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July 1: Happy Birthday Léa Seydoux and Olivia de Havilland

0701SeydouxdeHavilland

Léa Seydoux is turning 32 today.  She was about 18 when she began pursuing a career in acting.  She made her film debut in 2006 and in 2008 was nominated for a Cesar Award for The Beautiful Person, the first of four Cesar nominations for her.  High points of her career in French film include starring roles in Belle Épine, the French Revolution era drama Farewell My Queen, and a 2014 live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.  Her biggest success in French cinema, however, has definitely been co-starring in Blue is the Warmest Color with Adèle Exarchopoulos.  The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2013, with the jury taking the unusual step of awarding the prize to the two actresses as well as director Abedellatif Kechiche.

Parallel to her career in her home country, Seydoux has developed into a significant international actress.  She made her Hollywood debut in a small role in Inglorious Basterds.  A couple of years later she had more significant roles in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and as the assassin Sabine Moreau in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol.  She had a small part in The Grand Budapest Hotel, a major one in the international cast of The Lobster, and was cast as the latest Bond Girl, Madeleine Swann, in Spectre.

Congratulations to Dame Olivia de Havilland on her 101st birthday!  Born in Tokyo to English parents, she grew up in California.  As a teen she appeared in school and community theater productions, and was then asked by Max Reinhardt to become an understudy for a Hollywood Bowl production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  When a couple of cast members left before the first performance, de Havilland was moved up to the cast in the role of Hermia.  That led to her being cast in Warner Brothers’ feature film adaptation of the play and to a contract with the studio.

She made a couple of routine pictures for Warner’s in early 1935, and then was cast in a romantic adventure film adapted from Rafael Sabatani’s novel, Captain Blood.  She was one of the leads, cast opposite another new face at Warner’s, Errol Flynn.  The film was a hit and de Havilland and Flynn were launched as one of the classic screen couples.  They made eight pictures together, including The Charge of the Light Brigade, Dodge City, and, most famous of them all, The Adventures of Robin Hood.

In 1939, de Havilland appeared as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind and received her first Oscar nomination.  She won her famous lawsuit against Warner Brothers in 1943, and was free to work with other studios where she might get the sort of parts Jack Warner didn’t want to give her.  She had a great run in the late forties, receiving Best Actress nominations three times between 1946 and 1949, winning twice for To Each His Own and The Heiress.  Beginning around 1950 her film appearances became less frequent, apparently at least partly by her choice.  She has lived in Paris since the mid-1950s.  Earlier this year Catherine Zeta-Jones played her on Feud: Bette and Joan.

David Gulpilil, who turns 64, is an indigenous Australian actor who made his debut as a teen in Nic Roeg’s Walkabout.  He has won two AACTA Awards for Best Actor, for The Tracker and Charlie’s Country, and has also appeared in several other notable films, including The Last Wave, Crocodile Dundee, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Proposition, and Australia.  He is also well-known in his native country as a traditional dancer.

Geneviève Bujold is celebrating her 75th.  She was an Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner as Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days.  She is also known for the French films The War is Over and Le Voleur and Hollywood films like Swashbuckler and Tightrope.

Dan Aykroyd is 65 today.  He is primarily known as a comic actor, for his years on Saturday Night Live and films like The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters; however, he was also an Oscar nominee for the somewhat more serious Driving Miss Daisy.

Jamie Farr, known for playing Max Klinger on M*A*S*H and AfterMASH, is 83 today.  David Prowse, who is 82, was the physical performer for Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.  Alan Ruck turns 61; he is remembered as Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and currently stars on Fox’s The Exorcist.  English actor Trevor Eve, who is 66, has done extensive stage and screen work.  His stage career has brought him a pair of Olivier Awards.  As some readers probably know, he is the father of actress Alice Eve.

Andre Braugher, a ten-time Emmy nominee with wins for Homicide: Life on the Street and the FX miniseries Thief, is turning 55.  Pamela Anderson, who turns 50, is known for her regular roles on Home Improvement, Baywatch, and V.I.P.  Claire Forlani, who is 45, has had major roles in films such as Meet Joe Black, Mystery Men, Boys and Girls, and The Medallion.  Catalan actor Jordi Mollà, who is 49 today, is a major star in Spanish film and has had prominent roles in English-language films such as Blow, Bad Boys II, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Colombiana.

Liv Tyler is turning 40.  Our WTHH birthday for today, she just concluded a three-year run on HBO’s The LeftoversHilarie Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill, is 35.  More recently she has had recurring roles on Grey’s Anatomy, Extant and Lethal WeaponMelissa Peterman, who turns 46, starred as Bonnie Wheeler on Baby Daddy and was previously a regular on RebaJulianne Nicholson is also 46 today; she starred on USA Network’s just-cancelled Eyewitness and was a regular on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, while her film credits include Seeing Other People and August: Osage CountyThomas Sadoski, who is 41 today, is a regular on HBO’s Life in Pieces, and has a long stage resume that includes a Tony nomination for Neil LaBute’s reasons to be prettyHannah Murray, who is celebrating her 28th, is known for her TV roles as Cassie Ainsworth on Skins and Gilly on Game of Thrones, and for starring in the Danish-English film Bridgend.

French-American actress Leslie Caron, who celebrates her 86th, made her debut in An American in Paris opposite Gene Kelly.  She was a Best Actress nominee, and a BAFTA Award winner, for Best Actress in Lili and The L-Shaped Room.  She also won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress on Law & Order: SVU.

Track and field great Carl Lewis turns 56 today.  He won nine Olympic gold medals as a sprinter and long jumper, including winning the long jump at four consecutive Olympics from 1984-1996.  He is one of only four Olympians to win the same event at four straight Games; yesterday’s headliner Michael Phelps is another.

Debbie Harry is 72 today.  She has had a few successes as a solo artist but is much more likely to be known as the lead singer of new wave band Blondie, who had four #1 hits from 1979-1981.  They broke up in 1982 but re-formed in the late nineties and continue to tour actively today.

Hip-hop artist Missy Elliott, who turns 46, has won four Grammys and is one of the best-selling female rappers ever.  She has had five Top Ten singles, and also has a long list of credits as a producer.  Twyla Tharp, who is celebrating her 76th, has been a major figure in American dance for fifty years or more.  She won a Tony for choreography for the jukebox musical Movin’ Out and a pair of Emmys for a PBS special featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov, and also created the ballet Deuce Coup, set to the music of The Beach Boys, the first example of a “crossover” ballet.

Amantine Lucile Dupin, better known by her pen name of George Sand (1804-1876), was a French writer known for novels such as Indiana and The Devil’s Pool and for her memoir Story of My Life.  She was also known for “scandalous” behavior like wearing men’s clothes and smoking and for her numerous affairs, notably with composer Frédéric Chopin.  James M. Cain (1892-1977) was one of the leading authors of hardboiled fiction in the thirties and forties; he is remembered as the author of the novels The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity, each adapted into film at least once.  Lisa Scottoline, who turns 62 today, is a popular author of legal thrillers.  Her best-known books are the lengthy series centered around the fictional law firm of Rosato & Associates.

Charles Laughton (1899-1962) was an Oscar-winner in the title role of The Private Life of Henry VIII.  His one film as a director, The Night of the Hunter, was a failure when released but is now recognized as a classic.  A few of his other famous performances included Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty, Sir Wilifrid Robarts in Witness for the Prosecution, a Roman senator in Spartacus, and, in his final film, a US senator in Advise and Consent.

William Wyler (1902-1981) was a three-time Oscar winner as Best Director, for Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Ben-Hur (1959 version).  He also directed Olivia de Havilland’s Oscar-winning performance in The Heiress and Audrey Hepburn’s in Roman Holiday.

Sydney Pollack (1934-2008) won two Oscars for Out of Africa, for Best Director and Best Picture.  He received additional Best Director nominations for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Tootsie, and he also directed films like Three Days of the Condor and Absence of Malice.  French filmmaker Claude Berri (1934-2009) wrote and directed the award-winning duology of Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring.  He also produced notable films such as Queen Margot and Roman Polanski’s Tess.

Farley Granger (1925-2011) is remembered for his two films with Alfred Hitchcock, Rope and Strangers on a Train, and also appeared opposite Leslie Caron in The Story of Three LovesKaren Black (1939-2013) was a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee for Five Easy Pieces and received a second Golden Globe nomination as Myrtle Wilson in The Great Gatsby in 1974.

Historical birthdays for today begin with Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997), who completely aside from the soap opera aspects of her life deserves to be remembered as one of the most tireless philanthropic activists of the late 20th century.  Walter White (1893-1955) spent nearly all of his adult life working for the NAACP.  He joined the organization in 1918 and spent many years investigating lynchings in the South; because of his light complexion he could “pass” as white and therefore get white witnesses to talk with him.  He later became the NAACP’s executive secretary.

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 July 1, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I haven’t been on much since my summer job started this week, so here I am on a day off.
    (We all deserve a break, don’t we?)

    Olivia DeHavilland was wonderful in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte”. She played alongside Joseph Cotten, whose birthday was celebrated on here May 15th, and they both died at the end of the movie.

    Dan Aykroyd is one of my favorite SNL alums. “The Blues Brothers” is awesome, and “Ghostbusters” is a comedy classic. “Driving Miss Daisy” is also a good Aykroyd movie, and it shows he can do drama just as well as he can do comedy (like Tom Hanks and Robin Williams). “Trading Places” is also a fun Aykroyd film.

    Farley Granger is one of my least favorite actors. I like “Strangers on a Train”, but only Jimmy Stewart makes “Rope” watchable. Granger and Kristen Stewart do have one thing in common; they were both teen stars whose adult careers were established based on luck and not on talent. Many talented teen stars would PAY to have an established adult career.

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  2. A big article today, with lots of major names, some of whom I could have written much more about if I had unlimited time.

    Léa Seydoux is another of my favorites. She pretty clearly is going to be one of the major stars of French film for the next couple of decades. As for her Hollywood career, it’s harder to tell; she may be only the flavor of the month. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing her onscreen for many years to come.

    Olivia de Havilland—what a legend. I wrote quite a big segment on her and could easily have written more, about her big court case or her 1940s films, or her touchy relations with her sister, the late Joan Fontaine.

    If you watch Australian cinema with any regularity, sooner or later you will come across David Gulpilil. He has been part of some really memorable films.

    Jamie Farr has done more in his career that Corporal Klinger; I will have to come back next year and say more about him.

    I know Leslie Caron mainly from An American in Paris, but she had a pretty impressive career.

    Charles Laughton, meanwhile, had a terrific career. The Night of the Hunter is a brilliant film, and I will always treasure his final two performances in Spartacus and Advise and Consent. Also, on a day when we have an article up about the short-term nature of many show business marriages, it’s worth noting that he and Elsa Lanchester were together for 33 years, from their 1929 wedding until his death.

    William Wyler is someone else who deserves a more detailed write-up than I had time for yesterday.

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  3. Olivia de Havilland, wow 101 years old; that’s just amazing to me.
    Genevieve Bujold, I liked her work in a few films: “Coma”, “Tightrope”, (especially) “Choose Me”, and “Dead Ringers”.
    Dan Aykroyd, if I’d have the chance, I’d ask him what’s a dickfur? Since I can’t, I’ll just enjoy “Blues Brothers”, “Trading Places”, “Ghostbusters”, and “Spies Like Us”.
    Alan Ruck, sure, i know him best as Cameron in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, but I also what also comes quickly to my mind is the character he plays who gets killed in 1983’s “Bad Boys”.
    Andre Braugher, the films that come to mind for me when I think of him are 1999’s “It’s the rage”, and 2000’s “Duets”, and the TV series would be “Homicide: life on the Street”.
    Claire Forlani, I thought she was enchanting in “Mallrats”, and I really like the film “Antitrust”. For a long time i had no idea that she was British.
    Liv Tyler, good page on her here; when I think of her now, Todd Rundgren now comes to mind for me (hello, it him…and “Hello It’s Me” was done Karaoke style by Paul Giamatti’s character in “Duets”).
    Debbie Harry, I’ve been into Blondie’s song “Atomic” a lot this year; I know it’s on the soundtrack for “Grand theft Auto: Vice city”, a game in which Harry voices a cab dispatcher names Dolores.
    Sidney Pollack, I’ve enjoyed many of the films he’s been associated with, such as “Three days of the Condor”, “Absence of Malice”, “Havana”, “The talented Mr. Ripley”, and “Michael Clayton”.
    Farley Granger, I like “Rope” and “Stranger on a Train” quite a bit, and later in his career he played a sheriff in the 1981 horror film “The Prowler”, which a like a little.
    Karen Black, I thought she was an interesting actress; early on she was in a lot of counterculture films like “Easy Rider”, “Fiver Easy Pieces”, and “Drive, He Said”, then later transitioned to genre films. She also guest starred in “Miami Vice” towards the very end of that show’s run (episode: ‘Victims of Circumstance’). I thought she made very distinctive facial expressions.
    Princess Diana, she was much beloved all around the world.

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