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October 16: Happy Birthday Suzanne Somers and David Zucker

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Suzanne Somers is celebrating her 71st today.  She grew up in San Bruno, California, and after college and a marriage that did not last, at the end of the 1960s she began working on a game show, The Anniversary Game, as a prize model.  She eventually married the show’s host, Alan Hamel—they have been together for 40 years.  She also began acting at that time—her first feature film role was an uncredited cameo in Bullitt.  During the 1970s she appeared in guest roles on The Rockford Files, The Six Million Dollar Man, and three times on Starsky and Hutch.  Then, in 1977, she landed the role that was both her breakthrough and the one she will always be most identified with, Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company.

Somers left Three’s Company in 1981 after a contract dispute—big news at the time, as I recall—with the producers.  After a few years where she did virtually no screen work, Somers returned to series television as the star of the syndicated series She’s the Sheriff, which ran for two seasons.  She followed that by starring in Step by Step, which ran for six seasons on ABC and a seventh on CBS from 1991-1998.  She has been largely retired from screen acting since then, but she has hosted two or three shows, and made her Broadway debut in 2005.

David Zucker, who turns 70, grew up in the Milwaukee area.  He and his younger brother Jerry were acquainted with Jim Abrahams when they were growing up, and the three formed a theater group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  After they had all graduated, they got together and combined some of their theater sketches into the script for The Kentucky Fried Movie, which came out in 1977.  The trio, often known as ZAZ, then took the script from a 1957 thriller titled Zero Hour!, and used it as a basis for directing and writing one of the funniest film comedies ever.

Whether as a part of ZAZ or on his own, Zucker never really achieved the comic brilliance of Airplane! again, although both Top Secret! and Ruthless People have plenty of funny moments, and the trio were able to turn their short lived series Police Squad into a pair of lucrative movies.  Working on his own, Zucker made the sports comedy BASEketball, has been involved in several installments of the Scary Movie franchise, and parodied Michael Moore in An American Carol.

Todd Stashwick is celebrating his 49th.  After a career of two decades on television, with lots of guest and recurring roles and parts on short-lived series, in the past three years he has been a regular on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, which returns for a fourth season next year.  Christian Stolte, who is 56, plays Randall “Mouch” McHolland on Chicago Fire, with periodic crossovers to other series in the Chicago franchise.

Gary Kemp, who turns 58, is the guitarist and principal songwriter of the new wave band Spandau Ballet, who reunited in 2009 after a hiatus of nearly two decades.  He is also known for starring in the 1990 British film The KraysWendy Wilson is 48 today.  The daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, she, her sister Carnie, and Chynna Phillips make up the pop trio Wilson Phillips.

Women’s basketball star Sue Bird is turning 37.  She has won an NCAA title while at Connecticut, two WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm, and four Olympic gold medals with the US Women’s National Team, and is a ten-time WNBA All-Star and the league’s all-time leader in assists.

Ann Morgan Guibert (1928-2016) had a long career on television which included appearing regularly on The Dick Van Dyke Show during the 1960s, as Millie Helper, and as Fran Fine on The Nanny in the 1990s.

Literary figures born this date include Noah Webster (1758-1843).  The man whose name has become almost synonymous with dictionaries published the first edition of his An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, the culmination of decades of work as a lexicographer and educator.  German novelist and poet Günter Grass (1927-2015) was a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He is most famous for the first book in his “Danzig Trilogy,” The Tin Drum.

George Washington Williams (1849-1891) was an African-American clergyman and lawyer who was known for his human rights activism in the Belgian Congo in the late 1880s.  Williams was a character in last year’s The Legend of Tarzan, played by Samuel L. Jackson.  William O. Douglas (1898-1980) served as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the late 1930s, and then was appointed to the US Supreme Court in 1939.  His tenure of 36 years on the Court is the longest in history, and he is remembered as one of the leaders of the Court’s liberal block and also for his environmentalism.

On October 16 of last year, Tim Robbins and Angela Lansbury were headliners.  Tim Robbins turns 59 today.  He made his first feature film appearance since 2015 in Michael Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime, which screened at Sundance, and will star in the upcoming HBO series Here, Now (created by Alan Ball of True Blood and Six Feet Under fame). Dame Angela Lansbury, who is 92. will return to the big screen next year as the Balloon Lady in Mary Poppins Returns.

Kellie Martin, who celebrates her 42nd, has starred on two Hallmark Channel adaptations of Nancy Grace’s novels about ex-prosecutor Hailey Dean, and is a regular on the new TBS series The Guest BookCaterina Scorsone, who is 36, continues to be a regular on Grey’s AnatomyPaul Sparks, who is turning 46, has come to the end of his run on House of Cards, but will be a part of the cast of the upcoming miniseries WacoKenneth Lonergan, who won the Oscar and BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay for Manchester by the Sea and was nominated for Best Director and a long list of other honors, turns 55 today.  Michael Balzary, aka Flea, who is also 55, spent much of the past year with Red Hot Chili Peppers on The Getaway World Tour in support of their latest album.  Bob Weir turns 70; the onetime Grateful Dead guitarist released a new album, Blue Mountain, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Honors & Awards in 2016.  John Mayer, who is 40 today, has been touring with Dead & Company (also including Weir) for much of this year, and also released his latest studio album, The Search for Everything, in April of this year.  Bryce Harper is turning 25.  He made his fifth trip to baseball’s All-Star Game and led the Washington Nationals to another National League East title, before falling to the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

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 16, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I know this may sound insane to some, but I watched “Step By Step” a lot as a teenager, so I like Suzanne Somers (I have my own aerobics stuff though, so I’ll pass on that. No Somer-size!). So, I watch “Fuller House”, and I watched “Step By Step”; wow, a silly person is me.
    David Zucker, he was involved with “Ruthless People”, that may be my favorite (more Bette Midler, but also the ultimate judge, Judge Reinhold, and Bill Pullman, who I think nailed playing the dumb guy). Then there’s Danny Devito, Anita Morris…yeah, my kind of film. I think it was “Seinfeld” before “Seinfeld”. Okay, now I’m going to watch “Ruthless People” (um, no comment on that thought from this peanut gallery!).

    Like

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