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August 9: Happy Birthday Gillian Anderson and Whitney Houston

0809AndersonHouston

Gillian Anderson is celebrating her 49th birthday today.  She studied theater at DePaul University and then moved to New York, where she pursued a classic career path for aspiring actresses—waitressing.  Her acting debut came in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends, and brought her a Theatre World Award.  She had added only a couple of other roles to her resume when she was cast as an FBI agent on a new series that made its debut on Fox in the fall of 1993.

Anderson received multiple nominations for Emmys and Golden Globes as Dana Scully on The X-Files, and won one of each.  She starred on the show’s nine-season run from 1993-2002, in a pair of feature films, and in a short 10th season that aired in early 2016 (a 10-episode eleventh season is upcoming).  She became one of the first big stars on the internet age, and her character had a social phenomenon, the “Scully Effect,” named for her.

As I noted in last year’s article, Anderson has kept very active in the years since The X-Files ended its original run.  Along with a variety of feature films, she has had television roles such as the lead role of Stella Gibson on the British crime drama The Fall, a recurring part on Hannibal, and most recently the Goddess Media on American Gods.  She has had an active London stage career, receiving Olivier Award nominations for Best Actress for two high-powered roles, Nora Helmer in A Doll’s House and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012) grew up in New Jersey in a musical family—her mother was Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, and she was related to Dionne Warwick (first cousin) and soprano Leontyne Price (cousin in some degree).  She worked as a fashion model for a few years before signing with Arista Records.  Her first album, Whitney Houston, released in 1985, launched her on close to a decade of huge success.  By the beginning of the 1990s her albums had sold over 50 million copies and she had had nine #1 singles.

No one, of course, remains at that level of success for their entire career.  Houston had a big commercial success in her film debut in 1992 with The Bodyguard, but after a few years her acting career fizzled out.  Her record sales fluctuated, and her image suffered as a variety of her personal problems were publicized.  However, the outpouring of grief after her February 2012 death was enormous, and her recordings are certainly an unforgettable legacy.

McG (given name Joseph McGinty Nichol) is turning 49.  He directed music videos in the 1990s, and then Drew Barrymore recruited him to direct Charlie’s Angels in 2000.  His subsequent filmography includes We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation, and 3 Days to KillJessica Capshaw, who is 41, was a regular on The Practice for two seasons, and for the last nine years has played Dr. Arizona Robbins on Grey’s Anatomy.  Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might recognize Ashley Johnson from her cameo in The Avengers; Johnson, who is 34, currently stars on Blindspot with fellow MCU veteran Jaimie Alexander.  Daniel Henshall, who is about to finish the final season of Turn: Washington’s Spies, is 35 today.  Bill Skarsgård, who is 27 today, will appear in the upcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s It as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

Kurtis Blow, who turns 58 today, was the first rapper to sign with a major record label when he landed a contract with Mercury in 1979.  Jack DeJohnette, one of the most important jazz drummers ever, turns 75; he has worked as a sideman with the likes of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock.

Sports birthdays not covered last year include Ken Norton (1943-2013), a heavyweight boxer who briefly held the world title in 1978 and was known for his 3 fights with Muhammad Ali.  Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders turns 50.  One of the games’ best cornerbacks in the 1990s, he won Super Bowl with the 49ers and Cowboys and made 8 Pro Bowls; he also played 9 seasons of major league baseball.  Chamique Holdsclaw, who turns 41, made six WNBA All-Star games with the Washington Mystics and the Los Angeles Sparks and won a gold medal with the US team at the 2000 Olympics.

P. L. Travers (1899-1996, given name Helen Goff) was the author of over 20 books, but by far the most famous were the eight she wrote about the English nanny Mary Poppins.  Emma Thompson played Travers in the film Saving Mr. Banks, which was about the creation of the film Mary Poppins in the early 1960s.  Philip Larkin (1922-1985) was named England’s greatest post-war writer by the Times of London in 2008; he was most famous for poetry collections like The Less Deceived and The Whitsun WeddingsJohn Varley, who turns 70, is a science fiction author, best known for his Gaea Trilogy and the Eight Worlds novels and stories.  Jonathan Kellerman, who celebrates his 68th, earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and then began writing a series of thrillers about a clinical psychologist named Alex Delaware, who is a special consultant for the Los Angeles Police Department.  Kellerman and his wife Faye are the only husband-and-wife duo to have separate books on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time.

One year ago, Anna Kendrick and Melanie Griffith were featured as headliners.

Anna Kendrick celebrates her 32nd.  She has been keeping busy.  In the past year, she has starred opposite Ben Affleck in The Accountant, a financial success if not a huge hit, and voiced the lead role of Princess Poppy in Dreamworks Animation’s Trolls (also doing her own singing).  She also was featured in Table 19 earlier this year, while Pitch Perfect 3 is due out in December.  In addition, her memoir, Scrappy Little Nobody, came out last fall.

Melanie Griffith, who is 60, appeared in The Disaster Artist, which premiered at South by Southwest and will be released in December, and in Dabka, which was shown at Tribeca in April of this year.  She is a WTHH subject.

Sam Elliott, who is turning 73, headlined The Hero, which premiered at Sundance this year.  Audrey Tautou, who celebrates her 41st, stars in John Turturro’s Going Places, which is a remake of a 1974 French film as well as a semi-spinoff of The Big LebowskiEric Bana, who last was seen in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (which was a bomb) as Uther Pendragon, is 49.  Rhona Mitra, who is also 41, starred in the direct-to-video film Hard Target 2Adelaide Kane, who is turning 27, saw her Reign come to an end after four seasons, but will join Once Upon a Time in a recurring role.

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 August 9, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yesterday marked 365 consecutive articles which is an amazing accomplishment. Today is the anniversary of your first solo posting. I definitely appreciate all of your contributions over the last year and I know readers do too.

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  2. I was never an X-Files fan. I know, that’s probably shocking. Most geeks my age were, but it never appealed to me all that much. I did like Gillian Anderson and I have enjoyed her in other things. She’s terrific as Media on American Gods.

    I was also never a big Whitney Houston. That probably won’t surprise anyone. Despite not being a fan, I can appreciate her talent and I am saddened that so much of it was wasted.

    Ashley Johnson got her start as a child star on Growing Pains. She is friends with Joss Whedon, although I forget the backstory of how that came to be. That’s why she has the cameo in Avengers. She works quite a bit in voice-acting. I watched some videos on the making of the video game, The Last of Us, in which she plays a child who may be the cure for a zombie-like infection. It’s kind of funny because the character she is playing looks a lot like Ellen Page to the extent that I initially thought it might be her.

    I don’t know much about P. L. Travers, but I think I know enough to know she would take issue with a lot of the content of Saving Mr. Banks.

    I like Anna Kendrick more than I like most of her movies.

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  3. I only rarely watched The X-Files in the nineties, but you couldn’t avoid being aware of it, and of Gillian Anderson. I recall that when I first started using the internet in about 1996 or ’97, there were Gillian Anderson fan pages everywhere. Of course, when you look into her full career, as I did in writing the two articles for her birthday last year and this, you discover that she’s so much more than just a pretty face who lucked into one great role.

    Whitney Houston was similarly almost impossible to be unaware of—minus the online component—in the mid-late 1980s.

    Jessica Capshaw is, of course, Kate Capshaw’s daughter, and Steven Spielberg’s stepdaughter.

    And Anna Kendrick—“Scrappy?” Well, she comes across that way onscreen some of the time. “Little?” She’s 5-2, so, yes. But she’s definitely a somebody. She was terrific in Up in the Air, and I like the film of Into the Woods with Kendrick as Cinderella pretty well. She’s good in smaller parts in Scott Pilgrim and End of Watch, and I definitely enjoyed her performances in Mr. Right and The Accountant. The Pitch Perfect films, which are sort of her meal ticket, aren’t really my kind of film, but I might check them out someday because of Anna.

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    • Back in the 90’s, I had a buddy (who coincidentally is also celebrating a birthday today) who was a big X-Files fan. He made multiple attempts to get me into the show. I liked what I saw, but not enough to watch it on my own. We had a longstanding argument over which was better; X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and which show creator would have more of a cultural impact. Pretty sure time has proven me right on the Chris Carter vs. Joss Whedon debate. I should call him and point that out. 😉

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