May 1: Happy Birthday Wes Anderson and Glenn Ford


Oscar-nominated director and writer Wes Anderson is turning 48 today.  While attending the University of Texas at Austin, he became friends with Owen Wilson, and after graduation the two made a short film which was expanded into the feature film Bottle Rocket, released in 1996.  Although a financial failure, it was well-received, and Anderson was able to get financing for his second feature, Rushmore, a bittersweet comedy-romance that was his first collaboration with Bill Murray, who has appeared in all his subsequent films.

Anderson’s third film, The Royal Tenenbaums, was one of his most financially successful, and brought him his first Oscar nomination, shared with Owen Wilson, for Best Original Screenplay.  Anderson’s next two films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited, received mixed reactions and were not financially successful.  In 2009, he released his first animated feature, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was nominated for Best Animated Feature (Anderson’s current project is Isle of Dogs, another animated film).  He then made the pre-teen romance Moonrise Kingdom, another financial success, and earned a second Oscar nomination for screenwriting.  Anderson’s 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel has been his biggest success yet, bringing him a long list of accolades, including three oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Glenn Ford (1916-2006) began working in Hollywood in the late thirties, but most of his early films were routine roles.  That began to change in 1946, when he was cast opposite Rita Hayworth in the film noir classic Gilda (Ford and Hayworth made five pictures together and were good friends offscreen).  His films in the next several years included the romantic drama Framed, opposite Bette Davis, Westerns such as The Man From Colorado and The Secret of Convict Lake, and more film noir, including Framed and The Big Heat.  One of the biggest roles of his career was as schoolteacher Richard Dadier in The Blackboard Jungle, one of the first of the teen-oriented films that began being made in the mid-fifties.

The Blackboard Jungle helped establish Ford as a serious box office star, and he remained a major leading man for several years.  He continued to make Westerns, starring in the original version of 3:10 to Yuma as Ben Wade (one of Hollywood’s first Elmore Leonard adaptations), and also made World War II films like The Teahouse of the August Moon and Torpedo Run.  By the 1970s he had moved to character roles, most famously playing Jonathan Kent in Superman.

John Woo, one of the most significant action directors of the last three decades, turns 71 today.  He made a number of successful action thrillers in Hong Kong in the eighties and early nineties with Chow Yun-Fat, including A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, and Hard Boiled, developing a signature style that probably needs little introduction.  A lengthy sojourn in Hollywood included directing films like Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible 2; he later returned to Asia to make the Red Cliff duology.

Joanna Lumley, who was born the same day as John Woo, is a two-time BAFTA Award winner for her performances as Patsy Stone on the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous; she also played Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.  Her stage career includes a Tony nomination, while she has appeared in films ranging from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to The Wolf of Wall Street.  She also starred in the short-lived The New Avengers in the mid-seventies.

Julie Benz, who turns 45, is best known for her roles on television as the vampire Darla on Buffy and Angel, and as Dexter’s girlfriend (later wife) Rita Bennett on DexterJamie Dornan, who is 35 today, plays Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades films and also stars on the Irish/British crime series The FallCaitlin Stasey, who celebrates her 27th, starred as Ellie Linton in Tomorrow When the War Began and currently is a regular on Fox’s APBJames Badge Dale, who starred in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, and was a regular on season 3 of 24, turns 39 today.

Violante Placido, who is 41 today, has worked in Italian cinema since her teens and may be known to American audiences for costarring with George Clooney in The American and for her regular role on season 2 of Transporter: The Series.  Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern, who is turning 55, has worked extensively in her native country, and was cast by Mel Gibson as Mary the mother of Jesus in The Passion of the ChristAnushka Sharma, a rising star in Bollywood who has been nominated for seven Filmfare Awards, is turning 29.

Danielle Darrieux, who celebrates her 100th today, has been acting in French cinema since her teens.  A few of her most famous films include the 1936 historical drama Mayerling, the classic The Earrings of Madame de… from 1953, and the literary adaptation Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

A lengthy list of music birthdays is headed by country star Tim McGraw, who is turning 50.  McGraw began his performing career in the late eighties and after a bit of a slow start, his second album, Not a Moment Too Soon, became the biggest-selling country album of 1994.  He has had 25 #1 Country hits and won three Grammys, and the 2006 Soul2Soul II tour he made with his wife, country star Faith Hill, is generally cited as the most successful country tour of all time.  McGraw has also made some ventures into film, notably as Sean Tuohy in The Blind Side.

Other music birthdays include folksinger Judy Collins, who is turning 78.  “Judy Blue Eyes” is famous for her recordings of songs like Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” (which won Collins a Grammy), “Amazing Grace,” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”  Soft rock singer-songwriter Rita Coolidge, who is 72, had several charted singles in the late seventies and also sang the theme song for Octopussy, “All Time High.”  Country singer Sonny James (1928-2016) was extremely successful in the late sixties, releasing a remarkable 16 consecutive singles from 1967-71 that reached #1 on the US Country chart.  R&B singer and songwriter Ray Parker, Jr., who turns 63 today, is best known for writing and recording the theme song to Ghostbusters.  Blues great Little Walter (1930-1968) is the only man ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame specifically as a harmonica player.  Kate Smith (1907-1986) was a popular singer and radio star of the thirties and forties who was best known in later years for her rendition of “God Bless America.”

Steve Cauthen, who is 57 today, became the youngest jockey ever to ride a Triple Crown winner when he rode Affirmed to three famous victories over Alydar in 1978.  He is also the only jockey ever named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.

Anyone familiar with military history would recognize several famous names born today.  Most significant was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who emerged as Britain’s leading general during the Napoleonic Wars.  He conducted the long but ultimately successful Peninsular War to drive Napoleon from Spain and commanded the allied army which gave the Emperor his final defeat at Waterloo (with a little help from Marshal Blücher and the Prussian army).  Two prominent generals during World War II were both born on this day in 1896.  Mark W. Clark (1896-1984) was the leading American commander in the Mediterranean theater after Gen. Eisenhower returned to England to lead the D-Day invasion, and eventually commanded the 15th Army Group, all of the Allied forces on the Italian front.  J. Lawton Collins (1896-1987), known as “Lightning Joe,” was one of the most effective American combat commanders during the war, serving in both the Pacific and European theaters, and during the fifties became Chief of Staff of the Army.

Jack Paar (1918-2004) had a lengthy career in television, but will be most remembered for his five-year stint as the host of The Tonight Show, from 1957-1962.  Novelist Joseph Heller (1923-1999) is known for his novel Catch-22; even people who have never read it will probably recognize the title, which has become a euphemism for a certain logical problem.

Calamity Jane (1852-1903, given name Martha Jane Canary) was employed as a storyteller with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the 1890s.  How much truth there was in the stories she told—of her days as an army scout, of how she acquired her nickname, and more—is very hard to tell.  She has been played in film by actresses including Jean Arthur, Jane Russell, Doris Day, Ellen Barkin, and Anjelica Huston.

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 May 1, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’ve only gotten acquainted with Wes Anderson’s work in the past few years but he’s becoming a favorite. I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of my favorite films of the last five years.

    Anyone who is a fan of classic film noir or of westerns (or both) will run across Glenn Ford sooner or later. Gilda is a noir classic, although undermined a bit by a “Hollywood” ending, and so is The Big Heat.

    I like several of John Woo’s films, with Hard Boiled probably being my favorite.

    Aside from Julie Benz’s television work, she was delightfully hammy in The Boondock Saints 2 as Special Agent Bloom.

    Judy Collins has been a favorite of mine for years—what a lovely voice.


    • I saw Rushmore when it was in theaters and I didn’t quite get what the fuss was about. I liked it, but after hearing all the buzz I was a little let down. Since then, I have checked in with Anderson about half the time. I have never loved nor disliked any of his movies. I do frequently think they are over-rated, but again I like them well enough. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be The Royal Tenenbaums, but that could just be a matter of the order in which I watched the movies. After Tenenbaums, I couldn’t help but compare everything else to that movie. If I had seen The Darjeeling Limited first, perhaps I would feel differently.


  2. I never knew what Wes Anderson looked like; I pictured him as a glasses with bread type for some reason but he kinda looks like Beck to me. Anyway, I like “Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore”, and “The Squid and the Whale” (probably my favorite of his).
    Glenn Ford, yeah, “Gilda” is really something. I like “The Guns of Navarone” too, which I think due to Ford and J. Lee Thompson having an established working relationship, lead Ford to take the part in the 1981 Lee directed film “Happy Birthday to Me”. I heard he was miserable about it, butiIf Ford had to do mystery/horror, I think he got a good one there.
    John who? John Woo (“Max Payne” game reference)! I’m all about “Face/Off”.
    Well, I stepped away from the “Miami Vice”, and now here’s Julie Benz with “Dexter”. I liked the Rita character on that fantastic show, she really served a purpose, and when her character was eliminated, the show’s tenor changed (some say for the worse, but I think Dexter writers just painted themselves in corners sometimes going for the shocking moments). I never knew “Training Day” the TV series existed until this past Saturday, and I tuned in to check out Bill Paxton, and saw that Benz played his love interest. CBS burying the show on Saturday Night tells me that with or without Paxton, “training Day” wasn’t going to make the cut.
    Ray Parker Jr., Ghostbusters (or do I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick? Yes, I do, and I think Huey Lewis and The News were right about the “I Want a New Drug” and “Ghostbusters” theme having the same melody, but I don’t care:-)!
    Jack Paar, I’ve recently learned about him and his “The tonight Show” history.


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