August 31: Happy Birthday Van Morrison and James Coburn


Sir Van Morrison is turning 72 today.  One of Britain’s most recent “rock and roll knights,” he is the father of what is sometimes called “Celtic soul” music, which blends soul, R&B, and jazz sounds along with Celtic music.  He was from a working-class household in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and left school at 15, working as a window cleaner to bring in some income while beginning his music career.  He first became known as the lead vocalist and a songwriter for the blues-rock band Them in the mid-1960s.

Morrison has had a goodly amount of commercial success over the years, especially in the UK, where he has had a number of Top Ten albums.  But he is also regarded highly as an artist—as highly as anyone who falls within the boundaries of rock, with the possible exception of Bob Dylan—and as one of the most unique vocalists of his time.  Among his best known songs are “Gloria,” which has been covered by a huge list of performers, including Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Patti Smith, Tom Petty, and many more, and “Brown Eyed Girl,” often described as his signature song.

James Coburn (1928-2002) made his film debut in a supporting part in Ride Lonesome, one of the “Ranown” Westerns of the late 1950s from the team of Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott.  From about 1958-1963 he made a long list of TV guest appearances, frequently on Westerns or crime series.  He became well known thanks to prominent roles in two films directed by John Sturges, as the laconic but lethal Britt in The Magnificent Seven, and as Flying Officer Sedgwick, “the Manufacturer,” in The Great Escape; around the time of the latter film he also appeared as Tex Panthallow, one of the villains menacing Audrey Hepburn in Charade.

Beginning in the late sixties, Coburn became a leading man in a variety of action pictures.  He starred as secret agent Derek Flint in a pair of James Bond knockoffs, Our Man Flint and In Like Flint; in a spaghetti Western, A Fistful of Dynamite; and in two Sam Peckinpah films, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (as Garrett) and Cross of Iron.  Over time, his roles got smaller and less significant, but he had one big late-in-life triumph, winning Best Supporting Actor for the 1997 film Afflicted.

Australian actor Jonathan LaPaglia is 48 today.  He has starred on CBS’s The District and UPN’s Seven Days, and is currently the host of Australian SurvivorDee Bradley Baker, who is 55, worked in community theater and as a sketch comic before finding his niche as a voice actor—since 1996, when he voiced Daffy Duck and the Tasmanian Devil in Space Jam, he has been incredibly busy.  Daniel Bernhardt, who is 52, is a Swiss martial artist who does some acting; he starred in three sequels to Bloodsport and recently has appeared in Parker and John Wick in villainous roles.  Independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg is celebrating his 36th.  A leader of the “mumblecore” movement, he is best known for the films Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas, both of which starred Anna Kendrick.  Actress, writer, and comedian Julie Brown is 63 today.  She wrote, produced, and co-starred in Earth Girls Are Easy, and starred on, wrote and co-produced the Fox sketch comedy series The Edge.  She should not be confused with ex-MTV veejay Downtown Julie Brown.

Bob Welch (1945-2012) was a guitarist and singer-songwriter who was a member of Fleetwood Mac in the early 1970s and then had several hits, such as “Sentimental Lady” and “Ebony Eyes,” as a solo performer.

Sanford Meisner (1905-1997) was an acting instructor for whom the Meisner technique is named.  His long list of past students includes Aaron Eckhart, Christoph Waltz, Diane Keaton, Grace Kelly, James Caan, Jeff Bridges, Jon Voight, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Duvall, and Sandra Bullock.

William Saroyan (1908-1981) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1939 play The Time of Your Life and is also known for novels like My Name is Aram and The Human Comedy.  He was the son of Armenian immigrants, and much of his work is set in California’s Armenian-American communities.  Journalist William Shawn (1907-1992) is best known for his tenure of over 30 years as the editor of The New YorkerDaniel Schorr (1916-2010) was also a prominent journalist.  He won three Emmys as the head of CBS News’s Washington bureau in the early 1970s and later went on to be a senior analyst for NPR for many years.

The headliners on this date one year ago were Richard Gere and Chris Tucker.

Richard Gere is 68 today.  He was seen earlier this year in The Dinner and will be seen in Three Christs, which screens at Toronto next month.  Chris Tucker, who is celebrating his 46th, was last seen in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Sara Ramirez, who turns 42, is working as a voice actor on Sofia the First as Queen Miranda, and was a producer of the teen movie Loserville, which came out last fall.  Marc Webb is 43 today.  His most recent directing projects were Gifted and The Only Living Boy in New York, both released earlier this year.  Debbie Gibson, whose most recent project was starring on Hallmark Channel’s Summer of Dreams, is 47 today.  Violinist Itzhak Perlman is celebrating his 72nd.  He continues to perform in concerts and recitals all over the world.

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 31, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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