July 19: Happy Birthday Abel Ferrara and Atom Egoyan


Today our headliners are a pair of directors, who, while not known for big commercial successes, have both made a number of well-regarded films.

Abel Ferrara is turning 66 today.  He studied film at SUNY-Purchase and made several short films while he was there.  He began to get some attention beginning at the end of the 1970s with a pair of low-budget features, The Driller Killer and Ms. 45.  During the 1980s he worked with Michael Mann, directing the pilot for Crime Story and a pair of episodes of Miami Vice.  His adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Cat Chaser did not go well—the film was taken away from him and rather severely edited.  However, at the beginning of the 1990s he came back with one of his best known films, and worked for the first time with Christopher Walken.

Although King of New York received mixed reviews on its release it is well regarded today.  Ferrara followed it up with other well-regarded films like Bad Lieutenant, Body Snatchers, The Addiction, and The Funeral.  In the 2000s, he relocated to Europe, where he felt he could get funding more easily.  His 2005 film Mary, which featured previous headliners Forest Whitaker, Juliette Binoche, and Marion Cotillard, was a huge success at the Venice Film Festival; he has also received acclaim for a 2014 film about the final days in the life of director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Atom Egoyan celebrates his 57th.  A Canadian filmmaker of Armenian heritage (although born in Egypt), he began working in film after graduating from the University of Toronto.  He made his first feature, Next of Kin, in 1984; during filming he met his wife and frequent collaborator, Arsinée Khanjian.  His 1989 film Speaking Parts was nominated for Best Picture at the Genie Awards, while his 1994 feature Exotica won the FIPRESCI at Cannes.  In 1997, one of the stars of that film, Sarah Polley, rejoined Egoyan for what is probably his best-regarded film.

Egoyan was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for The Sweet Hereafter, which also won a long list of other honors.  Since then Egoyan has made eight features, including the well-received drama Felicia’s Journey, the erotic thrillers Where the Truth Lies and Chloe, and the 2015 film Remember, his biggest critical success in several years.

Saïd Taghmaoui, most recently seen as Sameer in Wonder Woman, turns 44.  He began working in French film in the early 1990s and has appeared in Hollywood films ranging from Three Kings to Conan the Barbarian (2011 version).  Kaitlin Doubleday, who turns 33, is known for being a regular on the first two seasons of Empire, and more recently on season 5 of NashvilleNancy Carell, who is 51 today, had a lengthy stint on The Daily Show, and along with her husband Steve is the co-creator of the TBS series Angie Tribeca.

Helen Gallagher, who is celebrating her 91st, had a long stage career and was a two-time Tony winner, for playing Gladys Bumps in a revival of Pal Joey and Lucille Early in the famous 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette.  She was also nominated for five Daytime Emmys for playing Maeve Ryan on Ryan’s Hope.

Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is turning 52, has become one of the world’s best known percussionists despite suffering from profound hearing loss since the age of 12.  Her most recent album, Altamira, was a collaboration with Mark Knopfler.  Vikki Carr, who is turning 76, had several hits on the Hot 100 in the sixties, including the #3 hit “It Must Be Him,” and more recently has won three Grammys in different Latin music categories.  Country rocker Bernie Leadon, who is 70, was a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers and a founding member of Eagles.

Teresa Edwards, who is 53, was one of the best women’s basketball players in the world during the 1980s and 1990s.  She played on five consecutive US Olympic squads from 1984-2000, winning four gold medals and one bronze, and was still good enough at nearly 40 years of age to play in the first two seasons of the WNBA.

Mark O’Donnell (1954-2012) was best known for his writing for the stage.  He shared a Tony for Best Book of a Musical for Hairspray (adapted from the John Waters film) and was nominated for a second Tony for the book for the musical adaptation of Cry-Baby.  His twin brother Steve O’Donnell, who turns 63, has won several Primetime Emmys for his writing for Late Night with David Letterman and The Chris Rock Show.

Max Fleischer (1883-1972) may have been the most significant figure in early American animation who was not involved with either Disney or Warner Brothers.  He was the creator of Betty Boop and brought both Popeye the Sailor and Superman to cartoons for the first time.  Arthur Rankin (1924-2014) teamed with Jules Bass to form Rankin-Bass Productions, who were best known for their animated Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa ClausRichard Jordan (1937-1993) had prominent roles in features like Logan’s Run and Dune, and starred in the 1976 miniseries The Captains and the Kings.  He also was a stage actor with a long association with the New York Shakespeare Festival.  Pat Hingle (1924-2009) had a career of over fifty years as a character actor, including several appearances in Clint Eastwood’s films and playing Commissioner Gordon in the Batman films of the eighties and nineties.

In the world of “high” culture, Edgar Degas (1834-1917) was a French painter and sculptor who was a leader of the Impressionist movement.  He is famous for paintings like The Bellelli Family and Portraits at the Stock Exchange and sculptures like Little Dancer of Fourteen Years.  The early 20th century Russian poet and playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) left behind poems like Backbone Flute and plays like The Bedbug when he committed suicide at the age of 36.

Charles Mayo (1865-1939) was an American physician and one of the founders of the non-profit medical practice that bears his name.  Samuel Colt (1814-1862) also left behind an institution that bears his name, in his case a firearms manufacturer.  Lizzie Borden (1860-1927) was famous for taking an axe and giving her mother forty whacks, etc.  What is not as commonly remembered is that she was acquitted of the charges of murdering her parents in 1892.  Lizzie has been played by Elizabeth Montgomery and Christina Ricci in TV movies about the case, while Chloe Sevigny will play her in the upcoming feature film Lizzie.

The July 19 headliners one year ago were Benedict Cumberbatch and Anthony Edwards.

As he turns 41, Benedict Cumberbatch is looking forward to seeing a lot of projects come to fruition.  He will return to the role of Dr. Stephen Strange in no fewer than three installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next two years or so.  Later this year he will also play Thomas Edison in The Current War, while he is a voice actor, and in once case a motion capture actor, for next year’s Jungle Book (as Shere Khan) and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (as the Grinch).  That’s not to mention the possibility of a fifth season as Sherlock or the potential to add to his impressive stage resume (which includes three Olivier Award nominations with a win for Frankenstein).

Anthony Edwards, who is 55, directed My Dead Boyfriend, released last November.  Brian May, who celebrates his 70th, spent much of 2016 on the Queen & Adam Lambert Summer Festival Tour, and this year released the album Golden Days in collaboration with Kerry Ellis.  Jared Padalecki, who turns 35, continues to star on Supernatural and appeared on one episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the LifeCampbell Scott, who has joined the cast of House of Cards, turns 56.

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 19, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Abel Ferrara, I still haven’t seen all of “Fear City”, but I have seen “Ms. 45” (Zoe Lund going all “I Spit on Your Grave” on people, once dressing like a nun) and “Bad Lieutenant” (Zoe Lund freebasing with the Harvey Keitel character, again nuns are involved; one can listen for ex-WFAN radio personality Chris “Mad Dog” Russo in the beginning of that film), and I love those two episodes of “Miami Vice”, ‘The Dutch Oven’ and ‘The Home Invaders’ (an episode I was just thinking of yesterday).
    Richard Jordan, I remember him best as the serial killer in 1985’s “The Mean Season”, and as the boss character in “The Secret of my Succe$$”. In his personal life, he seemed to favor redheads, as he had extensive relationships with both Blair Brown & Marcia Cross.
    Pat Hingle, I thought he was good in those films he did with Clint Eastwood (“The Gauntlet”, “Sudden Impact”), while I liked his Commissioner Gordon in those Batman ’89-’97 films. Oh, and he played the sleazy diner owner in “Maximum Overdrive” too.
    Samuel Colt, he is an important figure in the history of firearms, and without him there probably wouldn’t be Colt 45 malt liquor either.
    Lizzie Bordon, I think she axed her folks, but it looks like she had The Juice when it came to that situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, time for some commenting catchup,

    I’ve seen several of Abel Ferrara’s films. We’ve had some discussion of Cat Chaser around here, in our coverage of both Kelly McGillis and Elmore Leonard. It’s hard to see it as anything but a failure—although not necessarily all Ferrara’s failure. I thought Bad Lieutenant was very good, but too bleak for me to want to see it again. I have a very high opinion of both King of New York and The Funeral.

    Atom Egoyan I know from The Sweet Hereafter and Felicia’s Journey. Both are very good and worth watching at least once. The former film features three favorites of mine—Sarah Polley, Ian Holm, and Bruce Greenwood.

    In addition to all their Christmas specials, Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass produced TV movie adaptations of The Hobbit and The Return of the King, and a feature film version of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.


    • Wow, I forgot about “The Sweet Hereafter”; yeah, I thought it was a good film. Alberta Watson’s in that one, and she caught my attention from 1994’s “Spanking the Monkey”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: