September 20: Happy Birthday Maggie Cheung and Jay Ward



With today’s headliners, I had one who was extremely photogenic, for whom I had a wide choice of images, and one for whom the choice was very limited, so I decided to represent him by his most famous creations.

Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung is celebrating her 53rd birthday.  She was born in Hong Kong, but spent part of her childhood in England and lived in Paris for about a decade; she is fluent in English and French as well as Cantonese.  One of her earliest roles came when Jackie Chan cast her in Police Story as May, the long-suffering girlfriend of Chan’s character; she reprised the role in two sequels.  During her first decade of work she often made 8-10 features a year, often comedies, sometimes action comedies like Paper Marriage and The Heroic Trio.

In 1988, Cheung made her first of several films with director Wong Kar-Wai, As Tears Go By, which begins what could be called the “prestige film” stage of her career.  Beginning in 1989, Cheung won the Best Actress honor at the Hong Kong Film Awards five times, and at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards four times.  In 2004 she became the first Asian actress to win Best Actress at Cannes.  Along with several collaborations with Wong, In the Mood for Love being the best known, she has made several films with French director Oliver Assayas (the two were married from 1998-2001), and also starred in Wayne Wang’s Chinese Box and Zhang Yimou’s Hero.

Since 2004, Cheung has been semiretired from film, choosing to focus on philanthropy and other interests.  She filmed a cameo for Inglorious Basterds, but it was not included in the final cut of the film.

Animator and producer Jay Ward (1920-1989) studied at UC Berkeley, earned an MBA from Harvard, and worked in real estate before selling his first animated series, Crusader Rabbit, to NBC in 1950.  Over the years Ward went on to create characters like Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  However, he is most famous for developing the pairing of a dim-witted but good-hearted moose, and his loyal best pal, a flying squirrel.

In 2013, TV Guide named Rocky and Bullwinkle (the series went under multiple titles through the years) as the 6th Greatest TV Cartoon ever.  In addition to developing animated series for television, Ward did a fair amount of advertising work.  His most recognizable ads are probably the ones he did for the Quaker Oats Company, where he designed trademark characters like Cap’n Crunch and Quisp and Quake and made ads for their respective breakfast cereals.

Ben Edlund is turning 49.  The cartoonist, writer and producer created the comic superhero The Tick when he was in high school, and was the creator and primary writer of the mid-1990s animated series built around the character.  He has worked as a writer for several TV series, including Firefly and Angel, and in particular was a writer and executive producer of Supernatural for several seasons.

Spencer Locke, who is probably best known for her voice role in Monster House, and for playing K-Mart in two Resident Evil films, celebrates her 26th today.  Sammi Hanratty, who is 22, has had recurring roles on series like Pushing Daisies and Salem, and starred in one of the American Girl films.  Olivia Grant, who turns 34, starred on the British television drama Indian Summers, and appeared in last year’s Breakdown.

Guy Lafleur, who turns 66, is a member of Hockey’s Hall of Fame.  He starred at right wing for the Montreal Canadians for well over a decade, playing on five Stanley Cup champions, including four in a row from 1976-1979.

Twin brothers Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, the sons of Ricky Nelson and his wife Kristin Harmon, are turning 50.  The two have recorded together for nearly thirty years as Nelson, and had a #1 hit in 1990 with “Love and Affection.”

Rachel Roberts (1927-1980) was a three-time BAFTA Award winner during her film career, for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life (which also brought her an Oscar nomination), and Yanks.  She was also part of the all-star cast of Murder on the Orient Express, played a major role in Picnic at Hanging Rock, and was a villain in Foul Play.  She was married to Rex Harrison for several years; her inability to get over their divorce may have contributed to her 1980 suicide.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) became famous in the early 20th century for his muckraking novels, such as The Jungle, The Brass Check, and Oil!  He waged a famous but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California in 1934, then returned to writing, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his 1942 novel Dragon’s TeethMaxwell Perkins (1884-1947) was a reporter for several years, then became an editor at Scribner’s.  There, he actively sought out younger writers to publish, notably a pair of novelists named Fitzgerald and Hemingway.  Colin Firth starred as Perkins in the 2016 biopic Genius.

Sophia Loren and Asia Argento were our headliners on an Italian-oriented September 20 last year.

Sophia Loren, who turns 83, remained active until very recently; her final role was in a 2014 short titled Human Voice, adapted from a one-person play written by Jean Cocteau.  Asia Argento is celebrating her 42nd.  She appeared in season 8 of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and stars in the upcoming film The Executrix.

Jon Bernthal turns 41.  He has had roles in recent films like The Accountant, Wind River, and Baby Driver, and will play the title character in the upcoming Marvel’s The Punisher, to air on Netflix.  Kristen Johnston, who is 50, appears in a recurring role on VH1’s Daytime DivasCharlie Weber, who is 39, continues to be a regular on How to Get Away with Murder.  Likewise, Anthony Denison continues to star on Major Crimes as he turns 68.  Gary Cole, who is 61, continues to appear as Kent Davison on Veep, and starred in the recent Netflix release Small Crimes.  Former stuntman Chad Stahelski turns 49; he continued his directing career with John Wick: Chapter 2, out earlier this year.  Aldis Hodge, who is 31 today, had a small role in Hidden Figures, and starred on WGN’s Underground prior to its cancellation.

George R. R. Martin, who is 69, announced on his blog earlier this summer that he is still “months away” from finishing the writing of The Winds of Winter, the sixth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire.  As this is not an ASoIaF site, you will have to go elsewhere for more details (or for rants).

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 20, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m pretty sure I first saw Maggie Cheung in Hero. Since then I’ve seen a number of her other films; she is relegated to mostly comedy relief in the Police Story/Supercop films, but plays a very nice Action Girl in The Heroic Trio. I have tried out at least one of Wong Kar-Wai’s films previously, and maybe I need to give him another chance.

    Jay Ward’s cartoons were not as big a part of my childhood as the Looney Tunes, but they were definitely a part of it—Moose and Squirrel in particular.

    I missed Rachel Roberts in last year’s write up. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of her; I’m familiar with her from Picnic at Hanging Rock and Murder on the Orient Express. I just failed to notice that it was her birthday. She had a very good career, but with a very sad final act.

    Jon Bernthal has been having a pretty good last year or two, and if The Punisher gets any traction at all it will only get better, I imagine.


  2. So for a little bonus content, some people may remember that Bullwinkle had that magic trick that he never could quite get right.


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