June 21: Happy Birthday Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross
While there are some bigger names with birthdays today, the fact that our two headliners were born on the same date and once starred—as a married couple—on a hit sitcom, makes them a natural choice.
Meredith Baxter is turning 70 today. She began working in film and television in the early seventies. She has had a few good film roles, such as a supporting role in All the President’s Men. However, she has primarily been a television actress. During the seventies and early eighties she had guest roles on series such as The Partridge Family, Medical Center, and The Love Boat. She has had three starring roles on the small screen. Her first was on the early seventies series Bridget Loves Bernie, which I believe has the distinction of being the highest-rated show ever canceled by only one season. In the late seventies, she had a lead role as Nancy Lawrence Maitland on Family. And in 1982, she began a 7-season starring run as Elyse Keaton on Family Ties.
In the post-Family Ties years, Baxter has continued to do a lot of television work. She reunited with Michael J. Fox in a guest role on Spin City, playing the mother of Fox’s character, and later with Michael Gross for the TV movie Naughty or Nice. She has done an enormous variety of TV movies, and has had guest star slots on series such as 7th Heaven, Cold Case, Glee, and Switched at Birth, as well as a recurring role on Finding Carter.
Michael Gross is also celebrating his 70th. He earned a Master’s at Yale and began working as an actor in the mid-seventies. He did some TV movies and some stage work, making his Broadway debut in 1979, but the role of Steven Keaton on Family Ties was his first major one. Since then he has done a long list of TV movies, and also has a lengthy resume of guest roles—he has been on ER, two series in the Law & Order franchise, How I Met Your Mother, and Anger Management, to name a few.
And then there’s his other famous role—a man as far away from Steven Keaton in temperament and outlook on life as it’s possible to be. No matter how big, how scary, or how dangerous you may be, you do not want to break into Burt Gummer’s rec room.
Chris Pratt is turning 38. After a number of years in supporting roles, he has emerged as a major star in the past few years, playing Peter Quill/Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Owen Grady in Jurassic World and its upcoming sequel, and also starring in Passengers and the remake of The Magnificent Seven.
Juliette Lewis seemed to be on the brink of stardom in the nineties, having starred in films like Cape Fear, Natural Born Killers, and From Dusk till Dawn. The spotlight is no longer on her, but she continues to work regularly and to pursue a career in music as well. She is 44 today.
Lana Wachowski (formerly Larry) turns 52. She is half of The Wachowskis, who are best known for giving us the Matrix trilogy. Carrie Preston, a regular on True Blood and an Emmy winner for Outstanding Guest Actress as Elsbeth Talscioni on The Good Wife, is celebrating her 50th. Erica Durance, who turns 39, played Lois Lane on Smallville, and more recently starred on the Canadian series Saving Hope. Maggie Siff, who celebrates her 42nd, stars on Showtime’s Billions, and before that was a regular on Sons of Anarchy. Benjamin Walker, who is 35, has a resume that includes playing two US Presidents in very unusual settings, the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the stage musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Also 35 is Jussie Smollett, who stars on Empire as Jamal Lyon and appears in Alien: Covenant.
Bernie Kopell, who is known for playing Siegfried on Get Smart and Dr. Adam Bricker on The Love Boat, is turning 84 today. Mariette Hartley, who is celebrating her 77th, made an auspicious debut in Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country, and has a long list of TV guest appearances, including an Emmy-winning one on The Incredible Hulk. Ron Ely, who is 79 today, is best known as the star of NBC’s Tarzan in the late 1960s.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is second in line for the throne of England, is 35 today.
Michel Platini, one of the greatest footballers of all time, turns 62. He won the Ballon d’Or, honoring the best football player in the world, three times, and starred for France in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, and for their European Cup champions in 1984.
Country/bluegrass singer Kathy Mattea turns 58 today. A two-time Grammy winner, she has been recording and performing for about 35 years, and had a long string of Top 10 country hits beginning in 1986 with a cover of a Nanci Griffith song.
Sir Ray Davies, who is 73, was the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Kinks for over 30 years, and also the group’s main songwriter, responsible for hits like “You Really Got Me” and “Tired of Waiting for You.” Davies has also done the music and lyrics for a few musicals, winning an Olivier Award for Sunny Afternoon. Lana Del Rey, who is 32, became well known in 2011 when the video for her single “Video Games” went viral; she received her first two Grammy nominations in 2014. Lalo Schifrin turns 85. A jazz pianist and ensemble leader, he is also known for his film and television scoring work; he is a six-time Oscar nominee and won a pair of Grammys for his work for Mission: Impossible.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was an enormously important figure in modern philosophy, as one of the leading existentialist thinkers, and in literature, where he is famous for turning down the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literatre. Mary McCarthy (1912-1989) was one of the leading literary critics of the 20th century, and also a novelist known for works such as The Company She Keeps and The Group. Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) wrote her debut novel, Bonjour Tristesse, at the age of 19; it along with several of her other novels, such as Aimez-Vous Brahms?, have been adapted into films. Ian McEwan, who turns 69, is also the author of a number of novels which have been adapted into films, including Enduring Love and Atonement.
Maureen Stapleton (1925-2006) was a Triple Crown of Acting winner, having won an Oscar for playing Emma Goldman in Reds (she was nominated three additional times), an Emmy for the TV movie Among the Paths to Eden, and a pair of Tonys, for The Rose Tattoo and The Gingerbread Lady. Some readers will probably remember her from the Cocoon films. She was a distant cousin of Jean Stapleton of All in the Family fame.
Stage and screen star Judy Holliday (1921-1965) had two big roles in her career, which she played both on Broadway and in film. She starred as Billie Dawn in Garson Kanin’s play Born Yesterday, and won an Oscar when she returned to the role in the 1950 film. She then played Ella Peterson in the musical Bells Are Ringing, winning a Tony, and was nominated for a Golden Globe in the film adaptation. Born the same day as Holliday, Jane Russell (1921-2011) became an overnight sensation—as a sex symbol—when she starred in Howard Hughes’s controversial The Outlaw. She later was featured in a variety of films: The Paleface, with Bob Hope, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opposite Marilyn Monroe, and with lifelong friend Robert Mitchum in His Kind of Woman and Macao.
While Tony Scott (1944-2012) never achieved the same prestige as a director as his older brother, Sir Ridley Scott, he left behind filmography that, at least, could be described as full of action and excitement, highlighted by films like Top Gun, True Romance, and Enemy of the State. The International Cinematographer’s Guild ranked Conrad Hall (1926-2003) among the ten most influential practitioners of their craft; Hall was a three-time Oscar winner, for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, and Road to Perdition.
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 21, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Chris Pratt, Jane Russell, Judy Holliday, Juliette Lewis, Kathy Mattea, Maureen Stapleton, Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Ray Davies, Tony Scott. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.