September 9: Happy Birthday Adam Sandler and Cliff Robertson


Today is Adam Sandler’s 51st birthday.  He is part of a very long list of film and television industry alumni of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1988.  He made his first TV guest appearances while still at NYU, and made his film debut in Going Overboard in 1989.  A year later, he was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, and he joined the show’s performing cast in 1991, remaining until 1995.

Sandler’s first real film success came in 1995, when he wrote and starred in Billy Madison.  A critical bust, the film nevertheless succeeded at the box office, making over $25 million domestically against a $10 million budget.  Happy Gilmore, a year later, was a similar story, following which Sandler had a very good 1998, starring with Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer, and writing, producing and starring in his biggest box office hit ever in inflation-adjusted terms, The Waterboy.

Sandler followed up with Big Daddy, his second-biggest film ever at the box office (again, adjusted for inflation).  Since then, he has continued to make his own brand of comedy, with films like Little Nicky, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, and Jack and Jill.  He has also branched out into more dramatic parts, in films like Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, which received fairly positive critical receptions.  He has also moved into voice acting in the past few years, as Count Dracula in the Hotel Transylvania series.  His newest film is Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, which premiered this year at Cannes and will be in at least limited release in October.

Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson (1923-2011) made a couple of uncredited film appearances in his teens, and then began working regularly on television in the fifties.  He made his credited feature film debut in Picnic, and soon was starring in films like Days of Wine and Roses, Gidget (as the Big Kahuna), 633 Squadron, and as a young naval officer in PT-109 (his character’s name: John F. Kennedy).  World War 2 buffs will find it interesting that he has prominent roles in both Battle of the Coral Sea, and years later, Midway.  Robertson won Best Actor for starring in the 1968 film Charly, adapted from Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon.

Robertson continued as a major film star into the mid-seventies.  He also did an increasing amount of TV work, such as the 1977 miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors, and season 3 of Falcon Crest.  His final major film role was as Ben Parker in Spider-Man (he also appeared in flashbacks in the two sequels).

Kelsey Chow, who turns 26, was a regular on the Disney XD series Pair of Kings and will appear on ABC’s new series Splitting Up TogetherCharles Esten, who is turning 52, was a recurring performer on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and is a regular on Nashville.  Also celebrating a 52nd birthday is Constance Marie, known for her regular roles on George Lopez and Switched at BirthJeffrey Combs, known to horror fans as Dr. Herbert West in the Re-Animator films, is turning 63.  Emma de Caunes is 41.  The French actress is a Cesar winner, and also co-starred with Rowan Atkinson in Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

English actress Margaret Tyzack (1931-2011) had a distinguished stage career, winning two Olivier Awards and a Tony.  She had a number of film appearances in supporting roles, and a busy television career that ranged from a BAFTA Award winning performance in the BBC series The Young Churchills, to playing the childhood tutor of the title character in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) was an Austrian stage and screen director.  He had an outstanding career in Europe, mostly as a stage director, but also began working in the US in the 1920s.  As the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, he relocated permanently to the US.  One of his most famous projects was a 1934 stage production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which featured a young actress named Olivia de Havilland as Hermia; Reinhardt then directed the 1935 film version of his production, with de Havilland reprising her role.

Phyllis A. Whitney (1903-2008) wrote over seventy novels in her career.  While most authors concentrate on writing for a particular age level, Whitney wrote both adult and juvenile literature, concentrating on mystery and suspense.  Two of her juvenile mysteries won Edgar Awards.

The headliners on this date one year ago were Michelle Williams and Hugh Grant.

Michelle Williams, who is celebrating her 37th, received her fourth Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress for Manchester by the Sea (along with a bunch of other acting accolades).  She didn’t win, but surely her day will come.  She was in Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, which premiered at Cannes in May, and stars in two films coming in December, Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, and the P. T. Barnum biopic The Greatest ShowmanHugh Grant, who turns 57, also picked up some major award nominations, as he received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nods for his role in Florence Foster Jenkins.  He also returned to the role of Prime Minister David for Red Nose Day Actually, the TV short sequel to Love Actually.

Henry Thomas, who turns 46, will appear in the upcoming horror film Gerald’s Game.  Also 46 is Eric Stonestreet, who continues to appear as Cameron Tucker on Modern FamilyGoran Visnjic, who celebrates his 45th, is a regular on NBC’s Timeless, which will return for a second season early next year.  Zoe Kazan starred in The Big Sick, one of this year’s most successful indie films; she is 34 today.  Julie Gonzalo is celebrating her 36th; her recent films include How to Pick Your Second Husband First and Falling for Vermont, the latter a Hallmark Channel TV movie.  Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, who is turning 50, has appeared in three films so far this year and has several more in the pipes.

Finally, as four-time Grammy winner Michael Bublé turns 42, let’s hear a track from one of the traditional pop star’s Grammy-winning albums.

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 9, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I have seen only a handful of Adam Sandler’s films; the ones I remember are Bedtime Stories (which I mostly watched because Keri Russell) and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, which did not blow me away.

    I can remember my parents watching Washington: Behind Closed Doors when it first aired in 1977, and watching parts of it myself—that was undoubtedly my introduction to Cliff Robertson. While not really one of the first rank leading men of his time, he was a significant actor for 20 years or more.

    Michelle Williams remains an actress worth watching. While she doesn’t do much work in big box office hits, she is clearly one of the go-to actresses when someone is making a prestige picture of some sort.


  2. When it comes to Adam Sandler, I definitely love “The Wedding Singer”. I like “Reign Over Me” as well, along with “Funny People”. Otherwise I feel Adam Sandler just comes off lazy.
    I think Michelle Williams is amazing; she had me at “Dick”, and it just keeps getting better.
    Cliff Robertson, wow, I can think of many films, but one I’d like to mention is the 1987 film “Malone”. I felt he was always good playing a bad guy. Also, he was Hugh Hefner in “Star 80”, and i liked him there.


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