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July 26: Happy Birthday Kevin Spacey and Stanley Kubrick

0726SpaceyKubrick

Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey turns 58 today.  He and actress Mare Winningham were high school classmates, and starred together in the senior play, The Sound of Music.  He then moved to New York and gradually built a successful career on Broadway, which culminated in his winning a Tony for playing Uncle Louie in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers.  One of his first major screen appearances was in a 1987 telecast of the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Spacey as Jamie Tyrone.

Spacey began working in film in the late eighties, and had supporting roles in films like Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as a starring role in Swimming with Sharks.  His film breakthrough was in 1995, when he had three prominent film roles: in the medical thriller Outbreak as an Army doctor, as the serial killer in Seven, and in an Oscar-winning performance as Roger “Verbal” Kint in The Usual Suspects.

Spacey played Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential, and then won his second Oscar, for Best Actor, for playing Lester Burnham in American Beauty.  He was nominated for Golden Globes for The Shipping News and Beyond the Sea (which he also directed).  He has maintained his stage career, and was the artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre for over a decade.  Spacey currently produces and stars in Netflix’s House of Cards, and for five consecutive years has been nominated for Primetime Emmys for both acting and producing (his latest nominations are pending, with the 69th Emmys coming up in September).

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was one of the most influential filmmakers of the later 20th century.  He began as a photographer for Look magazine after finishing high school and had a number of photo essays in the magazine in the late forties.  In the early fifties he made some self-funded documentaries and then feature films.  His first notable feature was the 1956 heist film The Killing.  Following that he made two films with Kirk Douglas, the World War 1 drama Paths of Glory and the epic Spartacus; the latter was produced by Douglas, who brought Kubrick in to direct after firing Anthony Mann.  It was Kubrick’s first major success and won several Oscars.

In the early 1960s Kubrick moved to England for a time.  He made a 1962 adaptation of Nabokov’s Lolita with Peter Sellers; following that came four films, spread over more than a decade, which all received Best Picture nominations—the brilliant satirical comedy Dr. Strangelove, the sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, the controversial A Clockwork Orange, and the period drama Barry Lyndon.  His final three features were not as highly acclaimed, but in its time almost every Kubrick film from the late 1960s on was a notable event.  Picking one scene from one film to represent him is hopelessly inadequate, but here’s one very famous Kubrick moment:

Olivia Williams turns 49 today.  She made her film debut in The Postman and is known for her roles in films such as Rushmore, Lucky Break, and The Ghost Writer.  X-Men fans may also recall her cameo as Moira MacTaggert in X-Men: The Last Stand.  Some may remember Darlene Love for her singing career, but she is more likely to be recognized for playing Trish Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films.  She celebrates her 76th today.  Susan George, who is 67, is best known for her starring roles in 1970s films such as Straw Dogs and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.  It’s somewhat fitting that director Peter Hyams, who is 74, shares a birthday with Stanley Kubrick, as Hyams directed 2010, the sequel film to Kubrick’s 2001.  Hyams’ filmography also includes Capricorn One, Outland, Running Scared, and Timecop.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm (1922-2002) did not begin pitching in the major leagues until he was nearly 30, but his mastery of the knuckleball enabled him to play until just a few weeks short of his 50th birthday.  Football Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield (1920-1983) led the Cleveland Rams to the 1945 NFL championship, and continued to star when the franchise moved to Los Angeles a year later, leading them to another title in 1951.  He was married to actress Jane Russell for about 25 years and produced a few films with her.

Blake Edwards (1922-2010) first became well known directing films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Days of Wine and Roses.  His greatest fame was probably as the director, writer and producer of the Pink Panther films starring Peter Sellers, and for two films that gave prominent roles to his wife, Julie Andrews10 and Victor/Victoria.

Jason Robards, Jr., (1922-2000) was a two-time Oscar winner; he won Best Supporting Actor as Ben Bradlee in All The President’s Men and as Dashiell Hammett in Julia.  He won a Tony for starring in The Disenchanted, adapted from Budd Schulberg’s novel, and completed a Triple Crown of Acting with an Emmy for playing Henry Drummond in a 1988 television adaptation of Inherit the Wind.

Comedian Gracie Allen (1895-1964) was known for her partnership with her husband, George Burns.  The two performed together as a vaudeville act, on radio, on television, and occasionally in film.  Marjorie Lord (1918-2015) was known for playing Kathy O’Hara, who became the second wife of lead character Danny Williams on The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy).  James Best (1926-2015) had a long film career, but will be most likely remembered as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from The Dukes of Hazzard.

We have some big names in the literary and intellectual world born today.  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is often considered the greatest English-language dramatist since Shakespeare.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, primarily for plays like Saint Joan, Pygmalion, Major Barbara, and many more.  He later was awarded an Oscar for the film version of PygmalionAldous Huxley (1894-1963) is remembered for his dystopian novel Brave New World and for his philosophical essay collections like The Doors of PerceptionCarl Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist.  A onetime protege of Freud, Jung eventually followed his own path; he is considered the founder of analytical psychology (which is sometimes called Jungian psychology).  Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) was one of the most influential economists of all time.  Many of the concepts taught in introductory economics courses today, such as supply and demand, were first formally worked out by Marshall in his Principles of Economics.

Estes Kefauver (1903-1963) was a US Congressman and later Senator from Tennessee, and a two time candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.  He is remembered for being one of the first politicians to make use of television, holding televised Senate hearings in 1950 into organized crime, and for being one of only three southern Senators to refuse to sign the 1956 Southern Manifesto defending segregation.

Sandra Bullock and Mick Jagger were the headliners for July 26 a year ago.

Sandra Bullock, who is 53, appears to be taking one of those sabbaticals from film that never seem to hurt her career; she will return to the big screen next year in Ocean’s EightSir Mick Jagger continues to tour with the Rolling Stones as he turns 74.  The Stones released their 25th studio album, Blue & Lonesome, last December.

Elizabeth Gillies, who is 24, will play Fallon Carrington in the reboot of DynastyTaylor Momsen, also 24, continues to front The Pretty Reckless, who released their third studio album last fall.

In the last 12 months, Jason Statham, who is 50 today, has starred in The Mechanic: Resurrection and The Fate of the FuriousKate Beckinsale, who is 44, also returned to a franchise role in Underworld: Blood Wars, and will star in next month’s The Only Living Boy in New YorkHelen Mirren turns 72; she appeared in Collateral Beauty and made an uncredited cameo in The Fate of the FuriousJeremy Piven, who celebrates his 52nd, will star on the new CBS series Wisdom of the Crowd.

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 26, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. A lot of big names today. Kevin Spacey starred in two of my very favorite films from the 1990s, The Usual Suspects and L. A. Confidential, and has a lot more on his resume. If he ever gets an acting Emmy for House of Cards he will have completed a Triple Crown of Acting.

    Stanley Kubrick made a lot of memorable films. One that shouldn’t be overlooked is his early film The Killing, one of the most grimly fatalistic of all film noirs.

    At least one of Blake Edwards and Jason Robards, Jr., will be a headliner next year. I hope to do lengthy writeups of both eventually, but next year I might also want to bring Mick Jagger back and do a really good Rolling Stones piece, or cover Kate Beckinsale, or Helen Mirren, or…

    I am keeping my fingers crossed about Sandra Bullock’s return in Ocean’s Eight. Please let it be good. 🙂

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  2. Kevin Spacey, I retroactively viewed one of his early film roles as a goofy villain in 1989’s “See No Evil, Hear No Evil”, and his Verbal Kint character has an extra meaning for me since I had a friend who sampled some of the dialogue from “The Usual Suspects” for a music CD he creating (the name of the group was SunGrown, featuring Verbal, “Dedicated Sol”: fortunately he didn’t make it big with this particular CD, or else he probably would’ve been putting on a lawsuit. Still, my friend proclaimed on the Verbal song that he could mimic any gimmick and make one look lame, so maybe he is a lion in the jungle you just can’t tame). Wow though, I can’t get enough of “The Ref”; his character’s byplay with the judy Davis character there is highly amusing to me. I suppose one could go on about Spacey for quite some time.
    Stanley Kubrick, I’m all about “A Clockwork Orange”; I think it’s a total masterpiece, and though I like scant few war pictures, “Full Metal Jacket” is one of them. Actually, the only Kubrick film I’m middle of the road on is “The Shining”, due to me just not being able to get involved with it a personal event 21 years ago.
    Susan George, yeah, I remember her from “Straw Dogs”; that film pretty much disturbs me, and I think it’s very good.
    Peter Hyams, 1986’s “Running Scared”? I love it (has Billy Crystal ever been more studly?), and I like the 1990 remake of “Narrow Margin”.
    Hoyt Wilhelm, I’ve read of his exploits, and I like the name.
    Bob Waterfield, I mentioned him on Jane Russell’s birthday; the Rams really had it goof when both Waterfield & Norm Van Brocklin were their options at quarterback.
    Blake Edwards, my favorite film of his is “Days of Wine and Roses” (give me a film about alcoholics, and I’ll buy you a drink), but I’m a fan of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” as well. I like that film he did with John Ritter, 1989’s “Skin Deep” a fair amount also, though I doubt many care about that flick.

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  3. Aldous Huxley, I think “Brave New World” is an excellent book; I think it goes great with “1984”.
    Gracie Allen, I’ve caught reruns of that show George Burns & her did back in the day; I found it entertaining.
    Sandy Bullock, I had a friend who crushed about her big time; I’ve always felt that she’s delivered on what she was trying to portray onscreen, while bringing a lot of life to whatever character she had going on at the time. Speaking of booze cruiser films, I like “28 Days”. She dated Troy Aikman too? Way to go, both of them.
    Mick Jagger, I like some of The Rolling Stones stff: “Start Me Up” is probably my favorite.
    Helen Mirren, She’s someone else one could write on and on about; I’d like to cite the 1980 film “The Long Good Friday” as a film she was in that I rather enjoyed.

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