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July 13: Happy Birthday Cameron Crowe and Rhonda Vincent

0713CroweVincent

Cameron Crowe is turning 60 today.  He graduated from high school at 15 and had already begun to establish himself as a writer; he soon was the youngest person on the staff of Rolling Stone.  He was able to get interviews with, and do stories on, a number of big acts of the 1970s.  He then spent a year “undercover” at a San Diego area high school, which he used as the basis for the book and screenplay Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  He then wrote the screenplay for The Wild Life, after which he was able to get support from filmmaker James L. Brooks for his first directing effort, a movie that is now considered one of the classics among teen romances, if not all romances.

The subsequent course of Crowe’s career—how he reached the heights of success in the late nineties with Jerry Maguire and the autobiographical Almost Famous, winning an Oscar for screenwriting for the latter, and how his career then fizzled out—this is all covered in his WTHH article, one of only a few here devoted to a director.  His latest project, the Showtime series Roadies, was canceled after only one season.

Bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent turns 55 today.  She learned to play mandolin and fiddle as a young girl, and played as part of a family bluegrass band, but when she went off to college she studied accounting.  In the mid 1980s, she won a contest on The Nashville Network that resulted in a recording contract; she released her first album in 1990.  During the nineties she tried to make it as a mainstream country performer, but by the end of the decade she was ready for a return to her bluegrass roots.

The release of her 2000 album Back Home Again kicked off a decade of success for Vincent and her band, the Rage.  She has been honored as Female Vocalist of the Year eight times by the International Bluegrass Music Association.  Her 2003 album One Step Ahead brought her the first of five Grammy nominations for Best Bluegrass Album.  Earlier this month her latest album, American Grandstand, a collaboration with Daryle Singletary, was released.

English actor, writer and producer Sharon Horgan is celebrating her 47th.  In her early twenties, Horgan pursued one of the classic struggling actress jobs for a while, waitressing.  She is best known as the co-creator, co-writer and star of the British TV series Pulling and Catastrophe.  Horgan has received BAFTA TV award nominations for both series and an Emmy nomination for the latter.

Steven R. McQueen, who is 29, is the grandson of Steve McQueen.  He starred as Jeremy Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries and was also a regular on Chicago Fire for a while.  Colton Haynes, who has played Roy Harper/Arsenal on Arrow and also been a regular on Teen Wolf, also turns 29 today.  Ashley Scott, who is turning 40, has been a regular on Dark Angel, Birds of Prey, and JerichoMichael Mando, who is 36 today, can be seen in theaters as Mac Gargan in Spider-Man: Homecoming and plays Nacho Varga on Better Call SaulAya Cash, who stars as Gretchen Cutler on FX’s You’re the Worst, is turning 35.

Tom Kenny, who celebrates his 55th, is best known for his work as a voice actor; his most significant role has been the title character of SpongeBob SquarePants.  Another voice actor with a birthday is Kari Wahlgren, who turns 40.  She is known for her work on series like Ben 10, Phineas and Ferb, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.

Robert Forster, who turns 76, was catapulted out of relative obscurity when he was an Oscar nominee in the role of Max Cherry in Jackie Brown.  He has gone on to prominent roles in films like Mulholland Drive, Like Mike, and The Descendants.  On television he has had recurring roles on Heroes and Last Man Standing, and won a Saturn Award for a guest appearance on Breaking Bad.

French actor Jacques Perrin also is 76 today.  He has worked regularly in both French and Italian film, notably in the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film winner, Cinema Paradiso.  Fans of the Twilight films will recognize Gil Birmingham, who is 64, as the man who played Billy Black.  Recently he has also had prominent roles in Hell or High Water and Wind River.

Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, who is 83, is best known as a playwright and essayist.  In 1986 he became the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Roger McGuinn, who is 75 today, was a pioneer of both folk rock and country rock.  In the early sixties, McGuinn, a young folkie experimenting with playing folk tunes in a rock style, came together with two other like-minded musicians, Gene Clark and David Crosby, to form the band that became The Byrds.  They had #1 hits with Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and became one of the most influential American bands of the late sixties.  Fiddler Eileen Ivers, who is 52, is one of the most prominent Celtic musicians in North America.  She was a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, toured with Riverdance (remember them?) for several years, and can be heard on the soundtrack to Gangs of New York.

Bob Crane (1928-1978) was a two-time Emmy nominee as Col. Robert Hogan on Hogan’s Heroes.  His 1978 murder has never been officially solved.  Star Trek fans may recognize the name of Robert H. Justman (1926-2008), an associate producer and later co-producer on The Original Series; he previously had worked as an associate producer on The Adventures of SupermanKay Linaker (1913-2008) acted in a number of second-tier features, mostly for Fox, in the thirties and forties, and later became a writer under her married name of Kate Phillips, and co-wrote the screenplay for The Blob (which starred Steve McQueen).  Sidney Blackmer (1895-1973) had a long career as a supporting player in film, playing Theodore Roosevelt several times; on stage he won a Tony for Come Back, Little Sheba, and also had a role in the creation of the Actor’s Equity Association.

When it comes to history, July 13 is the most widely accepted date of birth of Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), the most significant figure in the final years of the Roman Republic.  In addition to his formidable political and military accomplishments, his memoirs, The Gallic Wars and The Civil War, are invaluable historical sources.  He has been played on screen many times—by Louis Calhern and Sir John Gielgud in adaptations of Shakespeare’s play, and by the likes of Claude Rains, John Gavin, Rex Harrison, Timothy Dalton, Ciaran Hinds, and Karl Urban in other films or television series.

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) became famous during the US Civil War as a Confederate cavalry general so effective that he was nicknamed “the Wizard of the Saddle.”  After the war, he then made his name permanently infamous as, at least according to many reports, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

A year ago this series featured the big names of Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart in the headline.

Harrison Ford, who turns 75, will return to the role of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049, due out in October.  There is also buzz about a fifth Indiana Jones film.  Sir Patrick Stewart, who is 77, also returned to one of his iconic roles earlier this year in Logan, and will also star in Wilde Wedding, scheduled for an unspecified 2017 release date.  Ken Jeong’s series Dr. Ken was canceled, but as he turns 48 he continues to find plenty of work.  Cheech Marin, who is turning 71, reprised his role as Ramone in Cars 3 and will also be featured in The War with Grandpa.

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 13, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Cameron Crowe—not one of my very favorite directors, but he did make Say Anything, one of my favorite romances of all time (and I would say, it is indeed the best teen romance ever).

    A number of years ago when I was going through a phase of checking out new musical artists, I came across Rhonda Vincent, and wound up buying three of her albums in a period of about six months. She is one of the best there is when it comes to a traditional bluegrass sound. I doubly wanted to include her since July is turning into a pretty big month for bluegrass-related birthdays.

    Until I wrote this article I had no idea that Steve McQueen had a grandson, much less one who had gone into acting.

    We have representatives of three of my favorite kinds of music today—bluegrass, folk-rock, and Celtic (and two of them play the fiddle). Roger McGuinn and the Byrds were one of the most successful of the first wave of American performers who were influenced by the British Invasion. And Eileen Ivers has done a lot of great work, especially with Cherish the Ladies.

    I caught a fair amount of Hogan’s Heroes reruns when I was young, and I can remember when Bob Crane was murdered; a sad day, that was.

    Back in the seventies I came across two or three good books with a good deal of inside information about the production process of Star Trek: TOS, and I remember that Robert Justman figured rather largely in them.

    We have some Harrison Ford content here already—one or two Movieline articles, as I recall. I hope to write up both him and Patrick Stewart in more detail in the future.

    Like

  2. Cameron Crowe, it’s been awhile, but I like a lot of his early work and I thought he did a good job on the “Fast times at Ridgemont High” DVD commentary w/ Amy Heckerling (the screen is blank and they’re still talking; I liked that).
    Ashley Scott, I don’t think “Birds of Prey” was a great show (I got the DVD for “Gotham Girls” anyway), but I thought she looked pretty cool there. I don’t know her from much else.
    Robert Forster, I knew him as a veteran performer and everything, then I saw him in 1969’s “Medium Cool”, and I’m like, “Yeah, this is the stuff”. I thought Forster was AMAZING there (he’s always done well in bits, but hardly run the show, except fort maybe 1997’s “American Perfekt”, a film I mentioned on Amanda Plummer’s birthday), and I had no idea he was once one of the posterboys for Hollywood counterculture (I know there isn’t such a term, but let’s pretend, like in the movies).
    Bob Crane, well, I’ve probably seen “Auto Focus” more times than I’ve viewed cumulative hours of “Hogan’s Heroes”, but I know he was huge on the show.
    Julius Caesar, I know a little about him (I suppose), but ever since I viewed that one episode of “The Simpsons” (title: ‘Brothers Little Helper’) when Bart get the focusing meds and towards the end drives a tank, in which Nelson compliments Bart, and he exclaims, “Praise from Caesar”. I use that line quite frequently, so when *I think of Caesar most, I think of that line.

    Like

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