April 18: Happy Birthday James Woods and Rick Moranis


James Woods is celebrating his 70th birthday today.  He attended MIT but dropped out to pursue an acting career, making his debut on Broadway in 1970, on television in 1971, and in film in 1972.  After several years in supporting roles, he first drew notice with his Golden Globe nominated performance as Gregory Powell in the 1979 film The Onion Field (adapted from the novel by Joseph Wambaugh).  In the next few years Woods had major roles in films like David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, before starring in Oliver Stone’s Salvador and receiving his first Oscar nomination.

Woods received a second Oscar nomination ten years later for playing Byron de la Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi.  Some of his other notable film roles have included appearing in Cop, True Believer, Casino, and Nixon (as H. R. Haldeman).  He won Primetime Emmys for the TV movies Promise and My Name is Bill W., and a Daytime Emmy for voicing Hades in Disney’s Hercules: The Animated Series (based on the 1997 animated feature).

Rick Moranis is turning 64 today.  He first became known as a member of the cast of SCTV in the early eighties—he received an Emmy nomination for writing, and the sketches he did with costar Dave Thomas led to the 1983 feature film Strange Brew, which has become at least a bit of a cult classic.  The rest of the 1980s were good for Moranis, as he had a number of memorable comic roles: as Louis Tully in the Ghostbusters films, as Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors, as Lord Dark Helmet in Spaceballs, and as Wayne Szalinski in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

As his WTHH article outlines, in the late nineties Moranis, trying to be a single parent after his wife’s death, decided to take a sabbatical from acting.  Other than a few voice roles and one or two other projects, it has turned out to be permanent.

Edgar Wright celebrates his 43rd.  He is best known for directing and cowriting the “Cornetto” trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End.  He also wrote and directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; his latest film, Baby Driver, recently premiered at South by Southwest and will begin playing in theaters sometime this summer.

David Tennant, who was the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who and stars as Alec Hardy on Broadchurch, is turning 46 today.  Eric McCormack, who turns 54, was a four-time Emmy nominee as Will Truman (with one win) on Will & Grace.  He starred on TNT’s Perception and now headlines Netflix’s TravelersMaria Bello is 50 today.  She currently stars on Amazon’s Goliath and is known for films such as Coyote Ugly, A History of Violence, and Thank You For SmokingMelissa Joan Hart, who starred on Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All and the sitcoms Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Melissa & Joey, is turning 41 today.

Jeff Dunham, the stand-up comic and ventriloquist who has had six specials on Comedy Central and is called “America’s best comedian” by Slate, turns 55 today.  Jane Leeves, who is 56, was an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee as Daphne Moon on Frasier, and more recently starred on TV Land’s Hot in ClevelandConan O’Brien, who has been a fixture on late-night American television for well over twenty years, turns 54 today.  Eric Roberts, who turns 61, was an Oscar nominee for Runaway Train, and a Golden Globe nominee for that film along with King of the Gypsies and Star 80.

America Ferrera is celebrating her 33rd today.  She played Carmen Lowell in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films and won an Emmy and a number of other awards as Betty Suarez on Ugly Betty; currently she stars on and co-produces NBC’s Superstore.

Model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who is 30 today, has had major film roles in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and as Angharad the Splendid in Mad Max: Fury RoadBritt Robertson, who starred as Casey Newton in Tomorrowland, is turning 27 today.  Chloe Bennet, who is turning 25, plays Daisy Johnson (formerly Skye) on Agents of S.H.I.I.E.L.D.  Alia Shawkat, who celebrates her 28th, stars on TBS’s Search Party, and previously played Maeby Funke on Arrested DevelopmentReeve Carney, who turns 34 today, starred on Broadway as Peter Parker in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and played Dorian Gray on Penny Dreadful.

Nathan Sykes, who is celebrating his 24th, is a member of the British boy band The Wanted, and released his first solo album last fall.  Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995) wrote the scores for nearly 100 feature films and won Oscars for the scores for Spellbound, A Double Life, and Ben-Hur.  He also wrote a considerable body of concert music, including a string quartet he dedicated to recent headliner Peter Ustinov.

Clive Revill, who turns 87, was a two-time Tony nominee for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, and Star Wars fans may recall that he was the original voice actor for the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back (Ian McDiarmid was later dubbed in for DVD releases).  James Drury, who is 84 today, is remembered for starring in the title role of the TV Western The Virginian for nine seasons.  Cindy Pickett, who is turning 70, played Katie Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and starred on the final two seasons of St. ElsewhereHayley Mills, who celebrates her 71st, was an adolescent star of the late fifties and early sixties, known for films like Tiger Bay, Pollyanna, and The Parent Trap.  She later had a lengthy stage career and did several TV movies that were Parent Trap sequels.

Barbara Hale (1922-2017) was well-known to American television audiences of the late fifties and early sixties as Perry Mason’s loyal secretary, Della Street.  She won an Emmy in 1959 and later reprised the role in a string of TV movies.  Our sports birthday today is Wahoo Sam Crawford (1880-1968, nicknamed for his town of birth), a Baseball Hall of Famer who spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers, and is baseball’s all-time leader in career triples.  Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), our historical birthday, was one of the most famous trial lawyers in American history, known for his roles in cases like the Leopold-Loeb murder trial and the Scopes Monkey Trial.

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 18, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I first started writing this article I was thinking that I had not seen very many of James Woods’s films, but I actually have seen several—it’s just that I haven’t seen some of the definitive ones like Salvador or True Believer.

    Rick Moranis had a very nice run of good roles in the eighties. The big reason he largely walked away from the industry in the late nineties was his family obligations, of course, but it also seems like in that decade the roles he was getting weren’t as good, either.

    Hayley Mills was the daughter of Sir John Mills and the younger sister of Juliet Mills of Nanny and the Professor fame. In the late eighties Hayley Mills starred on the Disney Channel series Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which after one season evolved into Saved by the Bell (without Mills’ character).

    Edgar Wright has done some interesting work. I really like Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim isn’t bad.

    I remember that when the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants film came out, the “names” in the cast were Alexis Bledel and Amber Tamblyn. America Ferrera and Blake Lively were unknowns. Today, the latter two are enjoying much more success.


  2. James Woods, awe yeah, “Videodrome”, “Against All Odds”, “Salvador”, “Best Seller” (a real personal favorite; I enjoy the byplay between Brian Dennehy & him in that one), “Casino”, and the voice of government spook Mike Toreno in “Grand theft Auto: San Andreas” (I heard that Woods plays video games himself).
    Rick Moranis, he really made “Little Shop of Horrors” for me, and I enjoyed his Dark Helmet in “Spaceballs” too. Good “What The Hell Happened to…” article on him here.
    Maria Bello, I’ve found some of her roles interesting, especially “The Cooler”; I even watched the US version of “Prime Suspect” when it briefly aired.
    Melissa Joan Hart, yeah, I’ve seen quite a few episodes of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”, especially back in the 1990’s.
    On the other hand, I can’t say I’ve caught too many episodes of “Will and grace”, but I am aware of Eric McCormack, just not overly familiar with his work.
    Eric Roberts, I thought he had a nice run in the early to mid 1980’s with “Star 80”, “The Pope of Greenwich Village”, and “Runaway Train”. I also recall him being a Hollywood square for a time.
    Cindy Pickett, sure, Lyman Ward & her were even a real-life married coup after “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and are in that baby naming montage at the end of “She’s Having a Baby”.


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