June 26: Happy Birthday Ariana Grande and Paul Thomas Anderson


Pop star and actress Ariana Grande turns 24 today.  She made her professional performing debut as part of the original Broadway cast of the musical 13.  She then did some television work; she was cast in the supporting role of Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, and when that series ended its run at shortly after iCarly did, Nickelodeon decided to pair supporting characters from the two series in a new hybrid spinoff titled Sam & Cat.  For a variety of reasons this one ended after one season; one reason was Grande’s desire to focus more on her singing career.

Grande began her music career by contributing to the soundtrack albums for Victorious.  Her first album, Yours Truly, came out at about the time Sam & Cat started airing.  She has followed up with two further studio albums, each of which has reached at least #2 on the Billboard 200.  In a singing career of only about five years so far, she has already had eight Top Ten singles, and received four Grammy nominations, one of them for this:

Six-time Oscar nominee Paul Thomas Anderson is 47 today.  He made his first film as a senior in high school, a mockumentary titled The Dirk Diggler Story.  A few years later, he dropped out of NYU, preferring to learn filmmaking through hands-on experience.  He made a second short film titled Cigarettes & Coffee, and then built on that script to develop his first feature, a contemporary noir titled Hard Eight.  It was very well-received, but the film that really began to build his reputation was his second feature, a drama based on that high school mockumentary, still featuring the character Dirk Diggler, but now with a new title familiar to anyone who remembers our Movies of 1997 Bracket Game from earlier this year.

Anderson received his first Oscar nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, for Boogie Nights, while Julianne Moore and Burt Reynolds both received acting Oscar nominations.  His most successful film so far has likely been There Will Be Blood, adapted from Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!  Daniel Day-Lewis swept the major Best Actor awards as the lead, while Anderson shared in the film’s Best Picture nomination and was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.  Anderson’s 2014 film Inherent Vice, adapted from a Thomas Pynchon novel, was also well-regarded, and he is currently working on a new feature titled Phantom Thread.

Four actors of at least some prominence are turning 47 today along with Paul Thomas Anderson.  Chris O’Donnell—the subject of this article—emerged in the early nineties, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Scent of a Woman, but then was a Razzie nominee for The Three Musketeers and Batman & Robin (as Robin).  He currently stars as the mysterious G. Callen on NCIS: Los AngelesNick Offerman was a regular on Parks and Recreation as Ron Swanson and played Karl Weathers on season 2 of Fargo.  He is married to Megan Mullally, who was one of the stars of Will & Grace, along with Sean Hayes.  Hayes was an Emmy winner, and received multiple Golden Globe nominations as Jack McFarland; Hayes won a second Emmy for hosting the 64th Tony Awards and starred as the title character of Sean Saves the World.  Finally, Matt Letscher has had prominent roles in films like The Mask of Zorro and 13 Hours, and on television plays Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

Aubrey Plaza, who is 33 today, has done a wide range of indie films, but is better known for her television work—she played April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation and now is one of the stars of FX’s LegionJason Schwartzman, who is turning 37, is known for his work in Wes Anderson’s films, especially Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited.  He appeared with Aubrey Plaza in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and was the star of HBO’s Bored to DeathJennette McCurdy, who is best known for playing Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam & Cat, and for starring on the Canadian sci-fi series Between, is turning 25.  Rebecca Budig is turning 44.  She is known for her work in various soap operas, especially as a four-time Daytime Emmy nominee on All My Children, and she also got to smooch Chris O’Donnell in Batman ForeverRobert Davi, who is 66, had major film roles in The Goonies and Licence to Kill and played Agent Bailey Malone on The Profiler.

Mick Jones, who is best know as the co-founder, sometime lead vocalist, and lead guitarist for The Clash, is turning 62.  He has gone on to found Big Audio Dynamite and Carbon/Silicon.  Chris Isaak, who is 61, is known for hits like “Wicked Game” and “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing.”  He also appeared in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as Agent Chester Desmond.  Country singer Gretchen Wilson, who is celebrating her 44th, won a Grammy for her debut single “Redneck Woman” and had several additional country hits in the 2000s.  Patty Smyth is 60 today; she had a big hit with “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” in 1992, but this article explains that she was not a “one hit wonder.”

Dave Grusin, who is 83, is known for his lengthy career scoring for film and television.  He won an Oscar for the score for The Milagro Beanfield War, and is also known for  his work on films like The Graduate, Three Days of the Condor, Heaven Can Wait, Tootsie, The Goonies, and The FirmColonel Tom Parker (1909-1997) was not a musician himself; his contribution to the world of music was as Elvis Presley’s manager from 1956-1977.  Claudio Abbado (1933-2014) was one of the most prominent conductors of the late 20th century.  In a conducting career of around 50 years, his biggest highlights were nearly 20 years as the music director of La Scala in Milan and a tenure of over a decade at the Berlin Philharmonic.  Baritone Giuseppe Taddei (1916-2010) had a voice that was both lovely and durable, which allowed him to perform into his seventies.  He sang a wide repertoire, centered on the baritone roles of Mozart and Italian composers like Verdi and Donizetti.

We have several sports birthdays today.  Recently retired New York Yankees’ great Derek Jeter turns 43.  The 14-time All-Star shortstop led the Yankees to five World Series titles, and is one of the most widely-known (and heavily marketed) athletes of his time.  Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe, who is 49 today, made eight Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls, twice with the Denver Broncos and once with the Baltimore Ravens.  He is considered one of the best tight ends in NFL history.  Paolo Maldini, born the same day as Sharpe, was a star defender for AC Milan and the Italian national football side, playing for Italy in four World Cups; Maldini is considered one of the best defenders ever.  Greg LeMond, the first American and first non-European to win the Tour de France cycling road race, is celebrating his 56th.  LeMond won his first Tour in 1986.  Prior to the next year’s race he was injured in an accidental shooting, and his prolonged recovery kept him out of two straight Tours, before he returned to win in 1989 and 1990.  Finally, Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) was one of the pioneering figures in 20th century women’s sports.  A multisport athlete, she had her greatest successes in track and field, winning three medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics, and in golf, where she was a star in the early LPGA and its predecessor organizations.

Peter Lorre (1904-1964) starred as one of the first great cinematic serial killers in Fritz Lang’s 1931 film M.  Like many Jewish performers, he left Germany when the Nazis took power.  He made some films with Hitchcock, including the first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and later had some great character roles at Warner Brothers, in films such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Mask of DimitriosEleanor Parker (1922-2013) was a three-time Best Actress nominee in the 1950s, for her roles in Caged, Detective Story, and Interrupted Melody.  She also had starring roles in films like The Naked Jungle and The Man With the Golden Arm.  But the role she is likely best known for was the part of Baroness Schraeder in The Sound of Music.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was the daughter of American missionaries to China and lived there most of her life until the mid-1930s.  Her novel The Good Earth drew on that experience, and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932; Buck later won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Walter Farley (1915-1989) was the author of several young adult novels, most famously The Black Stallion and its many sequels, about a young man named Alec Ramsey and his horse.  Luis Valdez, who is 77 today, is an American playwright best known for his play Zoot Suit, which he both wrote and directed in its Broadway premier.  He later wrote and directed the movie La Bamba.

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 26, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Ariana Grande’s rise to superstardom was really something to behold. If you had told me someone from Victorious was going to go on to that level of success, I would not have believed you. And I wouldn’t have bet on the actress with the helium-voiced delivery. Her career since becoming a pop culture sensation has been interesting. My kids are still mad at her for the whole “donut-licking” incident. Of course this year, she was linked to tragedy which she handled very well.

    Lots of Paul Thomas Anderson fans here. Confession time, I used to get his name confused with Resident Evil director Paul W. S. Anderson. Those initials make a world of difference, don’t they? Boogie Nights is still my favorite of P.T. Anderson’s movies. Just endlessly watchable.

    Chris O’Donnell will be appearing in another article later this week thanks to his involvement in killing not just a franchise but a genre. (Both got better.) Nick Offerman is a man of many talents. In addition to acting, he is a skilled wood-worker. He also did some voice work form Lego Dimensions including playing Michael Knight.

    Sticking with Parks and Rec, Aubrey Plaza was absolutely terrifying in Legion. I’m looking forward to the next season of that show although I’m not sure Plaza will be involved. Jason Schwartzman immediately calls to mind Wes Anderson’s films. Yes, I used to get him confused with Paul W. S. Anderson as well. All these Andersons and I confuse easily.

    Jennette McCurdy was of course Ariana Grande’s Sam & Cat costar. You referenced the “variety of reasons” that show was cancelled. One of them was that the former iCarly star was creating controversy by trying to play up a sexier image. There were also reports that Grande and McCurdy, friends in real life, were feuding over money. I don’t know about all that. I’ll just say that McCurdy as Sam got me through a lot of hours of iCarly.

    Robert Davi, I remember from License to Kill. To a lesser extent, The Goonies, but I was too old to really get into that movie. Peter Lorre is such an iconic character actor (if such a thing can exist).


  2. Ariana Grande, I hear a lot about her: she’s very big nowadays, very Grande. I liked what she did in that one episode of SNL that she hosted, I thought she was very good.
    Paul Thomas Anderson, oh wow, I think he’s directed some excellent films; cool that “Hard Eight” mentioned here, and I think that film really established the style we’ve come to know from him (dark, personal storytelling).
    Chris O’Donnell, he’s found steady success with “NCIS: Los Angeles”, and his write-up here is very good; sometimes there’s traffic on that board.
    Nick Offerman, I viewed a few episodes of “Parks and Recreation”; I felt his character was pretty entertaining.
    Aubrey Plaza, even though she was in “Parks and Recreation”, I first found about her through an interview Carson Daly did with her on his late night show.
    Jason Schwartzman, films such as “Rushmore” and “I Heart Huckabees” automatically come to mind when I think of his career.
    Robert Davi, he’s played quite a few goons and bad guys (how about “License to Kill”?) but I really like his voice work as Colonel Cortez in “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” (“Tommy, we are being overrun by the French!”).
    Chris Isaak, I’m a big fan of his song “Somebody’s crying”.
    Patty Smyth, definitely not a one hit wonder; I love some of her Scandal stuff, such as “The Warrior” and “Goodbye to You”. Her first husband must’ve been Hell, Richard Hell.


  3. Ariana Grande is not an artist who is really on my radar in musical terms but I’ve certainly been aware of her rapid rise in the last two years in general terms. Like lebeau I thought she handled the Manchester tragedy very well.

    I know Paul Thomas Anderson primarily through Hard Eight and Inherent Vice, both of which I thought were very good. It’s easy to confuse his name with that of Paul W. S. Anderson—but not their movies. 🙂

    Lots of interconnections between different people in today’s article. Multiple people born the same day, two stars of the same series, two people who appeared in a movie, two people who kissed in a movie, one person who is married to the costar of another, etc.

    Some very big names in the sports world today. I can remember when Greg LeMond first started being competitive in the Tour de France, and what a big deal it was for an American to be among the leaders, and then winning the whole thing.


  4. Chris Isaak. This would cause a social media shitstorm today


    • I discovered that little scene a few months ago; yeah, today a big deal would definitely be made of what went on there.


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