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 SuspectsVing 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 TronLindsay 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 AwakensMalin 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 BillionsRami 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 , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Not too long ago, we spent a good amount of time talking about Katharine Hepburn during the Best Actress game. I’m a big fan of Bringing Up Baby, one of the best of the screwball comedies. The Philadelphia Story is another fave.

    Gabriel Byrne also showed up recently in the Ellen Barkin interview from Movieline. She spoke quite well of him which I suppose isn’t all that surprising given they were married at the time. But I remembered reading about some of his problem during the making of The Usual Suspects, so I was not expecting to hear his future ex-wife talk about how easy going Byrne is.

    Stephen Baldwin, one of the lesser Baldwins, obviously costarred with Byrne in Suspects. That was undeniably the peak of his career.

    Emilio Estevez has ties to Cincinnati and along with brother Charlie Sheen can be seen around town sometimes. I grew up during the height of the Brat Pack (1985-86 basically) so I have a fondness for that group of actors.

    I also like Ving Rhames a lot and was pleased when he showed up in Guardians 2. I hope there is some follow-up on those characters at some point in the future.

    Bruce Boxleitner, I know best from Tron. I know he’s done a lot of TV, but nothing I actually watched. I never watched Revenge, but Emily VanCamp makes a fine Sharon Carter. Malin Åkerman was unfortunately in over her head as the Silk Spectre in Zach Snyder’s Watchmen. But then, that movie was doomed the minute Snyder got the job.

    I am a late convert, but I finally caught up with both seasons of Rami Malek’s show, Mr. Robot.

    Burt Bacharach songs always put me in a good mood. And I still miss the comic genuis of George Carlin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gabriel Byrne had major roles in two films that rank very highly with me, as Dean Keeton in The Usual Suspects and as Tom Regan in Miller’s Crossing.

    Katharine Hepburn was incredible, of course. My favorite Hepburn films are mostly her early ones—from Stage Door through The Philadelphia Story.

    Of the non-Alec Baldwin Brothers, I think Stephen is the one who will still be remembered in another generation, because unlike Daniel or William he did have one great performance that sticks in your brain.

    I remember seeing periodic episodes of Scarecrow and Mrs. King with Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson—I think it may have been one of those shows my mom liked to watch.

    Ving Rhames was all over the screens in the nineties, wasn’t he?

    People know Domhnall Gleeson best for his two big franchise roles, but he’s done a lot of good work. He’s been a Tony nominee and in 2015 appeared in several critically acclaimed films, including Brooklyn, Ex Machina, and The Revenant.

    Millie Perkins ordinarily might not have made the article but the juxtaposition of her birthday and Otto Frank’s made it kind of compelling to include her.

    Burt Bacharach—not quite as big a figure in American music as Irving Berlin but a major contributor without a doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ving got a lot of mileage out of his Pulp Fiction role. I have a buddy who used to write reviews and email them to all his friends back in the pre-blogging days of the early internet. When he wrote his review for Out of Sight, he referred to Rhames as “venerable”. He was 39 at the time! I had to call him out on that one. Now every time I see him in something (or hear his voice on an Arby’s commercial) I think of “the venerable Ving Rhames”.


      • The Mission: Impossible films have also turned into a pretty good gig for Rhames, as he’s been in all 5 films, although one or two times it was for a fairly small role.


        • Yep. He even came back and recorded dialogue for the Lego Dimensions: Mission Impossible Level Pack. I don’t think Ving Rhames turns down a lot of work.


  3. Such a nice write-up about Gabriel Byrne…There is something special about that actor. I also loved his secondary role in “Spider” alongside Ralph Fiennes. He always brings something special to a film.


  4. Gabriel Byrne, I had no idea he was an archaeologist; he really dig deep for that role in “Miller’s crossing”. I like him.
    Katharine Hepburn, I forgot how the results of that poll that she was in on here went; I remember that was a good time.
    Emilio Estevez, he’s been given good treatment on this sight. His story is not one of missed opportunities or heartbreak, but I think just a story.
    Stephen Baldwin, I think “Born on the fourth of July” and “The Usual Suspects” are the best films he was in; I caught a little of this religious film he did once, it seemed okay.
    Ving Rhames, when I first went to revisit “Miami Vice” as an adult, the first episode I watched was Season 4’s ‘Child’s Play’, and Rhames was featured heavily in that one (so was Isaac Hayes!). Like Stephen Baldwin, he was in the 1989 film “Casualties of War” (I think it’s decent), but yeah, “Pulp Fiction” really put him on the map.
    Bruce Boxleitner, I just mentioned him in another birthday article a few days ago that had Melissa Gilbert in it. I definitely know him best from the two TRON films and “Scarecrow and Mrs. King”.
    Lindsay Crouse, I’m a HUGE fan of “House of Games”, could watch it over and over. When I finally got to watching “Slap Shot”, I found out she had a prominent role there, and looked totally different to me there.
    Malin Akerman, I admit, I watched a few episodes of “Trophy Wife”, and kind of liked it.
    Millie Perkins, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, sure sure (really looked the part too), and I know her from “At Close Range” and the 1987 guilty pleasure of mine “Slam Dance”. That’s interesting that Otto Frank shares a birthday with her.
    Steve Winwood, I really like his song “The Finer Things” (I think it’s the finest thing about the 1987 film “Date With an Angel”) and “Higher Love” is on the “Grand theft Auto V” soundtrack.
    Burt Bacharach, I have a cassette of his I inherited from my father; I keep it on a nightstand. I learned about him through the first Austin Powers film.
    Yogi Berra, I like some of his sayings; my favorite was from a Pringles commercial he once did: “Grease doesn’t taste good, taste tastes good!”.
    George Carlin, I love his work: I can laugh and think to all he brought to the table. I often quote or reference him in my daily life.
    Florence Nightingale, I think she was a real hero and made a colossal impact on life with her crusade to improve the way people got treated for sickness.


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