August 16: Happy Birthday James Cameron and Angela Bassett



Our two headliners both played major roles in the 1995 thriller Strange Days—he was a producer and writer, she was one of the stars.

James Cameron turns 63 today.  He was born in Canada but moved to California as a teenager; he attended Fullerton College for about a year, dropped out to work as a truck drive for a while, and was inspired to go into filmmaking as a career by seeing Star Wars.  He worked for a time for Roger Corman Studios, notably as the art director on Battle Beyond the Stars, and did special effects work on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York.  He directed at least part of the horror film Pirhana II: The Spawning, and around that time came up with an idea for a script about a cyborg assassin who traveled through time to kill a woman.

After the success of The Terminator, Cameron has directed only six more feature films (along with a pair of documentaries).  Of them, only The Abyss was not a success.  Aliens is often considered the best of that franchise, while Terminator 2: Judgment Day is frequently rated at the top of its series.  True Lies was the #3 film at the box office for 1994 and yielded a Golden Globe for Jamie Lee Curtis.  And then you have two films which each in their turn set box office records, and still rank as the top two films of all time in worldwide receipts if you do not adjust for inflation, Titanic and Avatar.

Angela Bassett celebrates her 59th birthday today.  She attended Yale, earning a Bachelor’s degree and then an MFA in Drama.  In the 1980s she worked in theater and television, making her Broadway debut in 1988.  Her first major film role was in John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood; following that she appeared in two of John Sayles’ films and in Spike Lee’s Malcom X as Betty Shabazz, Malcolm’s wife.  Her first lead role, and one of her best known, was as the “Queen of Rock,” Tina Turner, in a 1993 biopic.

Bassett won a Golden Globe, and was an Oscar nominee, for What’s Love Got to Do with It.  She has gone on to give acclaimed performances in films like Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and Akeelah and the Bee.  She has also had a successful television career, during which she has received four Primetime Emmy nominations.  The first was for playing civil rights era heroine Rosa Parks for a 2002 CBS movie.  She has been nominated twice for different seasons of American Horror Story, while her fourth nomination, for a guest appearance on Master of None, is pending.

Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton is 57.  He was honored for Ordinary People, and remains the youngest-ever winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  He is also know for films like Taps and Beautiful Girls, and was an Emmy nominee for season 1 of American Crime.

Cameron Monaghan, who stars as Ian Gallagher on Shameless, turns 24 today.  Cam Gigandet, who celebrates his 35th, stars on the Audience Network’s Ice, and is known for films like Twilight and Never Back DownRumer Willis is 29; the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, she will be featured in the film adaptation of the musical Hello Again.  New Zealand director Taika Waititi, who is 42, directed the Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night and is the director of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.

Two supporting players from major 1980s action films have birthdays today.  Reginald VelJohnson, who turns 65, played Al Powell in the first two Die Hard films, and also starred as Carl Winslow on Family MattersElpidia Carrillo, who played Anna in Predator, is 56.  Carrillo has also had major roles in Oliver Stone’s Salvador and Ken Loach’s Bread and Roses.

Ann Blyth, who was an Oscar nominee for playing the spoiled daughter of the title character in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce, is 89 today.  She also starred in the 1950s MGM musicals Rose Marie and The Student Prince.

Eydie Gormé (1928-2013) was a big band and traditional pop singer who was most famous for working with her husband, Steve Lawrence.  The two won a Grammy for their 1960 album We Got UsEric Weissberg, a banjo legend who is famous for recording the “Dueling Banjos” track used in the movie Deliverance (with Steve Mandell on guitar), turns 78 today.

Caeleb Dressel, who is turning 21, emerged as the new star of the swimming world at the recent World Aquatics Championships, where he won seven gold medals.  Yu Darvish, who starred in Japanese baseball for several years before coming to the US, where he has pitched for the Rangers and, as of a few weeks ago, the Dodgers, is 31.  Frank Gifford (1930-2015) starred for over a decade for the New York Giants of the NFL, winning the league’s MVP award in 1956 and making the Hall of Fame.  He then went into broadcasting, where he was known for his over 25 years with Monday Night Football.  He and wife Kathie Lee Gifford (see below) shared a birthday.

Mae Clarke (1910-1992) was most famous for two early sound film roles, as Henry Frankenstein’s fiancée Elizabeth in Frankenstein, and as the recipient of a grapefruit to the face, courtesy of James Cagney, in The Public EnemyFess Parker (1924-2010) starred as two early American legends on television, on the 1950s Disney miniseries Davy Crockett, and the 1960s NBC series Daniel BooneLois Nettleton (1927-2008) had a long television career and was a three-time Emmy nominee, one of them as a regular on NBC’s In the Heat of the Night in the late 1980s.

Finally, we have an interesting mix of historical birthdays.  T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935) was best known for his role, as a British Army officer, in helping to bring about the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918.  He was immortalized, first in print and then in film, as Lawrence of Arabia, and was played by Peter O’Toole in the 1962 film.  Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) was known as the “Father of Science Fiction.”  He wrote fiction of his own, but was most important as an editor and publisher, the founder of Amazing Stories.  The annual Hugo Awards are named for him.  Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) was one of the authors who helped make the historical romance a popular genre, with her novels set in Regency England, beginning with Regency Buck in 1935.  Heyer was also a popular author of detective fiction.  George Meany (1894-1980) was a plumber who became America’s top union leader.  He became president of the American Federation of Labor in 1952, and set out to merge that organization with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a goal he accomplished by 1955.  He then was president of the combined federation, the AFL-CIO, for over two decades.

The headliners from one year ago were Madonna and Steve Carell.

Madonna, who is turning 59, was named Woman of the Year by Billboard last October, and is developing a film adaptation of The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer.  Steve Carell, who is 55, will be starring opposite Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes next month, in the role of Bobby Riggs.

Bruce Beresford is 77; his latest film, Mr. Church, came out last September and was not well received.  Julie Newmar, who turns 84, recently provided the voice of Catwoman for the animate film Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (which also featured the voices of the late Adam West and Burt Ward).  Kathie Lee Gifford, who continues to co-host Today on NBC, is 64.  Earlier this year, Vanessa Carlton, who turns 37, released an album titled Earlier Things LiveLaura Innes, who celebrates her 60th, has recently appeared in several episodes of Colony as Karen Brun.  Cristin Milioti, who is 32 today, appears in a recurring role on The Mindy Project and will star in the upcoming film Breakable YouBob Balaban was last seen in the horror film I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House; he is 72 today.

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 16, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Is Madonna the most successful person of all time? Take everything into account.


    • If you put it that way, with no qualifications attached to any part of the statement, then, no, she is not the most successful person of all time.


      • When you take everything into account. Fame, fortune, longevity, popularity, adulation, public perception, lack of public embarrassment (something that would automatically disqualify Michael Jackson for instance) then yes I think she is. The only way the press gives her a hard time is mentioning her age; they don’t have any other ammo.


  2. Oh and Julie Newmar is awesome. Has anyone noticed how much Famke Janssen resembles her?


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