September 16: Happy Birthday Alexis Bledel and Paul Henning


It’s Alexis Bledel’s 36th birthday today.  She grew up in the Houston area and was encouraged by her mother to get involved in community theater; she also made an uncredited cameo in Rushmore, which was filmed in the Houston area.  Her first prominent film role came in a 2002 adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting.  In the mid-2000s she made a few high-profile films, appearing as Becky in Sin City and Lena Kaligaris in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films.  More recently, she has appeared in indie films such as The Kate Logan Affair and Violet & Daisy.

Bledel has begun working in theater again; she is one of a long list of actresses who have appeared in the off-Broadway production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore.  She has made a few TV guest appearances, and recently won her first Emmy, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, for her appearance on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  However, most of America got to know her when she starred for seven seasons as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls (and, recently, on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life).

I found only a tiny handful of pictures of our second headliner, none of then terribly good; besides which, most of you would rather look at Alexis anyway, right?

Paul Henning (1911-2005) is a name that many people today probably don’t recognize, but he had a noticeable impact on popular culture in the 1960s.  He began his entertainment career as a writer, first for radio, then for a number of TV series such as The Bob Cummings Show.  In 1962, Henning created a series that ranked #1 in the Nielsen ratings during its first two seasons on the air; it told the story of a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed…

A year later, Henning followed The Beverly Hillbillies up by creating another “ruralcom,” this one in an actual rural setting—Petticoat Junction.  In 1965 came a spinoff of the latter series, Green Acres, for which Henning, although not the creator, was an executive producer.  There were periodic crossovers between the three series.  All three series remained fairly popular through the end of the sixties, albeit with slowly declining ratings, until they were all canceled in CBS’s “rural purge” at the beginning of the 1970s.

One of the stars of Petticoat Junction shared a birthday with Paul Henning—none other than his own daughter, Linda Kaye Henning, who is 76 today (she is the redhead in the clip above).  She played Betty Jo Bradley, one of three sisters who helped their widowed mother run the Shady Rest Inn in Hooterville.  It is also sometimes said that Paul Henning modeled the character of Elly May Clampett on Beverly Hillbillies after Linda.

Ed Begley, Jr., is turning 68.  His screen career of nearly fifty years begins with a couple of minor parts in Kurt Russell’s Disney movies.  He is most famous for starring as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on St. Elsewhere in the 1980s; he received six consecutive Emmy nominations in the role.  More recently he has been in several of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries and co-hosted the reality series Living With Ed.

Max Minghella, the son of director Anthony Minghella, is turning 32.  He starred with Blake Lively in Elvis and Annabelle, and has had prominent supporting roles in The Social Network and The Internship.  Earlier this year he was a regular on The Handmaid’s Tale.

George Chakiris, who is 83, worked in TV and film for five decades; the high point of his career was winning Best Supporting Actor as Bernardo in West Side Story.  Nigerian actress Olatokunbo “Toks” Olagundoye, who is 42, is known for her regular role on The Neighbors and the recurring part of Hayley Shipton on Castle.  Actor and martial artist Philip Ng turns 40; he recently starred in the Bruce Lee biopic Birth of the Dragon.  Nineties TV fans may remember Madeline Zima, who turns 32, as Grace Sheffield from The Nanny; she appeared recently on the Twin Peaks revival.  Sarah Steele, who is 29, stars on The Good Fight, which airs on CBS All Access.  Elena Kampouris celebrates her 20th.  She appeared in the teen drama Before I Fall, and made her Broadway debut as Cécile Volanges in a revival of Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Our music birthday is pop/rock singer-songwriter Richard Marx, who is 54.  He had a string of Top 10 singles on the Hot 100 in the late eighties and early nineties and is still successful on the Adult Contemporary charts.  He has also written several hits for others, such as “Dance With My Father” for Luther Vandross and “Long Hot Summer” for Keith Urban.

In the sports world, newly-inducted Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines is 58 today.  Raines overcame substance abuse problems early in his career to establish himself as one of the best leadoff hitters and base-stealers of all time, made seven All-Star Games, and played for two World Series winners.

On September 16 of last year, our headliners were Amy Poehler and Lauren Bacall.

Amy Poehler is celebrating her 46th birthday.  She currently is a star of the sketch comedy series The UCB Show, of which she is also one of the creators, which airs on the subscription streaming channel Seeso.  She and Will Ferrell starred in The House, which came out in June.

Mickey Rourke, who is 65, stars in the upcoming film TigerJennifer Tilly, who is 59, can be found making direct-to-video films, such as the upcoming Cult of Chucky, when she’s not pursuing her professional poker career.  Molly Shannon, who is 53, has made several recent films such as The Little Hours and The LayoverNick Jonas released his third studio album last summer, and will have a supporting role in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.  Jonas is 25 today.  Ian Harding, who is 31, finished his final season on Pretty Little Liars, and will be seen in the upcoming film Office Uprising.  Rapper Flo Rida, who turns 38, is preparing his fifth studio album and has released two or three singles in the past year.  Fan Bingbing celebrates her 36th; she costarred with Jackie Chan in Skiptrace and starred in the acclaimed Chinese comedy I Am Not Madame Bovary, along with several other film appearances in the last year or so.

Finally, let us remember that today was the birth date of the late Ronnie Drew (1934-2008) of The Dubliners.

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 16, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. While neither of today’s headliners is a super-big name, they both had interesting “hooks” to their situations. Alexis Bledel has not had the kind of career you might have expected back in the early 2000s, when Gilmore Girls was all the rage and she’d just made the first “Sisterhood” film, but her winning that Emmy just last weekend was nicely timed, at least from the standpoint of helping me pick today’s headliners.

    Paul Henning is probably remembered only by people who are huge fans of 1960s television—but he definitely had an impact on that decade. I had not realized until I wrote this article up that the creator of Petticoat Junction and the actress who played one of the Bradley sisters were father and daughter.

    Tim Raines is a very worthy addition to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and I was glad to see him selected; this year was his final chance to be elected by the baseball writers.

    A final note—this is the second year in a row that I’ve ended up with a September 16 headliner who had just won her first Emmy, in an Outstanding Guest Actress category. Last year, of course, it was Amy Poehler.


  2. So for Richard Marx’s birthday, a little bonus content, in the form of one of those hits composed for others mentioned in the article.

    You can all believe me when I tell you that the fact that Summer Glau is in this video had absolutely nothing to do with my choosing to post it. 😉


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