April 21: Happy Birthday James McAvoy and Patti LuPone


James McAvoy is turning 38 today.  He began acting in the late nineties and has had a distinguished career in film (mixed with some television) and on the British stage.  One of his early stage roles was as Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; he has since had the “Romeo” part in two films adapted (more or less) from that play, the 2003 film Bollywood Queen and the 2009 animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet.  He emerged as a major star in the mid-2000s with lead roles in The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, and Wanted.

In 2011 he made the first of three appearances in the film role he is probably best known for, Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class and two sequels:

In the past few years, McAvoy has received favorable notice for starring in films such as Danny Boyle’s Trance and last year’s Split, and will appear this summer opposite Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde.  His stage career has also prospered, as in the past decade he has received three Olivier Award nominations for Best Actor, including one for starring in the title role of a 2013 revival of Macbeth (a role also undertaken by the “other” Professor X, Patrick Stewart, in a 2010 BBC television film).

Musical theater star Patti LuPone is turning 68 today.  After graduating from Juilliard she became an original member of John Houseman’s The Acting Company.  She made her Broadway debut as Irina, the youngest title character in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, and has appeared regularly through the years in David Mamet’s plays.  However, her greatest success has come in musical theater.  In 1979 she starred in the original Broadway production of Evita and won the Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.  In 1985 she sang Fantine in the original London production of Les Misérables, and won an Olivier Award for her work in that show as well as The Cradle Will Rock.  She won a second Tony (out of six nominations) in 2008 for starring as Mama Rose in a revival of Gypsy.

LuPone has also shared in a pair of Grammys for a recording of Kurt Weill’s opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.  Her most famous screen role came on television, where she starred as Libby Thatcher on Life Goes On.  More recently she appeared on Penny Dreadful in the recurring role of Dr. Florence Seward.

Andie MacDowell, who is celebrating her 59th birthday, made her film debut in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.  She has been a Golden Globe nominee for Sex, Lies, and Videotape and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and is also known for Green Card, Short Cuts, and Groundhog DayTony Danza, who is 66 today, is a four-time Golden Globe nominee, once for Taxi and three times as the star of Who’s the Boss?  Also turning 66 is Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the elder of the two Belgian filmmaking brothers.  With younger brother Luc, he has made two films which have won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Rosetta and L’Enfant.   John Cameron Mitchell, who turns 54 today, is best known for writing the book for the award-winning musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and playing the title role in the original off-Broadway production.

Charles Grodin, who is 82 today, was a Golden Globe nominee for starring in Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid and is also known for appearances in The Great Muppet Caper, Midnight Run, Dave and the Beethoven films.  Aside from directing The Heartbreak Kid, Elaine May, who is turning 85, has been nominated for two Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, for Heaven Can Wait and Primary Colors.  Cinematographer Russell Boyd, who is 73 today, is known for his long association with fellow-Australian Peter Weir, which began with Picnic at Hanging Rock and culminated in Boyd’s winning an Oscar for Master and Commander.

Hadley Fraser, who celebrates his 37th, is best known for his association with Les Misérables; he has played Marius and Javert in the ongoing West End production, Grantaire in the 25th anniversary concert performance, and had a small role in the film adaptation.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who played Tish Jones in several Doctor Who episodes and was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2015 (James McAvoy won the same award in 2006), turns 34 today.  Toby Stephens, who is turning 48, played the Bond villain Gustav Graves in Die Another Day, and also played Mr. Rochester in a 2006 BBC miniseries adaptation of Jane EyreFrank Dillane, who celebrates his 26th today, played the young Tom Riddle in one of the Harry Potter films and stars on Fear the Walking Dead as Nick Clark.  Robbie Amell, who is turning 29, has played Freddy Jones in two live-action Scooby-Doo films and the recurring role of Ronnie Raymond on The Flash.

Iggy Pop (given name James Osterberg) is two-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter known for his work with the proto-punk band The Stooges and as a solo artist; he turns 70 today.  Irish folk-rocker Glen Hansard turns 47.  He has won a Grammy for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly” from Once (which he also starred in), and is known for his work with The Frames and The Swell Season.

The Mexican-born actor Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) was a two-time Best Supporting Actor winner, for Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life.  His other notable films included The Guns of Navarone (adapted from the Alistair MacLean novel) and Lawrence of ArabiaEdwin S. Porter (1870-1941) was one of the earliest pioneers of the film industry, known for establishing some of the core techniques of filmmaking and for the early classic The Great Train Robbery.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855), the eldest of the three literary sisters, is best known as the author of one of the classic coming-of-age novels, Jane Eyre; her third novel Villette also has admirers.  The Scottish novelist Alistair MacLean (1922-1987) was known for his tales of suspense and adventure, many of them, such as The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare, adapted into successful films.  Sister Helen Prejean, who is turning 78, is the author of the memoir Dead Man Walking, a chronicle of her experiences as a spiritual adviser to death row inmates.  Susan Sarandon won an Oscar playing Prejean in the film adaptation, in which Prejean herself has an uncredited cameo.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth nations, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, turns 91 today.  Joe McCarthy (1887-1978; not to be confused with the infamous US Senator of the same name) was one of the most successful managers in baseball history, guiding the New York Yankees to seven World Series titles.  Naturalist and environmentalist John Muir (1838-1914) was the founder of the Sierra Club and is known as the “father of the National Parks” for his central role in creating the National Park System.

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 21, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. There are lots of interesting connections in today’s article. For instance:

    -Patti LuPone and Hadley Fraser have both starred in the London production of Les Miz, the longest-running musical ever on the West End.
    -Charles Grodin and Elaine May made The Heartbreak Kid together.
    -James McAvoy won the BAFTA Award for the same category which Gugu Mbatha-Raw was nominated in nearly a decade later.
    -Toby Stephens starred in a miniseries adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s most famous novel.”
    -Anthony Quinn starred in a movie adaptation of one of Alistair MacLean’s novels.


  2. Whatever Happened to Andie MacDowell?

    Andie MacDowell rose to fame in the late 80s with the release of Sex, Lies & Videotape, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. From there, she went on to star in other iconic films such as Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral. There was no stopping her rise to fame as her image quickly spread to modeling and even a L’Oreal contract. Today at 59, she’s still equally stunning but she also lives a much quieter life. When she’s not working on her new series, Cedar Love, she’s busy raising her daughters, giving divorce advice, complaining about American Airlines service and hiking – because it keeps her beautiful.


  3. Patti LuPone, I know her from “Summer of Sam”, 2001’s “Heist”, “Life goes On” (which I watched quite a bit back in the day), and the Law & Order (original and SVU) episodes she did. I’ve never seen her theater work though.
    Andie MacDowell, I’m fond of her work in “Sex, Lies, & Videotape”, “Groundhog Day”, and “Green Card”. I think she’s a total Southern Belle, and no, her voice doesn’t have to be dubbed over (I know that happened ages ago, but still…).
    Tony Danza, I’ve watched a fair amount of “Taxi” and “Who The boss?” in my life, and I can also recall that garbageman/Philadelphia Eagles TV movie he did.
    Tony Romo, he got a bad rap for coming up short in big games with Dallas; I thought the problem was the Dallas Cowboys having a paucity of big games during his tenue. Besides, only two Cowboys quarterbacks ever won championships anyway.
    Anthony Quinn (sticking with the Tony’s. Tony, Tony, Tony; now, if I had no loot…), he was friends with mob boss frank Costello, who, as mob guys go, seemed like a gentleman. As for Quinn, he could could mobsters, or pirates, or pretty much anybody.
    Charles Grodin, ha, I loved him in “Midnight Run” (“It’s going DOWN”, it’s going DOWN”) and “Seems like Old Times”. Plus, didn’t he date a woman from The Simpsons’ Springfield universe?
    Iggy Pop, I really like the songs “The Passenger”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, “Lust for life”, “Real Wild One”, and “Candy”.


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