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May 11: Happy Birthday Boyd Gaines and Irving Berlin

0511Gaines

Boyd Gaines, who turns 64 today, has had prominent supporting roles in films such ranging from Porky’s to Heartbreak Ridge.  1980s television viewers may recall him as Dr. Mark Royer, the boyfriend and later husband of Valerie Bertinelli’s character on One Day at a Time.  However, Gaines’s greatest accomplishments have been in the theater; he is one of the most distinguished stage actors of the last 30-40 years.

After several years in Off-Broadway productions, Gaines made his Broadway debut in Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles.  His Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Play was his first of four, and his first step to being one of only a handful of performers who have received Tony nominations in all four acting categories.  He won Best Featured Actor in a Musical twice, for the original production of Contact in 2000 and for a 2008 revival of Gypsy, and won Best Actor in a Musical for a 1993 revival of She Loves Me.  He was nominated for, but did not win, Best Actor in a Play for a 2007 revival of Journey’s End.

Next, a legend of American music.

0511Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was called “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived” by a certain George Gershwin (no slouch in that department himself), and is one of the most important contributors to the so-called “Great American Songbook.”  He first became famous in 1911 for the song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and later wrote a song sometimes considered an unofficial national anthem of the US, “God Bless America.”

Berlin wrote a great deal of film music.  He scored three films starring yesterday’s headliner Fred Astaire, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, and Easter Parade, and won an Oscar for Best Original Song for a tune he composed for Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn, titled “White Christmas.”  He began a long career in musical theater in the 1910s, writing music for old-style revues like Watch Your Step and the 1919 edition of Ziegfeld Follies, and later on adapted to the post-Rodgers and Hammerstein era with musicals such as Call Me Madam and, most notably of all, Annie Get Your Gun.

Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo turns 65 today.  She made a reputation in Iranian films in the late seventies before emigrating in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the 2003 film House of Sand and Fog, and won a Primetime Emmy for the HBO miniseries House of Saddam.  One of Aghdashloo’s costars in House of Sand and Fog was Frances Fisher, who was born the same day as her.  Fisher is known for film roles like Strawberry Alice in Unforgiven and Ruth DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, and more recently starred on ABC’s Resurrection.

Tim Blake Nelson, known for his roles in O Brother, Where Are Thou?, Syriana, and The Incredible Hulk, celebrates his 53rd.  Jeffrey Donovan, who is turning 49, starred in the lead role of Michael Westen on USA Network’s Burn Notice and now is the star of Hulu’s Shut EyeNicky Katt, who turns 47, has appeared in films like The Way of the Gun and The Brave One and was a regular on the first 3 seasons of Boston Public.

French model and actress Laetitia Casta, who is 39 today, was a Cesar Award nominee for playing Brigitte Bardot in Gainsbourg: A Heroic LifeJonathan Jackson, who celebrates his 35th, won several Daytime Emmys on General Hospital, played Kyle Reese on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and currently is a regular on NashvilleSabrina Carpenter, who turns 18, starred as Maya Hart on Girl Meets World.

Andre Gregory, who celebrates his 83rd, is best known for his avant-garde theater productions and for writing and starring in My Dinner with Andre with Wallace Shawn.

Eric Burdon, the former lead vocalist of The Animals and War who was one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, turns 76 today.

Lauren Jackson, one of the leading women’s basketball players in the world over the last two decades, turns 36.  She played on four Australian medal-winning teams as the Olympics and won multiple MVP awards in both the WNBA and Australia’s WNBL.  Cam Newton, who turns 28 today, won the Heisman Trophy for the 2010 college football season at Auburn, and has been one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks since he was selected first in the 2011 NFL draft, making three Pro Bowls and winning the NFL MVP award in 2015.

Comic actor Phil Silvers (1911-1985) became famous for starring as Sergeant Bilko on The Phil Silvers Show and later won a Tony as Pseudolus in a revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumDame Margaret Rutherford (1892-1972) reached the high point of a long career by winning Best Supporting Actress for The V.I.P.s, and also played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in a series of early sixties films.  Welsh actor Bernard Fox (1927-2016) played the recurring character of Dr. Bombay on Bewitched, and appeared in Titanic as Archibald Gracie IV and in The Mummy as Winston Havlock.  Denver Pyle (1920-1997) had a long television career, during which his biggest role was as Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Two people whose lives were cut off too soon were born today.  Natasha Richardson (1963-2009), the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson (and wife of Liam Neeson), won a Tony for playing Sally Bowles in a 1998 revival of Cabaret.  Her screen career included films such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Nell, the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, and Asylum.  She died of a head injury received in a 2009 skiing accident.  Cory Monteith (1982-2013) was best known for starring on Glee as Finn Hudson.  He died from taking a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol in the summer of 2013.

Spanish painter Salvador Dali (1904-1989), one of the most important artists of the 20th century, was a leading exponent of surrealism.  He was also involved in films such as Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou and Hitchcock’s SpellboundJacqueline Cochran (1906-1980) was one of the first prominent female pilots, and the director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War 2.  Martha Graham (1894-1991) was a dancer and choreographer who had an enormous influence on dance as an art form, partly through her development of the Graham technique for teaching and performing modern dance.  Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was one of the 20th century’s leading physicists, a Nobel Prize winner for helping develop quantum electrodynamics, and also a gifted science popularizer through a wide variety of books.

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 11, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Irving Berlin aside, kind of a light day today. I didn’t recognize Boyd Gaines by name, but I do remember him from One Day at a Time. Outside of the headliners, the biggest name was… Dali? Phil Silvers?

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    • I am not super-knowledgeable about dance, but apparently Martha Graham is considered hugely important—I’ve seen comparisons that say she’s as significant to modern dance as Picasso is to modern visual art or Frank Lloyd Wright to architecture.

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    • daffystardust

      Phil Silvers is also one of the funniest cast members in the classic sprawling comedy It’s a Mad <Mad Mad Mad World. The guy is a wonderfully specific kind of smarmy.

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  2. A few names of interest today. Boyd Gaines is not an extremely high profile celebrity, but his theater career is the kind that, if you are English, gets you a knighthood.

    Irving Berlin, of course, is a very big name in popular music. An article like this can only hit a few high points of a career like his.

    I liked Tim Blake Nelson as Delmar in O Brother, Where Are Thou? quite a bit—plus, he did his own vocals for “In the Jailhouse Now.”

    When I was in college, the movie on campus one weekend was My Dinner With Andre, which was very different for someone used to much more mainstream fare; it’s essentially a very long, very intellectual conversation between Gregory and Shawn (over dinner).

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    • I had a complete set of the My Dinner With Andre action figures as a kid.

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      • Craig Hansen

        Gosh, the idea of recreating dinners is unlimited. I cannot tell you how many variants of Tauntaun steak, sandwich, broth, soup and kishkabob that Luke and Han shared during my childhood recreations with Kenner action figures of that cold winter Hoth night in Empire, for example. Once I got a bit older and was able to recreate My Dinner With Andre meals as a lonely twenty-something? All bets were off the table at that point.

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  3. Irving Berlin, love the name, and I think “White Christmas”, the song, is outstanding.
    Frances fisher, she was in 1988’s “Patty Hearst”, a film I like, plus I remember her from “Titanic” and plenty of TV work.
    Nicky Katt, he had a prominent role in 2000’s “Boiler Room”, which I think is a good film, and on the other side of the spectrum I saw him in 1995’s “The Babysitter”.
    Lauren Jackson, after Sue bird (LOVE Sue Bird; go Storm!), probably my second favorite WNBA player.
    Cam Netwon, not only is the man big, but he has to be the longest-looking NFL quarterback I can recall. Fine player, but had a rough 2016 (big time Super Bowl hangover for the Carolina Panthers; they were gone in Carolina).
    I mentioned “Patty Hearst, and Natasha Richardson played Hearst in the film; I thought she was a solid actress, although early on I got Miranda Richardson & her mixed up. Other than the Hearst film, I thought Rutger Hauer & her had good chemistry in the little seen 1991 film “Past Midnight” (I think it’s pretty decent). In looks, I thought she was a combination of Kim Cattrall & Cynthia Gibb.
    Salvador Dali, i find that his name is thrown around a lot when it comes to discussing the art world.

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