October 4: Happy Birthday Rachael Leigh Cook and Buster Keaton


Rachael Leigh Cook celebrates her 38th birthday today.  As she is one of our most recent WTHH subjects, there is an article with a lot about her career, so here we’ll just sum things up.  Cook made her screen debut in 1995 in The Baby-Sitters Club and Tom and Huck, made a famous ad involving a frying pan, and in 1999 became Hollywood’s newest “it girl” when she starred in the teen rom-com She’s All That.  She had a brief career in major films like Antitrust and Josie and the Pussycats, then spent much of the 2000s making a long list of indie films (some of them, like 11:14 and Scorched, rather interesting).  In recent years, she has been better known for TV work, such as a recurring role on Psych and a starring one on TNT’s Perception, and some Hallmark Channel films.  Her latest project is playing Hermia in Casey Wilder Mott’s modern setting version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this year.

Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton (1895-1966) was born into a show business family; his parents were traveling vaudevillians and he began appearing on stage as early as the age of three.  As part of the family act, The Three Keatons, he acquired the skills at physical comedy that he was later famous for.  He began working in film in 1917, appearing as a featured player in a number of comic shorts starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.  By 1920 he had become well known enough to begin starring in his own comic shorts, and three years later, began starring in, directing, writing, and producing a string of brilliant silent comedy features.

The first two of these, Three Ages and Our Hospitality, came out in 1923.  They were followed a year later by one of the most inventive of all of Keaton’s features (and also the shortest, at about 45 minutes), Sherlock Jr.

Keaton continued making his own features—including classics like The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.—until 1928.  He then signed with MGM, where his early sound features were financial successes; however, the star, unhappy with his lack of creative control and descending into alcoholism, was fired in 1933.  He eventually got his battle with the bottle under control, and continued working, although never regaining his silent-era stardom, until his death in 1966.

Alan Rosenberg, who turns 67, was known for starring on the legal drama Civil Wars in the early 1990s; after that show’s cancellation, Rosenberg and his character moved over to a regular role on L. A. Law’s final seasons.  Bill Fagerbakke, who starred on ABC’s Coach as Michael Dybinski and has had a long run as a voice actor on SpongeBob SquarePants, is turning 60.  Lori Saunders, who celebrates her 76th, was well known to late sixties TV audiences for playing Bobbie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction from the third season on.  She also made crossover appearances as Bobbie Jo on Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies, starred on Dusty’s Trail in the early seventies, and made the movie Mara of the Wilderness with the late Adam West.

British director Mick Jackson turns 74.  He made a number of documentaries and miniseries in the seventies and eighties for the BBC, while his feature films include L.A. Story, The Bodyguard, and VolcanoDennis Gansel is 44 today.  The German director has made films like Before the Fall, The Wave, and the vampire film We Are the Night in his home country, and also directed last year’s Mechanic: Resurrection.

Singer and songwriter Chris Lowe, who is 58, has had a solo career but is best known as half of the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys.  Russell Simmons, who celebrates his 60th, is an entrepreneur whose business career includes being the cofounder of Def Jam Recordings in 1983, the recording home to a number of prominent hip-hop artists.  Our sports birthday is former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who turns 29.  Since becoming the youngest winner of that award, Rose has struggled with a variety of knee injuries.

Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893) served in the Union Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of brigadier general, and then served in Congress and as Governor of Ohio.  He was the Republican candidate for President in 1876 and became the 19th President of the US as a result of the Compromise of 1877.

Oscar-winners Susan Sarandon and Christoph Waltz headlined last year’s article.

Susan Sarandon is 71.  She was nominated for two Emmys for FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, for acting (she played Bette Davis) and as an executive producer.  Among many other projects on her busy schedule, she will appear in the upcoming A Bad Moms Christmas, and can be seen in several episodes of season 5 of Ray DonovanChristoph Waltz, who is 61, appeared with yesterday’s birthday celebrant Alicia Vikander (and others) in Tulip Fever, and stars in Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, to be released in December.

Alicia Silverstone, one of our earliest WTHH subjects, turns 41.  Her film appearances this year include Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul and The Killing of a Sacred DeerDakota Johnson, who is 28, continues to star in the Fifty Shades films (the second came out earlier this year) and will also star in a remake of Dario Argento’s SuspiriaMelissa Benoist, who turns 29, continues to play the title character of Supergirl, and will also star in the upcoming miniseries Waco.  Also continuing in her best-known role is Catriona Balfe, who stars on Outlander’s third season as she turns 38; Balfe received her second Golden Globe nomination earlier this year.  Sarah Lancashire, who was featured in Dad’s Army last year, is 53.  Liev Schreiber can currently be seen on season 5 of Ray Donovan, in the title role; Schreiber turns 50 today.  Abraham Benrubi, who is 48, played Pete McCann on Fox’s APB, which was canceled after one season.  Tchéky Karyo, who turns 64 today, returned to the role of Julien Baptiste for season 2 of The Missing.  Two-time Cesar winner Sara Forestier, who celebrates her 31st, makes her feature film directing and writing debut with M, which was screened at Venice and will be released in her native France in November.

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 October 4, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I am kind of interested in seeing Rachael Leigh Cook in this new film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I would estimate its chances of going into general release as zero, but I’m sure it will be available in some format sooner or later. Meanwhile, happy birthday to my perma-crush. 🙂

    Buster Keaton is my favorite of the great silent comics. Chaplin may have been the greater artist overall, but Keaton’s work has more appeal to me personally. I never get tired of The General or Sherlock Jr., and several of his other films are worth watching at least once.

    Lori Saunders might not have made it into the article had we not had two other recent Petticoat Junction birthdays, Paul Henning and his daughter Linda (both on September 16). Interesting trivia note—Lori Saunders’ given name was actually Linda, but when she was cast in Petticoat Junction she changed it to avoid confusion with Linda Kaye Henning. That movie Saunders made with Adam West, Mara of the Wilderness, used to air regularly on Los Angeles area TV stations in the seventies—I can remember seeing it a couple of times when I was home sick from school or something.


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