September 12: Happy Birthday Ben McKenzie and Emmy Rossum


Ben McKenzie is turning 39 today.  He has been a regular on series television for nearly fifteen years.  In 2003, at a time when he had only had a couple of TV guest spots, he was cast as Ryan Atwood, the troubled teen who was a central character on The O.C.; he appeared in every episode of the series four-year run.  Two years after that gig ended, he was cast as rookie cop Ben Sherman on TNT’s Southland (the series originally aired on NBC).

McKenzie’s film career has largely been in supporting roles, in films such as Junebug (his feature film debut) and Goodbye World.  A couple of exceptions have been in his portrayal of Joe Bonham in the one-man show adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun, and, in a bit of casting that was subsequently ironic, as Bruce Wayne/Batman in an animated adaptation of Batman: Year One.  For the past three years, he has been starring as James Gordon on Fox’s Gotham.

Earlier this year, McKenzie and Morena Baccarin, his Gotham costar and a past headliner, were married.

Emmy Rossum is celebrating her 31st birthday.  She made her performing debut at seven, as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus.  In the late 1990s, she began working in films, with major roles in the Disney Channel movie Genius and the indie film Songcatcher.  After a small but critical role in Mystic River, she had a bigger one in the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, following which she was cast as Christine Daaé in the 2004 feature adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

The no more than middling success of Phantom (although Rossum was a Golden Globe nominee), followed by her part in Poseidon, a huge bomb, ended Rossum’s career in big-budget films, at least for now,.  Her subsequent film roles have almost all been in indie films such as Dare, You’re Not You, and Comet, the latter directed by  Sam Esmail, who she is now married to.  She has released two studio albums, Inside Out (largely her own compositions) and Sentimental Journey (traditional pop and jazz vocal standards).

In 2009, Rossum began starring on Showtime’s Shameless as Fiona Gallagher, the eldest of seven siblings who, faced with an absentee mother and an alcoholic father, assumes the roles of surrogate parent and guardian.  She made her directing debut with an episode of the seventh season and is scheduled to direct again in the eighth season, which premieres in November.

Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones, is 31.  He will be in the upcoming The PredatorSverrir Gudnason, who is 39, will play Björn Borg in the upcoming Borg/McEnroeAlexia Fast, who is 25, was a regular on season 1 of Manhattan and has had roles in films like Jack Reacher and the upcoming The Ninth PassengerBex Taylor-Klaus, who celebrates her 23rd, starred on MTV’s Scream as Audrey Jensen.  Colin Ford, who is 21, is known for roles in We Bought a Zoo and as Joe McAlister on Under the Dome.

Paul F. Tompkins is 49.  The comedian and actor-writer’s wide range of projects includes voice acting on BoJack Horseman, a regular role on Seeso’s Bajillion Dollar Propertie$, and a very long list of radio and podcast appearances.  Amy Yasbeck, who is turning 55, is known for films like Robin Hood: Men in Tights (as Maid Marian) and The Mask, and for her regular role on WingsFreddie Jones is celebrating his 90th; his nearly six decade film and television career includes playing Ynyr in Krull and Thufir Hawat in Dune.  He is the father of recent headliner Toby Jones.

Yao Ming, the first Asian star in the NBA, and at 7 feet 6 inches one of the tallest players ever in the league, turns 37.  Although his career was shortened by injuries, he made eight All-Star teams in his ten-year NBA career and is a Basketball Hall of Fame member.

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), the “Sage of Baltimore,” was one of the leading journalists in the 20th century US.  He was known for his biting prose, his coverage of the Scopes Trial, and his book The American Language, a study of how English was spoken in the US of his day.  Writer Walter B. Gibson (1897-1985) was enormously prolific, but is most likely to be remembered for his pulp fiction, particularly the 300 or so stories he wrote about Lamont Cranston, The Shadow.

Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972) became a successful stage actor and cabaret singer in Europe, then came to Hollywood at the beginning of the sound era and made a number of musicals.  He was an Oscar nominee in 1930 for his performances in The Love Parade and The Big Pond, and starred with Jeanette MacDonald in One Hour With You, Love Me Tonight, and The Merry WidowIrene Dailey (1920-2007) made a few films, like Five Easy Pieces and The Grissom Gang, but was better known for her work on stage and television.  She appeared on Broadway for over fifty years, and was a Daytime Emmy winner on Another World.

Ian Holm and Jennifer Hudson were our headliners one year ago today.

Sir Ian Holm, who is 86, is retired from acting; one of his roles not mentioned in last year’s article was an appearance with Emmy Rossum in The Day After TomorrowJennifer Hudson celebrates her 36th.  She has been involved as a coach with both the UK and US versions of The Voice, shared in Grammy and Daytime Emmy awards with the cast of the musical The Color Purple, and released a single from her upcoming fourth studio album.

Country pop star Kelsea Ballerini, who received her first Grammy nomination (Best New Artist) earlier this year, is 24.  Her second studio album, Unapologetically, comes out this November.  Hans Zimmer’s latest composing work includes the scores for Hidden Figures and Dunkirk and the main theme for Netflix’s The Crown.  He is 60.  Joe Pantoliano, who is 66, will be seen in the upcoming films Villa Capri and Happy AnniversaryLouis C. K., who is turning 50, wrote, directed and stars in I Love You, Daddy, which premiered at Toronto recently to mixed reviews, and is the co-creator of FX’s Better Things, which returns for its second season.  His latest comedy special, Louis C. K. 2017, received two Emmy nominations.

Let’s end musically, with Jennifer Hudson’s latest single

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 12, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. For headliners, we have two relatively young performers who play central roles in series that have gotten at least a little bit of attention. Ben McKenzie, I have mostly missed, although I did catch him in Junebug.

    Emmy Rossum I most definitely have not missed. I was impressed with her relatively small role in Mystic River, and have kept an eye on her career ever since then. A very lovely lady, who can also sing beautifully. Let’s hear a little bit from her as a musical bonus (sadly, the very beginning of the song is cut off).


  2. I forgot to comment yesterday on Yao Ming. Although his career was a little short, of the 25 tallest players in NBA history (7 feet 3 inches or taller), Yao undoubtedly had the best career, although Arvydas Sabonis might well have been as successful as Yao had he been allowed to play in the NBA when he was in his prime.


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