June 15: Happy Birthday Helen Hunt and Simon Callow
Helen Hunt is turning 54 today. The Oscar and multiple Emmy winner is our latest WTHH birthday. As the linked article recounts, she began working as a child actress in the seventies, and then had a period of “paying her dues” once she transitioned to adult roles in the eighties. But it wasn’t until the early nineties that she began to be successful. She was cast as newlywed Jamie Stemple Buchman on NBC’s Mad About You; it ran for seven seasons, and Hunt was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress-Comedy each season, winning four straight times from 1996-99.
During Mad About You’s run Hunt landed some major film roles, first in Twister, and then, most significantly, opposite Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets in 1997, for which Hunt won the Oscar for Best Actress. Hunt then made several films at the beginning of the 2000s, but since then has worked intermittently. She received a second Oscar nomination, and a lengthy list of other honors , for the 2012 film The Sessions, and recently completed the first season of Fox’s Shots Fired.
The multi-talented Simon Callow is celebrating his 68th today. Callow has had a notable stage career; his acting roles have included playing Mozart in the original West End production of Amadeus (he played a supporting part in the feature film) and the title character in a revival of Goethe’s Faust. As a director he won an Olivier Award for a 1991 production of Carmen Jones. He has also directed a number of opera productions, including, fittingly, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. He is the author of several books related to theater and film, including a multi-volume biography of Orson Welles which is still in progress.
Callow’s appearance in the film of Amadeus was his big screen debut. He has been a BAFTA Award nominee for A Room with a View and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He starred in a live-action/animated 2001 version of A Christmas Carol, as Charles Dickens and the voice of Scrooge, and had supporting roles in films like Jefferson in Paris and Shakespeare in Love. And, fittingly again, he played the opera impresario M. Andre in Phantom of the Opera.
Courteney Cox, who is 53 today, had a high profile in the nineties as Monica Geller on Friends and Gale Weathers in the Scream films. She never became a major film star but did land another starring TV role as Jules Cobb on Cougar Town. Rapper and actor Ice Cube, who turns 48, was a member of the original lineup of N.W.A. and a successful solo artist in the nineties. His acting career began with a major role in Boyz n the Hood, and he has starred in the Barbershop films, the Ride Along action comedies, XXX: State of the Union, and more.
Leah Remini, known for starring on The King of Queens as Carrie Heffernan and for her memoir and documentary about her break with Scientology, is celebrating her 47th. Neil Patrick Harris, who is 44, was the title character of Doogie Howser, M.D., and a four-time Emmy nominee on How I Met Your Mother. He won a Tony for starring in the original Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and is a popular awards show host, including hosting the 87th Academy Awards. Jim Belushi, who turns 63, had a number of major film roles in the eighties and early nineties, in Thief, The Man With One Red Shoe, Red Heat, Curly Sue, and others. Julie Hagerty, who is 62, made her film debut as stewardess Elaine Dickinson in Airplane!, and that remains her signature role nearly 40 years later. Australian actress Poppy Montgomery, who celebrates her 45th, has spent much of the last 15 years in starring roles on the crime dramas Without a Trace and Unforgettable. Her compatriot Alice Englert, known for her starring roles in the films Ginger & Rosa and Beautiful Creatures, turns 23 today.
In sports, we have greats from baseball and soccer today. Billy Williams, who turns 79, was a six-time National League All-Star and part of a talented group of Chicago Cubs players, also including Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Ron Santo, who never quite made the postseason. Like Williams, Wade Boggs, who is turning 59, is a Hall of Famer, a star at third base for the Boston Red Sox for over a decade and a five-time American League batting champion. Oliver Kahn, who is 48 today, made World Cup history in 2002 when he became the only goalkeeper ever honored with the Golden Ball as the tournament’s outstanding player; he was also honored as German Footballer of the Year twice, one of only a handful of keepers to receive that accolade. Michael Laudrup, who celebrates his 53rd, was one of Denmark’s finest players ever, and a star for the Danish Dynamite at the 1986 and 1998 World Cups.
Our music birthday list is headed by Waylon Jennings (1937-2002). Along with Willie Nelson, Jennings was one of the two biggest names in “outlaw” country music in the seventies. He was known for songs like “Rainy Day Woman” and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.”
Johnny Hallyday, know as the “French Elvis,” is turning 74 today. Although little known in the US, or the English-speaking world in general, he is one of the biggest selling non-English language recording artists ever. Erroll Garner (1923-1977) was a self-taught musician who was one of the greatest jazz pianists of the 20th Century; his most famous composition is “Misty,” which was a hit for Johnny Mathis and Ray Stevens. Harry Nilsson, usually billed simply as Nilsson (1941-1994), was a popular singer songwriter of the late sixties and early seventies, known for hits like “Everybody’s Talkin'” and “Without You.” Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) is often considered Norway’s finest composer. He is famous for his Piano Concerto, his music for solo piano, and his incidental music for Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, including “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
Artist Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) is most famous for the decades worth of cover art he contributed to The New Yorker but also had a distinguished career as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, and more.
Alfred “Lash” Larue (1917-1996) was a B-western star of the forties and moved on to TV westerns in the fifties. His nickname came from the fact that his characters frequently used a bullwhip to deal with villains, a skill Larue later taught Harrison Ford in preparation for the Indiana Jones films. Jim Varney (1949-2000) was best known for his Ernest P. Worrell character, who he played in a number of film and television productions in the eighties and early nineties, winning a Daytime Emmy for the Saturday morning show Hey, Vern, it’s Ernest!
Yuri Andropov (1914-1984) was a significant figure in the last decades of the Soviet Union, serving as head of the KGB for about 15 years, and then as General Secretary for the last 15 months of his life.
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 15, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Courteney Cox, Edvard Grieg, helen hunt, Ice Cube, Johnny Hallyday, Leah Remini, Neil Patrick Harris, Simon Callow, Waylon Jennings. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.