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May 16: Happy Birthday Pierce Brosnan and Henry Fonda

0516BrosnanFonda

Pierce Brosnan celebrates his 64th today.  He graduated from the Drama Centre London and worked in English theater for several years.  American audiences first became aware of him when he starred as the title character of the detective/romance series Remington Steele.  During the show’s run he was also nominated for a Golden Globe for the BBC/Masterpiece Theater miniseries Nancy Astor.  When the series ended, he had a few prominent film roles, including an adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol, but it wasn’t until 1995 that his career-defining part came along.

After his success in Goldeneye, which many of us here at le Blog rank pretty highly, Brosnan returned to the role of James Bond three more times, for the action-packed Tomorrow Never Dies and the less-well-regarded The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day.  Like most screen James Bonds, Brosnan has not translated his fame from the role into success outside it.  With the exception of Mamma Mia!, where he had a supporting role, he has not appeared in a major box office success outside the Bond films; he did receive a Golden Globe nomination for The Matador and critical praise for The Ghost Writer.

Henry Fonda (1905-1982) began acting in community theater groups in his home state of Nebraska and then in Massachusetts, before moving to New York and making his Broadway debut in 1929.  He was signed by Fox in 1935 and by the late 1930s was established as a major leading man, starring as Frank James in Jesse James and The Return of Frank James and opposite Bette Davis in Jezebel.  He made the first of several films with John Ford in 1939, Young Mr. Lincoln (as Abe Lincoln) and Drums Along the Mohawk.  The Fonda-Ford partnership continued in 1940, as Fonda received his first Oscar nomination as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath.

In the early forties, Fonda starred in memorable films like Preston Sturges’ brilliant comedy The Lady Eve and the anti-lynching Western The Ox-Bow Incident, before spending about 3 years on active duty in the Navy in World War 2.  When he returned from the war, he starred in several films from 1946-48, including playing Wyatt Earp in Ford’s My Darling Clemetine, but then chose to spend several years away from film on Broadway (possibly he was “graylisted” by the studios for his political views), where he starred in, and won a Tony for, Mister Roberts.

When the play was adapted into film in 1955, Fonda returned to the screen in the title role.  He then produced and starred in the Best Picture nominee 12 Angry Men.  During his final 25 years, a few of his most memorable films included Advise & Consent, The Longest Day, Once Upon a Time in the West, and the film for which he finally won an Oscar, On Golden Pond.

Henry Fonda’s first marriage, a brief one, was to actress Margaret Sullavan (1909-1960) in the early thirties.  Sullavan preferred to work on stage but made a few memorable films; she was a Best Actress nominee for Three Comrades, and starred with James Stewart in several films, including The Shop Around the Corner.

Debra Winger, our WTHH subject birthday today, is turning 62.  She is a three time Best Actress nominee, and currently is a regular on the Netflix series The RanchBrian O’Byrne, who turns 50, is best known as a stage actor; he is a five time Tony nominee who won Best Featured Actor in a Play for Bryony Lavery’s Frozen.  He was also an Emmy nominee for HBO’s miniseries Mildred PierceDanny Trejo is turning 73.  He has made a long list of films with Robert Rodriguez, including six in the role of Isador “Machete” Cortez (two as the title character and four Spy Kids films).  He is also known for roles in Heat, Con Air, and Predators.  Danish actor Jesper Christensen, who is 69 today, has had a lot of success in the cinema of his home country, while also playing the villainous Mr. White in three of Daniel Craig’s four James Bond films.

Melanie Lynskey, who celebrates her 40th today, made her debut in Heavenly Creatures and has had prominent roles in Ever After, Shattered Glass, Up in the Air, and The Informant!, and was a regular for two seasons on Two and a Half Men.  Born the same day as Lynskey, Lynn Collins played Portia in Michael Radford’s 2004 film of The Merchant of Venice, and was Kayla Silverfox in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Dejah Thoris in John Carter.

Tracey Gold, who is 48, is best known for her role as Carol Seaver on Growing Pains, and for her well-documented struggle with an eating disorder during the later seasons of the show.  David Boreanaz, who shares a birthday with Gold, played the brooding vampire Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then became the title character of his own series; he followed that by playing Agent Seeley Booth on Bones.

Megan Fox, who is 31 today, played Mikaela Banes in the first two Transformers films, during which time she got media coverage that at least bordered on overexposure.  More recently she has played April O’Neil in two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films.  Tori Spelling, best known as Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210, turns 44 today.  Joseph Morgan, who is turning 36, played Klaus Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries and now stars in the same role on the spinoff series The OriginalsThomas Brodie-Sangster, who is celebrating his 27th, made his feature film debut in Love, Actually.  He was the voice of Ferb Fletcher on Phineas and Ferb, and played Jojen Reed on Game of ThronesMiles Heizer, best known for starring on NBC’s Parenthood as Drew Holt, turns 23 today.

Jack Morris, who is 62 today, was one of baseball’s best starting pitchers in the eighties and early nineties.  He won over 250 games in his career and played for four World Series winners.  Billy Martin (1928-1989) had a good baseball career as a player, and an excellent one as a manager; he was most famous for his five separate stints as manager of the New York Yankees over the years 1975-1988.  Olga Korbut, who also turns 62, was a star in women’s gymnastics at the 1972 Olympics, winning three gold medals.

The youngest of a group of musical siblings, Janet Jackson turns 51 today.  She has been recording and performing since her teens, and has sold in the neighborhood of 100 million records, while winning five Grammys.  Woody Herman (1913-1987) was a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist and a popular bandleader during the thirties and forties, leading ensembles generally known as “the Herd.”  Władziu Valentino Liberace, usually known simply as Liberace (1919-1987), was a pianist known for his flamboyant showmanship.  At the height of his career, he was said to be the highest-paid entertainer in the world.  And yes, he did have a brother George.

Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi (1898-1956) is often considered to be one of the greatest artists ever to work in film.  His most highly esteemed films include The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums, The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, and Sansho the BailiffHarry Carey, Jr. (1921-2012) was known for his work in Westerns, especially as one of John Ford’s regulars; he had prominent roles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, and The SearchersYvonne Craig (1937-2015) played Batgirl (and Barbara Gordon) on the 1960s Batman series and also had a memorable guest appearance on Star Trek.

Our historical birthday is William Seward (1801-1872), a leading political figure in the mid-19th Century US.  Seward is most famous for his service as Secretary of State under Presidents Lincoln and Andrew Johnson; he was part of the former’s “team of rivals” cabinet, while in Johnson’s term he was responsible for the US’s purchase of Alaska.

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 16, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. We have had a lot of discussion of Pierce Brosnan as Bond here. I have very vague memories of him on Remington Steele back in the day, and also of his playing a Russian agent in The Fourth Protocol.

    It probably isn’t much of a surprise to readers here that I particularly enjoy Henry Fonda’s films with John Ford, especially My Darling Clementine and The Grapes of Wrath. The Lady Eve and Once Upon a Time in the West are also terrific (and show his range as an actor).

    Margaret Sullavan isn’t well known today since she did relatively little film work, but The Shop Around the Corner is a classic romance.

    While Melanie Lynskey isn’t a big star, I always enjoy seeing her show up in a significant supporting part.

    Like

  2. Pierce Brosnan had the potential to be a better James Bond than most of his movies would suggest. Goldeneye was a really solid starting point. And Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t bad. But by the time you get to Die Another Day..

    This article has been getting a couple extra likes on social media. I’m not sure if they are for Brosnan or Henry Fonda. Could be some of each.

    I was aware that Debra Winger had been out there doing some interviews and that her WTHH article was appearing in the top 10 somewhat regularly. I didn’t realize that was due to a Netflix show. I just restarted my Netflix subscription. I will have to check out The Ranch.

    I wasn’t a big fan of either of the Machete movies, but it’s always good to see Danny Trejo in something.

    With a cover story about Sarah Michelle Gellar this week and today’s Why’d It Bomb dealing with Scooby Doo not to mention a story last week on the Young Hollywood Hangover of 2002, it feels like we’ve been flashing back to the days when David Boreanaz played a vampire on TV.

    I didn’t get caught up in Megan Fox fever, but I’m also not intent on tearing her down either. I’m glad to see she bounced back and found some work even if the stardom that once seemed certain ended up eluding her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pierce Brosnan, I thought he was a natural James Bond (I agree with Lebeau that he could’ve had better material to work with at times), but for some reason “The Fourth Protocol” sticks with me (maybe because it’s from 1987).
    Henry Fonda, I thought he was fantastic in “12 Angry Men”, but out of all the Fonda’s, I’ve seen his work the least.
    Debra Winger, I was just thinking of her today, since I came to the conclusion that I’m kind of living the male version of “Terms of Endearment” (not the end of the film though), and exclaiming a friend “How ’bout that Debra Winger”? Well, the content on her write up here is pretty strong.
    Danny Trejo, I had 1987’s “The Hidden” on tape for a long time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered that he was the guy that got shot in the holding cell in that film. I dig his voice work as Umberto Robina for the two Grand Theft Auto: Vice City games, and I thought he did well playing a softer character in the 2006 film “Sherrybaby”.
    Melanie Lynskey, I like the roles she chooses (especially 2012’s “Hello i must Be Going”) and i thought she was the best recurring character in “Two and a Half Men”.
    Megan Fox, I have the first Transformers film on DVD, but that’s as far as I’m going with that series (I think the second film is an incoherent mess), but that’s not her fault. Well, at least the two main franchises she got involved with were childhood favorites of mine in a different form back in the 1980’s. I have no idea why she rearranged her looks, especially since I think she was already beautiful to begin with, but I’m not bothered by that either.
    Janet Jackson, I guess I remember her “Rhythm Nation” era the best, and I like the film “Poetic Justice”.
    William Seward, I heard that during the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, he was almost
    whacked by a guy by the name of Lewis Powell. Well, he got lucky then.

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    • Automatic thumbs up for the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City reference Gluserty. I miss that era of GTA when they had tons of famous actors voicing the game characters.

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      • Yeah, I’m pretty reliable with the GTA references; when I think of Trejo’s Umberto Robina, my fondest memory is probably from the Vice City Stories game in which he’s hitting on the Social Service worker during the opening cutscene for the mission ‘Balls’.

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    • I’ve liked Melanie Lynskey in just about everything I’ve seen her in. A great character actress. She was the best character on 2 1/2 men.
      Unfortunately, she is not a classical beauty and tends to be a shade pudgy at times. . .not much. . .but a little.
      As a result she will never be a major star, but she is very good in the roles she undertakes.

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      • Joining in here on the Melanie Lynskey love. I first saw her in Heavenly Creatures well over a decade ago. I never saw Two and a Half Men or her other major TV series, HBO’s short-lived togetherness, but I’ve enjoyed seeing her in films like all the ones I mentioned in the article, as well as But I’m a Cheerleader and a couple of others. Anytime I see her in the cast of a movie my interest in it goes up at least a little.

        Melanie’s ex-husband, Jimmi Simpson, is another one on my “I really like to see him show up in a cast” list.

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  4. I read an interesting story once about how back in the 40’s Henry Fonda and James Stewart once got into a heated argument over politics; it got so bad that they actually got into a fistfight. No kidding, James Stewart and Henry Fonda actually threw punches at each other over a heated political debate. Afterwards they both felt foolish and apologized, both agreeing to never again discuss politics together. They remained the very best of friends until Fonda’s passing in 1982.

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    • Yeah, I think politics, money, and religion are three topics that can strain a friendship/relationship (goodie for me, since I’m Independent, broke, and quietly spiritual). Sounds like Stewart & Ford did the right thing, although a skirmish between friends isn’t always a big deal (nowadays though the social mediaverse would blow up in 4 seconds if word got out that those two titans had an issue).

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  5. Pierce Brosnan was the Bond when I was growing up, I thought he was a great fit.

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