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June 25: Happy Birthday Ricky Gervais and George Michael

0625MichaelGervais

Our two headliners today were captured on film together when George Michael made a guest appearance on the “Christmas special” episode of Extras (which was co-created by and starred Ricky Gervais).  If you don’t know them by sight, it’s Michael on the left and Gervais on the right in the photo.

Ricky Gervais is celebrating his 56th today.  His entertainment career began in the music industry, as part of a new wave duo called Seona Dancing.  He also worked in radio management, where he first made the acquaintance of Stephen Merchant.  He began working in British television in the late nineties, as both a writer and performer for programs such as The Jim Tavaré Show and The 11 O’Clock Show.

Meanwhile Stephen Merchant was taking a production course with the BBC, for which he had to create a short film.  He recruited Gervais to work with him and play a central role in the short, which eventually led to the two being commissioned to write a pilot script for a series about the day-to-day experiences of office employees.  Gervais and Merchant created The Office and wrote all the episodes, while Gervais starred as David Brent.

Gervais won six BAFTA Television Awards and a pair of Golden Globes for The Office, plus an Emmy for the US adaptation, of which he and Merchant are executive producers.  Extras, about the lives of, as the title indicates, extras in film, theater and television, has won additional acclaim and brought him a third Golden Globe and a second Emmy.  He has created several additional television series, such as An Idiot Abroad and Derek, and written, directed, and starred in movies such as The Invention of Lying and Special Correspondents.  He has also made acting appearances in films like Stardust and Muppets Most Wanted.

The late George Michael (1963-2016) formed the duo Wham! with his schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley when they were in their late teens.  Michael was the primary songwriter, producer and lead singer.  Wham! was very successful in the first half of the eighties, with their singles “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Everything She Wants” reaching #1 in the US.  By the mid-eighties, Michael wanted to move beyond the group’s largely teenage audience, so the duo split and Michael embarked on a solo career.

Michael’s initial solo album, Faith, sold an estimated 20 million copies and received the Grammy for Album of the Year.  Michael shared a second Grammy with Aretha Franklin for their duet single “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).”  He had six singles as a solo artist that reached #1 in the US between 1984 and 1990.

Both Gervais and Michael have been known for their very vocal advocacy of the rights of the LGBT community.

Linda Cardellini celebrates her 42nd.  She starred on Freaks and Geeks, which ranked #1 on TV Guide’s ranking of shows that were “Cancelled too soon.”  She played Velma in the Scooby-Doo films and Laura Barton in Age of Ultron, and has been an Emmy nominee for a guest role on Mad Men.

The Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov, who is 56, made a reputation with the Russian supernatural thrillers Night Watch and Day Watch, and has since directed Hollywood productions such as Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the remake of Ben-Hur.

Busy Philipps, who turns 38, co-starred with Linda Carderllini on Freaks and Geeks, was a regular on Cougar Town, and now has a regular spot on HBO’s Vice PrincipalsAngela Kinsey, who is 46 today, was a regular on the US version of The Office, and now stars on Netflix’s Haters Back OffKarisma Kapoor, a star of Bollywood who has won four Filmfare Awards for Best Actress, is turning 43 today.

Sheridan Smith, who celebrates her 36th, is a star of the English stage who has won two Olivier Awards, one as Elle Woods in the musical Legally Blonde; she is also a BAFTA Television Award winner for Mrs. BiggsChrista Théret, who is 26 today, is a rising star of French cinema who has received two Cesar Award nominations and is known for films like LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and RenoirRain is the stage name of a South Korean singer and actor who is best known in the US for films like Speed Racer and The Prince; he turns 35 today.

June Lockhart, who is turning 92, played some well-known TV mom characters, as Ruth Martin on Lassie, Dr. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space, and the surrogate mom character of Janet Craig on the final seasons of Petticoat Junction.  She also won a Tony for the play For Love or Money.  Also 92 today is Bill Hayes, who is known for two things.  He had a #1 hit in 1955 with “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” and he has played the role of Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives since 1970.  Jimmie Walker, who played J. J. Evans on CBS’s Good Times in the seventies, turns 70 today; I’m sure there are readers who remember his catchphrase.  Dawson’s Creek fans will remember Mary Beth Peil, who is 77, as Evelyn “Grams” Ryan.  She is also a musical theater veteran who received two Tony nominations during her career.

Basketball Hall of Famer Willis Reed turns 75 today.  He spent his entire playing career, which was shortened by knee problems, with the New York Knicks, and led them to NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.  The most famous moment of his career was in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals against the LA Lakers.  Reed had been injured in the fifth game of the series, missed the sixth, and was expected to miss the seventh, but when the game opened, Reed limped onto the court to start the game, giving the Knicks a huge lift and helping them win the title.  Dikembe Mutombo, who is 51, is also a Basketball Hall of Famer, due to his prowess at the defensive end of the court.  He was selected Defensive Player of the Year for the NBA four times in his career, one of only two four-time winners, and ranks second in NBA history in career blocked shots.

Carly Simon, who turns 72, was a leading pop star of the seventies who had hits like “You’re So Vain,” which reached #1, and “Anticipation.”  She had another big hit with “Nobody Does It Better,” a James Bond theme song that reached #2 in the US.  Simon was the first artist to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy for the same song, for “Let the River Run” from the soundtrack of Working Girl.

George Orwell (1903-1950, given name Eric Blair) is most likely to be recognized these days for his novels Animal Farm and 1984.  He was also a journalist and essayist, known in his time for non-fiction works like The Road to Wigan Pier and Homage to Catalonia, and his influence continues to be felt in his many contributions to our political language, such as “Big Brother,” “thought police,” and the very word “Orwellian.”  Larry Kramer, who turns 82, has been an Oscar nominated screenwriter for Women in Love.  He is also known for his plays The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, and, like our headliners, for his advocacy for LGBT rights.  Dorothy Gilman (1923-2012) was known for her series of espionage novels featuring her heroine Mrs. Pollifax, a widow in her sixties who becomes the most unexpected intelligence operative in the history of spy fiction.

British actor Roger Livesey (1906-1976) is particularly known for starring in three films from the Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)—he played Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Torquil MacNeil in I Know Where I’m Going, and Dr. Reeves in A Matter of Life and Death.

Anne Revere (1903-1990) was a prominent character actress of the thirties, nominated three times for Best Supporting Actress and winning for National Velvet.  She also won a Tony for Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the AtticReed Hadley (1911-1974) did a variety of film and television work, from the serial Zorro’s Fighting Legion to the early fifties series Racket Squad, but is likely best know for narrating a variety of semi-documentary feature films from the forties like Guadalcanal Diary and The House on 92nd Street.  Our string of Family Ties-related birthdays in June continues with Gary David Goldberg (1944-2013), who was the show’s creator.  Goldberg was also a writer for shows like Lou Grant and the creator of Brooklyn Bridge and Spin City.

Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) began his film directing career in 1957 with 12 Angry Men, receiving a Best Director nomination, and made his last film 50 years later, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.  He received additional Best Director nominations for Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict.  Other notable films he directed include Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, The Wiz, and Running on Empty.

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.

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Posted on June 25, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Ricky Gervais, I’ve known of him for quite some time, but the only extending thing I’ve ever seen him in is his comedy show at the Split Ends” nightclub in “Grand theft Auto IV”; I really enjoy that one.
    George Michael, I had some issues at the end of December, so I wasn’t aware right away his passing, which still caught me by surprise. His songs “Father Figure” and “One More Try” have meant a lot to me, and I like some of his Wham! stuff.
    Linda Cardellini, I thought “Freaks and Geeks” was a great show, and I liked the first Scooby Doo Film. I think she made the film “Grandma’s Boy” more interesting, and the 2011 film “Return”, in which she plays a returning Army soldier, got to me in spots. I feel she’s been quietly good for a long time.
    Busy Philipps, more of that Freaks and Geeks action, although otherwise I see that she’s been quite…Busy.
    Jimmie Walker, I’ve seen a few episodes of “Good Times”, and although I like the “Dy-no-mite!” catchphrase, I thought the show was better when it was more ensemble instead of deferring to the J.J. character, because then I feel it became too one-dimensional.
    Willis reed, I know about his famous entrance in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals (World championship, as it was called then). I understand that was a real tight New york Knicks team for years, and Reed was the glue to that.
    Dikembe Mutombo, the joke about him was that he was probably 10 years older than what his age was known as publicly, but he was one heck of a defensive center, who could score a little too.
    Carly Simon, I like quite a bit of her songs: “Coming Around Again” (my favorite), “Nobody Does It Better”, “The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of”, “Legend in Your Own Time” and “You’re So Vain”.
    George Orvell, I’m all about “1984”, although I haven’t seen the film version of the book in some time, because I keep putting it off.
    Sidney Lumet, I have to go with “Serpico” as my favorite film of his, but “Network” and “Dog Day Afternoon” are just barely behind that one (here comes the 1970’s again). I think “The Verdict” is outstanding, while I like films such as “Garbo Talks”, “Power” and “The Morning After” more than the critics did in that day.

    Like

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