June 30: Happy Birthday Michael Phelps and Lena Horne
It’s the birthday of the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. Michael Phelps is celebrating his 32nd. He began swimming at the age of seven, set his first age group national record when he was ten, and made his first Olympic team at fifteen (he finished fifth in the 200 meter butterfly). He was a few months shy of 16 when he set his first world record, which he promptly broke at the 2001 World Championships.
Phelps has competed in five Olympics. He has won 28 total medals, including 23 gold medals; both of these counts are records, and his gold medal count is more than any two other Olympians in history. He also has 33 World Championships medals, of which 26 are gold. There are few if any athletes, in any sports, who have sustained such a high level of excellence for such a long period. Phelps’s greatest performance came at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when he won a record eight gold medals, in the 200 meter freestyle, the 100 and 200 meter butterfly, and the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys, along with three relay gold medals.
Lena Horne (1917-2010) began her performing career at 16, in the chorus line of New York’s Cotton Club. She made some recordings with a couple of jazz bands, and was signed by MGM. She played a lead role in Cabin in the Sky, a rarity in its time for its all-African-American cast, but otherwise was cast in roles that did not feature her interacting with other cast members, so her parts could be edited out if the film was going to be shown in the South. Blacklisted in the 1950s, she seldom worked in film after that, although she played Glinda the Good in the 1978 film version of The Wiz.
Beginning in the 1950s Horne worked regularly as a nightclub and concert singer. Se was also very involved in the civil rights movement for several decades. She had a triumph in 1981 with her one-woman musical revue Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for over 300 performances on Broadway. Horne won a pair of Grammys, a special Tony, and a Drama Desk Award, and a PBS broadcast of the show was nominated for an Emmy.
Vincent D’Onofrio turns 58 today. He has had some notable television roles, including Detective Robert Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, on Daredevil. In film he has had some lead roles, such as playing pulp author Robert E. Howard in The Whole Wide World or a time-traveler in the romance Happy Accidents. However, he is better known for his character roles, which have ranged from Private “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket to Jack Horne in The Magnificent Seven.
Monica Potter is celebrating her 46th birthday. She had a run of lead roles from about 1997-2004 in films like Patch Adams, Head Over Heels, and Along Came a Spider, and was a Golden Globe nominee as Kristina Braverman on Parenthood. Lizzy Caplan, who was an Emmy nominee for starring on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, is turning 35. Her film credits include Mean Girls, My Best Friend’s Girl, and Now You See Me 2. Rupert Graves, who is 54, plays DI Lestrade on Sherlock, while his stage career is highlighted by an Olivier Award nomination for David Rabe’s Hurlyburly. Canadian actress Molly Parker, who is 45, has been an Emmy nominee on House of Cards and a regular on Deadwood, and will star on the Netflix revival of Lost in Space.
Martin Csokas, who is 51 today, has had supporting roles in a variety of box office successes, playing Celeborn in the Lord of the Rings films and appearing in XXX and The Bourne Supremacy; he will play L. Patrick Gray in The Silent Man. Angela Sarafyan, who plays Clementine Pennyweather on Westworld, is celebrating birthday number 34. Brian Bloom, who turns 47, was a Daytime Emmy winner on As the World Turns as a teen, and is currently working primarily as a voice actor. Mark Waters, who directed Monica Potter in Head Over Heels and Lizzy Caplan in Mean Girls, is 53. His filmography also includes movies such as the remake of Freaky Friday and Just Like Heaven.
Fantasia Barrino, the winner of season 3 of American Idol, has had a relatively successful post-Idol career, with four albums that have made the Top Ten; she turns 33 today. Cheryl Ann Tweedy, often known simply as Cheryl, is turning 34. She is a successful pop star in England, as a member of the girl group Girls Aloud and subsequently as a solo artist. Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) was a major figure in the folk revival of the 1960s and the Greenwich Village music scene; the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis was partly inspired by his life. Florence Ballard (1943-1976) was a member of the Supremes from their formation in 1959 to 1967, when her alcoholism and discontent with her role in the group forced Barry Gordy of Motown to replace her. Unsuccessful as a solo artist, she died of a heart attack at 32. Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, who is 59, is best known for his nearly 20 years as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the longest of any conductor in the orchestra’s history.
Other sports birthdays today include former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who is 51. Tyson held at least a share of the world title from 1986-1990 and again in 1996. He also was infamous for his 1992 rape conviction and for a 1997 fight where he was disqualified for biting an opponent. Basketball Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond is 52 today. He was a six-time NBA All-Star in the 1990s while playing for the Sacramento Kings.
The Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature primarily for his poetry, and is also remembered for his book The Captive Mind, an attack on Stalinism.
Susan Hayward (1917-1975) broke out of bit parts with a featured role in Beau Geste in 1939, and went on to be a five-time Best Actress nominee over a 12 year period, winning for the role of death row inmate Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! Madge Bellamy (1899-1990) was a prominent leading lady of the 1920s, known for films like Lorna Doone and John Ford’s The Iron Horse. However, she was unsuccessful at adapting to the sound era.
Director Anthony Mann (1906-1967) first became known for some hard-edged film noirs he made in the late 1940s like T-Men and Raw Deal. In the fifties he made a series of Westerns starring James Stewart, frequently scripted by Borden Chase, generally featuring Stewart as a bitter, cynical hero who was a far cry from the nice guys people were used to seeing him play.
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 30, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Anthony Mann, Dave Van Ronk, Lena Horne, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Phelps, Monica Potter, Susan Hayward, Vincent D'Onofrio. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.