May 23: Happy Birthday Joan Collins and Douglas Fairbanks
Dame Joan Collins is turning 84 today. She began acting in film in her late teens, appearing in a number of English films before Howard Hawks brought her to Hollywood to star in Land of the Pharaohs. She kept busy for the next seven years or so, appearing in films such as Seven Thieves and the last of the Hope/Crosby “Road” pictures, The Road to Hong Kong. After taking a few years off in the early sixties, she began working regularly on television, making a memorable guest appearance on Star Trek as Edith Keeler in the episode “City on the Edge of Forever.”
In the late seventies, Collins film roles included starring as Fontaine Khaled in two adaptations of novels written by her younger sister, novelist Jackie Collins. While the films were critically panned, they were commercially successful and brought her to the attention of Richard and Esther Shapiro, who were creating a prime-time soap opera that gave Collins her most famous role. She was a six-time Golden Globe nominee, winning once, in the role of Alexis Carrington on Dynasty.
If yesterday’s headliner Laurence Olivier was the definitive Shakespearean of his time, Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) was clearly the definitive swashbuckler. As a charismatic leading man in action-adventure films (with, of course, a dash of romance thrown in), Fairbanks has never been surpassed. Equaled, from time to time (see Flynn, Errol, or Lancaster, Burt), but never outdone. He was also one half of Hollywood’s first celebrity couple after his marriage to Mary Pickford.
Fairbanks began his film career in 1915, and soon was starring in a sequence of romantic comedies that, within three years, made him one of the most popular and highest paid stars in Hollywood. But he had ambitions to do more, and by 1920 he had the clout to do so. That year’s The Mark of Zorro began the run of adventure film classics that his reputation rests on. After winning his final duel as Zorro, he went on to star in The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, The Thief of Bagdad, Don Q, Son of Zorro, The Black Pirate, The Gaucho, and finally The Iron Mask in 1929.
Actor and comedian Drew Carey is turning 59. He is most famous for creating, producing and starring on The Drew Carey Show for nine seasons; these days he’s best known as a television host, most notably of The Price is Right. Also 59 today is comedian and actress Lea DeLaria, who plays Big Boo on Orange is the New Black. Kelly Monaco, who is 41 today, is best known for her work on soap operas; she is a two-time Daytime Emmy nominee and has been a regular on General Hospital for 14 years. Melissa McBride, who plays Carol Peletier on The Walking Dead, is 52 today. H. Jon Benjamin, who celebrates his 51st, is best known as a voice actor; currently he voices Sterling Archer on FX’s Archer and Bob Belcher on Fox’s Bob’s Burgers. D. J. Cotrona, who plays Seth Gecko on From Dusk till Dawn: The Series, is turning 37.
Barbara Barrie, who is 86, has been an Oscar nominee (for the movie Breaking Away), an Emmy nominee (for the TV series of the same title), and a Tony nominee (for the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company).
German director Tom Tykwer, who is 52, made a very big splash with his third feature, Run Lola Run, and followed it up with films like The Princess and the Warrior and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. His much-awaited Hollywood debut, The International, was disappointing. Swedish director Daniel Alfredson is turning 58; he directed the final two films of the Swedish production of the Millennium trilogy which starred Noomi Rapace.
Mary Black, who turns 62, has been one of the most prominent voices (literally) in Irish folk music for nearly 35 years. Another prominent name in folk music is Jewel Kilcher, often known simply as Jewel, who turns 43. She is a four-time Grammy winner and has sold some 30 million records. Mac Wiseman, an upright bass player who is one of the elder statesmen of the bluegrass world, turns 92 today.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who celebrates his 63rd, is another of the “Fabulous Four” boxers who for much of the eighties kept boxing fans attention on the weight divisions below the heavyweight level. He was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world from 1980-87. Baseball Hall of Famer Zack Wheat (1888-1972) spent all but one of his 19 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, starring in left field and at the plate. Aaron Donald, a rising star in the NFL, turns 26. The defensive lineman has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. Chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, who turns 66, held the world championship from 1975-85 and again from 1993-99.
Mitch Albom, who turns 59, first became known as a sports journalist, but is more likely to be recognized for bestselling books like his memoir Tuesdays with Morrie or his novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Scott O’Dell (1898-1989) was best known for his 26 children’s novels, notably the Newberry Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins and others such as The King’s Fifth and Sing Down the Moon.
Betty Garrett (1919-2011) starred in a number of MGM musicals in the late forties such as Take Me Out to the Ballgame and On the Town. She later became a familiar face on television, winning a Golden Globe as Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family and playing landlady Edna Babish on Laverne & Shirley.
Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), the aunt of a recent headliner, was a traditional pop star of the early fifties known for hits like “Come On-a My House” and “Hey There.” John Payne (1912-1989) starred in Miracle on 34th Street as Fred Galley, the attorney who defends Kris Kringle, and later in film noirs like Kansas City Confidential and Slightly Scarlet. Scatman Crothers (1910-1986) had a long film and television career; his best known role may have been Louie the Garbageman on Chico and the Man in the mid-seventies.
Alfred P. Sloan (1875-1966) was made President of General Motors in 1923, and held that office for over 20 years, presiding over GM’s rise to become the world’s dominant automaker. John Bardeen (1908-1991) is the only man ever awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice. His first honor was as the co-inventor of the transistor, his second for developing a theory of superconductivity.
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 23, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Betty Garrett, Douglas Fairbanks, Drew Carey, Jewel, Joan Collins, John Payne, Mitch Albom, Scatman Crothers, Tom Tykwer. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.