June 23: Happy Birthday Frances McDormand and Joss Whedon
Oscar winner Frances McDormand celebrates her 60th birthday today. She earned an MFA from Yale’s School of Drama (making this three days in a row we have a Yale MFA in the headline). After graduation she moved to New York, rooming with Holly Hunter for a time. In 1984 two very important events in her life took place: she made her film debut in Blood Simple, and she married Joel Coen, the director of the film.
In 1984 McDormand also made her Broadway debut; four years later she was a Tony nominee as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. In the late eighties and early nineties, she appeared in the Coens’s Raising Arizona, Ken Loach’s Hidden Agenda, and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, and received her first Oscar nomination for Mississippi Burning. 1996 was another good year for her, as she won Best Actress for starring as Marge Gunderson in Fargo.
Also in 1996, McDormand had a memorable cameo in John Sayles’s Lone Star. She has received two more Oscar nominations, for Almost Famous and North Country, and critical praise forher performances in Wonder Boys, Laurel Canyon, Burn After Reading, and Moonrise Kingdom. She won a Tony for starring in the original production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People in 2011, and completed a Triple Crown of Acting by winning a Primetime Emmy as the title character of HBO’s miniseries Olive Kitteridge.
Joss Whedon is turning 53 today. He began working in film and television as a writer. He did the screenplays for Alien: Resurrection and a certain 1992 vampire film, was a script doctor for movies like Speed and Twister, and worked on series like Roseanne and Parenthood. In 1997, The WB Network began airing a series he created, which bore the same title as the 1992 vampire film he had scripted.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer put Whedon on the industry map. In the next decade he created several TV series. Angel, a spinoff from Buffy, was fairly successful, but Firefly and Dollhouse were short-lived. Serenity, the feature film follow-up to Firefly, was a terrific action film that no one watched, while the internet series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog found a supportive audience.
In recent years, Whedon has put in a lot of time on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the director and writer for the Avengers films and the co-creator of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He also did a personal project, a film of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He is now working on projects for the DC Extended Universe—he is supervising post-production for the upcoming Justice League, and there are reports of a Batgirl movie.
Selma Blair is 45 today. She played Liz Sherman in the Hellboy films, has done a variety of indie films like Kill Me Later, The Poker House, and Dark Horse, and played Kris Wales on Anger Management. Joel Edgerton, who starred in last year’s critical success Loving as Richard Loving, is 43. He played Owen Lars in the Star Wars prequels and has had a number of prominent film and television roles in his native Australia. Swedish actor Matias Varela, who is 37, has starred in the Easy Money series of crime thrillers in his home country and appeared in the 2015 remake of Point Break. Also turning 37 today is Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory. Connor Jessup, who is 23, played Ben Mason on Falling Skies and has been a regular on the second and third seasons of American Crime.
Australian actor Bryan Brown turns 70. He is known in the US for starring as Rollie Tyler in the F/X films, and was also an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for the miniseries The Thorn Birds. Like Joel Edgerton, he has also had a successful career in Australian film as well. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner is 68 today. She has produced a wide variety of films over the years; most notably she has been a producer on every X-Men film since the original in 2000, including the Wolverine films and Deadpool. Ted Shackelford, who is 71, is best known for playing Gary Ewing on Knots Landing, where he was one of two cast members to be a regular for all 14 seasons of the show’s run (he also made a few crossover appearances on Dallas).
Richard Bach, who is 81, was the author of the best selling 1970s inspirational novels Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
Our sports birthdays today start with the “Tennessee Tornado,” Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994). Forced to wear a leg brace due to a childhood case of polio, Rudolph developed into a track superstar. At the 1960 Olympics, she became the first American female athlete to win three gold medals at one Games, winning the 100 and 200 meter dashes and anchoring the 4×100 meter relay team. LaDainian Tomlinson, who is 38 today, rushed for over 13,000 yards in his NFL career. He made five Pro Bowls, was the NFL MVP in 2006, and will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. Retired French footballer Zinedine Zidane is turning 45. Zizou led the French side to victory in the 1998 World Cup and added a victory in the Euros in 2000. He was awarded the Golden Ball as the outstanding player of the 2006 World Cup, leading France to the finals; unfortunately, the final image people have of his career is his being red-carded for head-butting an Italian player in the final match.
June Carter (1929-2003; known as June Carter Cash after her marriage to Johnny Cash) was the daughter of Maybelle Carter of Carter Family Fame; she, her mother, and her sisters performed for many years as Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. She co-wrote the song “Ring of Fire,” had big country hits with Johnny Cash, including “Jackson” and “If I Were a Carpenter,” and won multiple Grammys, including two for Best Traditional Folk Album late in her life. Reese Witherspoon played June in Walk the Line.
Scottish folk-rocker KT Tunstall is celebrating her 42nd today. Her singles “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See” both reached the Top 25 in the US, and the latter has been frequently used in the soundtracks of films and TV shows. Jason Mraz, who is 40, has won two Grammys for his pop hits “Make It Mine” and “Lucky,” while his “I’m Yours” was a Top 10 hit and received a pair of Grammy nominations. Randy Jackson, who turns 61, has played bass as a session musician with a very long list of artists, and was a judge for the first twelve seasons of American Idol. Conductor James Levine, who is turning 74, is known for his 40-year tenure as the music director of the Metropolitan Opera. He has won over a dozen Grammys in various classical categories.
Bob Fosse (1927-1987) was best known as a musical theater choreographer and a stage and film director. He won the Tony for Best Choreography eight times, and also won Best Direction of a Musical for Pippin. He was an Oscar nominee for Best Director three times, wining for Cabaret, and won several Emmys in connection with Liza Minnelli’s TV concert film Liza with a Z.
Irene Worth (1916-2002) was a distinguished stage actress who won three Tony Awards, and also spent several years in England with the Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare. On film she won a BAFTA Award for the 1958 film Orders to Kill and played Sigourney Weaver’s mother in Eyewitness. Dennis Price (1915-1973) was known for starring in the dark comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets and for playing P. G. Wodehouse’s omni-competent butler, Jeeves, in several 1960s TV adaptations.
Historical birthdays today include Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956) was an American biologist known for his controversial research on human sexuality, published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, a pair of unlikely bestsellers collectively know as the “Kinsey Reports.” Controversy also is attached to the name of Alan Turing (1912-1954), although it had more to do with how others treated him than anything he did. Turing was a pioneer of computer science who worked on the World War II Enigma project; he also developed some of the earliest designs for working computers, as well as doing pioneering work in the area of artificial intelligence. He was prosecuted in 1952 for engaging in a homosexual relationship and forced to submit to chemical castration. Many decades later, the British government admitted their wrongdoing; Queen Elizabeth II issued a posthumous pardon in 2013. Benedict Cumberbatch played Turing in the film The Imitation Game.
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 23, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Bob Fosse, Bryan Brown, Frances McDormand, Irene Worth, Joel Edgerton, Joss Whedon, June Carter, KT Tunstall, Selma Blair. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.