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June 5: Happy Birthday Mark Wahlberg and Kenny G

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Mark Wahlberg is turning 46 today.  During a troubled youth that included at least one assault and battery conviction, he began a music career—first, briefly, as a member of New Kids on the Block alongside older brother Donnie, then as a rapper, using the performing name of Marky Mark.  He began working regularly in film in the mid-nineties, in films such as The Basketball Diaries and the critically acclaimed Boogie NightsThree Kings was another critical success, while The Perfect Storm was the first big box office success of his career.

In the early 2000s, Wahlberg appeared in several films that were remakes or reworkings of previous movies—Planet of the Apes, The Truth About Charlie (based on Charade), and The Italian JobI Heart Huckabees reunited him with Three Kings director David O. Russell, and in 2006 he received his first Oscar nomination for The Departed, as a Massachusetts State Police sergeant who uses just a teensy bit of profanity from time to time.

In the past decade, Wahlberg’s filmography includes a couple of could-have-been franchises (Shooter and Max Payne), joining the cast of an ongoing one (as Cade Yeager in the Transformers films), and playing John Bennett in the Ted films, the first of which may be, given its relatively moderate budget, the most financially successful film of his career.  He starred in and co-produced The Fighter, receiving a Best Picture nomination in the latter role, and has teamed with Will Ferrell for The Other Guys and Daddy’s Home.  Last year he headlined Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day.

Kenneth Gorelick, better known as Kenny G, is 61 today.  The saxophonist is one of the best-selling jazz musicians of all time.  He was still in his teens when he began playing as a sideman for R&B/soul artist Barry White’s band, and played for one or two funk bands as well; however, he found his own forte in smooth jazz.  His fourth studio album, Duotones, came out in 1986 and was a huge success, featuring several charted singles.

Kenny G has been nominated for over a dozen Grammys, winning Best Instrumental Composition for his 1994 single “Forever in Love,” which was a Top 20 hit.  He released his 14th studio album in 2014 and has sold in the vicinity of 75 million records.  He has contributed to a number of film scores, including Dying Young, The Shadow, and the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Irish actress Susan Lynch, who is 46, had a supporting role in the 2001 film From Hell and has worked on a couple of John Sayles’s films, notably Casa de los babys.  However, she is more likely to be found in English or Irish films, such as Waking Ned, Beautiful Creatures, and 16 Years of AlcoholJeff Garlin, who is turning 55, has been a seven-time Emmy nominee as a producer and star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is scheduled to return later this year after a lengthy hiatus.  He also stars on ABC’s The Goldbergs.

Kathleen Kennedy, who turns 64, has been an important player in film production since she, along with Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg, founded Amblin Entertainment.  She and Marshall, who were married in 1987, later founded The Kennedy/Marshall Company, and since 2012 she has been the president of Lucasfilm.  Stefania Sandrelli, who is 71, has worked in Italian film and television since she was about 15.  She made her debut in the prototype Commedia all’italiana film, Divorce Italian Style, and has also worked frequently with Bernardo Bertolucci on films like The Conformist and 1900.

Amanda Crew, who is known for playing Monica Hall on Silicon Valley and for films like Sex Drive and Charlie St. Cloud, turns 31 today.  Liza Weil, who turns 40, played Paris Geller on Gilmore Girls, and is now a regular on How to Get Away with MurderNavi Rawat, also 40 today, was a regular on CBS’s NumbersNick Kroll, who is turning 39, starred on FX’s The League for seven seasons and co-created and starred on Comedy Central’s Kroll ShowSophie Lowe, who is 27 today, has starred in films like Beautiful Kate and After the Dark and was the lead on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

A number of prominent directors, past and present, were born on June 5.  Roger Michell, who turns 61, had his first big success directing Notting Hill, and has gone on to make films like Changing Lanes and Morning Glory.  Independent writer-director Lisa Cholodenko, who turns 53, has made the features High Art, Laurel Canyon, and most notably The Kids Are All Right, a Best Picture nominee.  Tony Richardson (1928-1991) won the Oscar for Best Director for Tom Jones and also directed The Entertainer, A Taste of Honey, and more.  Jacques Demy (1931-1990) was one of the leading figures in the French New Wave of the sixties, best known for Bay of Angels and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Playwright and screenwriter Sir David Hare is celebrating his 70th.  He has won the Olivier Award for Best New Play twice, for Racing Demon and Skylight, and was Oscar-nominated for the screenplays for The Hours and The ReaderKen Follett, who turns 68, is the author of a number of bestselling thrillers, such as Eye of the Needle and Hammer of Eden, and historical novels, including The Pillars of the Earth and Fall of GiantsBill Moyers, who is 83 today, is one of the leading journalists of his generation.  He has been a newspaper publisher and an editor, correspondent and commentator with CBS, but is best known for his television documentaries, such as The Secret Government and A World of Ideas, which have often been accompanied by tie-in books.

The little slice of film history called B-westerns has two major birthdays today.  William Boyd (1895-1972) was handed the biggest break of his life in 1935 when he was cast as the lead in a film about an itinerant Westerner named Hopalong Cassidy.  It was a success, and led to a series that lasted for over sixty features.  In the late forties, Boyd successfully marketed the films to NBC to be turned into the first TV Western series.  Peggy Stewart, who turns 94 today, was a talented enough rider that at 14 she was giving horseback riding lessons.  During the forties, she made around thirty B-Westerns at Republic, working opposite virtually every major leading man at the studio—Wild Bill Elliott, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Sunset Carson.  When TV killed off the B-western, she did a lot of television work, especially on Westerns (of course), and she has continued to work intermittently into the current decade.  She appeared in small roles in The Runaways (starring Kristen Stewart, no relation) and Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy.

Avant-garde musician and multimedia artist Laurie Anderson is turning 70.  Mainstream music audiences may know her for her 1981 hit “O Superman,” which reached #2 in the UK, or for her concert film Home of the Brave.  R&B musician Brian McKnight, who celebrates his 48th, worked with Kenny G on the latter’s eighth studio album.  McKnight is known for his instrumental versatility and high tenor and has received 16 Grammy nominations.  Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, one of the leading classical pianists of the past 50 years, is turning 76.  She has won three Grammys and is particularly known for her interpretations of 20th century composers, such as Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Ravel.

Robert Lansing (1928-1994) had a lengthy career on television.  He played regular roles on 87th Precinct and 12 O’Clock High in the sixties, and near the end of his career on Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.  He worked on Broadway regularly for 30 years and his enormous list of TV guest appearances included playing Gary Seven on the Star Trek episode “Assignment: Earth.”

Historical birthdays include an economist and a pair of famous rebels.  John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946, later Baron Keynes) is considered the founder of modern macroeconomics, primarily through his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and MoneyJames Connolly (1868-1916) was an Irish nationalist leader of the late 19th and early 20th century and eventually one of the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916, after which he was executed by the English.  Pancho Villa (1878-1923) was an important leader of the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s which drove the de facto dictator Porfirio Diaz into exile but then deteriorated into violent factional struggles.

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 June 5, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve liked several of Mark Wahlberg’s performances. When he’s asked to be a relatively straight leading man (e.g., The Italian Job, Shooter), he can seem a little bland. But he’s great in edgy character roles, as in Three Kings or The Departed, and he was very good and quite funny in The Other Guys.

    Susan Lynch has been a favorite of mine for a while. She is very good in Casa de los babys, and even better in Beautiful Creatures, which is sort of a Guy Ritchie style crime film, only with a pair of female protagonists (Lynch and Rachel Weisz).

    While I’m not really familiar with David Hare’s work, my impression is that he is a pretty major figure in modern drama.

    My fandom of Westerns has extended to catching a fair number of B-westerns through the years. I have a kind of vague memory of watching one or two Hopalong Cassidy films on cable many years back, maybe when TCM had a special presentation or something.

    Peggy Stewart, I have seen in several films. I’ve watched a lot of the Red Ryder films over the past few years, and Stewart was in quite a few of them, generally as a more activist heroine than the norm for B-westerns. A little Peggy Stewart story I’ve come across: She made a number of B-westerns with Sunset Carson, a big, athletic man who was great at action but not the greatest actor. He had a tendency to speak his dialogue much too fast. Stewart helped him out—she made up a big poster that had a giant period on it. She’d stand off camera but in Carson’s line of sight, and if he started speaking too fast, she’d hold the sign up as a signal to him to slow down.

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  2. Mark Wahlberg, I think he’s getting too heavy with that Transformers action, but that doesn’t temper my enjoyment of films such as “Four Brothers”, “I Heart Huckabees”, “The Departed”, “We Own the Night”, and “The Other Guys”.
    Kenny G, he’s the real G when it comes to playing the saxophone.
    Jeff Garlin, I’ve kind of lost “The Goldbergs” for the last 7 months or so; I’m going to have to find my way back.
    Pancho Villa, I’ve heard of his exploits.

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