September 6: Happy Birthday Naomie Harris and Anika Noni Rose
Naomie Harris, who celebrates her 41st, was born in London; her mother was from Jamaica and her father from Trinidad. She began acting in British television as a child and continued to do so into the 1990s. Her first major film role was in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later; she later worked with Boyle again when he directed a National Theatre production of Nick Dear’s Frankenstein.
Harris has had roles in two major franchises, as Tia Dalma/Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and as Eve Moneypenny in the two latest Bond films, Skyfall and Spectre. She had a prominent supporting role in Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, played Winnie Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and appeared in last year’s Our Kind of Traitor (adapted from John Le Carré’s novel). Her most acclaimed performance was as Paula Harris in last year’s Moonlight, for which she received nominations for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
Tony winner Anika Noni Rose is turning 45 today. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in theater at Florida A&M and then studied at the American Conservatory Theatre before making her Broadway debut as a replacement in the role of Rusty in the musical adaptation of Footloose. In 2004 she was cast in the role of Emmie in the new musical Caroline, or Change, and won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She went on to appear on Broadway in a 2008 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and in a 2011 concert performance of Company. She received her second Tony nomination for a 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.
Rose made her feature film debut in 2003 in From Justin to Kelly, but managed to avoid receiving one of its nine Razzie nominations. She went on to play Lorrell Robinson in the film version of Dreamgirls, and has appeared in films like Half of a Yellow Sun and this year’s Everything, Everything. She has had several recurring roles on television, notably on The Good Wife, and stars as Dr. Eva Fletcher on BET’s The Quad. And given the slight interest in things Disney at this blog, it’s probably important to point out that she was the voice of a Disney Princess:
Lauren Lapkus, currently an Emmy nominee for Funny or Die’s The Earliest Show, is 32. Some may remember her as Vivian from Jurassic World or Susan Fischer from Orange is the New Black. Justina Machado, the star of Netflix’s One Day at a Time, and a former regular on Six Feet Under, is 45. Betsy Russell, who turns 54, starred in 1980s films like Tomboy and Private School, and played Jill Tuck in several of the Saw films.
Novelist and memoirist Alice Sebold is celebrating her 54th. She is best known for her first novel, The Lovely Bones, which has been adapted into a feature film starring Saoirse Ronan.
John Mitchum (1919-2001), the younger brother of recent headliner Robert Mitchum, had a moderately successful acting career of his own; his best known role was as Inspector Frank DiGiorgio in the first three Dirty Harry films.
Today features several significant historical birthdays, beginning with a pair of major American social reformers. Catharine Beecher (1800-1878) was part of a remarkable group of siblings who included Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher. Catharine was particularly known as an advocate of better education and training of teachers. Two generations or so younger than Beecher, Jane Addams (1860-1935) is remembered as the “Mother of Social Work” as a profession, for her founding of Chicago’s Hull House, and activism on a long list of other major issues. She was the first America woman, and the second woman ever, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was honored in 1931.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was almost always known in the US simply as Lafayette (1757-1834), which you might argue made him the first modern “one-name celebrity.” When the young French nobleman came to the US in 1777 to offer his services during the America Revolution, his idealistic commitment to the cause (and willingness to serve without pay) set him apart from other foreign “volunteers.” Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., (1888-1969) was held in far less universal adulation than was Lafayette. He is remembered for building a fortune on Wall Street through less than scrupulous means, and for his single-minded determination to see one of his sons become President of the US.
Headliners on this date last year were Roger Waters and Idris Elba.
Roger Waters is 74. His latest studio album, Is This the Life We Really Want?, was released in June of this year. He is in the middle of his Us + Them Tour. Idris Elba is 45 today. He starred as Roland Deschain in an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, is starring with Kate Winslet in The Mountain Between Us, which comes out in October, and returns to the role of Heimdall in Thor: Ragnarok.
Jane Curtin, who is 70, returns to the big screen in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which is now in post-production. Jeff Foxworthy, who is 59, is working a lot as a voice actor lately, voicing Babe the Blue Ox earlier this year in Bunyan and Babe. Chad Coleman is 51; he appears on Syfy’s The Expanse as Fred Lucius Johnson and will be in a recurring role on Fox’s new series The Orville. Rosie Perez celebrates her 53rd; she was a regular on the Canadian series Pure, which aired earlier this year but was canceled after one season. Michael Winslow, who appears as himself in Killing Hasselhoff, is 59 today. Macy Gray, who turns 50, released her new album Stripped last September.
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.