July 3: Happy Birthday Tom Cruise and Audra McDonald


Tom Cruise is turning 55 today.  If there is truly such a thing as an A-list in the film industry, Cruise is on it.  He began acting in his late teens in supporting parts in Endless Love and Taps.  His first success in a starring role came in Risky Business, and his first big hit—and still his biggest in inflation-adjusted terms—was Top Gun.  Since then it would be hard to find a time where he would not have been considered a major star.

Cruise is a three-time Oscar nominee, for Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Magnolia.  He has also received critical acclaim for his work in films like A Few Good Men, The Last Samurai, and Collateral.  He has worked, over the years, with an incredibly long list of major directors; alphabetically, it runs from Alejandro Amenábar and Paul Thomas Anderson to Franco Zeffirelli and Edward Zwick.  Given the diversity of films he’s made it’s hard to pick a single representative role in his filmography, but there is one role he’s played far more times than any other.

Mission: Impossible 6 began filming earlier this year; meanwhile, Cruise will also star in American Made, which comes out early this fall.  His personal life?  There are plenty of sources available. 🙂

We have had some of Broadway’s biggest stars as headliners in this birthday series, but no one has ever won more acting Tonys than Audra McDonald, who is celebrating her 47th today.  McDonald has won six Tonys, and is also the only individual ever to win in all four acting categories.  She has won Best Leading Actress in a Play for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Best Featured Actress in a Play for Master Class and A Raisin in the Sun, Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Porgy and Bess, and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel and Ragtime.  She has also been nominated for the musicals Marie Christine and 110 in the Shade.

McDonald made her Broadway debut in 1992 after graduating from Juilliard.  She has done some film and television work through the years.  Earlier this year she was Madame de Garderobe in Beauty and the Beast, and she will appear in the film adaptation of the musical Hello Again.  She has received Emmy nominations for the TV movie Wit and for a television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, and was a regular on Private Practice for four seasons as Naomi Bennett.  McDonald has also maintained an active concert touring schedule.

Another Broadway great is celebrating today; Betty Buckley is turning 70.  She made her Broadway debut as Martha Jefferson in 1776, and won a Tony as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats.  She starred as Abby Bradford on ABC’s Eight is Enough and has appeared in films such as Carrie, Tender Mercies, Frantic, and Split.

Kurtwood Smith, who played Red Forman on That ’70s Show and is now a regular on Amazon’s Patriot, is 74 today.  Stage and screen actress Rae Allen, who turns 91, won a Tony for the play And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, and played reporter Gloria Thorpe in the stage musical Damn Yankees and the film adaptation.

Peyton Reed first made his name as a director with comedies like Bring it On and Yes Man; then he was brought in to direct Ant-Man when Edgar Wright left the film, and will return to direct Ant-Man and the Wasp.  He is 53 today.  Thomas Gibson, who is turning 55, costarred with Tom Cruise in Far and Away and has been a regular on Dharma & Greg (as Greg Montgomery) and Criminal Minds.  Danish actress Connie Nielsen, who is 52, plays Hippolyta in Wonder Woman and will return to the role in Justice League.  Also turning 52 is Tommy Flanagan, who was a regular on Sons of Anarchy and was one of the Ravagers in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.  German actor Andreas Wisniewski, who is 58 today, played the villainous henchman Necros in The Living Daylights, and followed that up with some more henchman roles in Die Hard and two Mission: Impossible films.

Shawnee Smith turns 48; she played Amanda Young in the Saw films and has been a regular on Becker and Anger ManagementPatrick Wilson is 44 today.  He is a two-time Tony nominee, and was an Emmy nominee for HBO’s Angels in America; he joins the DC Extended Universe as Orm Marius/Ocean Master in AquamanAndrea Barber, who is turning 41, played Kimmy Gibler on Full House and came out of retirement to resume the role on Fuller HouseLudivine Sagnier, who is 38 today, began working in film at the age of 10 and is a three-time Cesar nominee.  The French actress might be most familiar to US audiences for her role in the thriller Swimming Pool or as Tinker Bell in the 2003 film Peter PanOlivia Munn, a regular on HBO’s The Newsroom who also played Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse, is 37 today.

Sir Tom Stoppard turns 80.  Like Audra McDonald, he is a record-holder when it comes to Tony Awards; he has won Best Play four times.  His wins were for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Travesties, The Real Thing, and The Coast of Utopia.  He is also a screenwriter, with an Oscar for the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is known for his novels, such as The Trial and The Castle.  The term “Kafkaesque” has entered the language to refer to situations where a person is faced with circumstances that are both frightening and, often, surreal, that are frequently created by a bureaucracy, and that they have little power to change.  Dave Barry, who turns 70, won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his humor columns for the Miami Herald.  Two of his nonfiction books were the basis for the TV series Dave’s World, and he has co-written the Peter and the Starcatchers series of children’s novels with Ridley Pearson.  Evelyn Anthony, who is 89 today, is the author of a variety of novels, including historical fiction like Anne Boleyn and All the Queen’s Men and thrillers like the Davina Graham series.

George M. Cohan (1878-1942), sometimes know as the “father of American musical comedy,” made his name with the musical Little Johnny Jones, and during his career wrote over 300 songs, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “Over There.”  James Cagney won Best Actor for playing Cohan in the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Vince Clarke, one half of the synthpop duo Erasure, is 57.  Erasure is very popular in the UK and have had three Top 20 hits in the US.  Brigitte Fassbaender, who turns 78, had a long career as a mezzo-soprano performing opera and lieder, and after her retirement from singing wrote two musicals and became a theatrical director.  Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004) is considered one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, although his reclusive nature and perfectionism meant he left relatively few recordings behind.  Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) is famous for his operas, such as Jenůfa and The Cunning Little Vixen, and orchestral compositions like Taras Bulba and the Sinfonietta.

George Sanders (1906-1972), with his deep voice and Queen’s English accent, was often a villain, but almost always played characters of wit and sophistication.  He won an Oscar as Addison DeWitt in All About Eve and appeared in Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent, and was the voice of Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book.  English director Ken Russell (1927-2011) was nominated for Best Director for Women in Love, and was also known for Tommy and Altered States.

Susan Peters (1921-1952) was one of Hollywood’s great tragedies.  She was being groomed for stardom by MGM when, in 1945, she was paralyzed by a bullet to her spine in a hunting accident, and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  She found some work in stage productions, playing Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, for example, but in the early 1950s her health declined.  She died of a kidney infection, but her doctor also noted that she seemed to have lost the will to live in her final weeks.

Raymond Spruance (1886-1969) was one of the top admirals in the US Navy during World War 2.  He commanded one of two US carrier task forces at the Battle of Midway and later was the naval commander for several of the amphibious operations against Japanese-held islands.  Glenn Ford played Spruance in the 1976 film Midway.

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 July 3, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Every time Tom Cruise under-performs at the box-office, a lot of tongues start wagging that he’s not a movie star any more. Then a Mission Impossible movie comes along and makes a killing at the box office and everyone shuts up for a little while. It’s true, Cruise isn’t bulletproof anymore. No one is. The idea of A-List movie stars doesn’t mean what it used to. What makes Cruise A-List today is that he can star in a crappy movie like The Mummy that flops in the US and it still makes a profit overseas based largely on his status as an international movie star.

    Now if MI 6 flops, Cruise’s career will be in trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, The A-List is dead; although people still view material due to wanting to see certain performers (I know I do), it has ceased being the main reason projects do well. I guess that’s okay.


  2. Tom Cruise, the Cruise cruise; I was just writing a message about “The Color of Money” on (I’ve always felt the film lacked punch, but that the cast, especially Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, delivered in that film). I could care less about The mummy (never liked any mummy really, except the one on “Monster Squad”) or the mission: impossible franchise, I’m more interested in “Born on the Fourth of July”, “Magnolia”, “Collateral”, or “Tropic Thunder” (not “Days of Thunder”, yuck poo). I’m in for some “Risky Business” too.
    Betty Buckley, I was bummed with what happened to her character in “Carrie”, as she was a pretty nice lady (with what I think some great 1970’s short shorts too). She didn’t get much screentime in “Frantic”, but she plays the character that sets the film in motion.
    Kurtwood Smith, well I first knew of him as that nasty guy from “Robocop” (boy did I dislike him, which means I thought he was great). I think “That 70’s Show” was required viewing for my age group at the time (I think we signed contracts and everything), and his dad character was always calling his son a dumbass there. I also liked him in 1991’s “Oscar”.
    Thomas Gibson, I once had a girlfriend who like “Dharma & Greg”, so I viewed that a few times (it was okay I suppose, but i wasn’t really into TV in 1997), and I’ve seen many episodes of “Criminal Minds” (a series he left under a cloud).
    Connie Nielsen, I’m most familiar with her from films such as “The Devil’s Advocate”, “Rushmore”, “Solider”, and “One Hour Photo”.
    Shawnee Smith, I loved her in the 1988 remake of “The blob” and 1989’s “Who’s Harry Crumb”. I’ve seen some of “Anger Management”, and thought she was pretty fun there. Although I like horror, the Saw franchise is too much for me (as is the Hostel stuff, and “Turistas”).
    Olivia Munn, I know her mostly from her being the co-host of the axed network G4 show, “Attack of the Show”, and for being in a relationship with Green Bay Packer football chucker Aaron Rogers (who’s a brilliant, sublime player; no “I think” from me here either).
    Franz Kafka, I love a lot of his work; it’s like my world, written for page. I bet he would’ve really rocked it in the modern world.
    Ken Russell, I’ve mentioned him numerous times here, and do like his whole “assault on the senses” style, which I thought were especially strong in “Tommy”, “Altered States”, 1986’s “Gothic”, and “The Lair of the White Worm”, while I think he was rather restrained in that department for “Crimes of Passion” and let the performances (especially Kathleen Turner’s and Anthony Perkins’ turns) do the attacking.


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