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August 29: Happy Birthday Lea Michele and Preston Sturges

0829MicheleSturges

Actress and singer Lea Michele celebrates her 31st today.  She made her first appearances on Broadway in the 1990s, performing the young versions of both Cosette and Eponine in Les Miz, and appearing in a small role in the original production of Ragtime.  She later returned to Broadway as Shprintze in the 2004 revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and in the central role of Wendla in the original production of the Tony-winning musical Spring Awakening, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and shared in a Grammy for the cast album.

In 2009, Michele was cast in her signature role, as Rachel Berry on Glee.  She remained with the show for all six seasons, and received nominations for an Emmy and two Golden Globes, and also shared in three Grammy nominations for recordings made for the series.

Michele has released two solo studio albums, Louder and Places, the latter of which came out earlier this year.  After Glee ended its run, she became one of the stars of Scream Queens, and this fall she will star on ABC’s upcoming series The Mayor.

Preston Sturges (1898-1959) worked for several years managing a New York department store, before he started writing plays in the late 1920s.  One of them, Strictly Dishonorable, was a hit, and led to a screenwriting job with Paramount.  He wrote screenplays for the rest of the thirties, for films like The Power and the Glory, Easy Living, and Remember the Night.  In late 1939, Sturges wrote a screenplay for a film titled The Great McGinty, and offered to sell it to Paramount for $1, on the condition that he be allowed to direct it (Paramount later raised their payment for the script—to $10).

The Great McGinty came out in the summer of 1940, and won Sturges his only Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay.  Furthermore, it inaugurated a period of considerable success for Sturges, when he wrote and directed a half dozen or so comedies that are considered classics today, such as The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.

After 1944, Sturges’ career declined.  Part of the reason may have been losing his touch, part of it unwise business decisions (working for Howard Hughes was probably not a great idea).  However, he is still held in high regard for the films he made from 1940-44, and his success paved the way for other screenwriters, like John Huston and Billy Wilder, to make successful moves into directing.

Argentine actor Juan Diego Botto turns 42.  He has a lengthy resume in Spanish-language film and television and stars on TNT’s Good BehaviorBeth Dover, who turns 39, stars on Comedy Central’s Another Period and plays Linda Ferguson on Orange is the New BlackEmily Hampshire, a regular on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys and the Canadian series Schitt’s Creek, is 36 today.  Jennifer Landon, daughter of Michael, turns 34.  She won three Daytime Emmys on As the World Turns and has had recurring roles on Banshee and Animal Kingdom.

Songwriter Don Schlitz turns 65.  His best-known composition is probably Kenny Rogers’ #1 hit “The Gambler,” but he has also written successfully for other country stars, especially Randy Travis, and wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Adventures of Tom SawyerLiam Payne, who is 24 today, is a member of the British boy band One Direction, and is preparing his first solo album.  Dinah Washington (1924-1963) was a successful blues and R&B singer of the fifties, probably best known for her #1, Grammy winning hit “What a Diff’rence a Day Made” from 1959.

In the sports world, we begin with the birthdays of two stars of the 1968 Olympics.  Wyomia Tyus, who is 72 today, came to the Mexico City games having won a gold medal 4 years earlier in the women’s 100 meter dash.  She repeated her triumph in 1968, and added a second in the 4×100 meter relay.  Bob Beamon, who turns 71, won the men’s long jump, with a leap of 29 feet, 2 and one-half inches, shattering the world’s record by nearly two feat and setting a record that stood until 1991, and is still the second-longest non-wind-aided jump in history.  Another notable sports birthday was James Hunt (1947-1993), an English Formula One auto racing driver who won the World’s Driving Championship in 1976.  The 2013 film Rush was about the rivalry between Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Austrian driver Niki Lauda.

George Montgomery (1916-2000) began his film career as a stunt man, but became a fairly successful leading man of the forties and early fifties.  He made lots of Westerns, but also branched out into films like Roxie Hart (with Ginger Rogers) and The Brasher Doubloon (adapted from a Raymond Chandler novel).  Isabel Sanford (1917-2004) is best known for playing Louise Jefferson on All in the Family and then on The Jeffersons, and for being the first African-American winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress on a Comedy Series in 1981.

The English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) was one of the most important thinkers of the 17th century.  He is often considered one of the leading philosophical influences on the American Revolution.  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894), was an American poet and essayist.  Not to be confused with his son, Oliver Jr. (the Supreme Court Justice), Holmes is known for writing poems like “Old Ironsides” and “The Deacon’s Masterpiece, or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay,” and for his essay collection The Autocrat of the Breakfast-TableMaurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949) was a Belgian writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for works like his plays Intruder and The Blind.

Last year’s headliners were Rebecca De Mornay and Ingrid Bergman.

Rebecca De Mornay, who is 58, appeared last fall in two episodes of Lucifer and will be in next year’s Periphery, which is in pre-production.  Elliott Gould turns 79.  He was a regular on CBS’s short-lived Doubt earlier this year and will return to CBS in their new series 9JKL this fall.  Carla Gugino, seen earlier this year in The Space Between Us and in the upcoming Netflix release Gerald’s Game, is celebrating her 46th.  Jay Ryan is 36 today, and starred earlier this year in the Canadian miniseries Mary Kills PeopleWilliam Friedkin, who is 82, recently completed a documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth.

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 29, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’m two days late here, but I have to send a birthday greeting to my late beloved Michael Jackson. RIP

    Like

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