September 28: Happy Birthday John Sayles and Brigitte Bardot


Independent filmmaker John Sayles celebrates his 67th birthday today.  After attending Williams College, Sayles wrote a couple of novels in the mid-1970s, and then began writing scripts for some of Roger Corman’s films, such as Piranha and Battle Beyond the Stars.  He took some of his early earnings as a screenwriter and used them to make his first feature, Return of the Secaucus 7, which is sometimes thought to have inspired a cycle of “reunion” films and TV Series (e.g., The Big Chill).  It made about $2 million at the box office on a $60,000 budget and received very positive reviews.

Sayles has made close to 20 features since then.  A few representative titles would include Matewan, Eight Men Out, Limbo, Casa de los Babys, and Silver City.  He has also directed a few videos of Bruce Springsteen songs, worked as a script doctor for films like Apollo 13, and wrote an early draft of a screenplay for the film that became E.T.  His most successful film in mainstream terms has probably been Lone Star, which brought Sayles his only Oscar nomination, for Best Original Screenplay.

Today is Birgitte Bardot’s 83rd birthday.  She began acting in French cinema in her late teens.  Her films during the first five years or so of her career were unremarkable, although Nero’s Weekend, an Italian film from 1956, was significant in that the director asked her to dye her hair blonde or wear a wig; she chose the former and liked the color so much she continued to color her hair for the rest of her career.  Bardot had married writer and director Roger Vadim in the early 1950s (they divorced late in the decade but continued to work together), and later in 1956, he directed her in the film that made her a star.  And God Created Women was a hit not only in France but internationally, and Bardot’s “sex kitten” image dates from this film.

Bardot was one of the biggest international stars of the 1960s.  Some of her most notable films included Babette Goes to War, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Truth, a Best Foreign Language Film nominee,  A Very Private Affair (for which she won a Donatello Award), Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, and Viva Maria!, for which she was a BAFTA Award nominee.  She made a couple of unsuccessful Hollywood films in the mid-late sixties, and chose to retire in the early 1970s, before her 40th birthday.  Since then she has been active on behalf of a variety of philanthropic and political causes (some of them rather controversial).

Sarah Wright, who turns 34 today, starred in NBC’s short-lived Marry Me, and will appear in American Made with yesterday’s headliner Lola Kirke and some guy named Tom Cruise.  Keir Gilchrist, who is 25, stars on Netflix’s Atypical and previously was a regular on United States of TaraHana Mae Lee, who returns for a third outing in the role of Lily Okanakurama in Pitch Perfect 3, is celebrating her 29th.  Maria Canals-Barrera has played a television mother to both Selena Gomez, on The Wizards of Waverly Place, and Demi Lovato, on the Camp Rock TV movies.  She is 51 today.  Brandon “Bam” Margera, who turns 38, is a skateboarder and stunt artist who has played himself in several installments of the Jackass television and film franchise.  Kenyan-Indian actor and stuntman Kiran Shah, who is 61 today, is best known for his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies—he was Elijah Wood’s scale double as Frodo, and doubled for both Martin Freeman and Ian Holm as Bilbo.

NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent turns 63 today.  He starred at wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks for his entire 14 year career.  He made seven Pro Bowls, and at his retirement held almost every NFL receiving record, although most of them have since been broken.  Largent later served four terms in Congress.

Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), known as “Le Tigre,” was a physician, journalist, and political leader of late 19th and early 20th Century France.  He is famous for two things: first, for his role in the infamous Dreyfus Affair, during which he published Emile Zola’s famous essay “J’Accuse,” and otherwise supported the falsely accused Dreyfus.  Second, for serving as Premier of France during the final stages of World War One and the subsequent Paris Peace Conference.  Seymour Cray (1925-1996) was known as the “father of supercomputing.”  First at Control Data Corporation, and then at the company that bears his name, Cray developed several generations of computers that were the most powerful in the world.

Finally, today is the generally accepted birth date of Kong Qiu, better known by the westernized name of Confucius (551-479 BCE).  He was the founder of the school of philosophy that bears his name, and quite possibly is the single most important figure in Asian philosophy.

Naomi Watts and Mira Sorvino headlined last year’s September 28 article.

Naomi Watts is celebrating her 49th and looking back on a busy year.  She appeared as Janey-E Jones in the Twin Peaks limited series and was the lead on the Netflix drama Gypsy.  Her feature films in the past year include The Book of Henry and The Glass Castle.  Mira Sorvino turns 50 today.  She will be a regular on the upcoming series Condor and star in the upcoming film Waterlily Jaguar.

Janeane Garofalo, who is 53, appeared in Speech & Debate and as herself in the Netflix film Sandy Wexler.  Also 53 is Mexican actress Laura Cerón, who made two guest appearances last fall on ShamelessLucas Bryant, seen last fall on CBC’s Shoot the Messenger, turns 39 today.  Hilary Duff, who turns 30, continues to be a regular on Younger and appeared last fall in the comedy Flock of DudesMarcia Muller’s 33rd novel featuring PI Sharon McCone, The Color of Fear, was released in August of this year; Muller turns 73 today.

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 28, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. John Sayles is my favorite indie filmmaker. I love Lone Star and have seen, and generally enjoyed, another half dozen or so of his other features.

    The one Bardot film I know I’ve seen is Godard’s Contempt; I have a couple of others in the old Netflix queue.

    Kiran Shah has been in quite a lot of films as an actor, scale double, stunt performer, and more. He’s appeared in three Star Wars films, at least one Harry Potter film, one Narnia film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and even The Great Muppet Caper.


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