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May 8: Happy Birthday Vicky McClure and Stephen Amell

0508McClureAmell

As there were no really big names in entertainment born today, it seemed a good time to showcase another pair of relatively new faces in the headliner.

Vicky McClure turns 34 today.  While little-known in the US, she is familiar to British television viewers.  She made her film debut in 1999 in A Room for Romeo Brass, and has subsequently worked with that film’s director, Shane Meadows, on the acclaimed film This is England and on several miniseries spinoffs.  She won a BAFTA Television Award for Best Actress for This is England ’86.  She has appeared in several other British miniseries, such as Broadchurch and The Secret Agent (the latter adapted from the Joseph Conrad novel) and in films like Hummingbird (with Jason Statham) and Convenience.  Since 2012 she has starred as Kate Fleming on the BBC crime series Line of Duty.

Stephen Amell, who is 36, made his debut in a guest role on Queer as Folk in 2004.  He became better known through a supporting role in Richard Attenborough’s Closing the Ring and a regular role on the Canadian series Rent-a-Goalie.  Last year, he played Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.  However, his big claim to fame is that he stars as Oliver Queen on Arrow (with crossovers to other series in the Arrowverse as well).

Melissa Gilbert is celebrating her 53rd.  She became famous as Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, and both during the show’s run and since it ended she has done an enormous variety of TV movies.  She also served for several years as president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Sir David Attenborough turns 91.  The younger brother of actor and director Richard, he is known for writing and presenting a lengthy BBC series of nature documentaries collectively known as The Life Collection.  Scottish actress Phyllida Law, who turns 85, has had a long career in British film and television, including an appearance in Much Ado About Nothing with her daughter, Emma ThompsonDavid Keith, who is 63, was a Golden Globe nominee for An Officer and a Gentleman, and had several other prominent roles for the remainder of the eighties.  Stephen Furst, who is turning 62, played Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in Animal House, and was later a regular on St. Elsewhere and Babylon 5.  French writer and director Michel Gondry, who celebrates his 54th, won a screenwriting Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which he also directed; his other films include The Science of Sleep and The Green Hornet.

We have a lengthy list of music birthdays today.  Enrique Iglesias, who is turning 42, is one of the best-selling Latin musical artists of all time, along with his father Julio and also a few past headliners in this series.  Toni Tennille, who was one half of the successful seventies duo Captain & Tennille (with her then-husband Daryl Dragon), turns 77 today.  Candice Night, who is turning 46, is the lead vocalist for the folk rock group Blackmore’s Night, which she co-founded with her husband, former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.  Drummer Alex Van Halen, who turns 64, was the co-founder of Van Halen and, along with brother Eddie, the only founding member to have never left the band.  Pianist Keith Jarrett, a leading figure in jazz fusion who has also had a career as a classical performer and composer, turns 72.  Philip Bailey, who is turning 66, was a founder of Earth, Wind & Fire and remains one of their lead singers.  Robert Johnson (1911-1938) was a blues guitarist and singer who made a set of highly influential recordings in the mid-thirties; very little is known for certain about his life.  Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was a jazz pianist, composer and vocalist who worked with some of the biggest names in jazz, including collaborating with Dizzie Gillespie on the Grammy-nominated album Giants.

Our biggest music birthday today, Ricky Nelson (1940-1985), had an acting career that included a long run as himself on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and a supporting role in Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo.  As a singer, he had a lengthy list of Top Ten singles from 1957-63, including the #1 hits “Poor Little Fool” and “Travelin’ Man.”

Our sports birthday today is Ronnie Lott, who is turning 58.  The NFL Hall of Famer starred at safety for the San Francisco 49ers as they won four Super Bowls from 1982-1990 and made ten Pro Bowls.

Thomas Pynchon, who turns 80, is a novelist noted for the complexity and erudition of his novels, such as Gravity’s Rainbow (a National Book Award winner) or The Crying of Lot 49Peter Benchley (1940-2006) was a novelist who was not noted for complexity or erudition; he was most famous as the author of Jaws, as well as other novels such as The Deep.

Two famous names from the glory days of Warner Brothers animation had birthdays today.  Bob Clampett (1913-1984) was one of the most creative people at Termite Terrace, and is sometimes referred to as the man who “put the word ‘looney’ in Looney Tunes.”  He directed cartoons there for about a decade, including several of the studio’s most famous—Porky in Wackyland, The Daffy Doc, Wabbit Twouble, A Tale of Two Kitties, and The Big Snooze, just to name a few.  Clampett went on to create the televised puppet show Time for Beany, and then converted it into the animated series Beany and Cecil.  Arthur Q. Bryan (1899-1959) was a radio actor, known as Dr. Gamble from Fibber McGee and Molly, but today he is known best as the longtime voice of Elmer Fudd.

Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977) was famous as one of the leading Italian “neorealist” directors, known for films like Rome, Open City and Stromboli, and also for his affair with and marriage to Ingrid BergmanDon Rickles (1926-2017) was a stand-up comic who became famous as an exponent of “insult comedy.”  He also had a periodic film career, with major roles in Kelly’s Heroes and CasinoSaul Bass (1920-1996) was a graphic designer who did a lot of film work, notably as a designer of title sequences; he did the title sequences for several Hitchcock films such as North by Northwest and Psycho, just to mention a couple.  Oscar Hammerstein I (1846-1919) was a prominent theatrical producer in 19th century America who opened a number of New York theaters and was particularly supportive of opera.  His grandson was the musical theater lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.

Harry Truman (1884-1972) became the 33rd President of the US on the death of Franklin Roosevelt in 1945.  As president he was responsible for many of the cornerstones of post-World War 2 US foreign policy, such as the Marshall Plan and NATO.  He won what was probably the biggest upset victory in US election history in 1948.  Gary Sinise played Truman in a 1995 HBO film.

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.

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Posted on May 8, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Vicky McClure is unknown to me. But I watch a lot of superhero TV shows, so I know Stephen Amell.

    As a kid, we watched Melissa Gilbert on Little House on the Prairie. That show was a staple. What I didn’t realize until much, much later was that Gilbert was something of a party girl. While she doesn’t get lumped in with the Brat Pack because she wasn’t especially active in movies at the time, Gilbert was hanging out with that gang as much or more so than some of the actors you typically associate with the term.

    Stephen Furst has had a nice career as a character actor although Animal House is what he will always be known for. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a terrific movie, but I’m not sure I have seen anything else Michel Gondry has done.

    Much like Little House, I remember an awful lot of Captain & Tennille from TV when I was a kid. Turns out, love didn’t keep them together. Still catchy though.

    Moment of silence (or insult comedy if you consider that more appropriate) for Don Rickles, voice of Mr. Potato Head.

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  2. Lots of music birthdays today. Enrique Iglesias is a good candidate to get a more detailed write-up a year from now.

    I was just starting to be conscious of popular music when The Captain and Tennille were in their relatively brief heyday. There were times when you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing them, or so it seemed.

    Ricky Nelson was big for a while too; although his day was largely past by the seventies, some of his songs still got some airplay. His death was another of those music industry tragedies involving a crashing aircraft.

    Blackmore’s Night is worth checking out if you aren’t familiar with them.

    Moving to animation, Bob Clampett was a very talented man. One of his talents seems to have been for alienating people—he and Chuck Jones did not get along well in the post-Termite Terrace years. When Arthur Q. Bryan died, Warner’s was never really able to replace him as the voice of Elmer Fudd. Mel Blanc tried it a few times, but, gifted though he was, he was never able to reproduce (or should that be “weproduce?”) Bryan’s unique sound.

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  3. Melissa gilbert, yeah, I’m pretty familiar with her from “Little House on the Prairie” and being married to Bruce Boxleitner (is he the Michael Douglas of the small screen?) for a substantial amount of time before they divorced, along with some TV movies.
    Sir Richard Attenborough, how about the film version of “Loot” (it has Lee Remick too!), and I liked him as Kris Kringle in that 34th Street remake. However for his directing business, I’d rather watch “Chaplin” over “Ghandi”, but that’s just me.
    David Keith, yeah, I thought he had a memorable turn in “An Officer and a Gentlemen”. I have to ask myself though, who do I like more, David Keith or Keith David?
    Stephen Furst, I liked his character in the 1982 genre mash up film “Silent Rage” (it has horror, action, suspense, Ron silver’s beard…).
    Michel Gondry, I really liked “The Science of Sleep”.
    Ronnie Lott, big hitter, great player, team leader, and was in the TiVo business for awhile, don’t know if he still is.
    Don Rickles , he made a lot of people laugh. When I think of Vegas, Rickles is someone who crosses my mind.
    Harry S Truman (the S doesn’t stand for any one name), well, Dewey certainly didn’t beat him.

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