June 22: Happy Birthday Meryl Streep and Kris Kristofferson
It is Meryl Streep’s 68th birthday today. It has become almost a cliche to describe her as “the best actress of her generation,” but it is also very hard to dispute such a characterization when it is applied to someone with twenty (!) Oscar nominations in acting categories (no one else has ever had more than twelve). A graduate of Vassar and Yale, Streep made her acting debut in a production of Trelawny of the “Wells,” produced by Joseph Papp (see below) for The Public Theater.
Streep received her first Oscar nomination for only her second feature film, The Deer Hunter, and that same year (1978) gave an Emmy-winning performance in the miniseries Holocaust. A year later came her first Oscar win, for Best Supporting Actress in Kramer vs. Kramer. Her first nomination for Best Actress was for The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981, and was followed by her first win in that category, a year later, in Sophie’s Choice.
Streep added a third Oscar win, playing none other than British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in 2011’s The Iron Lady. She has never gone more than five years without being nominated for an Oscar in her entire career. She has also received thirty Golden Globe nominations, with eight wins (both also records). She will star as Katherine Graham (see last Friday’s article) in the upcoming film The Papers, directed by Stephen Frears (see Tuesday’s article).
Singer and actor Kris Kristofferson is turning 81 today. He made his film debut in 1971 and a year later had his first starring role, in Cisco Pike. He then worked with Sam Peckinpah, playing Billy the Kid in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He starred in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and the 1976 remake of A Star is Born, winning a Golden Globe for the latter. However, as the seventies ended, the failures of Peckinpah’s Convoy and Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate appeared to sink his chances of stardom. In more recent years he has worked several times with John Sayles, and played Abraham Whistler in the Blade trilogy.
As a singer, Kristofferson had a number of successful albums in the seventies, along with a #1 Country hit. Along with his solo albums he made several in collaboration with Rita Coolidge (the two were married from 1973-1980). His greatest success in music, though, has come as a songwriter. While the stories of his landing a helicopter on Johnny Cash’s lawn to get Cash to listen to his songs are likely urban legends, Cash did have a #1 Country hit with Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.” He also has written “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” a Top Ten hit for Sammi Smith, “For the Good Times,” a #1 Country hit for Ray Price, and a song that became Janis Joplin’s only #1 hit.
Lindsay Wagner, who shares a birthday with Meryl Streep, is remembered for starring on The Bionic Woman as Jaime Sommers (and winning an Emmy); she also starred in the film The Paper Chase. First Nations actor Graham Greene is turning 65. He was an Oscar nominee for Dances with Wolves and has been in films such as Maverick, The Green Mile, and Winter’s Tale. Klaus Maria Brandauer, who is 74, co-starred with Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, winning a Golden Globe and receiving an Oscar nomination. He also played a (non-canonical) Bond villain in Never Say Never Again.
Amy Brenneman, who is 53 today, has received five Emmy nominations for her performances on NYPD Blue and Judging Amy and is known for work in films like Heat, Daylight, and 88 Minutes. Bruce Campbell, known for his film character of Ash Williams in the Evil Dead series, and as Autolycus (the King of Thieves) on Hercules and Xena, turns 59 today. Tracy Pollan, who celebrates her 57th, is best known for playing Alex Keaton’s girlfriend Ellen Reed on Family Ties; she also co-starred with Michael J. Fox in Bright Lights, Big City, and the two have been married for nearly 30 years.
German-born director Uwe Boll, who is 52, is known for his adaptations of video games, like the Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne series, and for the better-received Rampage series. French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who celebrates her 51st, became known to US audiences for starring in the thriller Frantic with Harrison Ford, and is a three-time Cesar nominee who often works in films directed by her husband, Roman Polanski.
Donald Faison, who is 43 today, has done several features but is best known for his starring TV roles on Scrubs and The Exes. Portia Doubleday, who currently stars on Mr. Robot, turns 29. She is also known for Youth in Revolt and for playing Chris Hargensen in the remake of Carrie. Joe Dempsie, who turns 30, plays Gendry on Game of Thrones and has been a regular on British TV on Skins, Southcliffe, and One of Us.
Cyndi Lauper is 64 today. A big pop star of the eighties, she had a big success with her first album, She’s So Unusual, which included four Top Five singles. More recently, she won a Tony for Best Original Score for the musical Kinky Boots. Multi-talented musician Todd Rundgren, who is 69, has produced albums for the likes of The Band and Hall & Oates, and has made a lengthy list of recordings both as a solo artist and a member of Utopia.
Erin Brockovich, the environmental activist who work on a case against Pacific Gas & Electric became the subject of a 2000 film starring Julia Roberts, is 57 today.
Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell (1903-1988) was one of the game’s most dominant pitchers in the 1930s, making nine All-Star games and winning two National League MVP awards. Champ Bailey, who is 39, is a recently retired NFL star who made 12 Pro Bowls, a record for a cornerback. Pete Maravich (1947-1988), known as Pistol Pete, was one of the NBA’s best shooting guards of the 1970s before injuries brought his career to an end. Basketball Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, who is turning 55, was a ten-time All-Star in his career with Portland and Houston, and an NBA champion with the Rockets in 1995.
Sir H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was an English writer of popular adventure novels, particularly in the “Lost World” subgenre. He is mostly remembered for the Allan Quatermain novels (beginning with King Solomon’s Mines) and the Ayesha series (which began with She: A History of Adventure). Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) was a German novelist who was most famous for his anti-war war novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) was first famous for marrying Charles A. Lindbergh, but went on to become a popular writer, best known for her inspirational essay collection Gift from the Sea. Dan Brown, who is 53 today, has sold some 200 million books worldwide, thrillers like Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code centered on intricate conspiracy theories that frequently involve secret Christian societies of some sort.
Joseph Papp (1921-1991) was a theatrical producer who is known for establishing New York’s The Public Theater and the affiliated Shakespeare in the Park festival, for his productions of musicals like Hair, A Chorus Line, and The Pirates of Penzance, and for his efforts to preserve the historic Broadway/Times Square Theater District.
Ralph Waite (1928-2014) was best known for playing a pair of television fathers, John Walton, Sr., on The Waltons, and Jackson Gibbs on NCIS. Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (1940-2016) was very possibly his country’s most-respected filmmaker. His films won a wide variety of film festival and film critics’ honors, including a Palme d’Or at Cannes for Taste of Cherry. Freddie Prinze (1954-1977) is remembered as a star of the seventies sitcom Chico and the Man, and for the shock of his death at 22 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Billy Wilder (1906-2002) was one of the most prominent writer-directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. One of many Jewish refugees from Nazism in Hollywood, he made a name for himself as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for films like Ninotchka and Ball of Fire. He then was given a chance to direct, and over the next two decades won Oscars for directing, for The Lost Weekend and The Apartment, and writing, for both those films and Sunset Boulevard. His film output also includes Double Indemnity, Stalag 17, and Some Like it Hot.
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 22, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Abbas Kiarostami, Amy Brenneman, Billy Wilder, Bruce Campbell, Cyndi Lauper, H Rider Haggard, Joe Papp, Kris Kristofferson, Meryl Streep. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.