September 1: Happy Birthday Zendaya and Edgar Rice Burroughs


Zendaya Coleman, generally known by her performing name of Zendaya, is celebrating her 21st birthday today.  She grew up in a theater-oriented household and first became known at 14, when she was cast as Rocky Blue on Disney Channel’s Shake It Up.  A year later, she launched a singing career with the single “Swag It Out,” and followed up with the electropop album Zendaya in 2013.

Since the end of Shake It Up’s run, Zendaya has made a few TV guest appearances, and was a voice actress for the 2013 film Super Buddies.  She had her first major feature film earlier this year as Michelle “MJ” Jones in Spider-Man: Homecoming and will have a supporting role in the P. T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman later this year.  And since 2015 she has starred as K. C. Cooper on Disney’s spy-sitcom series, K. C. Undercover.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), one of the most prolific and influential authors of popular fiction of the 20th century, grew up in Chicago, and worked at a variety of jobs before beginning his writing career.  His first novel was published in serialized form in All-Star Stories in 1912 under the title of Under the Moons of Mars, but when it came out in book form it was titled A Princess of Mars.  It was the first of Burroughs’ popular Barsoom series (that being Burroughs’ name for Mars), many of which featured his ex-soldier hero, John Carter.  It was also one of the very first examples of the planetary romance subgenre of science fiction.

Burroughs’ enormous bibliography included lots of science fantasy—along with the Barsoom series, he wrote a series set on Venus, along with the “hollow Earth” Pellucidar series and “lost world” books like The Land That Time Forgot.  He also wrote Westerns and historical fiction.  But he is best known for over two dozen adventure novels, usually in some sort of jungle setting, featuring a hero who was the son of an English nobleman, the Viscount Greystoke, but who was most commonly known as Tarzan.  While in Burroughs’ novels, Tarzan was highly intelligent and once he learned the language, extremely fluent in English.  However, the image of the character that many people retain is somewhat different, thanks to a series of MGM movies:

Lara Pulver, who won an Olivier Award as Louise in the 2015 revival of Gypsy, is 37 today.  She guest-starred on Sherlock as Irene Adler and was a regular on the Starz series Da Vinci’s DemonsBoyd Holbrook, who is 36, stars as Steve Murphy on Narcos and was one of the main villains in LoganBurn Gorman, who celebrates his 43rd, was a regular on Turn: Washington’s Spies, and will return to the role of Dr. Herman Gottlieb in Pacific Rim: Uprising, which comes out next spring.  Zoe Lister-Jones, one of the stars of CBS’s Life in Pieces, turns 35.  She directed, wrote and starred in the recent film Band Aid.

Australian actor Craig McLachlan, who turns 52, is best known for his television work.  He has had stints on the long-running Aussie soaps Neighbors and Home and Away, and more recently was the star of The Doctor Blake Mysteries.  Director Craig Gillespie, also Australian, is 50 today.  He is known for helming films like Lars and the Real Girls, The Finest Hours, and the upcoming I, Tonya.

Novelist Scott Spencer, who turns 72, is probably best known for two of his books which have been adapted into film, Endless Love (filmed twice; the first adaptation starred Brooke Shields) and Waking the Dead.  He also wrote the screenplay for Father Hood.  Rex Beach (1877-1945) was best known for his novel The Spoilers.  Based on Beach’s experiences during the Nome Gold Rush, it has been adapted into film five times; the most famous version starred John Wayne and Randolph Scott.

Ron O’Neal (1937-2004) is best known for starring in the 1972 blaxploitation film Super Fly as Youngblood Priest, and then for directing and starring in the sequel, Super Fly T.N.T. a year later.  Richard Arlen (1899-1976) was one of the stars of the 1927 film Wings, the World War One aviation film that won the first-ever Oscar for Best Picture.

Sports birthdays today include recently retired NFL star Jason Taylor, who turns 43 today.  Taylor, a linebacker and defensive end who spent most of his career with the Miami Dolphins, made six Pro Bowls and was one of the newest class of inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Boxer James J. Corbett (1866-1943), known as “Gentleman Jim,” was called the “father of modern boxing” for his advances in technique, and despite a short career is ranked among the greatest boxers ever.  Errol Flynn played Corbett in the 1942 biopic Gentleman Jim.

The world of classical music and opera has its “one hit wonders” just as the rest of music does.  One of them was Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921, not to be confused with English pop singer Arnold Dorsey, who performs under this name).  While one or two of his other works are revived from time to time, Humperdinck is known almost exclusively for his opera Hänsel und Gretel.

Our September 1 headliners one year ago were Gloria Estefan and Lily Tomlin.

Gloria Estefan is turning 60 today.  She will be one of this year’s Kennedy Center honorees at the annual December gala.  Lily Tomlin, who turns 78, was honored with a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last January.  She stars with Jane Fonda on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, recently renewed for a fourth season.

Scott Speedman is 42 today.  He stars as Barry “Baz” Blackwell on Animal Kingdom and costarred in last fall’s The Monster, a horror film.  Zak Penn, who co-wrote the story for Pacific Rim: Uprising, is turning 49.  Padma Lakshmi, who is celebrating her 47th, continues to host Top Chef, while her first volume of memoirs came out last year.  Barry Gibb, who turns 71, performed in the Sunday afternoon “legend spot” at the Glastonbury Festival earlier this year.  C. J. Cherryh turns 75.  This year she has published the 18th novel in her Foreigner series, Convergence, while Alliance Rising, the fifth of her Merchanter novels, comes out next year.

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 September 1, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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