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June 9: Happy Birthday Johnny Depp and Cole Porter

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Today is Johnny Depp’s 54th birthday.  He made his film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and then became well known for starring on television’s 21 Jump Street as Tom Hanson.  In the early nineties he received three Golden Globe nominations in a five year span (he has a total of ten during his career), for Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon, and Ed Wood.  He was also praised for his performance in Donnie Brasco, however, as the nineties gave way to the aughts, he seemed to be fading a bit, as films like Blow and From Hell were not particularly successful.

However, in 2003, Depp scored what probably ranks as the biggest overall success of his career, starring in a very unlikely box-office smash that also brought him his first Oscar nomination, in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.

 

 

Depp has received subsequent Oscar nominations for Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd, and won a Golden Globe for the latter.  Playing Tonto in The Lone Ranger was not a success, but in recent years he has received critical acclaim in the role of Whitey Bulger in Black Mass and appeared in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  He currently stars, once again, as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and will appear as Edward Ratchett in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Cole Porter (1891-1964) was one of the greatest names in American songwriting.  One of the biggest creative figures in musical theater, he also contributed to the soundtracks of a long list of films.  Porter began composing for Broadway in the 1910s, but it wasn’t until 1928 that he had his first big hit musical, Paris.  In the early 1930s, producer Vincent Freedley hired Porter to write the songs for a musical he had already cast, starring Ethel Merman.  The result was one of Porter’s biggest successes, Anything Goes, and a lengthy period where Merman was something of a “muse” to him.

In 1937, Porter was badly injured in a riding accident, left crippled and in constant pain for the rest of his life.  The injury did not affect his songwriting talent, however.  In the late 1940s, his musical Kiss Me, Kate, won the inaugural Tony Award for Best Musical.  It is arguably both his greatest artistic and commercial success.  A final high point came in 1956, when he wrote the music and lyrics for the film musical High Society, based on the earlier film The Philadelphia Story.

Picking a single song to represent Porter is, of course, impossible.  But I can pick out the first Cole Porter song I got to know.

Oscar-winner Natalie Portman is celebrating her 36th today.  She made her film debut in Luc Besson’s Léon, and been seen by millions in the roles of Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequels and Jane Foster in the Thor films.  She has been an Oscar nominee for Closer and Jackie, and won Best Actress for the role of Nina Sayers in Black Swan.

Michael J. Fox, who we have a bit of coverage on here, hasn’t been seen all that much in the past 15 years or so owing to his having to deal with Parkinson’s Disease, but he has had three great roles in his career—as Alex Keaton on Family Ties (winning three Emmys and a Golden Globe, as Mike Flaherty on Spin City (winning an Emmy and three Golden Globes), and as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films.  Fox turns 56 today.

Eddie Marsan is 48 today.  He has appeared in a variety of film roles, including Inspector Lestrade in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, and on television is a regular on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.  Screenwriter and sometimes director David Koepp turns 54.  He has written films such as Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Panic Room, and the upcoming The Mummy.  He wrote and directed Secret Window, starring Johnny Depp.  Gloria Reuben, who turns 53, was a two-time Emmy nominee as Jeanie Boulet on ER.

Michaela Conlin, who just finished a run of over a decade as Angela Montenegro on Bones, is turning 39.  Mae Whitman, who turns 29, has been acting in films for over 20 years, appearing in Independence Day, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The DuffLogan Browning, who is 28 today, currently stars on Netflix’s Dear White People.

Actor and comedian Jackie Mason is celebrating his 86th.  He is a three-time Emmy winner; one of those was for his one-man show The World According to Me, which also brought him a Special Tony Award.

Aaron Sorkin, who also turns 56 today, first became known for his play A Few Good Men and for his Golden Globe nominated screenplay adaptation thereof.  He is the creator of several TV series, notably Sports Night and The West Wing, and a two-time Oscar nominee for screenwriting, winning for The Social Network.

Eric Wynalda, who is turning 48, heads our sports birthdays today.  The striker played for the US Men’s National soccer team in three World Cups and held the US record for most international goals for about 12 years.  Laurie Hernandez, who won two medals in gymnastics at last summer’s Olympics and then won the 23rd season of Dancing With the Stars, is celebrating birthday number 17.

Patricia Cornwell, who is 61 today, is one of America’s best-selling authors of crime fiction.  She is known mainly for her long-running series featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta, one of the leading fictional medical examiners of the past several decades.

Jackie Wilson (1934-1984) was a soul and R&B singer who had a string of Top Ten hits in the sixties, including “Baby Workout” and “Higher and Higher.”  Les Paul (1915-2009) had a number of early fifties hits with his wife, Mary Ford, but is even more important for designing an early solid-body electric guitar, as well as a number of innovations in recording techniques and guitar playing style.  Film composer James Newton Howard, who turns 66, has received eight Oscar nominations, for films such as The Fugitive, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Michael Clayton.

Robert Cummings was a lead or co-lead in a variety of films from the forties and early fifties, including Hitchcock’s Saboteur and Dial M for Murder, and was a six-time Emmy nominee in the late fifties, winning for an appearance on Studio One and receiving four nominations for his own series, The Bob Cummings Show.  Playwright and screenwriter George Axelrod (1922-2003) had his greatest success in the fifties and early sixties, when his output included the play The Seven Year Itch (and co-writing the screenplay for the film adaptation), and the screenplays for Bus Stop, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which was Oscar-nominated), and The Manchurian Candidate.

Robert McNamara (1916-2009) served as US Secretary of Defense for longer than anyone else to have held the position, from 1961-68, and then was President of the World Bank for well over a decade.  His role in shaping policy during the Vietnam War will always be controversial.  Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725) was one of that nation’s most important rulers ever.  He made a number of major social reforms designed to westernize Russia and began to elevate the Tsarist state to one of the leading European powers.

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 9, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Whatever the future of Johnny Depp’s career—and his roles in films like Fantastic Beasts and Orient Express suggest he may be transitioning to more of a character player—he has had a pretty good run as a leading man.

    I can pretty safely say that I first encountered any of Cole Porter’s music courtesy of the Muppet Show—specifically, the episode with Christopher Reeve, where Reeve, Fozzie and maybe one or two others sang “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” He was one of the most talented contributors to the Great American Songbook.

    I’ve liked a lot of Natalie Portman’s films. I haven’t seen Jackie, but she was definitely very good—Oscar nomination good—in Closer and Black Swan. Her MCU appearances are watchable if not memorable; I wish they had figured out how to integrate her character into the overall structure a little better. I am also a fan of her work in Leon, Garden State, and Jane Got a Gun.

    In the late eighties, I was always in front of a TV when Family Ties was on; while Michael J. Fox was not top-billed, he was definitely the star. Back to the Future is a classic of sorts, and the sequels are at least watchable because of how well Fox and Christopher Lloyd play off of each other.

    When I was in grad school, I had a friend who was a pretty good soccer player, who had played on the same high school team as Eric Wynalda.

    I used to read Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels at least somewhat regularly. The early ones in the series are pretty good, but over time the Mary Sue aspects of Dr. Scarpetta dragged the quality of the books way down.

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  2. My e-mail box isn’t sending me these birthday deals right now; probably another hack, by a hack. It’s not making me happy (he says, to no one in particular).
    Johnny Depp though, I just took one of those Brain Candy quizzes that had photos of celebrities as children, and I scored 11/13, but I got his (and Bradley Cooper’s) identification wrong. Oh well; I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work, but especially “Donnie Brasco” and “Blow”. Overall, I think he’s pretty enigmatic, and I dig that; If I could be anyone other than myself or Orlando Bloom, I’d want to be Johnny Depp.
    Natalie Portman, I go back to her from the days of “The Professional” (or “Leon”, or whatever one wants to call it) and “Beautiful Girls”, but I believe she’s had some strong moments as an adult actress as well (“Garden State”, “Black Swan” or course).
    Micheal J. Fox, this is heavy doc, that it’s his birthday. Hey, I kind of like 1991’s “The Hard Way” (it’s the only way I know).
    Gloria Reuben, she was in “Nick of Time” with Johnny Depp (just not for very long). I also remember her from this cable TV movie with Luke Perry & Lisa Edelstein titled “Indiscreet”, and since Lifetime was airing the great “Unsolved Mysteries” at the time, I saw commercials for her series “1-8000 missing”.
    Jackie Mason, I caught some of his HBO special that initially aired in 1988; I thought it was good action. The sequel to “Caddyshack” though? Let’s call it a mulligan.
    Aaron Sorkin, he’s sure torn the cover off the ball; I always thought “Sports Night” was underrated.

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