July 5: Happy Birthday Edie Falco and Warren Oates


Edie Falco is celebrating her 54th today.  After a rather slow first decade of her career, she has emerged as a mainstay of television in the past two decades.  She began working in film in the late 1980s, mostly in relatively small parts, although she had prominent roles in the indie crime drama Laws of Gravity and in Abel Ferrera’s The Addiction.  She began doing regular television work in the early nineties, with recurring parts on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order.

In 1997, Falco began appearing in the role of Diane Whittlesey on HBO’s Oz, which technically was a recurring role although she appeared in almost all the episodes of seasons 1-3.  She then got her big break when she was cast in one of the lead roles in a new HBO series about a mob family.

Falco won three Primetime Emmys and two Golden Globes in the role of Carmela Soprano.  She then went on to star as Jackie Peyton on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, winning a fourth Emmy.  She has continued to work periodically in films, usually in smaller projects like John Sayles’ Sunshine State or this year’s Megan Leavey, and she also was a Tony nominee for a 2011 revival of The House of Blue Leaves.  This fall she will star in the first season of the anthology series Law & Order True Crime.  The first season title is The Menendez Murders (remember them?), and Falco will play attorney Leslie Abramson.

Warren Oates (1928-1982) was something of a discovery of Sam Peckinpah’s.  The two met when Oates had a guest part on an episode of The Rifleman directed by Peckinpah.  The director cast Oates successively in small parts in his films Ride the High Country and Major Dundee, in the major supporting role of Lyle Gorch in The Wild Bunch, and then as the lead in his 1974 film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Oates also starred in two of Monte Hellman’s cult classics, The Shooting and Two-Lane Blacktop, and had a major supporting role in In the Heat of the Night.  In the early seventies Oates starred opposite Peter Fonda in several films, notably Race with the Devil, played Sissy Spacek’s father in Badlands, and starred in the title role of John Milius’s Dillinger, a performance enhanced by Oates’ resemblance to the bank robber.

In the late seventies Oates seemed to be fading from view a bit, as he was starring in unexceptional TV movies like 1977’s The African Queen (not a remake but a purported sequel).  But he mounted a mini-comeback, receiving a BAFTA Award nomination for 1941, and then appearing in the role that younger audiences probably know him best for, Sgt. Hulka in Stripes, before his 1982 death of a heart attack.

Kathryn Erbe, who is 52, starred as Alexandra Eames on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and appeared in The Addiction and on Oz with Edie Falco.  Pruitt Taylor Vince, known for his roles in films like Heavy, Nurse Betty, and Flypaper, is 57 today.  Michael Stuhlbarg, who is celebrating his 49th, starred in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and was a regular on Boardwalk Empire.  Nine-time Emmy nominee Jenji Kohan is turning 48.  She was a writer and producer on Tracey Takes On… and is the creator of Showtime’s Weeds and Netflix’s Orange is the New BlackClaudia Wells, who played Jennifer Parker in Back to the Future, is 51.  She was unable to return for the sequels as she was caring for her mother, who had cancer.  Danay Garcia, who is 33, is a regular on Fear the Walking Dead and was one previously on Prison Break.  Canadian actor François Arnaud, who turns 32 today, starred as Cesare Borgia on The Borgias and will star on NBC’s upcoming series Midnight, Texas.

Shirley Knight, who is 81 today, is a three-time Emmy winner, for guest roles on Thirtysomething and NYPD Blue and for the TV movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial.  She has also won a Tony for the play Kennedy’s Children and been a two-time Best Supporting Actress nominee.  Katherine Helmond, who turns 89, has won two Golden Globes for her television work, for the roles of Jessica Tate on Soap and Mona Robinson on Who’s The Boss?  One of her best known film roles was as Ida Lowry in Brazil.

Bill Watterson, the creator of the newspaper comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, is turning 59.  At the peak of its popularity, the strip about a young boy and his stuffed tiger was syndicated in over 2400 newspapers.

Robbie Robertson is 74 today.  He is best known for his work with The Band, as the guitarist and primary songwriter, credited with songs like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “The Weight,” and more.  Huey Lewis, the lead vocalist and songwriter (not to mention harmonica player) for Huey Lewis and the News, is 67 today.  Robert Diggs, better known as the rapper and actor RZA, is turning 48.  He is know for leading the hip hop group Wu Tang Clan and for films like The Man With the Iron Fists and Brick MansionsAnnie Fischer (1914-1995) was one of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century, known in particular for her complete set of Beethoven’s piano sonatas.

Rich “Goose” Gossage, one of the first relief pitchers to make Baseball’s Hall of Fame, is 66.  He was a nine-time All-Star and played on the 1978 World Series winning New York Yankees.  Football Hall of Famer James Lofton turns 61.  An outstanding wide receiver for over a decade, he made eight Pro Bowls.

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was a French director best known for the films La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast and Orpheus, both considered classics.  He was also an accomplished novelist and playwright.  Diana Lynn (1926-1971) was a frequent supporting or second lead actress of the forties and early fifties, remembered as Betty Hutton’s younger sister in The Miracle of Morgan’s CreekMilburn Stone (1904-1980) is remembered by fans of TV Westerns for playing Doc Adams for the whole of Gunsmoke’s 20-season run.

Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) was, whatever else might be said of him, a man of large accomplishments.  He was the founder of the De Beers diamond cartel and of the British South Africa Company and the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and also endowed the Rhodes Scholarships.  David G. Farragut (1801-1870) served in the US Navy for over fifty years, was a leading naval commander of the US Civil War, and was the first US Navy officer to hold the rank of admiral on active duty.  P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) was the founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.  He is often credited with the claim that “there’s a sucker born every minute,” but there is no hard evidence that he ever actually said this.

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 5, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. So who would have thought, back when this series began almost a year ago, that both of the Gorch Brothers would end up as headliners. I would guess, no one. I mean, I’m a big fan of The Wild Bunch, and a Ben Johnson fan, and I didn’t think that would end up happening.

    At some point after The Band broke up in the 1970s, there was some friction that developed over who actually deserved songwriting credit for many of their songs, largely between Robbie Robertson, normally credited as the songwriter, and the late Levon Helm, who claimed that songwriting within the group was more collaborative.

    Beauty and the Beast is a tale that has fared well on film. Of all the cinematic retellings, Jean Cocteau’s may be the best of all. If you’ve never seen it, check it out.


    • We’re just a few days away from the 1-year anniversary of the start of Celeb Birthdays as a regular feature here at the site. You picked up exactly 1 month after the series started. I’m going to be interested to see what you do differently in the second year.


      • Yep, July 9 is when it started. I’ve got some thoughts about what I’m going to do with the second year. I probably won’t go for the kind of comprehensiveness that I’ve had in the first year’s articles because that would just duplicate a whole lot of what I already wrote. There have been a lot of days where I had several viable choices for headliners, so I’ll probably do a lot of picking new people. But I will probably also revisit a few headliners, either because I want to say more about their careers (I explicitly said back when it was Miles Davis’s birthday that I was going to do this) or because they’ve had a big year (e.g., Emma Stone winning that first Oscar).

        There also may be a few days where I give the series a day off, because I may not be able to come up with much that’s new to write—I remember the article for Hugh Jackman’s birthday, where my choices for headliner were pretty much Hugh Jackman and ????


  2. Today we also have David Farragut, of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” fame. The remark dates to the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War; Farragut was leading his Union squadron into the bay, when he was informed that there were “torpedoes” (today we would call the mines) in the water ahead, in response to which he said something more or less along the lines of the famous quote, which has become one of the Navy’s big fighting mottoes.

    The Navy has twice named an entire class of destroyers after Farragut, and he is one of the few US Navy officers to have ever appeared on a postage stamp.


  3. Edie Falco, I surprisingly never got into “The Sopranos” (became aware of it until Season 4, and then I just couldn’t gather up any steam for it) but I did watch “Nurse Jackie” a few times, and liked it. I thought “Laws of Gravity” was pretty great too. It’s like what the Marcy character said in “Californication”: “Edie Falco, respect”.
    Warren Oates, I really like “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”, “The Wild bunch” is pretty classic, and i also enjoyed “major Dundee”.
    Kathryn Erbe, I know she was in the Law & Order spinoff show Criminal Intent and made appearance in the later Mighty Ducks films, but I always remember her best as the daughter in “What About Bob?”.
    Pruitt Taylor Vince, I’ve seen him in so many projects: Season 5 of “Miami Vice” (episode: ‘Bad Timing’, also guest starring Melissa Leo. Quote: “Hey blondie, what are you? Are you a good man? Are you a bad man?”), 1994’s “Nobody’s Fool”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Mumford” “Nurse Betty”, “Identity”, and so much more. I think he’s pretty steady.
    Claudia Wells, of course “Back to the future”. I’m glad she lent her voice to the Jennifer character in the Telltale “Back to the Future” game; she got more lines in the game than she did in the film, and I thought her character was pretty fun.
    Shirley Knight, oh sure, she did “Sweet Bird of Youth” early in her career; I think that’s an excellent film. She’s someone else who can still be seen here and there.
    Katherine Helmond, yeah, I still remember her role as Mona from “Who’s the boss”; her character had a dirty mind, which I thought created some humorous banter.
    Huey Lewis, that’s the power of birthdays; he should get together with Claudia Wells and play at her birthday, possibly a Duet. Speaking of “Duets”, I liked him in that film, and think he has a cool regular & singing voice. The Patrick Bateman character from “American Psycho”, I think, explains Huey Lewis & The News real well. Fore!
    RZA, I liked his turn as a guest star in Season 5 of “Californication”; I had a friend that listened to his music, but I never really did, although he seems pretty cool as a person & artist.
    James Lofton, I remember when he played for the Buffalo Bills and broke the receiving yardage record at that time (opening day, 1992). I also recall when he was doing TV color analysis and stated to the listening audience that the www. in a web address is like the internet version of the area code part of a phone number. I liked that explanation (that was the early days of the internut when he made that statement).
    P.T. Barnum, I’ve never been that much into circuses, but I liked Disney on Ice.


  4. Yeah, I’m interested to see where this series is headed. I can definitely see certain days being skipped, and we know that once around a long list of names is fun (it was for me; stirred up some ghosts), but once it’s done, it’s done.


  5. Craig Hansen

    Fun fact: Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports album was the 2nd biggest selling album of 1984 only behind the unstoppable Thriller album by Michael Jackson. Sports really was a huge album back then.

    I was listening to a podcast interview with Huey Lewis recently and he had a terrific anecdote. In his own words, Huey said that they best “cheese” the band ever got – they won Grammy’s and other music awards, they had multi-platinum albums, etc. – but the best “cheese” they ever got was one night he was watching Johnny Carson and Johnny asked Sammy Davis Jr. what current artists he’s listening to…. Sammy says “There’s two artists I’m wild for right now, one is Prince and the other is Huey Lewis and the News!” Huey said hearing Sammy say that was far better than any award they ever could have gotten.


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