August 2: Happy Birthday Mary-Louise Parker and Myrna Loy
Mary-Louise Parker is celebrating her 53rd birthday today. She made her film debut in a pair of 1989 features, and had her first big success starring in the 1991 hit Fried Green Tomatoes. She never became a major film star, but over the years she’s had prominent roles in a variety of films, ranging from Grand Canyon to The Portrait of a Lady, to Saved!, to RED and RED 2. She will have a supporting role in next year’s Red Sparrow, adapted from the novel by Jason Matthews.
Parker has had some of her biggest success on television. In 2001 she began appearing in the recurring role of Amy Gardner on The West Wing, receiving her first Emmy nomination. She won an Emmy and a Golden Globe as Harper Pitt in HBO’s miniseries Angels in America, and later received an Emmy nomination for a TV movie adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride. Her biggest television success, however, was starring as Nancy Botwin on Showtime’s Weeds, for which she won a second Golden Globe.
Parker has also been a successful stage actress who has received three Tony nominations. She won Best Actress in a Play for starring in the original production of David Auburn’s Proof. Her latest starring role in the stage was in Simon Stephens’s Heisenberg, which opened on Broadway last fall.
Myrna Loy (1905-1993) studied dance as a girl, and at 18 began performing in live musical stage shows that served as pre-movie entertainment at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. A photographer showed some shots of Loy to silent star Rudolph Valentino, who arranged an audition for Loy in one of his films; she didn’t get that part but soon began getting other film roles. In the silent and early sound era, she was often typecast as a “vamp,” often an Asian or Eurasian character; however, she made a decisive break with that image in 1934’s Manhattan Melodrama, emerging as one of the biggest stars of the rest of the 1930s.
Manhattan Melodrama starred Clark Gable, and Loy returned as his leading lady in films like Wife vs. Secretary and Test Pilot. More importantly for Loy, however, it was her first of 14 pairings with William Powell over the next decade and a half. They starred in The Great Ziegfeld, Libeled Lady, I Love You Again, and several more, of course including the six Thin Man films. During World War Two, Loy put her career almost entirely on hold to work with the Red Cross, but after the war she remained a major star in films like The Best Years of Our Lives and Cheaper by the Dozen.
Nadia Bjorlin, who is turning 37 today, is best known for her run of nearly 20 years as Chloe Lane on Days of Our Lives. Hallie Eisenberg, who is 25, had a variety of film and TV roles but is famous for being the “Pepsi Girl” in a number of TV ads for the soda company. She is the younger sister of Jesse Eisenberg. Jacinda Barrett, a one-time cast member of The Real World, is 45. She has made a number of film appearances and was a regular for three seasons on Netflix’s just-completed Bloodline. Filmmaker Simon Kinberg, who turns 44, has written or co-written films like Sherlock Holmes and This Means War, but his biggest project has been a lengthy involvement with the X-Men films as a writer and producer, and with the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix, as a director.
Garth Hudson, who is celebrating his 80th, is a multi-instrumentalist who is best known for his talents on the keyboard, and for his years with The Band, although he has also worked with an extensive list of other artists. Andrew Gold (1951-2011) was also a multi-instrumentalist who worked with a great many artists, notably Linda Ronstadt. The son of Marni Nixon, famous as a playback singer for movie musicals, Gold had a Top Ten hit in 1977 with “Lonely Boy.”
A year ago on her birthday, swimmer Simone Manuel was competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she won four medals and became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in swimming in the 100 meter freestyle. She turns 21 today.
Novelist and social critic James Baldwin (1924-1987) was one of the leading African-American writers of the mid-20th Century. He was known for novels like Go Tell It on the Mountain and Another Country, while his most famous nonfiction work may have been The Fire Next Time. Isabel Allende is turning 75. The Chilean-born novelist, a US citizen since 1993, has written novels such as The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts.
Jack L. Warner (1892-1978) had some brothers, and together with them he founded a movie studio. Of the four brothers (the others were Harry, Albert, and Sam), Jack was by far the one most involved with the production side of the family business, and under his leadership, Warner Brothers became one of the biggest names in film, known for their relatively hard-edged crime films and social dramas, their action films, and their animation department, just to give a partial listing. Ann Dvorak (1911-1979) was a well-known leading lady of the thirties and forties who spent a sizable part of that time at Warner’s. She is known for films like Scarface, G-Men, and Flame of the Barbary Coast.
The August 2 headliners a year ago were Kevin Smith and Edward Furlong.
Earlier this year, Kevin Smith, who turns 47, announced the cancellation of Clerks III. Edward Furlong appeared in the limited release film A Winter Rose last December; the WTHH subject turns 40.
Sam Worthington turns 41 today. He appeared last fall in a major role in Hacksaw Ridge, and earlier this year starred in The Shack and The Hunter’s Prayer. Victoria Jackson, who is 58, appeared last year in the indie rom-com The Matchbreaker and also continues with her political activism. Joanna Cassidy, who continues to play Candice Van-Weber on Odd Mom Out, is turning 72.
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.