May 24: Happy Birthday Bob Dylan and Kristin Scott Thomas


We have had a number of Nobel Prize winners mentioned in the birthday articles (as recently as yesterday), but this is the first time we have had a Nobel Laureate as the headliner.

Bob Dylan is 76 today.  The legendary singer-songwriter dropped out of the University of Minnesota at 19, moving to New York, where he visited the institutionalized Woody Guthrie and began to make a name for himself in the Greenwich Village folk music scene, eventually signing a recording contract with Columbia.  Although his debut album sold poorly, Johnny Cash, then one of Columbia’s biggest stars, helped persuade the label to stick with Dylan.  By the time Dylan’s third album came out in 1964, he was one of the stars of the folk movement, who had composed more than one of the anthems beloved of activists both then and now.

But even as activists all over the country embraced Dylan, he grew uncomfortable with the protester-folkie role.  His “going electric” in the mid-sixties was just the first of many times he changed directions as an artist.  He has remained successful through it all, selling some 100 million records, and receiving eleven Grammys, along with a Pulitzer Special Citation in 2008.  And then last year came the Nobel Prize in Literature; his Nobel citation says he is honored “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”


Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, who has been nominated for Oscar, BAFTA and Cesar Awards (not to mention a Razzie or two) in her career, and is an Olivier Award winning stage actress, turns 57 today.  She studied for several years in Paris, speaks French fluently, and made several of her earliest screen appearances in French film.  She became well-known in the mid-nineties for her BAFTA Award winning performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, as Lady Anne in the 1995 adaptation of Richard III, and above all for her Oscar-nominated role as Katharine Clifton in The English Patient.

In the late nineties, Scott Thomas seemed to be at least flirting with Hollywood stardom, with lead roles in films like The Horse Whisperer and Random Hearts.  But as of about 2000 she seemed to be committed to working in Europe almost exclusively.  She has done a lot of work in French film, such as Guillaume Canet’s thriller Tell No One and I’ve Loved You So Long, for which she won a European Film Award and received the first of three Cesar Award nominations.  Among her English films are Robert Altman’s ensemble film Gosford Park, and her BAFTA Award nominated performance in Nowhere Boy.  She has also been busy on stage, receiving five Olivier Award nominations for Best Actress, winning for a 2007 revival of Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Jim Broadbent, who turns 68, is an Oscar and Golden Globe winner (for Iris), won a second Golden Globe for the British TV movie Longford, and appeared with Kristin Scott Thomas in Richard III (as Buckingham).  A few of his other notable roles include W. S. Gilbert in Topsy-Turvy, Colin Jones in the Bridget Jones films, and Horace Slughorn in several Harry Potter films, while he has recently joined the cast of Game of Thrones as Archmaester Marwyn.

Also turning 68 is cinematographer Roger Deakins, a thirteen-time Oscar nominee.  Since the 1991 film Barton Fink, he has been the Coen Brothers’ cinematographer of choice, while he is also known for his work on The Shawshank Redemption, Kundun, The Reader, and Skyfall.  He has won BAFTA Awards for three of his films with the Coen Brothers.

Alfred Molina, who turns 64, may be best known to many as Dr. Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2; he has also been acclaimed for his performances in Magnolia, Frida, and An EducationJohn C. Reilly, who turns 52, appeared in Boogie Nights and Magnolia with Molina.  He was an Oscar nominee for Chicago, a Golden Globe nominee for Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and appeared as Rhomann Dey in Guardians of the GalaxyDoug Jones, who celebrates his 57th, is known for his films with Guillermo del Toro, such as the Hellboy movies (as Abe Sapien) and Pan’s Labyrinth, and currently plays Lt. Saru on Star Trek: DiscoveryDana Ashbrook, who is turning 50, played Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks and in the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Sybil Danning, who is best known for a variety of B-movies she made in the eighties such as Battle Beyond the Stars (where she played the Valkyrie, St. Exmin), turns 65 today.  Tommy Chong, who is turning 79, was one half of the Cheech & Chong duo (along with Cheech Marin), who made several Grammy-nominated comedy albums and starred together in films like Up in Smoke and Nice DreamsGary Burghoff, who played Radar O’Reilly in the film and TV series M*A*S*H, turns 74 today.  Priscilla Presley, who turns 72, may be best known for her marriage to Elvis, but also starred in three Naked Gun films and played Jenna Wade on DallasJames Cosmo, who is 69 today, played the Old Bear, Jeor Mormont, in Game of Thrones, and has appeared in films like Braveheart and the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur.

Callie Hernandez turns 29.  She had supporting roles in La La Land and Alien: Covenant, and currently stars on Epix’s Graves as Samantha Vega.  Deborah Francois, a Belgian actress who works primarily in French film is 30.  She is a three-time Cesar nominee, including receiving one for her first feature, the Dardenne Brothers’ L’Enfant, and won Most Promising Actress for The First Day of the Rest of Your LifeBryan Greenberg, who turns 39, starred on HBO’s How to Make It in America.

French actor Michael Lonsdale (sometimes billed as Michel) turns 86.  He has had a long career in French films, but is also known for starring in The Day of the Jackal as the tenacious Claude Lebel, playing Hugo Drax in Moonraker, and appearing in the BBC miniseries Smiley’s People.  He and Deborah Francois appeared together in the 2014 film Maestro.

Rosanne Cash is celebrating her 62nd.  She has been a prominent, genre-straddling musical figure since her 1981 single “Seven Year Ache,” a #1 Country hit and crossover success.  She has won four Grammys and had eleven #1 Country singles.  Patti LaBelle, who turns 73, has been a successful soul and R&B singer both as the lead singer of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles and as a solo artist, winning a pair of Grammys and having several Top Ten R&B hits.

Our sports birthdays today have a French accent.  Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938) was the greatest women’s tennis player of her time.  She won both the women’s singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon six times from 1919-1925 as well as two gold medals at the 1920 Olympics.  Football star Eric Cantona, who turns 51, is best known for his years with Manchester United in the mid-nineties, leading them to four Premiership titles and two wins in the FA Cup in five seasons.  He has subsequently gone into acting, appearing in a number of European films.

Poet Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) spent years at odds with the Soviet authorities before being “strongly advised” to emigrate in 1972.  He then settled in the US, continued publishing poetry, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987.  Michael Chabon, who turns 54, won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.  He is also the author of Wonder Boys and the Hugo and Nebula winning The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and worked on the screenplay for Spider-Man 2.

Our big historical birthday today is Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901), until September of 1915 the longest-reigning British monarch.  During her reign England continued its evolution into a constitutional monarchy.  She has been played in film by a very long list of actresses; recent portrayals have included those of Judi Dench (who was Oscar nominated) and Emily Blunt.

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 24, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Someone like Bob Dylan is hard to do justice to in an article like this. Truly one of a kind.

    I just watched the 1995 version of Richard III again last night. Kristin Scott Thomas was part of the fantastic cast. I was not blown away by her in The English Patient, but she’s clearly a very talented and versatile actress.

    Jim Broadbent, aside from also being in that Richard III film, was a star of one of my favorite films, Topsy-Turvy. He’s one of the best character actors of our time.

    Several other fine character performers also celebrate today—Alfred Molina, John C. Reilly, Michael Lonsdale, etc.

    Battle Beyond the Stars is a personal favorite of mine so I had to make sure to include Sybil Danning.


  2. Bob Dylan, I’ve always favored his song “Hurricane”, but “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” I really like too. From my retrospective point of year, I thought Joan Baez & him made a nice couple.
    Kristin Scott Thomas, I have “Under the Cherry Moon” on DVD, and it isn’t great, but for an inexperienced actress, I thought she did a decent job. I like “Life as a House” and “Gosford Park” the best.
    Alfred Molina, I’m all about “Prick Up Your Ears” and I thought he was funny in the Bill Murray vehicle “The Man Who Knew Too Little”. Oh, and his “Sister Christian” deal in “Boogie Nights”? Love it.
    John C. Reilly, I’ve liked him ever since I saw him in “Dolores Claiborne”, but I probably liked him best in 2004’s “Criminal”.
    Dana Ashbrook, I definitely think “Twin Peaks” was his best role.
    Sybil Danning, I’ve seen my share of her B-movies; I gotta stick with 1983’s “Chained Heat” and 1986’s “Reform School Girls”.
    Tommy Chong, I was never that big into the Cheech & Chong films, but I did like his character on “That 70’s Show” man.
    Priscilla Presley, I thought she demonstrated good comedic timing in The Naked gun franchise.
    Patti LaBelle, I like the songs she did for “Beverly Hills Cop” (“Stir it Up” & “New Attitude) as well as that duet with Michael McDonald (“On My Own”).
    Michael Chabon, I’ve seen “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “Wonder boys”, but didn’t read the books.
    Today was my birthday as well; as College Football coach Mike Gundy once said, “I’m a man, I’m 40!”. I’m mostly known for short poems, shorter stories, and average height.


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