August 15: Happy Birthday Rob Thomas and Wendy Hiller


Writer and producer Rob Thomas (not to be confused with the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty) is turning 52 today.  After graduating from college, he taught high school for several years and worked for Channel One News in the early 1990s, before starting to make his name as a writer.  He wrote several young adult novels in the late 1990s; the first published was Rats Saw God in 1996.  He also began writing for television at this time, working for a while as a staff writer for Dawson’s Creek.

In 1998, Thomas’s series Cupid aired on ABC, but was canceled after only one season.  He wrote the screenplay for Drive Me Crazy, and then created a second TV series, which began airing on UPN in 2004.   It centered on a high school junior with a talent for solving mysteries.

Veronica Mars was a ratings flop, but enough of a critical success that it hung on for three seasons and was followed up, several years later, with a feature film.  Thomas followed up by developing the revival series 90210 (which he was not involved in beyond the pilot) and a reboot of his earlier series Cupid, which lasted only seven episodes.  His latest series, iZombie, was recently renewed for a fourth season by The CW.

Dame Wendy Hiller (1912-2003) began acting in British regional theater in the early 1930s.  She starred in the play Love on the Dole, which was a big enough success that it was brought to the West End in 1935 and Broadway a year later.  George Bernard Shaw saw it and began casting Hiller in productions of several of his plays, such as Saint Joan and Major Barbara.  She worked consistently on both Broadway and the West End until the late 1980s, and was noted for her performances of both Shaw and Ibsen.

Hiller’s first big film role was, appropriately, as Eliza Doolittle in an adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion, for which she was an Oscar nominee.  She then appeared in a film version of Major Barbara, following which Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger cast her as one of the leads in their wonderful romance I Know Where I’m Going.

Primarily a stage actress, Hiller worked only intermittently, but successfully, in film.  She won Best Supporting Actress for the 1958 film Separate Tables, and was an Oscar nominee for a third time for A Man for All Seasons.  Her other notable films included an adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, Toys in the Attic (adapted from Lillian Hellman’s Play), and being part of the all-star cast of the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express, as the Princess Dragomiroff.

Ben Silverman, who is 47, has won an Emmy as an executive producer of The Office, and also includes Ugly Betty, The Tudors (of which he was co-creator) and Jane the Virgin among his executive producer’s credits.  Peter Hermann, who is currently a regular on Younger, is 50 today.  David Zayas, who is celebrating his 55th, is best known for playing Angel Batista on Dexter’s eight-season run.

Mike Henry, who turns 81, played six seasons in the NFL before going into acting.  He played Tarzan in three late-1960s features, co-starred with John Wayne in The Green Berets and Rio Lobo, and played Lt. Colonel Donald Penobscot (Margaret’s fiance) on at least one episode of M*A*S*H.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was a Scottish Romantic poet and novelist who was one of the most popular literary figures of his day.  He was known for long narrative poems like The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and novels like Waverly and IvanhoeEdith Nesbit (1858-1924), who published using the pen name E. Nesbit, was an English novelist best known for her children’s literature, such as the Bastable series and The Railway Children.

Mike Seeger (1935-2009) was an American folk and traditional musician.  While he was never as famous as his older half-brother, Pete Seeger, Mike was known to fans of traditional music as one of the founders of the old-time string band the New Lost City Ramblers.

Nigel Terry (1945-2015) was another actor who worked primarily on stage, but was known for film roles such as Prince John in The Lion in Winter and King Arthur in ExcaliburJill Haworth (1945-2011) had prominent roles in 1960s films like Exodus and In Harm’s Way, and originated the role of Sally Bowles on Broadway in CabaretMike Connors (1925-2017) was a Golden Globe winner and a four-time Emmy nominee as the star and title character of the CBS private eye series Mannix.  Swedish actress Signe Hasso (1915-2002) never lived up to her billing as “the next Garbo,” but was an effective leading lady in 1940s features like The House on 92nd Street and A Double Life.

Our headliners last year on this date were Jennifer Lawrence and Ben Affleck.

Jennifer Lawrence is celebrating her 27th.  The “untitled Darren Aronofsky project” mentioned in last year’s article turns out to be the upcoming film Mother!, which will screen at the upcoming Venice International Film Festival and then go into general release in September.  Next year she will star as Dominika Egorova in the film version of Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow, and return to the role of Mystique in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Last fall Ben Affleck starred in The Accountant, and directed and starred in Live by Night, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel.  He returns to the DC Extended Universe as Batman in Justice League and has some new directing projects in development.

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, who turns 54, is making his first venture into US television as the co-creator of The One Percent, which will star Greg Kinnear and Hilary Swank.  Tess Harper, who is 67, appears in the upcoming film BurdenDebra Messing’s latest series, The Mysteries of Laura, was canceled just over a year ago, but she recently appeared in the TV remake of Dirty Dancing.  Messing is 49 today.  Anthony Anderson, who turns 47 today, continues to star in Black-ish and co-starred in the crime thriller Small Town Crime earlier this year.  Emily Kinney, who was a regular on ABC’s Conviction, is 32; Kinney has been cast in another ABC series for the coming season, Ten Days in the ValleyJoe Jonas is 28.  He and his new band, DNCE, released their self-titled new album last November.

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 August 15, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I watched a handful of episodes of Veronica Mars back in the day but never really got into it. I did catch the feature film when it came out on video and thought it was OK. Kristen Bell was certainly very good as the title character in both the series and film.

    I will always treasure Wendy Hiller as the heroine in one of my 3 or 4 favorite movie romances of all time, and for her Grand Dame performance in Murder on the Orient Express.

    As I may have mentioned before, I am really looking forward to, and keeping my fingers crossed about, the adaptation of Red Sparrow which Jennifer Lawrence is starring in.


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