September 29: Happy Birthday Greer Garson and Lizabeth Scott


Today our headliners are two actresses who were both at their most popular in the 1940s, one for what today we would call prestige pictures, the other for genre films.

Greer Garson (1904-1996) was born in London, studied French and literature at King’s College London, and began working in English theater in the early 1930s.  Louis Mayer signed her to a contract with MGM in 1937, and she made her film debut, and received her first Best Actress nomination (of seven), as the wife of the title character in 1939’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips.  She went on to play Elizabeth Bennett in a 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and receive a second Oscar nomination for the 1941 film Blossoms in the Dust, before winning Best Actress for what is probably the best known role in her career.

Garson’s Oscar-winning performance as Mrs. Miniver came during a five-year stretch from 1941-45, where she was nominated each year for Best Actress  She was also nominated as Marie Curie in the biopic Madame Curie, as Susie Parkington in Mrs. Parkington, and as Mary Rafferty in The Valley of Decision.  Her leading man in four of those five films was Walter Pidgeon.  She continued to star for MGM into the early 1950s, and although she made only a few films after 1954, she had one last great performance at the end of the 1950s, as Eleanor Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello, for which she was nominated for her seventh Oscar and won a Golden Globe.

Lizabeth Scott (1922-2015, born Emma Matzo) made her professional acting debut at 18, in a touring company of the hit musical review Helzapoppin.  In the early 1940s, she modeled at the same New York agency as Lauren Bacall, and in 1944, she had screen tests with a number of studios, and impressed Hal Wallis—then leaving Warner Brothers for Paramount—who signed her to a contract.  After making her debut in the romance You Came Along, Scott made her first venture into film noir, a genre she would find considerable success in, in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.

While Scott was never as high-profile a film noir leading lady as, say, Barbara Stanwyck or Rita Hayworth, she was a mainstay of the genre for nearly a decade.  She starred with Humphrey Bogart in Dead Reckoning, with  Burt Lancaster in Desert Fury and I Walk Alone, and with Charlton Heston in Dark City.  Even her ventures into other genres, such as the 1954 Western Silver Lode, often had noir overtones.  After the mid-1950s, Scott made only a handful of films and television appearances; her last screen appearance was in 1972 in Mike Hodges Pulp.

Chrissy Metz, who celebrates her 37th birthday, is known for playing Kate Pearson on This Is Us, a role which has brought her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.  Sasha Lane, who turns 22, made her film debut last year in American Honey, and will have prominent roles in next year’s film adaptation of The Miseducation of Cameron Post and in the reboot of HellboyMackenzie Crook, known as Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, as one of the stars of the British version of The Office, and for creating and starring on the BBC’s Detectorists, is turning 46.  Dale Dickey, who is 55, won an Independent Spirit Award for her role in Winter’s Bone, and appeared recently in Hell or High Water and Small Town Crime.  Twin brothers Luke and Matt Goss are 49; they were two-thirds of the 1980s dance pop band Bros and have each had solo musical careers as well.

Barbara Mertz (1927-2013) earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago and wrote two books on the subject.  She was also a prolific novelist, writing mysteries under the pen name Elizabeth Peters (notably the Amelia Peabody series), and gothic/supernatural thrillers as Barbara Michaels.  Colin Dexter (1932-2017) was also the author of a long-running mystery series, the Inspector Morse novels, which were adapted into a British TV series.  French novelist Paul Féval (1816-1887) wrote a variety of what we would call genre fiction today—swashbuckling adventures such as Le Bossu (adapted into a successful 1997 film), vampire fiction, and especially crime fiction, notably his lengthy series Les Habits Noirs.

Italian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) was one of the relatively rare physicists who were important on both the theoretical and experimental sides of the discipline.  He was the first physicist to work out a theory of what is called the weak nuclear force and made contributions to quantum mechanics, and he also in charge of the creation of the Chicago Pile-1, the world’s first functioning nuclear reactor, and an important contributor to the Manhattan Project.

Last year on this date our headliners were Zachary Levi and Madeline Kahn.

Zachary Levi celebrates his 37th.  He will be seen on big screens for the first time in about 3 years in the upcoming Office Uprising, and also returned to the voice role of Eugene Fitzherbert for the TV movie Tangled: Before Ever After and for Tangled: The Series, reteaming with Mandy Moore as Rapunzel for both.  He will also appear in the upcoming miniseries Alias Grace.  There are conflicting reports as to whether he will return as Fandral for Thor: Ragnarok.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest project was the horror film The Neon Demon, which came out in the summer of 2016.  He is 47 today.  Ian McShane is 75 today.  He plays Mr. Wednesday on American Gods, returned to the role of Winston in John Wick: Chapter 2, and will play Trevor Bruttenholm in the reboot of HellboyRoger Bart, who celebrates his 55th, starred in the new Broadway musical Disaster!, appeared in Speech & Debate, and will join the season 2 cast of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate EventsAnaïs Demoustier, who is 30, continues to be a star of French cinema—she appears in four films that have been, or will be released this year alone.

Film critic Molly Haskell, who is 78, came out with her latest book, Stephen Spielberg: A Life in Films, earlier this year.  NBA star Kevin Durant, who turns 29 today, won his first NBA title in his first season with the Golden State Warriors.

Finally, let’s have a number from Jerry Lee Lewis on his 82nd birthday.

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 29, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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