June 10: Happy Birthday Elizabeth Hurley and Judy Garland
Elizabeth Hurley, one of our two WTHH birthdays today, is celebrating her 52nd. The English actress and model made her film debut in 1987 in Aria, but remained a relative unknown (other than as Hugh Grant’s main squeeze) until she starred as Vanessa Kensington in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Briefly, she seemed to be breaking out as a star, but the failures of films like Bedazzled and Serving Sara ended that short flirtation. Recently she has made a mini-comeback, starring as Queen Helena on E!’s The Royals.
Judy Garland (1922-1969) was at the same time one of the most talented and most troubled performers of her generation. Born Frances Ethel Gumm, she performed as a part of a family vaudeville act with her older sisters for several years, before signing a film contract with MGM. She began appearing in musicals, in roles of growing importance, and broke out as a star in 1939, with two major roles. One, Babes in Arms, paired her with Mickey Rooney in the first of a series of “backyard musicals” about bands of schoolmates who decide to put on a show. The other is the role everyone remembers her for, one of the most iconic performances in the history of film.
Garland won a Special Juvenile Oscar for her 1939 work. She went on to star in films like Meet Me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls and Easter Parade during the forties. She received Oscar nominations for the 1954 version of A Star is Born and for Judgment at Nuremberg, and won a pair of Grammys for her early sixties concert album Judy at Carnegie Hall.
But there were also dark undercurrents at work in her life. She was under constant pressure from MGM about her appearance (Louis Mayer reportedly called her a “little hunchback”). She developed substance abuse problems and attempted suicide more than once, and beginning in the late 1940s was periodically fired from films because her various personal problems made her extremely unreliable. She died of a drug overdose, found to be accidental, less than 2 weeks after her 47th birthday.
German actor Jürgen Prochnow turns 76 today. He first became well known for playing the German submarine captain (“Der Alte,” or The Old Man) in Das Boot. He made a number of major Hollywood films in the eighties and nineties, often, but not always, as a villain: Dune, Beverly Hills Cop II, Judge Dredd, Air Force One. He had a small role in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and starred with Elizabeth Hurley in Kill Cruise.
Andrew Stevens, who is 62 today, starred in a number of TV miniseries near the end of the seventies like The Bastard and The Rebels; more recently he is known as a producer for films like The Boondock Saints and The Whole Nine Yards. Gina Gershon, known for important roles in late nineties films like Bound, Face/Off and Palmetto, turns 55 today. Jeanne Tripplehorn, who is 54, was an Emmy nominee for playing Jacqueline Kennedy on Grey Gardens and has had regular roles on Big Love and Criminal Minds. Stand-up comic and actor Bill Burr, who is turning 49, hosts the Monday Morning Podcast, and is the creator and a voice actor for Netflix’s animated series F is for Family.
Our second WTHH subject with a birthday is Leelee Sobieski, who celebrates her 34th. Known for her roles in films such as A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries and Eyes Wide Shut, Sobieski has been retired from acting for about five years. Shane West, who celebrates his 39th, has had a number of regular roles on television, including on Once and Again and ER, and most recently as John Alden on Salem. Model and actress Kate Upton, who is turning 25, had her first major film role in The Other Woman and will star later this year in The Layover. Tristin Mays, who currently plays Riley Davis on CBS’s reboot of MacGyver, is celebrating her 27th.
Ben Daniels, who is celebrating his 53rd, is a prominent stage actor on both sides of the Atlantic, a two-time Olivier Award nominee and a Tony nominee for a 2008 revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Garry Hynes, who is 64, was the first woman to win the Tony for Best Direction of a Play, in 1998 for The Beauty Queen of Leenane. She was the co-founder of Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company and also has a lengthy association with the Abbey Theatre.
Howlin’ Wolf (1910-1976, given name Chester Burnett) was one of the legends of Chicago blues, known for songs like “Smokestack Lightning” and “Killing Floor.” Composer Frederick Loewe (1901-1988) was best known for his partnership with lyricist Alan Jay Lerner on Broadway musicals like Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot, as well as the film musical Gigi.
Dan Fouts, who turns 66, is an NFL Hall of Famer. He starred at quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, making six Pro Bowls from 1979-1985 and retiring with over 40,000 career passing yards; at the time he was one of only three quarterbacks to reach that total. Figure skater Tara Lipinski, the 1997 world champion and 1998 Olympic gold medalist in women’s singles, turns 35 today.
Saul Bellow (1915-2005) was one of the leading novelists of the 20th Century, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best known novels included The Adventures of Augie March, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Humboldt’s Gift. Sir Terence Rattigan (1911-1977) was an English playwright and screenwriter. He was a two-time Oscar nominee for the screenplays for The Sound Barrier and Separate Tables (adapted from his play); another well-known play of his is The Deep Blue Sea, adapted into a 2011 film with Rachel Weisz. Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was a prominent author and illustrator of children’s books, most famous for the Caldecott Medal winner Where the Wild Things Are.
Sessue Hayakawa (1889-1973) was the first Asian actor to become a major star in American or European film. He was an Oscar nominee as Col. Saito in The Bridge on the River Kwai and had major roles in films like House of Bamboo and Swiss Family Robinson. Like Hayakawa, Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) was a pathbreaker of a kind; she was the first African American to win an Oscar, for Best Supporting Actress in Gone With the Wind. Kevin Corcoran (1949-2015) was a busy child actor for Disney for several years starting in the mid-fifties, appearing in films like Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Toby Tyler, and Swiss Family Robinson. As an adult, he had a lengthy career in a variety of behind-the-camera roles in film and television. English actor Lionel Jeffries (1926-2010) was known for his roles like King Pellinore in the film adaptation of Camelot and Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Nikolaus Otto (1832-1891) was a German engineer who made a big contribution to modern history with his invention of the four stroke internal combustion engine, the basis for all automobile engines. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II of England, turns 96 today.
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 June 10, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged elizabeth hurley, Frederick Loewe, Gina Gershon, Hattie McDaniel, judy garland, Jurgen Prochnow, leelee sobieski, Saul Bellow, Sessue Hayakawa. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.