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September 30: Happy Birthday Monica Bellucci and Michael Powell

0930BellucciPowell

Italian actress and model Monica Bellucci is turning 53 today.  She began modeling in her teens and has continued working in the field alongside her career as an actress.  She made her feature film debut in 1991 in an Italian film titled The Raffle, and a year later had a small part as one of Dracula’s brides in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Fluent in several languages, Bellucci has worked in Italian, French and English-language cinema through the years.  She was nominated for a Cesar Award for the 1996 French film The Apartment, in which she costarred with her husband-to-be, Vincent Cassel.  The two worked together again on the horror film Irréversible. She has also been a Donatello Award nominee, for the Italian film Remember Me, My Love, and a European Film Award nominee, for Malèna.

American audiences would know Bellucci from several films.  She played Persephone in the two sequels to The Matrix, and a medical missionary in Tears of the Sun.  She starred opposite Clive Owen in the action comedy Shoot ‘Em Up, and recently has appeared on Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle and as herself on the Twin Peaks limited series.  And of course, as regular readers of this sight are aware, she was a Bond Girl in Spectre.

Michael Powell (1905-1990), one of England’s most distinguished filmmakers ever, started out at the literal ground floor of the film industry in 1925, working as a “gofer” at a studio, where his menial tasks included sweeping the floors and making coffee.  By 1928, he was working as a stills photographer for Alfred Hitchcock, and in 1931 he received his first directing credit.  He directed a number of films during the 1930s, mostly what he termed “quote quickies,” although a few, like Red Ensign and The Edge of the World, are well regarded.

Powell is best known for his partnership with Emeric Pressburger.  The two met during the filming of The Spy in Black, and first collaborated on the 1941 war movie 49th Parallel, a Best Picture nominee, although it wasn’t until a year later that they formalized their partnership as “The Archers.”  They made a number of films set in wartime Britain, such as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and A Canterbury Tale, and after the war made a pair of famous visual spectacles in Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, the latter another Best Picture nominee.  My personal favorites of their output are the lovely romances I Know Where I’m Going and A Matter of Life and Death.

Powell and Pressburger were both credited for directing, producing and writing on almost all their films; however, Powell was generally responsible for the direction, while Pressburger generally took the lead on the writing.  They continued to work together into the mid-fifties, but as their films became less successful, they eventually dissolved their partnership.  Powell had one final great film left, the 1960 psychological thriller Peeping Tom.  Too shocking for many viewers at the time, it has come to be regarded as a classic.

John Lloyd, who turns 66, is a British television producer and writer who has won three BAFTA Television Awards for his work on Not the Nine O’Clock News and the Blackadder sitcoms.  Katrina Law, who is 32, is known for her roles on seasons 1 and 2 of Spartacus, as Nyssa al Ghul in the Arrowverse, and on CBS’s Training Day.  Also 32 today is Greyston Holt, who starred on the Canadian werewolf series BittenChris Jackson, who was a Tony nominee as George Washington in Hamilton and is a regular on CBS’s Bull, turns 42.  Onetime child star Kieran Culkin is 35.  Known for his roles in the Father of the Bride films, The Mighty, and Igby Goes Down, Culkin’s most recent film is Infinity BabyFran Brill, who is 71, had a long career as a Muppet performer, most notably as Prairie Dawn and Zoe on Sesame Street.

Soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston, who is 84 today, may be best known as the mother of the late pop star Whitney Houston, but she is a successful recording artist in her own right, who has won two Grammys for Best Traditional Gospel Album.  Marc Bolan (1947-1977) was one of the pioneers of glam rock in the 1970s as the lead singer of T. Rex, who had several #1 singles in the UK, one of which, “Get it On,” was a Top 10 hit in the US.  Bolan’s life was cut short by an auto accident days before his 30th birthday.

Soprano Patricia Neway (1919-2012) was known for her work in both opera and musical theater.  She was a longtime fixture at the New York City Opera, particularly known for her work in American opera, and on Broadway she won a Tony as the Mother Abbess in the original production of The Sound of MusicJack Wild (1952-2006) made his London stage debut in a supporting role in the musical Oliver!, and then played the Artful Dodger in the 1968 film adaptation, for which he received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.  He then starred on television as Jimmy on H.R. Pufnstuf.  However, even in his teens he had developed severe substance abuse problems which crippled his chances at a successful adult career.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) was a Holocaust survivor, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a human rights activist, along with being a writer.  People disagree about whether his most famous book, Night, is a novel, a non-fiction memoir, or something in between, but no one disagrees with how powerful a reading experience it is.

William Wrigley, Jr., (1861-1932) was the founder of the Wrigley company, the world’s largest chewing gum company (which today is a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated).  He was the majority owner of the Chicago Cubs for over a decade; Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ longtime home, is named for him.

Last year’s headliners on September 30 were Marion Cotillard and Lacey Chabert.

Marion Cotillard is celebrating her 42nd birthday.  Last fall she starred opposite Brad Pitt in the romantic thriller Allied, and played Sofia Rikkin in the video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed.  Her most recent film was the French production Ismael’s Ghosts, which premiered at Cannes in May.  Lacey Chabert, who turns 35, has been making a number of Hallmark Channel TV movies, such as Moonlight in Vermont, and continues to do a lot of voice work, for instance as Zatanna Zatara in a variety of DC animated adaptations.  Her WTHH article is exactly where it’s always been.

Eric Stoltz, who is 56, has recently directed the indie films Class Rank and Confessions of a Teenage Jesus JerkEzra Miller, who celebrates his 25th, will make his first non-cameo as Barry Allen/The Flash in Justice League, and also is scheduled to return to the role of Creedence Barebone in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemTony Hale continues to star as Gary Walsh on Veep and was nominated for another Emmy in the role; he is 47 today.  Daniel Wu, who is 43, continues to star on Into the Badlands and will be featured in next year’s Tomb RaiderJenna Elfman is 46; her latest series, Imaginary Mary, was canceled after one season.  Amy Landecker, who turns 48, appeared recently in The Hunter’s Prayer and continues as a regular on TransparentLen Cariou remains a regular on Blue Bloods as he turns 78.  Marty Stuart, who turns 59, released his latest album, Way Out West, earlier this year, and with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, won Best Duo/Group at the Americana Music Honors & Awards.  Martina Hingis continues to be one of the top doubles players on the tennis tour at 37; she won both the women’s and mixed doubles titles at the US Open earlier this year; she and her mixed doubles partner, Jamie Murray, also won at Wimbledon.

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.

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Posted on September 30, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Although I watch a fair amount of European cinema, I don’t think I have seen any of Monica Bellucci’s French or Italian films; I know her from Shoot ‘Em Up, Spectre, and one or two other English-language films.

    Michael Powell is another of my favorite directors. I Know Where I’m Going and A Matter of Life and Death are both must-see films for anyone with a drop of romance in their soul, and while Peeping Tom is disturbing viewing at times, it is a great movie and I am very glad to have seen it once.

    Like

    • Bellucci had a very memorable cameo in this summer’s Twin Peaks playing herself. She appeared in a dream to Gordon Cole, the FBI director portrayed by David Lynch himself. Although her part is small, she introduces one of the series’ primary themes.

      Like

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