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June 13: Happy Birthday Tim Allen and Ben Johnson

0613AllenJohnson

It’s Tim Allen’s birthday; the actor and comedian is 64.  He began working as a comedian in the Detroit area in the seventies, and then relocated to Los Angeles and became a regular at The Comedy Store.  He began working in film in the late eighties, and in the nineties began his involvement in two major film franchises.  He played Scott Calvin in the first of the Santa Clause films in 1994, and a year later provided the voice of Buzz Lightyear for the first time in Toy Story.  In 1991, he also began starring as Tim “the Tool Guy” Taylor on ABC’s Home Improvement, one of the biggest hits of the nineties.

Allen has continued both his film franchises into the current century.  He also starred in 1999’s Galaxy Quest (“A chillingly realistic documentary,” according to George Takei 🙂 ) and in 2007’s Wild Hogs.  He also starred on another ABC sitcom, the recently-canceled Last Man Standing, for six seasons.  Allen has won a Golden Globe for Home Improvement, and an Annie Award, for voice acting, for Toy Story 2.

Ben Johnson (1918-1996) was the son of an Oklahoma rancher, so it was natural that he developed into an excellent rider, a skill that eventually got him work in Hollywood; he was a horse wrangler and stunt rider on a number of 1940s films.  John Ford gave him several of his first acting roles—in Westerns, naturally.  He appeared in Three Godfathers, Wagon Master, and the last two of Ford’s “cavalry trilogy,” She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande.  Ford also recommended him for the part of the male romantic lead in Mighty Joe Young, opposite Terry Moore.

Ford and Johnson had a falling out during the filming of Rio Grande, but Johnson was an established player by now.  He got steady work through the fifties and sixties, often in Westerns, some of them classic.  He had a supporting role in Shane, and in the mid-sixties began working with Sam Peckinpah, appearing in Major Dundee and playing Tector Gorch in The Wild Bunch.  And then in 1971, came the role that brought him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show.

Johnson continued working until his death in 1996.  In Dillinger, he played G-man Melvin Purvis, on the trail of the title character, played by Warren Oates (who had been Lyle Gorch in The Wild Bunch).  He starred in The Town That Dreaded Sundown, but was more often found in supporting roles in films like Breakheart Pass, Red Dawn, or Cherry 2000.

We have four birthdays in the Marvel Cinematic Universe today.  Chris Evans is turning 36 today.  Not counting cameos, he has made five appearances to date as Steve Rogers/Captain America, with two more Avengers features in the offing.  Evans fist became known in films like Not Another Teen Movie and Cellular, and then played Johnny Storm in two Fantastic Four movies.  More recently he has starred in films such as Snowpiercer and this year’s GiftedKat Dennings, who has played Darcy Lewis in two Thor films, is celebrating her 31st.  She is also known for films like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Defendor and as a star of CBS’s sitcom Two Broke GirlsAaron Taylor-Johnson is 27.  He played Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron, was the title character in the Kick-Ass films, and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for last year’s Nocturnal Animals.  Finally, Stellan Skarsgård, who is 66 today, has played Dr. Erik Selvig in four MCU films.  His other film roles range from playing Bootstrap Bill Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean series to six of Lars von Triers’s films.

We also have a WTHH birthday today for Ally Sheedy.  The star of films such as WarGames, The Breakfast Club, and Short Circuit, she turns 55 today.  Sheedy was seen last year in the indie film Little Sister and in a cameo in X-Men: ApocalypseRichard Thomas, who turns 66, was an Emmy winner as John-Boy Walton on The Waltons; he starred in Battle Beyond the Stars and recently was a regular for two seasons of The Americans.  English actress and director Kathy Burke, who turns 53, has been nominated for five BAFTA Television Awards in her career and was seen last year in Absolutely Fabulous: The MovieSiegfried Fischbacher, one half of the famous Las Vegas entertainment duo Siegfried & Roy, is turning 78 today.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are turning 31 today.  These days the Olsen Twins seem to be focused primarily on their fashion design and related business ventures, leaving the acting to younger sister ElizabethEthan Embry, who turns 39, is currently a regular on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, and is known for films like Can’t Hardly Wait and Sweet Home AlabamaKodi Smit-McPhee, who is 21 today, has had lead roles in films like Let Me In and Slow West and played Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Malcolm McDowell, who is turning 74, was a Golden Globe nominee for starring in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.  His long and diverse filmography includes major roles in Time After Time, Star Trek: Generations, and Tank Girl.

Natalie MacMaster, who turns 45, is our main music birthday.  She is one of the best-known performers of that branch of Celtic music known as Cape Breton fiddling, and has performed with the likes of Faith Hill, the Chieftains, and Alison Krauss.  And also Sharon Shannon:

Literary birthdays today begin with Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), an Irish poet who was the key figure in an Irish literary renaissance around the turn of the 20th century.  A few of his most famous poems include “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “The Wild Swans at Coole,” and “The Second Coming.”  Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) had a multi-faceted literary career that included things such as a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  However, she is best known for her crime fiction, eleven novels and several short stories featuring amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

Don Budge (1915-2000) was the leading men’s tennis player of the late 1930s.  He became the first player to win the four Grand Slam events in a single year in 1938 and won a total of 14 Grand Slam titles in his career—six in men’s singles, four each in men’s and mixed doubles.

Basil Rathbone (1892-1967) was a two-time Oscar nominee, but is much more likely to be known today for two things.  Some will recall the villains he played in a variety of classic swashbucklers such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (dying on Errol Flynn’s sword) or The Mark of Zorro (ditto Tyrone Power’s).  Others will think first of his fourteen films as Sherlock Holmes with Fox and then Universal.  Paul Lynde (1926-1982) was known for his voice work for Hanna-Barbera, for his recurring role on Bewitched as Uncle Arthur, and most of all for occupying the center square on the game show Hollywood Squares for over a decade, for which he won two Daytime Emmys.

Winfield Scott (1786-1866) was the most significant military leader in American history between the Revolution and the Civil War.  “Old Fuss and Feathers” played an important role in the War of 1812, was the commanding general of American forces in the Mexican War, and was still serving as commander-in-chief at the start of the Civil War.  John Nash (1928-2015) was a brilliant mathematician who was one of the most important figures in the development of game theory, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Economics.  His long struggle with severe mental illness was recounted in Sylvia Nasar’s biography of Nash, A Beautiful Mind, the basis for the 2001 movie of that title starring Russell Crowe.

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 13, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Ben Johnson is one of my personal favorites; I’ve enjoyed his work ever since I first saw him in Ford’s “cavalry” trilogy. That he is also the one Oscar-winner born today made him that much easier to pick as a headliner.

    Four MCU birthdays at once—is that a record? I am growing more impressed with Chris Evans as an actor as time goes on; he was very good in Snowpiercer. Kat Dennings is wonderful comic relief in the Thor films and is worth checking out in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is building a nice filmography, and Stellan Skarsgard should need no introduction.

    Until Jeremy Brett came along in the 1980s to muddy the waters, Basil Rathbone was the definitive screen portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. These days we have several alternatives to consider—Downey on the big screen, Cumberbatch and Miller on the small one—but Rathbone is still worth a look.

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  2. Tim Allen, he’s been discussed on his page quite a bit lately due to his recent series being canceled. My favorite film that he did still remains “Galaxy Quest”, which had today’s retro article subject Sigourney Weaver in it as well, along with what I consider overall as an awesome cast:Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell (somebody’s watching him, or maybe my mind’s playing tricks on me), Tony Shalhoub, Missi Pyle…
    Ben Johnson, I’ve seen him in a bunch of films, but I especially liked him in “Dillinger” (I like gangster pics a lot). I really like “Shane” too (he’s a good guy).
    Chris Evans, I’m a big fan of “Cellular”, and he’s practically the whole show (sort of a play with moving locations), and I thought he did well in that spot.
    Kat Dennings, I’ve caught a few episodes of “Two broke girls”, and it seems like that series has really worked for her, and her for the show.
    Stellan Skarsgard, I’ve enjoyed his work in the films I’ve seen him in, such as “Good Will Hunting”, “The Glass House”, “Ronin”, “Dogville”, and “The Girl With the dragon Tattoo”. I stay away from the Exorcist stuff though, because like Homer Simpson, I’m afraid of the exocise yard.
    Ally Sheedy, I’ve shared some of her work from her book of poems with others, and they usually come away pretty impressed. Beyond that, out of that crew she was associated with in the 1980’s, she’s my favorite female from that. Good article on her here too.
    Ethan Embry, I thought he did some fine work on that Showtime series “Brotherhood” and I’ve always been a fan of Empire Records. He voiced a character named Lee in “Batman Beyond”, and i like that too.
    Richard Thomas, I’ve seen him in quite a few TV movies, and my favorite of those is probably 1995’s “Death in Small Doses”; he’s a real creep there, and I thought quite good at it.
    Malcolm McDowell, I think “A clockwork Orange” and “Time After Time” are excellent, and overall I’ve enjoyed many of his many roles (“Blue Thunder” comes to my mind rather quickly).

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    • Galaxy Quest is easily the best thing Tim Allen was ever associated with aside from Toy Story. I don’t care for a lot of Tim Allen’s works, but if you’re casting an ego-driven William Shatner type, Allen is your guy. That movie is just all kinds of good.

      You guys all know I am a huge Captain America fan. Long before the movies made him popular, Cap was my favorite Marvel character by a wide margin. I am very pleased with Evans’ take on the character. To me, it’s about as close as we get these days to Christopher Reeve as Superman. Also, Evans seems like one of the better eggs in Hollywood. He’s always visiting sick kids at hospitals and doing charity work.
      I’m now a Chris Evans fan too. And check out Snowpiercer if you haven’t seen it. Good stuff.

      Ally Sheedy was everyone’s crush when I was a kid. Next to Molly Ringwald, Sheedy is probably the actress most closely associated with my generation. Those Brat Packers, most of them got a bum deal.

      Always happy to see (or hear) Malcolm McDowell. He’ll do just about anything. He does a lot of voice work these days. There is a Billy and Mandy Christmas Special where he plays a vampire that references the Singing’ in the Rain number from Clockwork Orange. Very subversive stuff.

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  3. Paul Lynde, I watched the episode of “Hollywood’s mysteries & Scandals” on him a few months ago, and liked him on “Bewitched”. He was such a character overall, I think.

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