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October 22: Happy Birthday Catherine Deneuve and Joan Fontaine

1022DeneuveFontaine

Our headliners today, both renowned actresses, have in common that each had an older sister who was also a prominent actress.  Catherine Deneuve was the younger sister of the tragically short-lived Françoise Dorléac (1942-1967), who was just emerging as an international star when she died, at only 25, in a car accident.  Joan Fontaine was the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland, a headliner earlier this year when she celebrated her 101st birthday.

Catherine Deneuve is turning 74 today.  She made her film debut in a small role when she was only 13, and began working regularly in French film in the early 1960s.  Her breakthrough role was in Jacques Demy’s musical/romance The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in 1964.  She had a big year in 1967.  She and her sister starred with Gene Kelly in another Jacques Demy musical, The Young Girls of Rochefort.  And she received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Actress for starring in Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour as a housewife who works as a call girl on the side.

Deneuve has been nominated for fourteen Cesar Awards, all but one for Best Actress, an honor she has won twice.  Her first win was for François Truffaut’s The Last Metro, for which she also won the Donatello Award for Best Actress.  Her second Cesar-winning performance, for the 1992 film Indochine, also brought Deneuve her sole Oscar nomination.  She has made periodic forays into English-language cinema, starring opposite Burt Reynolds in Hustle, and playing a prominent supporting role in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark.  She continues to work regularly, starring this year in The Midwife (screened to good reviews at Berlin) and opposite Gerard Depardieu in Bonne Pomme.

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013, given name Joan de Havilland) was born in Tokyo, and moved with her mother and sister to the US in the mid-1920s.  She was signed to a contract by RKO in the mid-1930s, and appeared in several films before the end of the decade, usually in supporting roles, although she played Fred Astaire’s romantic partner in his first RKO film without Ginger Rogers,  A Damsel in Distress.  By the end of the decade, with her career not progressing, RKO let her go.  But a chance meeting with producer David O. Selznick led to her being cast in the lead role in Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film, Rebecca.

Fontaine was nominated for Best Actress for Rebecca, and then received a second consecutive nomination a year later for another Hitchcock film, Suspicion; she won for the latter film, with her sister Olivia being one of the contenders she beat out.  She remained a major star for the rest of the 1940s, normally being featured in romantic dramas, such as Jane Eyre (she played the title character as an adult) and Letter from an Unknown Woman.  She began working in television in the 1950s and continued to do so intermittently until the early 1990s.

The rivalry of the de Havilland sisters is a famous part of Hollywood lore, and you can find all kinds of stories about it and what caused it.  Sorting out which are true and which aren’t is not something we are going to attempt here. 🙂

Carmen Ejogo, who turns 44, is known for her acclaimed performance as Coretta Scott King in Selma.  She also played Seraphina Piquery in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and had supporting roles in Alex Cross and Alien: Revenant, and will be a regular on the upcoming second season of The Girlfriend ExperienceMichael Fishman, who is 36 today, is one of several birthday celebrants known for their childhood or teen performances; he played D. J. Connor on Roseanne, and will return to the role for next year’s revival of the series.  Jonathan Lipnicki, known for his work as a child actor in Jerry Maguire and the Stuart Little films, turns 27; these days he works in a variety of indie films.  Sofia Vassilieva, who is celebrating her 25th, played Ariel Dubois on Medium for seven seasons and was Kate Fitzgerald in My Sister’s KeeperKyle Gallner, who turns 31, starred on WGN’s recently canceled Outsiders and was a regular on Veronica Mars for two seasons.

Jennifer Lee, who is turning 46, shared an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for writing and co-directing Frozen.  She also shared the story credit for Zootopia, wrote the screenplay for the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time, and is working on a Frozen sequel with Chris Buck.

Two interesting visual artists were born on this date.  N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945) was a prominent painter, and the father of the even more prominent painter Andrew Wyeth, but might be best known for his work as an illustrator of over 100 books, including about two dozen books in the famous Scribner’s Classics series.  Hungarian photojournalist Robert Capa (1913-1954) was famous for his war photography.  He was the only civilian photographer to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944; later, while covering the First Indochina War in 1954, he was killed by a landmine.

Doris Lessing (1919-2013) was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2007.  She was known for the semi-autobiographical five-novel sequence Children of Violence and other novels such as The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.  She also wrote libretti for two operas by minimalist composer Philip Glass.

The October 22 headliners one year ago were Jeff Goldblum and Derek Jacobi.

Jeff Goldblum is celebrating his 65th.  He joined the enormous cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe this year in the role of Grandmaster, appearing in an end credits cameo to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as a lead in to his role in Thor: Ragnarok.  He also will return to the role of Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomSir Derek Jacobi is turning 79.  He appeared in the recent release Stratton, and will be part of the ensemble cast of the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express.

Christopher Lloyd, born the same day as Jacobi, appeared earlier this year in the remake of Going in StyleTony Roberts, who is 78, appeared in a TV movie remake of Dirty Dancing earlier this year, and also once costarred with Catherine Deneuve in Lovers Like Us, the 1975 film for which she received her first Cesar nomination.  Bob Odenkirk, who is 55, continues to star on Better Call Saul and also has a supporting role in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The PostBill Condon is turning 62; he directed one of this year’s biggest hits, Beauty and the Beast, and cowrote the screenplay for the upcoming The Greatest ShowmanJesse Tyler Ferguson is 42; he remains a star of Modern Family and won a Drama Desk Aware for Becky Mode’s one-actor play, Fully CommittedSaffron Burrows continues as a regular in Mozart in the Jungle as she turns 45.  Valeria Golino, who is 52, continues to work regularly in Italian film.  Corey Hawkins, who turns 29, was a Tony nominee for a Broadway revival of Six Degrees of Separation and starred on the sole season of Fox’s 24: Legacy.  Americana/country singer Shelby Lynne, who is 48, released a new album in collaboration with her younger sister Allison Moorer, titled Not Dark Yet.

Finally, as it’s the birth date of Franz Liszt (1811-1886, covered in last year’s article), let’s end with a tune from that “rock star” of 19th Century musicians.

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 22, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Catherine Deneuve has a long filmography, which I’ve only seen small portions of. I have seen her in Hustle and in Francois Ozon’s 8 Women (which has a very starry constellation of French actresses across 3-4 generations) and one or two other films—but I definitely want to check out more of her work.

    I haven’t seen that much of Joan Fontaine’s work either, but in her case that’s partly because she really only had a run of about a decade as a major star, and for most of that time she was under contract to David O. Selznick, and made relatively few movies.

    I welcome the return of Dr. Ian Malcolm to the Jurassic Park franchise, as other than the CGI dinos, he was undoubtedly the best thing about the first two films.

    I can remember reading several volumes of the Scribner’s Classics when I was young and that several of them were illustrated by N. C. Wyeth (I specifically remember having a copy of The Yearling with Wyeth’s color plate illustrations).

    Like

  2. To English speakers who’ve actually seen Catherine Deneuve in a movie, that movie would be The Hunger no question! Weird that it wasn’t mentioned.

    Someone made a nice montage of her and Ms. Sarandon (which still hasn’t been flagged 7 years later): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhDZZMWUyOg

    Like

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