April 28: Happy Birthday Penelope Cruz and Jessica Alba


The pictures above were both taken at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards, where Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress and Jessica Alba was one of the presenters who gave her the award.  I actually found a photo of the two of them together, but it wasn’t very usable as Penelope’s back was to the camera. 🙂

Oscar winner Penelope Cruz celebrates her 43rd today.  Her first appearance was in a 1989 music video for the Spanish pop band Mecano, and in the early 1990s she hosted a teen-oriented Spanish television show, La Quinta Marcha.  She made an impressive feature film debut in 1992, starring in two films.  She won the Goya Award for Best Actress for Jamón Jamón, which was her first time appearing with her future husband, Javier Bardem.  She also starred in Belle Époque, which won the Goya for Best Picture and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Cruz emerged as a major star in Spanish film over the 1990s.  In 1997, she began a regular working relationship with director Pedro Almodóvar, appearing in his Life Flesh, while also starring in Alejandro Amenábar’s Open Your Eyes.  A year later she made her American film debut in The Hi-Lo Country, and won a second Goya for Best Actress for starring in The Girl of Your Dreams.  As her Hollywood career expanded, she briefly became a Razzie target, for films such as Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe’s remake of Open Your Eyes.  But in 2006 she starred in Almodóvar’s Volver, winning her third Goya Award and receiving her first Oscar nomination, for Best Actress.

Two years later Cruz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, along with a number of other awards (including that Independent Spirit Award) for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and then received a third Oscar nomination for Rob Marshall’s musical Nine.  Her biggest box office success came with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011.  She appeared in several films last year, and is currently up for another Goya Award for The Queen of Spain, a sequel to The Girl of Your Dreams.  Later this year she will appear in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Jessica Alba turns 36 today.  She began acting in her early teens, appearing in the film Camp Nowhere in 1994 and then starring on the 1990s reboot of Flipper for two seasons.  Her first major role was starring on James Cameron’s series for Fox, Dark Angel.  In the early 2000s she seemed like a potential star for a short while, but her potential breakout year, 2005, instead brought her a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress—although one of her three films from that year was not listed in her nomination.

Alba continued to work regularly for the next decade, but without ever developing into a major star—although she certainly remains well-known.  While she still makes regular film appearances, for the last five years she has probably been more focused on her consumer products company, The Honest Company.

Swedish born Ann-Margret (given name Ann-Margret Olsson), who turns 76, had a modest singing career in the sixties but is known primarily as an actress.  She made her debut in Pocketful of Miracles in 1961, receiving the first of five Golden Globe Awards during her film and television career.  She was a two-time Oscar nominee in the seventies, for Carnal Knowledge and Tommy, won an Emmy in 2010 for a guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU, and is currently featured in the remake of Going in Style.

Jay Leno, who turns 67, made his first appearance on The Tonight Show as a substitute host in 1987, and in 1992 he was chosen as Johnny Carson’s replacement.  Except for a nine-month hiatus in 2009-10, he remained on the show until retiring in 2014.  Mary McDonnell, who is 65 today, is a two time Oscar nominee, as Stands With a Fist in Dances With Wolves and May-Alice Culhane in John Sayles’ Passion Fish.  She currently stars on TNT’s police procedural, Major Crimes.  Paul Guilfoyle, who played Captain Jim Brass on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for 14 years, turns 68 today.

Bridget Moynahan, who is celebrating her 46th, currently stars on CBS’s Blue Bloods, and has played prominent roles in films such as The Sum of All Fears and Lord of WarElisabeth Röhm, who is 44 today, played Kate Lockley on Angel for two seasons and then was a regular on Law & Order for four seasons.  Also turning 44 is Jorge Garcia, who played Hugo Reyes on Lost and is now a regular on Hawaii Five-0.    Catherine Reitman (daughter of Ivan), who is 36, is the creator and star of the CBC series Workin’ Moms.  Danish actress Stephanie Corneliussen, who turns 30, plays Joanna Wellick on Mr. Robot.  Tony Revolori, who is 21 today, made his breakthrough as Zero Moustafa in The Grand Budapest Hotel and will play Flash Thompson in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Barry Larkin, who is turning 53, is a Baseball Hall of Famer.  One of the best shortstops in baseball for a decade or more, he spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, leading them to the 1990 World Series title, winning the 1995 National League MVP award, and making 12 All-Star teams.

Two major authors of genre fiction have birthdays today.  Ian Rankin, who is turning 57, has been a major figure in so-called “tartan noir,” relatively edgy and tough crime fiction set in Scotland.  He is best known for the 21 novels in the John Rebus series, featuring a longtime detective with the Edinburgh CID.  Sir Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) was one of the most distinctive voices in fantasy in the last three decades, best known for the 41 novels of the Discworld series, which have sold a reported 80 million copies worldwide.  Harper Lee (1926-2016) was known for a single novel, but it is considered a modern American classic.  It is, of course, To Kill a Mockinbird.

Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954), the elder brother of Ethel and John, was an Oscar winner for the 1931 film A Free Soul, and is remembered for playing Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life, and Dr. Gillespie in MGM’s Dr. Kildare series.  Carolyn Jones (1930-1983) was an Oscar nominee for The Bachelor Party, and will be remembered by sixties television audiences as Morticia Addams from The Addams Family and guest villain Marcia, Queen of Diamonds on BatmanMadge Sinclair (1938-1995) was a five-time Emmy nominee, receiving one for Roots and three for Trapper John, M.D., before winning for Gabriel’s Fire in 1991.  Marcia Strassman (1948-2014) played Julie Kotter on Welcome Back, Kotter, and later was Diane Szalinski in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Honey, I Blew Up the Kid.

James Monroe (1758-1831) was the 5th President of the US, the last to come from the generation considered the “founding fathers” of the us, and the last of the so-called “Virginia dynasty” of early American presidents.

We have two birthdays for our Hall of Infamy today.  Saddam Hussein (official date of birth April 28, 1937, died 2006) was the fifth President of Iraq—a dictator, really—and one of the most notorious individuals in the world in the 1990s and early 2000s.  Tariq Aziz (1936-2015) served Saddam Hussein as, officially, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister during his 24 year rule

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 28, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Jessica Alba Anymore


  2. I like what Penelope Cruz brings to the table; I claim this land for Spain, and I just love “Bandidas”.
    Jessica Alba, yeah, the Laff channel has been playing 1999’s “Idle Hands” this month; that was the film that really introduced Alba to the world. I think she’s had her moments, especially in “Sin city”.
    Ann-Margaret, I thought she was great in “Tommy”; she really did it for me in that film. I thought she was good in 1978’s “Magic” and 1986’s “52 pick-Up” too, sport.
    Jay Leno, if I was a celebrity, I would’ve preferred to be on Leno’s Late Show, since Letterman tended to get a little nasty.
    Mary McDonnell, yeah, I think “Passion Fish” is an exceptional film. My mother used to like “Major Crimes”, but I guess she ended up not liking what they did with the characters, and the long delay between new episodes.
    Paul Guilfoyle, yep, another “Miami vice” guy (two episodes, ‘Death and the Lady’ with Kelly lynch and Penelope Ann miller, and ‘Victims of circumstance’, with John Leguizamo, William Hickey, and Karen Black) two different characters; also, he in this documentary I really liked, “The Guy Who Was in That Thing”, which is about character actors.
    Bridget Moynahan, I think she’s the Veronica Hamel of her generation, in looks & with the type of series & role she plays on TV.
    Saddam Hussein, I was so glad when that bomb dropped on him in “Hot Shots! Part Deux”. Seriously though, he was highlighted in an “Unsolved Mysteries” segment about diabolical minds. Hitler & him born in the same month? Figures.


  3. Oh, the proper title for that documentary that Paul Guilfoyle was in is “That Guy…Who Was in That Thing” (it’s been a few years).


  4. Penelope Cruz has done quite a few films I enjoy. I’ve seen several of her Spanish films. Belle Epoque and The Girl of Your Dreams are both great period piece romances which I can unreservedly recommend. Open Your Eyes is also very good—it’s more of the “I’m glad I watched this once” sort. I also thought she was good in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Bandidas, while it’s not a great movie, is definitely a fun one.

    Jessica Alba—I get the sense that she is probably a lot happier as a businesswoman with a sideline in acting than she was trying to become a star.

    Ann-Margret is someone I hope to do a more detailed write up on in next year’s piece.

    Ian Rankin is one of my favorite crime fiction authors. If you like a good, morally complex police procedural with a strong sense of local atmosphere, check out the John Rebus books.

    Terry Pratchett is an author with a terrific reputation but I’ve never yet had the time to start getting into his books. Definitely on my list, though.


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