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October 14: Happy Birthday Ben Whishaw and Lillian Gish

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Ben Whishaw is celebrating his 37th today.  He began acting as a teen in a local youth theater group and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  Within a year of his graduation, he had been cast in the lead role of Trevor Nunn’s revival of Hamlet at the Old Vic, and received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor.  He has continued to work regularly on the West End, made his Broadway debut last year in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and will return to Shakespeare next year, as Brutus in Julius Caesar in a production at London’s new Bridge Theatre.

Whishaw began working in film while still attending RADA, and in 2004 appeared in supporting roles in two films starring Daniel Craig, Enduring Love and Layer Cake.  He was a BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee for the 2006 film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and starred as the poet John Keats in Bright Star.  He has received three BAFTA Television Award nominations for Best Actor, winning for starring as Richard II in The Hollow Crown in 2012.  That year also saw him make his debut in what is probably his most-recognized screen role.

Lillian Gish (1893-1993), sometimes called the First Lady of American Cinema, grew up in something of a theater family by necessity—her father was an alcoholic who abandoned them, so her mother began working as an actress to support Lillian and her sister Dorothy.  Sometime around 1911, they were living in New York, next door to a young woman named Gladys Smith, but soon to be known worldwide under the screen name of Mary Pickford.  Not long after, Pickford introduced the Gish sisters to D. W. Griffith.

Gish began appearing in short films in 1912, and in 1915 Griffith cast her as the female lead in his epic The Birth of a Nation.  She went on to star in several of Griffith’s most famous films, such as Intolerance, Broken Blossoms, and Way Down East, before moving to MGM to star in several silent productions in the mid-1920s.  She had made her Broadway debt in 1913, and spent much of the 1930s and early 1940s on stage, including appearing in Hamlet as Ophelia, opposite John Gielgud as the Prince.

Gish began working periodically on screen again in the 1940s.  She was an Oscar nominee for Duel in the Sun, starred in a 1953 telecast premiere of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, and very late in her life was cast opposite Bette Davis in The Whales of August.  Another film she appeared in has become recognized over time as a classic:

Jon Seda, who turns 47 today, has been appearing as Detective Antonio Dawson in Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise for over 3 years now, primarily as a regular on Chicago P.D. and the short-lived Chicago Justice.  He was previously a regular on Treme.  David Oakes is 34; he is best known for his television work as a regular on series like The Borgias, The White Queen, and most recently VictoriaMacKenzie Mauzy, who is turning 29, made her Broadway debut in the musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.  She has appeared in musicals like Giant and White Noise, and played Rapunzel in the film of Into the Woods.

Baseball Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston (1896-1954) was one of the biggest stars of the Negro Leagues for two decades or more, and was also a successful manager.  The Pittsburgh Crawfords team that he managed and played for in the early-mid 1930s, also featuring Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell, is considered one of the greatest teams of the Negro League era.  NFL Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner turns 70 today.  He starred at wide receiver for Houston, Cincinnati and San Diego for nearly 20 years, and at his retirement held the NFL record for career receptions.

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), who was born in New Zealand but spent her adult life in England and France, was a prolific short story writer, publishing several collections before her death of TB at only 34.  Vanessa Redgrave played Mansfield in a 1973 BBC biographical series.  American writer E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) wrote plays and novels, but is known primarily as an exceptionally creative and prolific poet; he composed nearly 3000 poems during his life.

William Penn (1644-1718) was an English religious leader, one of the key figures in the early years of the Quaker movement, but is mostly remembered as the founder and proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania.  He had very advanced views for his time on political and religious freedom.  A more recent and less reputable historical figure was Mobuto Sese Seko (1930-1997), who became the dictator of the Congo (also named Zaire) in 1965 and held on to power, enriching himself at the nation’s expense all the while, until just a few months before his death in 1997.

Last year, we had Mia Wasikowska and Roger Moore as October 14 headliners.

Mia Wasikowska is turning 28.  She stars with Robert Pattinson in the upcoming comedy Western Damsel, and will also appear in The Man with the Iron Heart, a thriller about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.  Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017) passed away earlier this year from cancer.  RIP, 007.

Steve Coogan, who turns 52 today, appears in several films this year, including The Dinner, and will play Stan Laurel in the upcoming biopic Stan and Ollie.  Actor/rapper Usher, who is 39, released a new album, Hard II Love, and appeared as Sugar Ray Leonard in the film Hands of Stone.  Veteran rocker Sir Cliff Richard, who released the album Just… Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll last November, is 77 today.  Natalie Maines is 43; she and the Dixie Chicks released DCX MMXVI Live last year.  Max Theriot, now starring on the new CBS series SEAL Team, is turning 29.  Jay Pharoah, who is 30 today, will star on Showtime’s upcoming series White FamousRowan Blanchard, who is celebrating her sweet 16th, is now appearing in a recurring role on The Goldbergs after the final season of Girl Meets World has ended.

We’ll let Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks have the closing number.

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 October 14, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Ben Whishaw is clearly more than just the guy who plays Q, isn’t he—especially taking his stage career into account.

    Lillian Gish, meanwhile, is rightly regarded as a legend.

    Like

  2. Wishaw is magic. Rather brilliantly, coming out doesn’t seem to have impacted his career in any way – he seems to be working just as much as ever. OK, he was never built for macho roles so it’s not perceived as “negatively” as it might be, but he’s still the highest profile young gay actor I can think of in the UK.

    Mia Wasikowska, I just don’t get. Fascinating face, far less interesting performer. Compare & contrast with the peerless Tilda Swinton, who’s never less than as fascinating to watch as she is to see.

    Re: Roger Moore, it’s essential always to reshare this glorious anecdote which came out after his death (two images) on the offchance it’s not yet been seen by the entire globe. RIP, you utter gent.

    Like

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