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July 14: Happy Birthday Harry Dean Stanton and Woody Guthrie

0714StantonGuthrie

“No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”

~Roger Ebert

Harry Dean Stanton is turning 91 today.  He began working in film and television in the fifties, in guest roles on TV and small roles in film, often uncredited or billed as Dean Stanton.  He began to get better parts in the seventies, such as Homer Van Meter in Dillinger and the bent cop Billy Rolfe in Farewell My Lovely.  One of his most famous roles was as the engineering technician Brett in Alien, which raised his profile considerably.

Stanton has been in cult classics like Escape From New York, Christine, and Repo Man.  He has also done plenty of more mainstream films, such as Private Benjamin, Pretty in Pink, Wild at Heart and The Green Mile; many people will remember his cameo in The Avengers from a few years ago.  He appeared in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and returned to at least one episode of the Showtime continuation.  And at least once in his career, he got a really plum starring role, courtesy of director Wim Wenders.

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was born and grew up in Oklahoma and learned to play the guitar and harmonica in his teens.  Always something of a drifter, at different times in his life, he hosted various radio programs, and wrote for left-leaning newspapers.  In the early 1940s he wrote an autobiography titled Bound for Glory (it was later adapted into a film starring David Carradine as Guthrie), and during World War 2 he served in the Merchant Marine.

But mostly he wrote songs and performed them.  Exactly how many songs he wrote is hard to be certain of, but at a minimum it was in the high hundreds, and it probably exceeded 1000.  Many of them are little known, but a number of them have received multiple recordings and become very well-known: “Union Maid,” “Roll On, Columbia,” “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You,” “Hard Travelin’,” “Deportee,” and one other, a song that has sometimes been proposed as a alternate national anthem.

Beginning in the late 1940s, Guthrie began to be affected by the hereditary condition known as Huntington’s Disease, and he spent the last eleven years of his life institutionalized.  But his influence has lived on in “Woody’s children,” the enormous list of musicians of all stripes who have been influenced by his music.

The Czech-born actor Vladimir Kulich, who celebrates his 61st, is known for his starring role in The 13th Warrior and supporting roles in films like Ironclad and The Equalizer, and for playing The Beast on AngelJackie Earle Haley, who is 56, became known from the Bad News Bears films and Breaking Away, was an Oscar nominee for Little Children, and plays The Terror on Amazon’s The Tick.  Producer Joel Silver, who is 65, is known for the Lethal Weapon films, the Matrix trilogy, The Nice Guys, and many more.

David Mitchell, who is turning 43, is one half of the English comedy duo of Mitchell and Webb (with Robert Webb).  Mitchell is a two-time BAFTA Television Award recipient, for That Mitchell and Webb Look and Peep ShowScott Porter, who starred on Friday Night Lights as Jason Street and Hart of Dixie as George Tucker, is celebrating his 38th today.  Nancy Olson, who turns 89, became known for starring opposite William Holden in four films in 1950-51, most famously Sunset Boulevard.  She later co-starred with Fred MacMurray in Disney’s The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.

Film and theater producer Scott Rudin turns 59.  He is best known in the theater world, where he has won fifteen Tonys in the Best Play, Best Musical, or Best Revival (of a Play or Musical) categories, the latest as producer of the revival of Hello, Dolly! which was honored earlier this year.  He has won an Oscar, for producing No Country for Old Men, a Grammy, for the cast album for The Book of Mormon, and an Emmy for the documentary He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’, making him the only individual to win an EGOT exclusively as a producer.

Kyle Gass, the lead guitarist of Tenacious D, is turning 57; the band, fronted by actor Jack Black, won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance for “The Last in Line.”

Rosey Grier, who is 85 today, was part of the LA Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” in the 1960s, and like fellow Foursome member Merlin Olsen went on to a television acting career.  Darrelle Revis, who turns 32, is currently one of the top defensive backs in the NFL.  He has made seven Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.

Polly Bergen (1930-2014) won an Emmy for starring in The Helen Morgan Story on Playhouse 90, and was nominated for the 1980s miniseries The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, and later for a recurring part on Desperate Housewives.  She starred in films like Cape Fear and The Caretakers and was a Tony nominee for a 2001 revival of Follies.

William Hanna (1910-2001) was, in partnership with Joseph Barbera, a major figure in American animation.  The duo were the creators of Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and Scooby-Doo, to name a few.  Dale Robertson (1923-2013) was known to TV audiences of the fifties and sixties for his starring roles on Tales of Wells Fargo and The Iron HorseGeorge Tobias (1901-1980) played Abner Kravitz on Bewitched and was a busy supporting player at Warner Brothers in the 1940s.  Lino Ventura (1919-1987) was an Italian actor known for his work in French films such as Touchez pas au grisbi, Le deuxième souffle, and Army of ShadowsTerry-Thomas (1911-1990, born Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens) was an English comedian and character actor know for films like Tom Thumb and The Mouse on the Moon.

Arthur Laurents (1917-2011) was another prominent theater figure.  He wrote the books for musicals like West Side Story, Gypsy, and the Tony-winning Hallelujah, Baby!  He later won a Tony for directing for a revival of La Cage aux Folles.  He also wrote a few screenplays, including Hitchcock’s Rope.

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) was one of the most influential directors of the 20th century.  He directed three films which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film—The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny and Alexander.  A fourth, Cries and Whispers, was nominated for Best Picture.  A few of his other highly regarded films include Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Scenes From a Marriage, and Autumn Sonata.

Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was an English explorer, archeologist, writer and adventurer who spent much of her adult life in the Middle East.  During and after World War One she played an important role advising British officials in the region, and later helped establish the then-new kingdom of Iraq.  Queen of the Desert, a biopic of Bell starring Nicole Kidman, came out earlier this year.

One year ago today, the headliners for the birthday article were Jane Lynch and Matthew Fox.

Jane Lynch’s Emmy and Golden Globe winning run on Glee as Sue Sylvester has ended, however, she continues to host Hollywood Game Night, which has brought her two additional Emmys.  She turns 57 today.

Finally, Happy Bastille Day to all!

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 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. So how about a little musical bonus content—Woody Guthrie wrote so many songs, it would be scandalous to have him represented by just one. 🙂

    So here’s one with Woody himself singing:

    And here is one of my 3-4 favorites of Woody’s songs, sung by Ani DiFranco:

    Like

  2. Harry Dean Stanton, I love his output, plus he reminds me of a combination of johnny Cash and my maternal Grandfather. But “Repo Man”? “Christine”? “Escape from “new York”? “Paris, Texas”? “Pretty in Pink”? “Slam Dance”? Aw yeah, I’m there.
    Jackie Earle Haley, I liked his Freddy Krueger (I thought the remake was decent), but I like the 1979 film “Breaking Away”. I can’t say I got into that “The Bad News Bears” action though.
    Joel Silver, I think he has a fine list of list as a producer on his resume (he he “Streets of Fire”).
    Rosey Grier, I think he was discussed on here once in regards to Pam Grier.
    Ingmar Berman, he’s definitely one of the highest regarded directory in the history of his industry.

    Like

  3. Harry Dean is Becky de Mornay’s ex. Her first movie was with him.

    Like

    • Yeah, I think that’s hot; I like both of them a little more knowing that they were once together. I also like knowing that De Mornay & Leonard Cohen were once together too; De Mornay has clearly been with some interesting men.

      Like

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