September 25: Happy Birthday Will Smith and Donald Glover


Actor and rapper Will Smith turns 49 today.  He began his career as a rapper, performing as The Fresh Prince, almost immediately after his graduation from high school.  He and Jeff Townes (aka DJ Jazzy Jeff) won the inaugural Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989.  He also got himself into difficulty with the IRS, but escaped potential bankruptcy when he landed the starring role on NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Success in films soon followed.  In the early 1990s, he appeared in films like Made in America and Six Degrees of Separation, and he then starred in Bad Boys in 1995.  In the next two years, he starred in the two biggest box office successes of his career (after adjusting for inflation), both sci-fi films, one a large-scale action thriller with an ensemble cast, the second an action comedy pairing him with Tommy Lee Jones.

Since Men in Black, Smith has gone on to receive two Oscar nominations for Best Actor, for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.  He also is a five-time Golden Globe nominee and has a total of four Grammys, in rap performance categories.  He took a career hiatus between 2008 and 2012, aside from producing the remake of The Karate Kid (which starred his son Jaden).  Last year he was seen in Suicide Squad and Collateral Beauty, and he will be re-teaming with Suicide Squad director David Ayer for Bright, which comes out this December.

The multi-talented Donald Glover turns 34 today.  After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (there’s that school again) in 2006, he was hired as a writer for 30 Rock, and remained with the series through 2009, winning a WGA Award.  During that time, he also was involved with the sketch comedy troupe Derrick Comedy (many of whom were in the 2009 film Mystery Team).

In 2009, Glover was cast as Troy Barnes on NBC’s Community, remaining with the show for five seasons.  At the same time, his career as a rapper, under the performance name of Childish Gambino, began to take off—his first studio album, Camp, came out in 2011, and his follow-up album, Because the Internet, brought a pair of Grammy nominations.  Last fall brought the debut of FX’s Atlanta, created by and starring Donald Glover (who also wrote and/or directed several episodes).

Glover won a pair of Emmys for season 1 of Atlanta, for Best Lead Actor and Best Directing in a Comedy Series.  During the past couple of years his feature film career has also taken some big steps forward.  In 2015 he appeared in The Lazarus Effect and The Martian (as “steely-eyed missile man” Rich Purnell), and earlier this year he was bad guy Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming.  He has been cast as the young Lando Calrissian in Lucasfilm/Disney’s “untitled Han Solo Film,” and he and his brother Stephen are developing an animated Deadpool series for FXX.

We have a pair of non-Tatiana Maslany Orphan Black birthdays today.  Jordan Gavaris, who turns 28, played Felix “Fe” Dawkins, the foster brother and confidant of Sarah Manning (Maslany’s “prime” role).  Maria Doyle Kennedy, who played Sarah and Felix’s foster mother, Siobhan “Mrs. S” Sadler, is 53 today.  Kennedy is also known for her folk music career and for playing Catherine of Aragon on The Tudors.

Mikael Persbrandt, one of Sweden’s leading actors, is turning 54.  In his home country he has starred as Gunvald Larsson in a lengthy series of films adapted from the Martin Beck series of mystery novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, and for a distinguished stage career.  International audiences may know him from Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, the Best Foreign Language Film winner for 2010, and as Beorn in the Hobbit films.

Bridgette Wilson, who is 44, is known for the 1990s action films The Last Action Hero and Mortal Combat and for her marriage to tennis star Pete Sampras.  Tate Donovan, who has had prominent roles in films like Love Potion No. 9 and Argo, and on television on The O.C. and Damages, is 54.  Zach Woods, who is 33 today, is a regular on Silicon Valley and previously was Gabe Lewis on The OfficeMatt Battaglia, a Daytime Emmy winner as producer of Last Shot with Judge Gunn and the producer of the film Brothers (which was written by David Benioff), is 52 today.

Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) was a children’s lit author and a cartoonist, poet and songwriter.  He is remembered for his cartoon collection Now Here’s My Plan: A Book of Futilities, the poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends, and songs like the Grammy-winning “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Unicorn,” which was popularized by the Irish Rovers.

One year ago, the married couple of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were the headliners.

Michael Douglas is turning 73.  He appeared earlier this year in Unlocked and is a producer of the Flatliners remake and of We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  Next year he returns to the role of Hank Pym in Ant-Man and the WaspCatherine Zeta-Jones celebrates her 48th.  She played Olivia de Havilland on FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, and also appeared in the feature film adaptation of the 1970s BBC sitcom Dad’s Army.

Mark Hamill turns 66; possibly a few of you may have heard that he will appear in a tiny movie titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  I don’t know if anyone will go see it, but it will be out in December.

Pedro Almodóvar is 68 today; his latest film Julieta came out last year and received nominations for seven Goya Awards and four European Film Awards.  Michael Madsen, who is 60, appeared last year in the films Magi and Vigilante DiariesJason Flemying, who celebrates his 51st, had regular roles in the British series Jamestown and SS-GBClea DuVall, who made her directing debut last year with The Intervention (which she also wrote and starred in) and appears on Veep as Marjorie Palmiotti, turns 40 today.  David Benioff, the co-creator and showrunner of Game of Thrones, is 47.  He did not add to his Emmy count as GoT was ineligible this year owing to the late start of season 7.

Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood celebrates her 69th birthday.  We recently had some coverage of her at Le Blog.

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 25, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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