July 31: Happy Birthday Geraldine Chaplin and B. J. Novak


Geraldine Chaplin becomes the second member of her family to headline in this series on her 73rd birthday.  Of her father Charlie’s eleven children, she has had by far the most distinguished acting career.  She had her first major film role as Tonya in Doctor Zhivago in 1965, and received a Golden Globe nomination.  She also began a long career in European cinema in the late sixties—she is fluent in both French and Spanish—and in the late sixties began a 12-year professional and personal relationship with Spanish director Carlos Saura.

Chaplin did a number of Hollywood films in the seventies along with her work with Saura.  She played Anne of Austria in Richard Lester’s two-part adaptation of The Three Musketeers, and then did several films with Robert Altman.  As a part of the ensemble cast of Nashville, she received a second Golden Globe nomination for the role of the pretentious BBC journalist Opal.

In the 1980s, Chaplin was very active in French cinema, making films with directors like Claude Lelouch and Alain Resnais.  The nineties saw her working in Hollywood again from time to time, receiving another Golden Globe nomination for playing her own grandmother in Chaplin, and appearing in Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence.  She won a Goya Award for the 2002 Spanish film In the City Without Limits, and has made several films with Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona; she will appear next year in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which Bayona is directing.

B. J. Novak is celebrating his 38th.  His father William is known for ghostwriting a number of celebrity memoirs, including Nancy Reagan’s and Lee Iacocca’s.  B. J. moved to California after graduating from Harvard and began nibbling his way into the entertainment industry—working as a stand-up comic, writing for the WB’s Raising Dad, and helping Ashton Kutcher play pranks on Punk’d.

Novak is best known for his work on the American version of The Office.  He was part of the original team of writers, has been an executive producer, and played the part of Ryan Howard.  He has shared in a WGA Award for writing and two SAG Awards for Outstanding Ensemble Cast, and been nominated for Emmys as a producer.

Novak has been involved in his Office colleague Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project in various capacities.  He has been in films like Inglourious Basterds, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and his books—a short story collection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories and a picture book, The Book With No Pictures—have been on New York Times bestsellers lists.

Ben Chaplin, who turns 48, is no relation to Charlie and Geraldine.  He has had major film roles in The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Washington Square, and Birthday Girl, and as a stage actor has been nominated for Olivier and Tony Awards.  Emilia Fox, who is 43 today, has starred as Dr. Nikki Alexander on the BBC crime drama Silent Witness since 2004.  Alexis Knapp, who plays Stacie Conrad in the Pitch Perfect films, turns 28 today.

Sherry Lansing, who is 73 today, had a short acting career.  She is much better known as the first woman to head a major Hollywood studio; she served as president of production at Fox and later as CEO of Paramount.

Faye Kellerman, the author of about two dozen mysteries featuring the characters Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, turns 65.  She and her husband Jonathan are the only married couple to ever have separate books simultaneously be on the New York Times bestseller list.

A lengthy list of sports birthdays begins with some NFL notables.  Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene, who turns 55, made five Pro Bowls and later was a coach for the Packers when they won Super Bowl XLV.  Offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden, who is 43, is also a Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with the Baltimore Ravens and made eleven Pro Bowls.  DeMarcus Ware, who just retired after over a decade as one of the NFL’s best defensive linemen and a nine-time Pro Bowler, is turning 35.  Switching to the other sort of football, midfielder Michael Bradley, who is 30, has been a mainstay of the US Men’s National Team for nearly a decade.  Evonne Goolagong Cawley, an Australian aboriginal tennis star who won 14 Grand Slam titles in her career and is a former World #1 player, is 66 today.  Curt Gowdy (1919-2006) was well known to sports fans of the sixties and seventies as one of the top sportscasters on NBC.  He called the New York Jets’ famous upset win in Super Bowl III and Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run in 1974.

Jim Corr, the oldest of the four siblings who make up The Corrs, turns 53 today.  He is normally the guitarist in the family folk-rock band.  George Liberace (1911-1983) often performed with his more famous brother; his absence would be an occasion for the remark “I wish my brother George was here.”

Richard Griffiths (1947-2013) had a long career on stage and screen.  His greatest acclaim came for the role of Douglas Hector in Alan Bennett’s play The History Boys and in the 2006 film adaptation; he won Tony and Olivier Awards for his stage performance and a BAFTA Award for the film.  He also played Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.  Radio, television and voice actor Ted Cassidy (1932-1979) was often on call when there was a need for characters of great size (he was 6-9), of deep voice, or both (such as Lurch on The Addams Family).  As the head of MGM’s animation department, Fred Quimby (1886-1965) had his name on several Oscar-winning cartoons, mostly in the Tom and Jerry series, although his role in the creative process seems to have been rather limited.

William Quantrill (1837-1965) led pro-Confederate “bushwhackers,” irregular units who today we would probably call terrorists, in the US Civil War.  He has been portrayed in film several times, including Ang Lee’s Ride With the Devil, where he was played by John Ales.

A year ago, we featured Wesley Snipes and J. K. Rowling as headliners.

J. K. Rowling is 52 today.  She wrote the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and will also be involved in the subsequent films in the series.  She is also working on her fourth novel about PI Cormoran Strike, while the BBC series adapting the books will begin airing on BBC One in August.

Wesley Snipes is still a WTHH subject on his 55th birthday, and will appear in a horror film titled Armed Response with another WTHH subject, Anne Heche.  Michael Biehn, today’s other WTHH birthday, appeared in the direct-to-DVD thriller The Shadow Effect; he is turning 61.  Charlie Carver appeared in the ABC miniseries When We Rise, and will appear as Snug the joiner in Casey Wilder Mott’s contemporary-setting version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  He is 29 today.  Also 29 today, NFL star A. J. Green made his sixth straight Pro Bowl last season.  Susan Bennett, who is 68, voiced Batman’s computer in The Lego Batman MovieMark Cuban, who turns 59, continues to have a foothold in the entertainment industry by owning Magnolia Pictures and appearing on Shark Tank.  Onetime Superman Dean Cain turns 51.  He made some more guest appearances on Supergirl, and voiced Jonathan Kent in a DC animated feature.


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 31, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m reading this at the end of a busy day as evidenced by the later than usual posting of the Twin Peaks recap. I’m just exhausted, but I wanted to thank you for making me aware that Snipes and Heche were making a movie together. Lots of other good stuff today, but the WTHH updates put a little pep in my tired step. Thanks for that!


  2. Geraldine Chaplin never became a major Hollywood star, but she has had a busy and very interesting career. She was one of many people who made Nashville memorable, and she was very good as Anne of Austria in those Musketeers films—spoiled and selfish, but still sympathetic, inasmuch as she is married to a complete idiot.

    On most days Faye Kellerman would be the top-selling author celebrating a birthday. I read several of the Decker/Lazarus novels some time back but for some reason I got away from the series.


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