July 7: Happy Birthday Shelley Duvall and George Cukor
As Shelley Duvall turns 68, there will probably be plenty of stories focused on her current mental health issues. Hopefully, some will focus on her career as an actress and television producer, as we’re going to do here.
Duvall met director Robert Altman on a film set in 1970, and found herself offered a part in Brewster McCloud, her first of seven with Altman. During the 1970s, she had a supporting role in Annie Hall, and starred in a PBS adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair. But mostly she worked with Altman. She was part of the huge ensemble cast of Nashville, and had supporting parts in McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Buffalo Bill and the Indians. And she starred in 3 Women and Thieves Like Us.
In 1980 Duvall starred in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a grueling film for her with a shoot that lasted around a year, and then made her last film with Altman, appearing as Olive Oyl in Popeye. She continued to work in film for another 20 years or so, with a few major roles in films like Roxanne. She also found a new niche in television, as the creator, executive producer, and presenter of a sequence of children’s anthology series, the first and most successful of which was Faerie Tale Theatre.
George Cukor (1899-1983) spent most of the 1920s working in theater as a producer and later director. He then moved to Hollywood, working at Paramount, RKO, and MGM in succession in the 1930s. He directed films such as Little Women, Dinner at Eight and Holiday, but the film that would have been his biggest in that decade, Gone With the Wind, was taken away from him after only a few weeks of shooting (multiple explanations have been suggested).
Cukor directed five performers to Best Actor or Actress Oscars—James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story, Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight, Ronald Colman in A Double Life, Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. That film also won Best Picture and brought Cukor his only Best Director Oscar. He was known as a “woman’s director” for his ability to work with, and get excellent performances, from actresses such as Katharine and Audrey Hepburn, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford, as well as Bergman and Holliday.
Billy Campbell (sometimes billed as Bill) is celebrating his 58th. He starred as the title character of The Rocketeer (which may have been intended to launch a franchise), but is better known for TV work. He was one of the stars of ABC’s Once and Again and has been a regular on The 4400 and The Killing.
German actress Nina Hoss turns 42. She is known in Europe for her films with director Christian Petzold, such as Yella and Barbara, and for the vampire film We Are the Night. American viewers may know her from A Most Wanted Man or her stint on Homeland. French-Argentine actress Bérénice Bejo, who turns 41, was an Oscar nominee and Cesar winner for The Artist; she has worked primarily in French film but might be known for her role in A Knight’s Tale.
Jorja Fox, best known for her long run as Sara Sidle on CSI, is turning 49 today. Cree Summer, who is 48, was a regular on A Different World and has done an enormous amount of voice work; her first role was Penny on Inspector Gadget. Also 48 is Robin Weigert, who was an Emmy nominee as Calamity Jane on Deadwood and recently has had recurring roles on Jessica Jones and Big Little Lies. Kirsten Vangsness, who is 45 today, has been starring as Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds since 2005. Eve Hewson is 26. She had a supporting role in Bridge of Spies and will play Maid Marian in the upcoming Robin Hood, opposite Taron Egerton in the title role.
Jonathan Dayton, who is 60 today, works as a directing team with his wife, Valerie Faris. After over 20 years of making music videos, they made their feature debut with Little Miss Sunshine in 2006, and are the directors of the upcoming Battle of the Sexes.
Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was often know, particularly in his later years, as the “dean of science fiction writers,” and is one of the most influential writers ever in the genre. Four of his novels won Hugo Awards—Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. David Eddings (1931-2009) was one of the most successful authors of heroic fantasy of recent times. He was known for his series such as The Belgariad and its sequel series The Mallorean, and The Elenium and its sequel, The Tamuli.
Ringo Starr, who was the Beatles’ drummer and occasional lead vocalist, turns 77 today. After the Fab Four’s breakup, he had success as a solo artist in the seventies, with hits like “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Oh My My.” As many readers know, he has been married to Bond Girl Barbara Bach for over 35 years. David Hodo, who was the “construction worker” in the Village People for over 30 years, is celebrating his 70th. Anton Karas (1906-1985) was a composer who also played the peculiar string instrument called the zither. His contribution to film was to compose and perform the score of The Third Man. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was one of the greatest composers of the last generation of the Romantic era; he was known for his ten symphonies (one unfinished at his death) and for song cycles like Das Lied von der Erde and Das Knaben Wunderhorn. He was also one of the finest conductors of his time.
Our sports birthdays begin with Lisa Leslie, who celebrates her 45th. One of the greatest women’s basketball stars ever, Leslie was a three-time MVP of the WNBA, and won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks, and four Olympic gold medals. She was also the first player to dunk in a WNBA game. Figure skater Michelle Kwan, who is 37 today, was a five-time World Champion and won medals at the Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002. Leroy “Satchel” Paige (1906-1982) was one of the legends of baseball’s Negro Leagues for two decades. Although he was over 40 when Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, Paige was still good enough to pitch effectively for the 1948 World Series winning Cleveland Browns; he is in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974) was one of Italy’s greatest directors. His 1947 film Bicycle Thieves is one of the greatest and most influential films of all time, and he made other classics like The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. He was also a Best Supporting Actor nominee for the 1957 adaptation of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Sam Katzman (1901-1973) was a filmmaker of a very different sort than the Cukors and De Sicas of the world. Primarily a producer, he made low-budget matinee fare: serials and B-features, among them the 1948 serial Superman, the first live-action portrayal of the Man of Steel, and a series of Jungle Jim features. Jon Pertwee (1919-1996) is remembered by British television audiences for playing the title character of Worzel Gummidge, and even more so as the Third Doctor on Doctor Who.
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 7, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Berenice Bejo, David Eddings, George Cukor, Nina Hoss, Ringo Starr, Robert A Heinlein, Satchel Paige, Shelley Duvall, Vittorio De Sica. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.