April 22: Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson and Aaron Spelling


Three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson is celebrating his 80th today.  He made his films debut in 1958 in a teen drama produced by Roger Corman, The Cry Baby Killer.  He made a number of films in the sixties with Corman, and several Westerns with Monte Hellman.  His first major break came in 1969, when he starred in Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider and received his first Oscar nomination.

From 1970-75, Nicholson starred in a string of classic or near-classic films—Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens, Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (as Jake Gittes), and Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger.  He capped this great run with his first Oscar, for Best Actor as Mac McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Since the mid-seventies, Nicholson’s career slowed down, if by “slowed down” you mean that he did not receive an Oscar nomination, or appear in modern classic, every single year.  He has won Oscars for Terms of Endearment (Best Supporting Actor) and As Good as it Gets (Best Actor again).  A few of his other memorable roles, some but not all of them Oscar-nominated, have included Jack Torrance in The Shining, Eugene O’Neill in Reds, Charley Partanna in Prizzi’s Honor, Jack Napier, aka Joker, in Batman, Warren Schmidt in About Schmidt, and Frank Costello in The Departed.  This year he will appear in his first feature in seven years, starring opposite Kristen Wiig in a remake of the Oscar-nominated German film Toni Erdmann.

For nearly forty years, from the debut of The Mod Squad in 1968 until his death in 2006, there can’t have been more than a few brief periods when the primetime TV schedule did not include at least one show with Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) as a producer or executive producer.  Say what you will about the quality of his output, he clearly had the ability to adapt to changing times and produce programs that were popular and durable—The Rookies, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, 7th Heaven, Charmed.  Just to name some of the better known.

Lee Tamahori, who is 67 today, directed the critically acclaimed New Zealand film Once Were Warriors, and has gone on to a variety of genre films, including the 20th Bond film, Die Another DayJohnnie To, who is 62, is a prolific director in the cinema of Hong Kong who is known internationally for action and crime films, such as The Heroic Trio, Breaking News, and Election.  American independent filmmaker John Waters, known for films such as Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and Cry-Baby, turns 71 today.

Charlotte Rae, best known for playing Edna Garrett on Diff’rent Strokes and then on The Facts of Life, turns 91 today.  She did a fair amount of stage work in the fifties and sixties and was a two-time Tony nominee.

Catherine Mary Stewart, who turns 58 today, is best known for starring in a pair of 1984 sci-fi films, The Last Starfighter and Night of the Comet, and in the cult semi-classic Weekend at Bernie’sSheryl Lee, who is 50, is known to all Twin Peaks fans for the roles of Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson, and will return to those roles in the Showtime revival.  Also turning 50 is Sherri Shepherd, who starred as Ramona Platt on Less than Perfect, and had a long stint as a cohost of The View, winning a Daytime Emmy.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is celebrating his 51st, plays Negan on The Walking Dead.  He has had recurring roles on Supernatural and Grey’s Anatomy and is known for films such as Watchmen and The Losers.

Amber Heard, who some people probably know only because of her marriage to/acrimonious divorce from Johnny Depp, is 31 today.  She is known for starring in films like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and Drive Angry, and will appear in the upcoming Justice League and in 2018’s Aquaman as Mera.  Cassidy Freeman, who turns 35, stars on Netflix’s Longmire as Cady Longmire and previously played Tess Mercer on SmallvilleEric Mabius, who played Daniel Meade on Ugly Betty and now stars on Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered, turns 46 today.

Glen Campbell, who is 81 today, is our biggest music birthday.  After several years working as a session musician, including a few months touring with the Beach Boys, he emerged as a country superstar in 1967 with the album Gentle on My Mind, the first of nine #1 country albums, and a string of hit singles.  He also starred opposite John Wayne in True Grit and hosted his own TV music/variety show.

Peter Frampton, a soft rock star of the mid-seventies with hits like “Baby, I Love Your Way” and “I’m in You,” turns 67 today.  Larry Groce, who is turning 69, is known for his 1976 novelty hit “Junk Food Junkie” and as the co-creator and host of the public radio show Mountain StageCharles Mingus (1922-1979) was a jazz bandleader and double bassist and one of the most highly regarded jazz composers of all time.  Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999; Baron Menuhin for the last six years of his life) was one of the leading classical violinists of the 20th century, especially famous for his long association with Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto.  He was also a lifelong practitioner of yoga who is thought to be one of the people responsible for popularizing yoga in the US and Europe.

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, left his native Russia in the wake of the Russian Revolution.  His first nine novels were written in Russian and include The Luzhin Defense and Invitation to a Beheading.  However, he was most famous for his later novels, written in English, most notably Lolita and Pale Fire.  The early 18th century English novelist and playwright Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was best known for the novel Tom Jones, adapted into an Oscar-winning movie in the early sixties.  Janet Evanovich, who turns 74 today, is the author of several dozen books, most notably the mystery-romance series featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, which began with One for the Money.  The last 18 Plum books in a row have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list; the latest, Hardcore Twenty-Four, will be released later this year.

Durable character actor Eddie Albert (1906-2005) was a two-time Oscar nominee, for Roman Holiday and The Heartbreak Kid, appeared in films like Oklahoma!, Attack! and The Longest Yard, and starred as Oliver Wendell Douglas on Green Acres.

One of history’s most influential figures, and not in a positive way, was Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the founder of the Soviet Union, and the architect of the Red Terror of roughly 1918-1922.  About the only good that can be said of him is that he did less evil than the man who came after him.  American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) was known for his central role in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb, and for his postwar efforts to limit the nuclear arms race.

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 22, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Forget it Jack, it’s Lebeau’s Leblog. Jack Nicholson, man, has he been around a long time though. What to get the man who has everything, a restored version of his directorial debut “Drive, He Said”? A set of golf clubs?
    Aaron Spelling, I think he was part of a lot of good TV.
    John Waters, I like some of his work, especially “Serial Mom”, and loved his voice work turn on “The Simpsons” (Marge telling Homer that John is kind of festive is still funny to me). I know he’s not for everybody though.
    Charlotte Rae, so, she was good friends with Paul Lynde?
    Catherine Mary Stewart, I thought she was pretty awesome in the 1980’s; love “Night of the Comet”.
    Sheryl Lee, her Laura Palmer Yearbook photo was a real lasting image on “Twin Peaks”.
    Amber Heard, I guess she was in “Zombieland”, but I don’t remember her from it. I liked “The Rum Diary” though.
    Eddie Albert, I liked him in “Head Office”. Not sure if Green Acres is always the place…for me, I may need a head…of steam!
    Vladimir Lenin, isn’t his body preserved in a glass class or something? If so, I wonder if there’s a a sign nearby that reads, “In case of emergency, break glass”.


  2. The real reason you don’t hear from Jack Nicholson anymore

    Jack Nicholson got started in show business with schlocky B-movies like The Raven, The Terror, and The Little Shop of Horrors. Now, almost 60 years after making his film debut in The Cry Baby Killer, Nicholson is considered one of Hollywood’s all-time greats. But the award-winning actor has been kind of quiet recently, and we haven’t seen the man on-screen since 2010. So what’s up with the actor’s disappearance? Well, if you think you can handle the truth, keep on reading to find out why we don’t hear from Jack Nicholson anymore.


  3. Glen Campbell has died at 81. He had been struggling with Alzheimer’s the past few years. Rolling Stone has a nice obituary and retrospective on his career:

    Campbell’s recording of “Southern Nights” was part of the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.


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