nicholas Brendon, who is 46, first became known as Xander Harris on Buffy and more recently had a recurring role on Criminal Minds. Also 46 is Shannen Doherty, who played Heather Duke in Heathers and starred on Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed. Marley Shelton, who turns 43, is known for films like Sugar & Spice, Valentine, and Sin City.
Herbert Grönemeyer, who turns 61, has had a successful career in his native Germany as a pop singer, but would most likely be known to US audiences for his role in Das Boot as the war correspondent, Lt. Werner.
Jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock turns 77 today. He is a fourteen-time Grammy winner, including one for Album of the Year, only the second jazz artist to win that honor, and won an Oscar for Best Original Score for Round Midnight. Operatic soprano Lily Pons (1898-1976) had a thirty career at the Met, and also made a few films for RKO and was a frequent guest on television variety shows like The Ed Sullivan Show. Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé was one of the leading Verdi and Puccini singers of the late 20th century and recorded a major crossover hit, “Barcelona,” with Freddie Mercury in 1987. She turns 84 today.
Tom Clancy (1947-2013) sold his first book to a very unlikely publisher for an enormously popular bestseller, the Naval Institute Press. The novel was The Hunt for Red October, which not only became a big bestseller but was one of, if not the first example of the so-called techno-thriller, while Clancy went on to see his books sell more than 100 million copies. Scott Turow, who turns 68, was a federal prosecutor for several years, before writing his first successful legal thriller, Presumed Innocent. Like Clancy, Turow has seen several of his novels adapted for film or television. Beverly Cleary is one of the best-known authors of children’s fiction of the past several decades. She is especially known for her novels about Henry Huggins, his friend Beezus Quimby, and her younger sister Ramona, and about the motorcycling rodent Ralph S. Mouse. Cleary is celebrating her 101st birthday today.
Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a British playwright and stage director, turns 78 today. He has written over seventy plays; several have been adapted into feature films, most recently Life of Riley, directed by the late Alain Resnais. Charles Ludlam (1943-1987) was an American playwright, stage director and actor. His most popular play is The Mystery of Irma Vep, a satire. He made a small number of film appearances, notably as an attorney in The Big Easy, before dying from AIDS-related pneumonia at 44.
Our historical birthday today is Henry Clay (1777-1852). “Harry of the West” served as a US Representative and Senator from Kentucky for much of the first half of the 19th century and also as US Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. His repeated efforts over the years to ease sectional tensions earned him the nickname of “The Great Compromiser.”
Ann Miller (1923-2004; born Johnnie Lucille Collier) began working in film at the age of 13 (using a fake birth certificate to convince RKO she was 18). She was already a good enough dancer to play Ginger Rogers’ partner in Stage Door a year later, but it wasn’t until she moved to MGM in the late forties that she had a stretch of stardom, in musicals like Easter Parade, On the Town, and Kiss Me Kate, each of which gave her a chance to show off her incredible tap dancing skills.
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 12, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Andy Garcia, Ann Miller, Beverly Cleary, Claire Danes, Dan Lauria, David Letterman, Ed O'Neill, Herbie Hancock, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Clancy, Vince Gill. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.