May 31: Happy Birthday Clint Eastwood and Colin Farrell


It’s Clint Eastwood’s 87th birthday today.  After his service in the Army (those were the days of the draft), he began working in film and television in the mid-fifties.  He got his first real break as a star of the TV Western Rawhide, and then came to the attention of Italian director Sergio Leone, who cast Eastwood as the “Man With No Name” in his famous trilogy of spaghetti Westerns.  The commercial success of those films gave Eastwood the stature to get funding to produce his own films; since 1968, Eastwood has produced the large majority of the films he has starred in or directed through his  Malpaso Productions.

Those included the films which gave Eastwood his second career-defining role, that of maverick San Francisco cop “Dirty” Harry Callahan.  They also included Eastwood’s directing efforts; he directed his first film, Play Misty For Me, in 1971, and has subsequently directed over thirty features, inevitably including several Westerns.

After a somewhat dry patch in his career in the late eighties, Eastwood starred in, produced and directed in one of his most successful films in 1992, Unforgiven, which brought him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.  The next year he starred in one of his biggest hits, In the Line of Fire.  He repeated his Oscar double with Million Dollar Baby and has also received Best Picture and Director nominations for Mystic River and Letters from Iwo Jima, while American Sniper was a Best Picture nominee as well as the #1 domestic box office hit of 2014.

Colin Farrell, who celebrates his 41st, is one of three WTHH subjects with birthdays today.  Farrell popped onto the scene at the beginning of the 2000s, with a mixed bag of films; a partial listing would include a well-received turn in the indie film Tigerland, playing Jesse James in American Outlaws (a flop), headlining a surprise minor hit, Phone Booth, and playing a supporting role in Spielberg’s Minority Report.  He then was top cast in a pair of big-budget, would-be blockbusters, Alexander and Miami Vice, and an intended prestige picture, Terrence Malick’s The New World.  None was the success that Farrell, or anyone else involved, had hoped for.

In the past decade, Farrell has continued to have mixed successes.   Attempts at headlining major projects (the Total Recall remake, an adaptation of Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale) tend not to go so well.  However, he has had supporting roles in some successes, including Horrible Bosses and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  He won a Golden Globe for starring in In Bruges and was nominated for a second for The Lobster.  He stars, in a role once played by Clint Eastwood, in Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled, which was very well received at Cannes earlier this month.

Tom Berenger, who turns 68, is the second of our WTHH birthdays.  He was a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for Platoon, and more recently won a Primetime Emmy for the History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.  And our third WTHH subject celebrating today is Lea Thompson, who is 56 today.  She was in a number of major eighties films, including the Back to the Future trilogy and Some Kind of Wonderful, was the star of Caroline in the City in the late 90s, and is currently a regular on Freeform’s Switched at Birth.

For two seasons, Thompson’s Caroline in the City aired on NBC on the same night as Suddenly Susan, starring Brooke Shields, who is 52 today.  Shields is also known for her career as a child and teen actress and model, when she made films like Pretty Baby and The Blue Lagoon, which brought her the first of her three Razzies.

Sharon Gless, who is turning 74, has been a major presence on television for over 40 years, and is a ten-time Emmy nominee, winning twice for playing Chris Cagney on Cagney & Lacey.  French actress Sandrine Bonnaire, who is 50 today, won a Cesar for Best Actress for Vagabond, directed by Agnes Varda (see yesterday’s article), and has been a leading star of French cinema for over 30 years.  Actor and comedian Chris Elliott, who currently stars on the Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek, is 57 today; he may also be remembered for his sketches on Late Night with David Letterman from the 1980s.  British actress Archana “Archie” Panjabie, an Emmy winner on The Good Wife who is now a regular on Blindspot, is turning 45 today.  Jonathan Tucker, who is celebrating his 35th, is currently a regular on Audience Network’s Kingdom and has starred in indie films like 100 Girls, Stateside, and Cherry Crush, and in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw MassacreEric Christian Olsen, who currently plays Marty Deeks on NCIS: Los Angeles, is turning 40.

Journalist-turned-novelist John Connolly is 49 today.  He is best known as the author of a series of supernatural thrillers featuring private detective Charlie Parker; the 17th in the series, A Game of Ghosts, comes out this summer.

In sports, we celebrate the 74th birthday of Broadway Joe.  Joe Namath played 13 seasons in the AFL and NFL, made several All-League teams, but will always be remembered for one game, when he guaranteed that he and the New York Jets would win Super Bowl III (they did).

John Bonham (1948-1980), the drummer for Led Zeppelin, had developed a reputation that puts him among the finest rock drummers of all time prior to his death at only 32.  Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, who is 53, was a founding member of Run-D.M.C., the first hip-hop group to have a Gold record or receive a Grammy nomination.

Folksinger and activist Peter Yarrow is celebrating his 79th.  He is best known for his long history performing and recording with Noel Paul Stookey and the late Mary Travers as Peter, Paul and Mary; he wrote several of the trio’s best known songs, including one that might be their signature tune.

Don Ameche (1908-1993) was a popular leading man of the thirties and forties, in films like Moon Over Miami and Heaven Can Wait, and later won an Oscar for Cocoon in the eighties.  Fred Allen (1894-1956) hosted one of the nation’s most popular radio shows of the thirties and forties, The Fred Allen ShowMadge Blake (1899-1969) was familiar to TV audiences of the late fifties and sixties for her roles on Leave it to Beaver and The Real McCoys, but especially as Aunt Harriet on BatmanAlida Valli (1921-2006) worked in Italian film for over sixty years; American audiences most likely would know her as Anna Schmidt, Harry Lime’s girlfriend in The Third ManDenholm Elliott (1922-1992) was an Oscar nominee for Merchant-Ivory’s A Room With a View and won three BAFTA Awards in the eighties for Best Supporting Actor, not to mention his two appearances in the Indiana Jones films as Marcus Brody.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982) was a major figure in the New German Cinema of the 1970s.  He is known for films such as Love is Colder than Death, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and The Marriage of Maria Braun.  Israeli producer and director Menahem Golan (1929-2014) is best known for his years in partnership with Yoram Globus, his cousin—the two ran The Cannon Group, who produced films like Superman IV, Masters of the Universe, the American Ninja films, and many more.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), one of the most prominent American poets of the 19th century, is often called the father of “free verse.”  He was most famous for his collection Leaves of Grass, originally published in 1855 but frequently revised and expanded by the poet for the rest of his life.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005) was more than just the man who married Grace Kelly.  He made important political and economic reforms to the princedom, reducing his own power as sovereign and working to diversify the local economy so it was less dependent on gambling.  John Ringling (1866-1936) was the most prominent of the brothers who, in the early 20th century, merged their own family circus with the Barnum & Bailey Circus to form the world’s leading traveling entertainment show for many years.

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 31, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Colin Farrell’s not much of an actor, but he’s got character to spare & so he’s always watchable. One of those actors who needs the right project / director to play to his strengths, and whose enthusiasm can lead him astray. Really looking forward to both his films that were at Cannes this year.


  2. Clint Eastwood’s work ethic and commitment to cinema is something special.


  3. Clint Eastwood has done a lot that I like, especially as a director; I really like The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, and Mystic River.

    Colin Farrell’s bid for A-list stardom failed, but he still seems relevant, although more as a character player than a conventional leading man.

    Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” was, I think, my very first favorite song. I remember having an old style 45 rpm single of it that I played so often I wore it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As we reach the end of May, I am impressed by how many greats from the Golden Age of Hollywood we covered this month. Looking at headliners alone, we have two legendary leading ladies in Audrey and Katharine Hepburn, plus some equally famed heroic leading men—Gary Cooper, Henry Fonda, James Stewart and John Wayne (not to mention Douglas Fairbanks, if you stretch the Golden Age to include the silent era). Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Laurence Olivier were all of equal renown in their particular specialties, and Glenn Ford and James Mason aren’t chopped liver, either. Then we have some big, big names of directing in Capra, Hawks and Welles, and Irving Berlin made a lot of musical contributions. If you go beyond the headliners, you have plenty of additional acting and directing luminaries, as well as cinematography legend Gregg Toland and some formidable composing talents in Korngold, Steiner, and Tiomkin.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Clint Eastwood, he’s made a ton of money for studios with his brand of directing, which is under budget and efficient, which in effect gives him creative control over the projects; total win win (too bad life doesn’t always work out the way). I like the story that when Warner Communications was attempting to buy Atari from founder Nolan Bushnell, they had Clint Eastwood (along with Sondra Locke) be the one on the plane schmoozing with him, and even made Bushnell a sandwich. Now, Eastwood’s acting & directing is extensive, but this is what I have to add.
    Colin Farrell, I didn’t know he shared a birthday with Eastwood; I actually like him as a performer, but I sure got tired of him appearing in reboots/remakes/reimaginings (“Miami Vice”, “Fright night”, “Total Recall”). I prefer stuff like “Phone Booth”, “Seven Psychopaths”, and “Horrible Bosses”. I’ve heard that ever since he got sober his career has been Dublin.
    My man Tom Berenger, the singular figure on how I discovered Lebeau’s Leblog (with an assist from Terrence and the TV series “Major Crimes”). I always liked his work, even the smaller stuff like “A Murder of Crows”. He has a good write up here.
    Lea Thompson, yeah sure, maybe her career didn’t quite take off like a lot of people thought, but she’s done alright and appears to have led a happy life. Her page on here is very good as well; it’s Some Kind of Wonderful actually.
    Brooke Shields, I warmed to her a little when she was talking about her postpartum depression, and the Cruise cruise got all clinical & dismissive about the whole thing. As films go, I think her bit part in “Freeway” was her best role, and I thought “Suddendly susan” was okay.
    Sharon Gless, I remember that “Cagney & Lacey” was huge (I’m more of a Tyne Daly kind of guy though). Maybe I’ll catch up to that show someday.
    Chris Elliott, I remember the FOX show “Get a Life” (“stand in the place where you live…”), I thought it was good stuff. His daughter Abbey was on SNL for a few years, making them the only father & daughter to be cast members of that show.
    Joe namath, my mother’s a big, big, big, big, fan of his. He may have won the most historically important Pro Football game of all time. What I think makes a Hall of Famer is impact, and Joe Namath had that, so I don’t care about the numbers.
    Don Ameche, I loved him in “trading Places”, but I never caught up to his earlier work.
    Denholm Elliott, another “Trading Places” guy, but I also remember him from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Toys Soldiers” (“but the battle wages on, for toy soldiers”).


  6. Whatever Happened to Chris Elliott?

    After a chance encounter with a young David Letterman, Chris Elliott went from being a mild-mannered NBC gofer to a writer and performer on Late Night with David Letterman. From 1982 to 1989, Elliott honed his craft, helping Letterman to earn multiple Emmys for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series.

    These early years helped pave the way for the quirky actor, who’s best known for his memorable roles in Groundhog Day, Kingpin, Scary Movie 2, and There’s Something About Mary. Since making it on the big screen for the Wayans and Farrelly Brothers alike, it feels as if Elliott has mostly disappeared from the spotlight. So what has Chris Elliott been up to lately? In truth, the man never left.


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