May 12: Happy Birthday Gabriel Byrne and Katharine Hepburn
Gabriel Byrne, who turns 67 today, did not begin acting until he was almost 30; he spent a number of years working as an archeologist and a secondary school teacher. He began working in Irish television in 1979 and made his film debut two years later as Uther Pendragon in Excalibur. While he has never become a first rank star, he has worked steadily for nearly 40 years. He was a two-time Emmy nominee, and a Golden Globe winner, for starring as Dr. Paul Weston on HBO’s In Treatment. However, his most famous film role may be in a very twisty 1995 crime thriller:
Byrne has also done some writing and producing. He was an executive producer on the Oscar-nominated In the Name of the Father, and produced and wrote the 1996 film The Last of the High Kings. He also wrote and starred in the Irish TV movie Draíocht, which is a rare example of a Gaelic-language film. He has had a notable stage career, with an interesting pair of Tony nominations, first as James Tyrone, Jr., in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten, and then many years later as James Tryone, Sr., in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) won the Best Actress Oscar four times, is the only four-time winner of an acting Oscar, and was named the greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema by the AFI. She began acting after her graduation from Bryn Mawr and made her film debut in 1932. She won her first Best Actress honor for the 1933 film Morning Glory, and in the next five years starred in films now regarded as classics, such as Stage Door and Bringing Up Baby. However, she had also been labeled as “box office poison,” so she returned to Broadway to star in a new play, The Philadelphia Story, in the role of Tracy Lord. The play was a smash, and as Hepburn had acquired a share of the movie rights, she was able to star in the 1940 film adaptation, which rejuvenated her film career and brought her her third Best Actress nomination (of 12).
Space limits me to hitting a few high points of the rest of Hepburn’s career. She starred with Spencer Tracy in 1942’s Woman of the Year, the first of nine films in their screen partnership, which also included Adam’s Rib and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (which brought Hepburn her second Oscar). One of her most famous roles was as Rose Sayer in The African Queen, starring opposite Humphrey Bogart, while in 1962, she starred in a film adaptation of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Her third and fourth Oscars were for The Lion in Winter (as Eleanor of Aquitaine), and On Golden Pond (opposite Henry Fonda).
Our WTHH birthday today is Emilio Estevez, who is turning 55. His upcoming feature The Public, which is said to be in post-production, will be his first activity in several years. It’s fitting that Stephen Baldwin, who turns 51, was born the same day as Gabriel Byrne, as they appeared together in one of each actor’s most famous films, The Usual Suspects. Ving Rhames, who is 58 today, had a number of major supporting roles in the nineties, in films such as Dave, Pulp Fiction, the first two Mission: Impossible films, Con Air, and Out of Sight, as well as a handful of lead roles such as Rosewood. He recently had a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.
Bruce Boxleitner, who is celebrating his 67th, is known for his starring roles on television, on How the West Was Won, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and Babylon 5; he also played the title character of Tron. Lindsay Crouse, the daughter of playwright Russel Crouse, was an Oscar nominee for Places in the Heart and starred in David Mamet’s House of Games. She turns 69 today.
Emily VanCamp, who plays Sharon Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has starred on Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, and Revenge, turns 31 today. Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan), who turns 34, has done a variety of film work but is most likely to be recognized as Bill Weasley from the Harry Potter films and General Hux from The Force Awakens. Malin Åkerman, who is 39 today, starred on Rob Corddry’s Children’s Hospital as Dr. Valerie Flame and is currently a regular on Showtime’s Billions. Rami Malek, who is turning 36, has won an Emmy for starring as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot, and stars in the upcoming remake of Papillon. Odeya Rush, who is celebrating her 20th, has had prominent roles in films such as The Giver and Goosebumps.
Actress Millie Perkins, who is 79 today, made her film debut as the title character in The Diary of Anne Frank, and later starred in Monte Hellman’s cult classics The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind. In one of those coincidences that are ever-present in this series, Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank (1889-1980), the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, was also born on this date.
Today’s music birthdays begin with rock and blues star Steve Winwood, who turns 69. He has been a part of several groups, including Traffic, and has also released a number of successful albums as a solo artist and won two Grammys. Songwriter Burt Bacharach, who is turning 89, has won six Grammys and three Oscars, frequently for his work with lyricist Hal David. His output includes famous songs like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Close to You,” and the musical Promises, Promises.
Yogi Berra (1925-2015), a Baseball Hall of Famer who was one of the game’s greatest catchers, is our sports birthday. He won three American League MVP awards and played for 10 World Series winners with the New York Yankees. Berra was also one of the game’s most quotable players ever, known for his “Yogi-isms.” For instance: “90 percent of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.”
George Carlin (1937-2008), known as the “dean of counterculture comedians,” was most famous for his “seven dirty words” routine. Environmental writer Farley Mowat (1921-2014) was most famous for his book Never Cry Wolf.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is most famous for her enormous role in establishing nursing as a profession, beginning but not ending with her fame as “The Lady With the Lamp” during the Crimean War. She also made important contributions in the areas of public health and sanitation, and in statistics. She has been played on screen by actresses such as Emma Thompson, Julie Harris, and Laura Fraser.
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 12, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Bruce Boxleitner, emilio estevez, Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Byrne, Katharine Hepburn, Rami Malek, Steve Winwood, Ving Rhames. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.