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 HomelandJennifer 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 TimeNicholas 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 CharmedMarley 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 , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have seen several of Saoirse Ronan’s movies and am a fan of hers. She never seemed to be an ideal fit for standard teenager roles so it’s nice that she’s past having to play them.

    As someone who spent some time in front of a TV in the late eighties and early nineties, I caught a fair amount of Ed O’Neill and Dan Lauria.

    I have not been watching Homeland, so I was not aware of how successful Claire Danes has been lately; she had kind of disappeared from my radar the past several years.

    Nicholas Brendon and Marley Shelton apparently went to either his or her high school prom together.

    I read The Hunt for Red October a year or two after it first came out. It is a terrific thriller. Tom Clancy never again wrote anything as good, but several of his subsequent books were pretty good, until he got to be so big that he apparently could get by without editing his books—they got ridiculously long and complicated and had way too much political sermonizing.

    When I first signed up with Netflix, On the Town was one of the first movies I rented. Ann Miller nearly steals the movie from ostensible stars Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. How that gal could tap-dance!


  2. Ed O’ Neill, I really remember his Al Bundy from “Married…With Children”, but he also guest starred in the first episode of “Miami Vice” titled ‘Heart of Darkness’, in which he played a Federal Agent who went undercover and may enjoy the lifestyle he entered too much. It gets seriously dark.
    Dan Lauria, I watched a lot of “The Wonder Years” as a kid, and he was the gruff dad to a T.
    I’ve always liked Andy Garcia; how about the 2009 film “City Island”? I thought Garcia was great in that.
    David Cassidy, seems like he really struggled to be taken seriously during & after “The Partridge Family”; it looks like the success of the series was a real double-edged sword for him.
    David Letterman, sometimes how he razzed certain guests got to me sometimes, but I do think he was more of a natural comedian than Jay Leno, and I missed him when he was no longer on at night.
    Clare Danes, I was all about “My So Called Life”; briefly, I was into “Homeland”. I think Danes is a strong actress, and I actually liked the MTV version of “Romeo + Juliet” (presented in any condition, it’s still a tragic story).
    Shannen Doherty, “Beverly hills 90210” is another show I watched quite a bit as a teenager, and I watched “Our house” as a kid.
    Herbie Hancock, I really like his instrumental “Rockit” (Vice City!!!) and I like the stuff he did for “Death Wish”.


  3. Oh my goodness; back in 1998, my mother recorded that “David Cassidy: Behind The Music”, since she found that we had things in common (yeah I would’ve married Kay Lenz too, who would’ve been my favorite actress if I was a part of the 1970’s). I’m tired of people passing away this year (George Michael last December was a massive problem for me, and my mom in late July just really broke my heart. Man, I think 67 is just too early to go.


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