July 17: Happy Birthday Donald Sutherland and James Cagney


Donald Sutherland is celebrating his 82nd birthday today.  After earning his college degree, the Canadian-born Sutherland moved to England.  During the sixties he began working in British film and television.  He appeared in a few horror films starring Christopher Lee and on several British television programs, of which The Saint and The Avengers are likely the best known to American viewers.  His film career progressed when he had a good supporting role in The Dirty Dozen, and he emerged as a star in 1970 when he appeared in two more war films: as the hippie tanker Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes, and as a Korean war Army doctor nicknamed “Hawkeye.”

Sutherland was a major star in the seventies and early eighties.  He played the title role in Klute, although Jane Fonda was really the lead character, and had a memorable sex scene with Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now.  He starred in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and in adaptations of books by Jack Higgins (The Eagle Has Landed) and Michael Crichton (The Great Train Robbery).  He received his second Golden Globe nomination (M*A*S*H being the first) for Ordinary People.

As most actors do, Sutherland transitioned over time to supporting roles.  One of his earliest major ones was as Prof. Jennings in Animal House, while he later played the Watcher, Merrick, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 1995 TV movie Citizen X.  He continues to work actively in film; his best-known recent role was as President Snow in the Hunger Games films.

James Cagney (1899-1986) grew up in New York City, and learned to tap dance as a boy.  He landed his first stage part at about 20 years of age and worked on Broadway for much of the twenties.  When Warner Brothers brought a play he starred in to the screen, they signed him to a contract.  Within a couple of years, he had broken through as a star with his role in Public Enemy, one of the classic gangster films.  A decade of success, highlighted by films like Footlight Parade and G-Men, was interrupted by a contract dispute with Warners’ in 1936-37.  When it was settled, Cagney returned to the studio in one of his most famous roles, Rocky Sullivan in Angels With Dirty Faces, which brought him his first Oscar nomination.

Cagney then starred in films like The Roaring Twenties, another gangster classic, and The Fighting 69th, a World War One film.  In 1942 he played Broadway legend George M. Cohan in the biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy, and won Best Actor.  He had uneven success in the mid forties, but capped the decade with another great gangster film, White Heat.  He had fewer good roles in the fifties, but had good ones in Mister Roberts and Man of a Thousand Faces.  He retired from acting in 1961, but came out of it to play a supporting role in Milos Forman’s Ragtime twenty years later.

Spanish actress Elena Anaya is celebrating her 42nd birthday.  She is a four-time Goya Award nominee, winning Best Actress for Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In.  She is currently appearing as Isabel Maru in Wonder Woman.  Polish actress Dagmara Domińczyk, who is turning 41, is known for films like The Count of Monte Cristo, Lonely Hearts, and Higher Ground, and has written the novel The Lullaby of Polish Girls.  Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai is turning 59 today.  He has achieved enormous success in Asia, and at least a measure of international fame, with films such as Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, and The Grandmaster.

Alun Armstrong, who is turning 71, has appeared in films like Krull and Braveheart.  He is a prominent stage actor who won an Olivier Award for starring in the 1993 revival of Sweeney Todd, has done a lot of work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and originated the role of Thénardier in the West End production of Les MizLucie Arnaz, who is 66 today, was a regular on Here’s Lucy, starring with her real-life mother Lucille Ball.  Arnaz has also had a lengthy career in musical theater, largely in regional and community productions.  Alex Winter, best known as Bill S. Preston, Esq., in the two Bill & Ted films, is turning 52 today.  Heather Langenkamp, who is 53, played Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street and returned for two sequels; she also played Marie Lubbock on Just the Ten of Us.

Mike Vogel, who is 38, has been in films like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Cloverfield, and The Help.  He starred on CBS’s Under the Dome, adapted from Stephen King’s novel.  Billie Lourd, who played Sadie Swenson/Chanel #3 on Scream Queens and will join American Horror Story for its next season, is 25 today.  Some will recognize her for being Carrie Fisher’s daughter.  Summer Bishil, who is turning 29, made her debut starring in the indie film Towelhead, and currently stars on Syfy’s The Magicians.

Peter Schickele, who turns 82, is a music educator and composer best known for his comic “P.D.Q. Bach” persona; Schickele won four consecutive Grammys in the Best Comedy Album category from 1990-93 for his “Bach” albums.

In sports, Lou Boudreau (1917-2001) made the Baseball Hall of Fame after a career where he made seven All-Star Games and won the American League MVP award on the way to leading the Cleveland Indians to victory in the 1948 World Series.  Bryan Trottier, who is turning 61, was one of the stars for the New York Islanders when they won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83.  He later was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped them win Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.  He is a hockey Hall of Famer.

Journalist and author Mark Bowden is turning 66.  He is the author of books such as Black Hawk Down (adapted into a 2001 film), Killing Pablo, Guests of the Ayatollah, and the recently released Hue 1968Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) was the bestselling American author of the 20th century at the time of his death.  He wrote a variety of travel books but was best known for a character he introduced in The Case of the Velvet Claws in 1933, who appeared in over 80 novels as well as feature films and a long-running TV series—Perry Mason.

Country singer Craig Morgan, who celebrates his 53rd, released his debut album in 2000 and has had a lengthy list of charted singles, several of them crossover successes that reached the Hot 100.  Nicolette Larson (1952-1997) was a successful pop and country singer of the seventies and eighties who had hits like “Lotta Love” and “That’s How You Know When Love’s Right.”  American jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) made at least seventeen albums as a leader during his lifetime and contributed to at least a dozen more, but will always be known for his music for several Peanuts television specials.

Marcel Dalio (1899-1983) became a leading star of French film in the 1930s, known for roles in Pepe le Moko and in Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion and The Rules of the Game.  In 1940, he and his wife, actress Madeleine Lebeau, got out of Paris just ahead of the Nazis, and managed to make it to the US.  Dalio appeared in Casablanca as Emil, the croupier (“your winnings, sir”), and then had a major role in To Have and Have Not.  He continued to work periodically in America film for many years, appearing in Sabrina, Pillow Talk, Donovan’s Reef, and many more.

Before there was Roseanne Barr or Ellen DeGeneres, there was Phyllis Diller (1917-2012).  Diller worked in radio for several years before making her debut as a stand-up comic in 1955; she went on to become one of the first successful and widely known female comedians.

Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814) was a prominent figure in early US history.  He signed the Declaration of Independence, attended the Constitutional Convention (but declined to sign), and was Governor of Massachusetts and Vice President of the US under President James Madison.  But he is remembered because his name has become part of the word gerrymander.  John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) migrated to the US from Germany and made a fortune in the fur trade.  He is identified as the first multimillionaire in American history.

On this day a year ago our headliners were David Hasselhoff and Luke Bryan.

David Hasselhoff is 65; he has had cameos in two movies this year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and some movie about lifeguards.  Luke Bryan will celebrate his 41st while taking a few days break from the Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day TourJason Clarke is appearing in several movies this year as he turns 48, starring with Blake Lively in All I See Is You, playing Ted Kennedy in Chappaquiddick, and starring in HHhH as Reinhard Heydrich.

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 17, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Donald Sutherland, Lebeau jokingly kinda shortchanged him last year, but I think it’s pretty easy to find a good film that features Sutherland in it. I kind of like 1994’s “The Puppet Masters”
    James Cagney, I like some of his gangster flicks like “Angels with Dirty Faces” and “The Public Enemy”, plus i enjoyed “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.
    Alex Winter, definitely the bill & Ted films, but I also remember him in roles from “Death Wish 3” and “The Lost Boys”.
    Heather Langenkamp, she was my first television/film crush, and her Nancy Thompson character from the Elm Street films was my first heroine. “Can a Guy Say No?”; sure, but why?
    Phyllis Diller, I know her best from lending her animated form and voice to this one Scooby-Doo episode I saw once.


  2. James Cagney was a natural for gangster films. Public Enemy holds up best, I think, of the early 1930s gangster classics, mainly because of Cagney’s dynamic performance. He was terrific in Angels With Dirty Faces and chillingly psychotic in White Heat. He was also an unorthodox but charismatic song-and-dance man.

    Marcel Dalio was in some of the greatest French films of the 1930s. He and Madeleine Lebeau were both in Casablanca—she played Rick’s former girlfriend Yvonne. They can both be seen briefly in this clip from the movie, which includes Dalio’s most famous line.


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