April 14: Happy Birthday Julie Christie and John Gielgud
Julie Christie, who celebrates her 77th today, has won every major Best Actress honor (Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA Award) in the English-speaking world. She has done a little bit of television work and selected stage roles, but the core of her career has been in feature films. Her breakthrough role was in 1963’s Billy Liar, and she had such a good year in 1965 that Life dubbed it “the year of Julie Christie.” The blockbuster Doctor Zhivago, in which she played Lara Antipova, is the film everyone probably remembers her for from 1965, but her Best Actress Oscar for that year was actually for Darling.
Christie remained a major leading lady for over a decade, starring in a variety of films, including adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. She received her second Oscar nomination for Robert Altman’s revisionist Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller.
While Christie continued to star in high-profile films through the end of the seventies—Don’t Look Now, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait—over time she has changed her emphasis. She still does a few big projects, like playing Gertrude in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and appearing in a Harry Potter film. However, she is more likely to be found in smaller, indie-style films, such as Sarah Polley’s Away from Her, for which she won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award and received her fourth Oscar nomination.
Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000) was one of the unquestioned giants of 20th century British theater, alongside Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier. His acting career lasted just shy of eighty years, so all that can be done here is hit a few high points. He was one of the short list of winners of an EGOT, having won an Emmy (for the miniseries Summer’s Lease), a Grammy (for Best Spoken Word Album), an Oscar (for Best Supporting Actor in Arthur), and three Tonys.
It goes without saying that he was a great Shakespearean. He was known for his performances of several characters in Julius Caesar as well as Romeo, Oberon, Lear, Macbeth, Richard II, and especially Hamlet, which he played some 500 times in his career. He began appearing in film in the 1920s, and starting around 1964 he did at least as much film and television work as he did onstage. He appeared in two film versions of Julius Caesar, once as Cassius, the second time in the title role. His other notable film roles included Becket, Oh! What a Lovely War, Murder on the Orient Express, The Elephant Man, and Prospero’s Books, along with that Oscar-winning performance in Arthur.
Peter Capaldi, who turns 59, is a four time BAFTA Award nominee for the BBC series The Thick of It and currently plays the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who. Gina McKee, who celebrates her 53rd, was an Olivier Award nominee as Goneril in a 2010 London revival of King Lear, and plays Dr. Jane Andrews on Emerald City. Brad Garrett, a three-time Emmy winner as Robert Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, turns 57 today. Robert Carlyle, who is 56, won a BAFTA Award for starring in The Full Monty and was a Bond villain in The World is Not Enough.
Anthony Michael Hall, who turns 49, is best known for his Brat Pack days, when he starred in films like The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Adrien Brody, who is 44, won Best Actor for starring in The Pianist, and also became the only American actor to ever win a Cesar Award for the same film. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is turning 40, will always be remembered as the star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; she also won a Daytime Emmy as Kendall Hart on All My Children. Also 40 today is Rob McElhenney, who is the creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and stars in the role of Mac McDonald. Claire Coffee, who was a regular on NBC’s just-concluded Grimm, turns 37 today.
Abigail Breslin turns 21 today. She was an Oscar nominee for Little Miss Sunshine, has starred in films like Nim’s Island and Zombieland, currently stars on Fox’s Scream Queens, and made her Broadway debut as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Skyler Samuels, who starred on the first season of Scream Queens with Breslin, turns 23 today. Chris Wood, who is turning 29, plays Mon-El on Supergirl.
Our biggest music birthday today is Loretta Lynn, who turns 85. One of country’s biggest stars of the sixties and seventies, she was known as the “Queen of Country Music” in her heyday. One of her most successful hits, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” provided the title of her autobiography and of a biopic that starred Sissy Spacek.
Other music birthdays include Ritchie Blackmore, who is 72. He was a founding member of the hard rock/metal band Deep Purple, and later he and Candice Night (now his wife) founded the folk rock band Blackmore’s Night. Julian Lloyd Webber, younger brother of Andrew, is a prominent cellist and conductor.
Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux turns 51 today. He won 355 games in his career, the second highest total of any player who began his career after the beginning of the “live ball” era in 1920, and won four straight National League Cy Young Awards from 1992-95. Pete Rose, who is 76 today, is baseball’s all-time leader in hits and games played, and “Charlie Hustle” would most likely be in the Hall of Fame if he had not bet on the Cincinnati Reds at a time when he was their manager. Marvin Miller (1917-2012) served as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966-1982. In that role he helped the players win the right to free agency and brought about an enormous change in the economics of professional sports.
Rod Steiger (1925-2002) won the Oscar for Best Actor as the southern police chief Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night, and was nominated two other times, for On the Waterfront and The Pawnbroker. British actress Valerie Hobson (1917-1998) is best known for starring in David Lean’s adaptation of Great Expectations and in the classic Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets. Gerry Anderson (1926-2012) was known for his futuristic children’s programs, produced with the “Supermarionation” method, of which the most notable was Thunderbirds.
Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) was famous as the teacher of Helen Keller. As the central character of The Miracle Worker, she has been played on stage and screen by Anne Bancroft, Teresa Wright, Patty Duke, and Alison Pill (opposite Abigail Breslin as Helen Keller). Former New York policeman Frank Serpico turns 81 today. He was famous for his role in exposing police corruption, at the risk of his own life, in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Al Pacino played Serpico in a 1973 film based on his career.
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 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Abigail Breslin, Adrien Brody, John Gielgud, Julie Christie, Loretta Lynn, Peter Capaldi, Rob McElhenney, Rod Steiger, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.