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August 30: Happy Birthday Shirley Booth and Fred MacMurray

0830BoothMacMurray

Shirley Booth (1898-1992) began her career working in regional theater.  She made her Broadway debut in 1925 in the play Hell’s Bells, which also starred none other than Humphrey Bogart.  For the next 25 years or so she was well known to Broadway audiences, if not to the nation at large.  She starred the hit play Three Men on a Horse in the mid-thirties, co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, and originated the role of Ruth Sherwood in My Sister Eileen.

In 1949, Booth received a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Fay Kanin’s Goodbye, My Fancy.  She then starred as Lola Delaney in William Inge’s first play, Come Back, Little Sheba, and won her second Tony, for Best Actress in a Play.  In 1952, she was the one major member of the Broadway cast asked to return to her role for the feature film adaptation, and won an Oscar for Best Actress in her film debut.

Booth’s film career was very brief, but did include a nomination for a BAFTA Award for About Mrs. Leslie and starring in the film adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.  She won a third Tony for starring in Arthur Laurents’s The Time of the Cuckoo, and continued working on stage until the beginning of the seventies.  1960s television audiences got to know her well as the live-in maid for the Baxter family, Hazel Burke, as she won two Emmys for starring on Hazel and became a Triple Crown of Acting winner.  And anyone who knows their Christmas TV specials is familiar with her final acting role, as the voice of Mrs. Claus on The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Fred MacMurray (1908-1991) began acting in film at the very beginning of the sound era.  By the mid-1930s he was a frequent leading man.  He did occasional dramas, but usually was a nice-guy lead in romantic comedies—he starred with Claudette Colbert in The Gilded Lily, Carole Lombard in Hands Across the Table and a number of other films, and Barbara Stanwyck in Remember the Night.  In 1944, MacMurray had one of his most famous and successful film roles when he was cast very strongly against type in a classic film noir (which reunited him with Stanwyck).

MacMurray remained a leading man into the fifties, still normally in comedies, although he dabbled with against type roles in The Caine Mutiny (as the manipulative Lt. Keefer) and The Apartment, a second collaboration with Billy Wilder.  In the 1960s, he had two very well-known roles, starring as widower Steve Douglas on My Three Sons, one of the longest-running sitcoms in television history, and also as Professor Ned Brainerd of Medfield College in Disney’s The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber.

Elizabeth Ashley, who is 78 today, has been a three-time Tony nominee during a Broadway career of nearly 60 years, winning for her role in Take Her, She’s Mine in 1962.  She was a Golden Globe nominee for her film debut, an adaptation of Harold Robbins’ novel The Carpetbaggers, and an Emmy nominee as a regular on Evening Shade in the early 1990s.  Ben Jones, who played Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard, and later served two terms representing a Georgia district in Congress, is 76 today.  David Paymer, who is 63, was an Oscar nominee for Mr. Saturday Night, and a Golden Globe nominee for the TV movie Crime of the Century.  His many film appearances also include Get Shorty and State and Main.

Angel Coulby, who turns 37, starred as Guinevere on the BBC series Merlin, and now is a regular on the Anglo-French series The Tunnel, which airs on PBS in the US.  Marin Ireland celebrates her 38th.  She was a Tony nominee in her Broadway debut in reasons to be pretty, has appeared in indie films like Glass Chin and Hell or High Water, and is a regular on Amazon Video’s Sneaky Pete.  French actress-model Gaia Weiss, who has had major roles in The Legend of Hercules and in Overdrive (currently in release), is 26 today.

Robert “the Chief” Parish turns 64 today.  He starred at tiny Centenary College in Louisiana and then played for 21 seasons in the NBA, making nine All-Star teams and for four NBA champions.  He was named one of the leagues 50 Greatest Players in 1996.  Leisel Jones, the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympic Games, turns 32.  She is considered one of the greatest breaststrokers ever, and won three Olympic gold medals as well as seven at World Championships.

Actress Julie Bishop (1914-2001) was born Jacqueline Brown, and credited under the name Jacqueline Wells early in her career, including when she co-starred in Tarzan the Fearless.  She began using the screen name Julie Bishop when she signed with Warner’s in 1941.  She was Errol Flynn’s leading lady in Northern Pursuit and Humphrey Bogart’s love interest in Action in the North Atlantic.

We have a “benefactor to mankind” birthday today.  Maurice Hilleman (1919-2005) has been called “the most successful vaccinologist in history.”  He developed over 40 vaccines in his career, including those for measles, mumps, meningitis, and hepatitis A and B.  Another science birthday is that of Ernest Rutherford (1871-1938), who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of radioactive half-life, proving that radioactivity involves one element “decaying” into a different one.

Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was the executive director of the NAACP for over 20 years beginning in 1955 and a founder of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights.  In other words, a major player in the civil rights movement.  John Gunther (1901-1970) was a journalist known for his “Inside” series of books, which combined travel writing with traditional reporting—the best known was Inside U.S.A.—and also for his memoir Death Be Not ProudMolly Ivins (1944-2007) was one of the leading political journalists and commentators of the late 20th century.  A columnist for many years with the Dallas Times Herald, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary twice.

August 30 headliners from last year were Cameron Diaz and Lewis Black.

Cameron Diaz turns 45.  Her career has been very quiet lately—she has done no film work, and virtually no TV work, since starring as Miss Hannigan in the remake of Annie.  Her second health-related book, The Longevity Book, was published in 2016.  Lewis Black is turning 69.  He appeared as a guest star on Woody Allen’s Amazon miniseries, Crisis in Six Scenes.

Timothy Bottoms, who is 66, works regularly in indie films these days—he appeared in last year’s Welcome to the Men’s Group and will be in the upcoming TarPeggy Lipton is 71; she returned to the role of Norma Jennings for the Twin Peaks revival and appeared earlier this year in A Dog’s PurposeMichael Chiklis, a regular on Gotham as Nathaniel Barnes/The Executioner, is 54 today.

Jessica Henwick’s time on Game of Thrones came to an undignified end, as her character Nymeria Sand was strangled with her own whip.  However, Henwick, who is 25 today, stars on Netflix as Colleen Wing on Iron Fist and also appears in the same role on The DefendersEldon Henson, who is 40, also appears on The Defenders, as well as on Daredevil, as Foggy Nelson.  Johanna Braddy, who is celebrating her 30th, continues to star on Quantico as Shelby Wyatt.  Trevor Jackson, who starred in the Netflix feature film Burning Sands, which released earlier this year, is turning 21.

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 30, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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