May 27: Happy Birthday Paul Bettany and Louis Gossett, Jr.
Paul Bettany celebrates his 46th today. He made his acting in a London revival of J. B. Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls (directed by Stephen Daldry), and began working in British cinema in the late 1990s. In 2000 he received his first starring role, in Gangster No. 1, and then made his first Hollywood features, playing Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale and Charles Herman in A Beautiful Mind. During the filming of the latter, he met his wife-to-be, Jennifer Connelly. Two years later he starred as Dr. Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, receiving a BAFTA Award nomination.
Bettany’s best-known roles have been as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: he was the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., Iron Man’s AI, in five films, and now plays the part of Vision. A few of his other films have included Wimbledon, The Da Vinci Code, The Young Victoria, Legend, and Creation, which starred Bettany and Jennifer Connelly as Charles and Emma Darwin.
Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr., who turns 81, made his Broadway debut as a teenager in Louis Peterson’s Take a Giant Step. He later appeared as George Murchison in A Raisin in the Sun and reprised that role in the 1961 film adaptation. He did quite a bit of stage work in the sixties and began making frequent film and television appearances in the seventies. He won a Primetime Emmy in the role of Fiddler on Roots (in the first of seven Emmy nominations). His most memorable screen role came in 1982 in An Officer and a Gentleman.
Gossett won Best Supporting Actor in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley, as well as a Golden Globe. He won a second Golden Globe for the role of Sidney Williams in HBO’s The Josephine Baker Story. He played the role of Col. Chappy Sinclair in four Iron Eagle films and was an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee as Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in a 1983 miniseries.
Lee Meriwether is turning 82 today. She was an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee during her eight seasons playing Betty Jones, the daughter-in-law and secretary of Barnaby Jones, and also was Catwoman in the 1966 feature Batman (as Julie Newmar was unavailable), and appeared in a guest role on Star Trek a few years later.
Joseph Fiennes, who is 47 today, currently stars on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. He was a BAFTA Award nominee as William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love and has starred in Enemy at the Gates, The Great Raid, and The Darwin Awards. Jack McBrayer, who turns 44, was an Emmy nominee as Kenneth Parcell on 30 Rock and again on Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. Richard Schiff, who is turning 62 today, was an Emmy winner as Toby Ziegler on The West Wing and will be a regular on ABC this fall on The Good Doctor. Shanola Hampton, who stars on Shameless as Veronica Fisher, turns 40 today.
Ben Feldman, who celebrates his 37th, currently stars on NBC’s Superstore and was an Emmy nominee as Michael Ginsberg on Mad Men. Bella Heathcote, who is 30 today, is a regular on The Man in the High Castle and has starred in films like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Neon Demon. Chris Colfer, who is turning 27, won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor as Kurt Hummel on Glee and is also the author of the children’s fantasy/adventure series The Land of Stories. Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, turns 18. She was a Cesar Award nominee for Most Promising Actress for the French film The Dancer, playing 0Isadora Duncan.
Jazz vocalist and songwriter Dee Dee Bridgewater, who is 67, is a three-time Grammy winner who also won a Tony playing Glinda the Good in The Wiz. Canadian folk-rocker Bruce Cockburn turns 72; he has won thirteen Juno Awards in a career of nearly fifty years. Susan Ballion, better known as Siouxsie Sioux, the longtime lead singer of alt-rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, turns 60 today. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (1971-2002) won four Grammys with the girl group TLC, and had two Top Ten hits in a solo career cut short by a fatal auto accident.
Jeff Bagwell, who celebrates his 49th today, is one of the newest inductees into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, after spending his entire 15-year career with the Houston Astros. Frank Thomas, the Big Hurt, was born the same day as Bagwell but made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame a few years sooner. Between the two of them they had three MVP awards. Football’s Hall of Fame is also represented today, by former Los Angeles/St. Louis Ram offensive lineman Jackie Slater, who set a record with his 20 seasons with the same franchise. Slater is 63 today. English football great Paul Gascoigne, who turns 50, starred for England and for many club teams, but will always be remembered for “Gazza’s Tears” during the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup, when he received a yellow card that meant he would miss England’s final match.
A number of literary figures were born today. Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) was one of the key figures in American hard-boiled crime fiction as the author of novels like The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and Red Harvest. The latter novel was the source for several movies including Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars. John Cheever (1912-1982) was one of the great American authors of short stories; his collection The Stories of John Cheever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Herman Wouk, who turns 102 today (!), also won a Pulitzer Prize, for his novel The Caine Mutiny, and is one of the great fictional chroniclers of America’s experience in World War 2, in novels like The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Tony Hillerman (1925-2008) is known for his Navajo Tribal Police novels, a series of mysteries featuring the characters of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Harlan Ellison, who is 83, is a science fiction author with a long shelf full of Hugo and Nebula Awards; Star Trek fans probably know that he wrote the original script for the Original Series episode “City on the Edge of Forever.”
Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015) was featured in a number of Hammer Horror films, often opposite Peter Cushing from yesterday’s article. His other famous roles included Rochefort in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun, Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, and Count Dooku in two Star Wars prequels. Another actor famous for his horror films was Vincent Price (1911-1993), known for House of Wax, The Fly, and Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations such as House of Usher. He also appeared in film noir classics like Laura and His Kind of Woman and was the guest villain Egghead on Batman.
A big list of historical birthdays today includes Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978). The longtime Senator from Minnesota was the lead author and floor manager for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, served as Lyndon Johnson’s Vice President, but lost his bid to succeed Johnson in the tumultuous election of 1968. The ever-controversial Henry Kissinger, who turns 94, served as the National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State for President Nixon and continued in both capacities under President Ford. Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) was one of the first giants of American business, a pioneer of both the steamship and railroad industries. A rival of Vanderbilt’s late in his life was Jay Gould (1836-1892), another railroad industry heavyweight who was infamous for his shady dealings. Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876) was one of the legendary figures of the American West, a gunfighter, gambler, and sometime Army scout and lawman. Hickok has been played on film by actors including William S. Hart, Gary Cooper and Jeff Bridges. Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) is most likely to be recognized as the author of the lyrics for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but she was also one of the leading social reformers of the 19th Century, active in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements.
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 27, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Chris Colfer, Christopher Lee, Dashiell Hammett, Harlan Ellison, John Cheever, Joseph Fiennes, Louis Gossett Jr, Paul Bettany, Tony Hillerman, Vincent Price. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.