June 24: Happy Birthday Jeff Beck and Mindy Kaling
Eight-time Grammy winner Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock, is turning 73 today. He played with a variety of groups around London in the early sixties; his first big break came when a band called the Yardbirds had a sudden need for a guitarist, as their current one, someone named Eric Clapton, had just quit.
Beck was with the Yardbirds for only about a year and a half, following which he pursued a variety of solo projects or groups built around him. The Jeff Beck Group was together from about 1967-72, and for a time included Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. He has never had a particularly commercial orientation; his most successful album in the US was the mid-seventies, all-instrumental Blow by Blow.
Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of the Yardbirds and as a solo artist. He is still actively touring and released his first studio album in six years, Loud Hailer, last summer.
Vera Mindy Chokalingam, known almost universally as Mindy Kaling, is celebrating her 38th today. Kaling began to display her multiple talents while at Dartmouth, where she sang in an a cappella group, was part of a comedy troupe, wrote for the college’s humor magazine, and created a comic strip. A couple of years after she graduated she was hired to work on the US adaptation of The Office. Initially she was a writer and a recurring member of the cast as Kelly Kapoor; over the series’ run she progressed to directing and producing roles and became a regular.
Kaling received several Emmy nominations in her producer’s role on The Office, as well as one for writing. She has gone on to create, write for, and star in The Mindy Project, which will return for its sixth season on Fox this fall. She has had several supporting roles in film and has two major roles coming up in the future, as Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time and as one of Ocean’s Eight.
Today is a big one for Robocop fans. Peter Weller, who played Robocop in the first two feature films, is 70 today. Weller does a lot of TV directing these days, played Admiral Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and has also found time to earn a Ph.D. in art history. Nancy Allen, who turns 67, played Robo’s partner Anne Lewis in three films. She’s also known for several films she did with Brian DePalma (the two were married for a time)—Carrie, Dressed to Kill, and Blow Out.
Michele Lee, who is 75, is one of only two of the stars of Knots Landing to have been a regular for all 14 seasons of the show’s run (along with Ted Shackelford from yesterday’s article). She has also worked periodically on Broadway since her late teens and is a two-time Tony nominee. Tom “Tiny” Lister, who is 59 today, is known for films like Jackie Brown and The Fifth Element; this post covers an interesting episode in his career. Iain Glen is celebrating his 56th. He has appeared in several Resident Evil films, plays Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones, and played explorer John Hanning Speke in Mountains of the Moon.
Twin brothers Dan and John Gilroy are 58 today. Dan is a screenwriter, who has written or co-written films like Two for the Money and Kong: Skull Island. He is best known as an Oscar nominee for his script for 2014’s Nightcrawler, which was also his directing debut. He has been married to Rene Russo for 25 years. John is an editor who has worked on films like Billy Madison, Michael Clayton, Suicide Squad and Rogue One, along with Nightcrawler. Both Dan and John worked with their older brother, director/writer Tony, on The Bourne Legacy.
Like Mindy Kaling, Sheetal Sheth, who is 41, is one of a small number of Hollywood performers of South Asian ancestry. She has done a lot of indie film work, and is particularly known for a pair of lesbian romances in which she costarred with Lisa Ray, I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen. Sherry Stringfield, who is 50 today, was part of the original cast of ER, and an Emmy nominee as Susan Lewis in each of the first three seasons. She left the series after three seasons, then returned for another four beginning in 2001.
Minka Kelly, known for her regular roles on Friday Night Lights and the short-lived Almost Human, celebrates her 37th today. Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek, who is 35, currently is a regular on Outlander and previously played Giulia Farnese on The Borgias. Vanessa Ray, who turns 36, is a regular on Blue Bloods, and is also known to fans of Pretty Little Liars as CeCe Drake/Charlotte DiLaurentis. Erin Moriarty, who is turning 23, was a regular on the short-lived Red Widow and on season 1 of Jessica Jones.
Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who is turning 77, made the ICG’s list of the ten most influential cinematographers. He has done a lot of films with Bernardo Bertolucci and Carlos Saura, and has won Oscars for Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor. Robert Downey, Sr., who is 81, is most likely to be know because he has a famous son; he is an underground filmmaker with at least one film, Putney Swope, that has cult classic status.
Other music birthdays today include Mick Fleetwood, who is 70. The man who put the “Fleetwood” into Fleetwood Mac, he is the group’s drummer, and apparently a key player in keeping the group together through the years. Curt Smith, who is 56 today, is best known as a co-founder of the eighties new wave band Tears for Fears. They were known for their #1 hits “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Solange Knowles is celebrating her 31st. Initially known as the younger sister of Beyoncé, she has emerged as a prominent R&B artist in her own right, winning her first Grammy earlier this year for her single “Cranes in the Sky.”
Our sports birthdays are headed by Jack Dempsey (1895-1983). The “Manassa Mauler” was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1919-1926, until he lost it to Gene Tunney; he retired a year later after losing his rematch with Tunney, the famous “long count” fight. Dempsey was one of the first big celebrities of the sports world, along with other 1920 superstars like Babe Ruth and Bobby Jones. Golfer Juli Inkster, who is 57, has been active on the LPGA tour for nearly 30 years; her 31 tour wins rank second among active players. Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, who turns 30, is the only five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or as the world’s most outstanding player. He has starred for his national side and for Barcelona, the only club team he has ever played for, for over a decade.
Journalist and writer Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) is best remembered for his satirical work The Devil’s Dictionary, and for his oft-anthologized short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Lawrence Block, who is 79 today, has been writing crime fiction since the late fifties. He is best know for his novels and stories about alcoholic PI Matthew Scudder, and about gentleman thief Bernie Rhodenbarr.
Claude Chabrol (1930-2010) was one of the most important directors of the French New Wave. He is best known for his psychological thrillers, subtle and character-driven, that followed in the footsteps of Hitchcock but were not mere imitations. A few of his best include Le Boucher, The Unfaithful Wife, Violette Nazaire, and La Ceremonie. Phil Harris (1904-1995) was a comedian and singer, but was best known for the radio series he did with his wife, Alice Faye, and for his voice acting work with Disney, where he voiced characters like Baloo in The Jungle Book and Little John in Robin Hood. Adrienne Shelly (1966-2006) got her start in film starring in two films from independent director Hal Hartley, The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. She later moved into writing and directing. Her final film, the well-received Waitress, was, sadly, a posthumous release, as she was murdered in her Manhattan apartment in November 2006.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was one of thirteen children of American minister Lyman Beecher, many of whom left their mark on 19th century US history. Henry’s sister Harriet Beecher Stowe is probably the best known today, but in his time Henry was a very prominent abolitionist and supporter of women’s suffrage. Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl Kitchener (1850-1916) was a leading British soldier of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He led British forces in the Sudan campaign of 1896-99, which led to his title of Kitchener of Khartoum, or “K of K,” and then in the 2nd Boer War. When the First World War broke out, Kitchener, as Secretary of State for War, was one of the few men in Europe with the foresight to see that the war would be long and bloody. Roy O. Disney (1893-1971) did not have the creative genius of his younger brother Walt, but he managed the business side of the Disney company, laying the groundwork for it to become the media giant of today.
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 24, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Adrienne Shelly, Ambrose Bierce, Claude Chabrol, Jack Dempsey, Jeff Beck, Mick Fleetwood, Mindy Kaling, Phil Harris, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.