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May 25: Happy Birthday Cillian Murphy and Ian McKellen

0525MurphyMcKellen

Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who celebrates his 41st today, made his debut with the Corcadorca Theatre Company in Cork, Ireland, his hometown.  He began appearing in independent Irish and English films in the late nineties and first became well known for his role in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.  In 2005 he had his first major Hollywood roles, in Wes Craven’s Red Eye, and as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins.  But he continued to work in English and Irish cinema as well, starring a year later in Ken Loach’s drama of the Irish troubles, The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

Murphy has continued to work in big-budget films, making brief appearances in the remaining films of the Dark Knight trilogy, while taking major parts in Inception and In the Heart of the Sea.  He has also continued his work in British and Irish film, starring in films like Perrier’s Bounty and Broken, and also stars on the British crime series Peaky Blinders.  He has received critical acclaim for starring in Enda Walsh’s monodrama Misterman, and will appear in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk later this year.

Sir Ian McKellen is turning 78 today.  One of the distinguished stage actors of his time, he is a six-time Olivier Award winner, winning for everything from Shakespeare (his famous portrayal of Richard III) and Ben Johnson (The Alchemist) to modern dramas like Martin Sherman’s Bent.  A few of his other Shakespeare roles have included the title characters of Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear, and Iago in Othello.  He has played the title characters in Marlowe’s Edward II and Doctor Faustus, and in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and was a Tony nominee as Salieri in the original Broadway production of Amadeus.

McKellen’s film career started to take off in the nineties, when he drew favorable notice for films like Six Degrees of Separation and Gods and Monsters.  He is recognized by audiences everywhere for his roles in two big-budget franchises, as Gandalf the Grey/White in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, and as Erik Lensherr/Magneto in five X-Men films.  And he made many Shakespeare fans all over the world very happy when he and Richard Loncraine brought their famous production of Richard III to the big screen in 1995, with a supporting cast including two of yesterday’s birthday notables, Kristin Scott Thomas and Jim Broadbent.

Octavia Spencer, who is celebrating her 45th, made a big breakthrough after 15 years in film when she ran the table in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role in The Help in 2011.  She recently received another round of major acting award nominations for Hidden Figures.

Frank Oz, famous as the performer and voice of Muppets such as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Grover, and Cookie Monster, and also of Yoda in the Star Wars films, turns 73 today.  He has also directed a number of feature films.  Australian actress Jacki Weaver, a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook, turns 70 today.  Also turning 70 is Karen Valentine, who won an Emmy for her role on Room 222 in 1970.  Producer Irwin Winkler, who turns 86, won an Oscar when Rocky was chosen as Best Picture; his filmography includes all of the Rocky sequels and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Ray Stevenson, who starred as Irish mobster Danny Greene in Kill the Irishman and is known for playing Volstagg in the Thor films and Marcus Eaton in the Divergent series, turns 53 today.  Jamie Kennedy, who celebrates his 47th, is a stand-up comic and actor known for playing Randy Meeks in the Scream films.  Also celebrating his 47th is director Neil Marshall, an Emmy nominee for his work on Game of Thrones who is also known for features such as The Descent and DoomsdayErinn Hayes, who stars on CBS’s recently-renewed Kevin Can Wait, is 41 today.

We have a pair of WTHH birthdays today.  Anne Heche is turning 48 today.  Her latest film My Friend Dahmer premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, and she has been cast in one of the first series that NBC has ordered for the fall, The Brave.  Mike Myers is 54 today.  He has been cast in the upcoming thriller Terminal, written and directed by Vaughn Stein (best known for the short Yussef is Complicated).

Jessi Colter, who is 74 today, was one of the only prominent women in the “outlaw” country music movement of the seventies.  Her 1975 single “I’m Not Lisa” was a #1 Country hit and a big crossover success as well, reaching #4 on the Hot 100.  Lyricist Hal David (1921-2012) was known for his long and productive songwriting partnership with Burt Bacharach, and also wrote two songs with John Barry for James Bond films, “We Have All the Time in the World” for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the title song for Moonraker.  Soprano and Muppet Show guest star Beverly Sills (1929-2007) was an important figure in American opera, not only for her distinguished performing career but for her role as general director of the New York City Opera; she is credited with turning the company’s sorry financial state around during her decade-long tenure.

Boxing great Gene Tunney (1897-1978) is most famous for a pair of fights near the end of his career, when he won the world heavyweight title from Jack Dempsey in 1926, and defended it successfully, in the famous “long count” fight, a year later.  Aly Raisman, who turns 23 today, is a six-time Olympic medalist in women’s gymnastics, including team gold medals at both London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, serving as team captain both times, as well as gold in the floor exercise in London.  Eight-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher, who is 39, starred at middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears for over a decade, one of many stars the Bears have had at that position.

Literary birthdays include Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), the essayist and poet who was one of the leaders of the Transcendentalist movement in American letters; he is famous for essays like “Nature” and “Self-Reliance” and his speech “The American Scholar.”  W. P. Kinsella (1935-2016) was most famous for his novels Shoeless Joe—the source for the movie Field of Dreams—and The Iowa Baseball ConfederacyJamaica Kincaid, who is turning 68, is the author of novels like The Autobiography of My Mother and Annie JohnRobert Ludlum (1927-2001) was the author of over two dozen thrillers, most famously The Bourne Identity and its two sequels, which generally involve heroic protagonists struggling to enormous odds, often going up against powerful global conspiracies.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878-1949), a tap dancer and actor, is said to have been the highest-paid African American entertainer of the first half of the 20th Century.  Binnie Barnes (1903-1998) had a long career in film, including starring roles in films such as the 1936 version of The Last of the Mohicans and Frontier Marshal (both opposite Randolph Scott).  Jeanne Crain (1925-2003) was an Oscar nominee for 1949’s Pinky and also starred in films like State Fair, A Letter to Three Wives, and Gentlemen Marry BrunettesDixie Carter (1939-2010) was known for her starring role as Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women and was an Emmy nominee for a recurring role on Desperate Housewives.

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 25, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. While there are no superstars today there are some very interesting people. Many people probably know Cillian Murphy from his films with Nolan. I am also a big fan of several of his Irish films, Intermission and Perrier’s Bounty as well as The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

    Possibly some people have figured this out already, but I really like Ian McKellen’s Richard III. He was also a great Gandalf and a very good Magneto.

    Frank Oz was, among his many contributions to the Muppetverse, the voice and performer of one of my two favorite Muppets of all (along with the frog):

    If you are willing to suspend you disbelief a little bit, Robert Ludlum’s thrillers are very gripping reading.

    Like

  2. Cillian Murphy, I liked him in “Red Eye” and in the Nolan Batman films.
    Ian McKellan, I thought he was excellent in “And the Band Played On” and “Apt Pupil”.
    Octavia Spencer, I’ve really only seen her in “The Help”, but I thought she was great there.
    Frank Oz, I definitely like many of the films he’s directed, such as “What About Bob?”, “In and Out”, and “Bowfinger”, plus I’ve always liked the Muppets.
    Irwin Winkler, as a director, I only liked “Life as a House” really), but he’s been a produced on many films I’ve dug: 1975’s “Breakout” (Sheree North, yum!), “New York New York” (yes, I like it), “Raging Bull”, and “The Net”.
    Ray Stevenson, I loved his complex character of Isaak Sirco in Season 7 of “Dexter”; ruthless, but I thought there was an elegance about him, and like Dexter, he had a code.
    Jamie Kennedy, other than the Scream franchise, I’m a fan of 2003’s “Malibu’s Most Wanted”.
    Anne Heche, she’s well covered on this site; I think she can act, but a lot of personal issues are what people probably remember most about her.
    Mike Myers, “Yeah Baby, Yeah!”; he also has been documented quite extensively on this site as well.
    Burt Bacharach, love his cameo in the first Austin Powers film.
    Brian Urlacher, I thought he was a heck of a linebacker, especially considering he played strong safety in college.
    Dixie Carter, yeah, I had a period where I viewed episodes of “Designing Women”.

    Like

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