November 3: Happy Birthday Monica Vitti and Dolph Lundgren
Our headliners today are a pair of European-born film performers, one of whom has done very little work in English-language cinema, the other best known for English-language roles.
Monica Vitti, a five time winner of Italy’s David di Donatello Award for Best Actress (I believe that only Sophia Loren has more), is turning 86 today. She studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Rome and worked on stage for a few years before making her film debut in 1954. Around 1960 she began a professional and romantic relationship with director Michelangelo Antonioni, and became famous for starring in four of his films in the early 1960s. She won an Italian Golden Globe and received a BAFTA Award nomination for L’Avventura, the first of them, and the two followed up by collaborating on La Notte, L’Eclisse, and Red Desert.
Later in the sixties, Vitti’s partnerships with Antonioni soured, but she began working regularly with directors like Mario Monicelli, Alberto Sordi, and other major figures in Italian film comedy—her Donatello awards all date from this part of her career. Unlike Loren or other European stars, she never really sought fame in Hollywood; her only two English-language films were the English-production Modesty Blaise, where she starred as the thief and spy of that name created by cartoonist Peter O’Donnell, and the American romantic comedy An Almost Perfect Affair, in which she starred with Keith Carradine.
Dolph Lundgren is turning 60. He spent several years alternating between martial arts competitions and studying chemical engineering (he holds a Master’s degree in the field), before becoming singer Grace Jones’s bodyguard (and eventual lover). Jones helped him get his first acting job, a small part in A View to a Kill. Later in 1985 he appeared in his first major role, as the powerful Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.
Lundgren then starred in a few relatively high-profile action films, such as Masters of the Universe (as He-Man) and The Punisher, but by the mid-1990s, he was working exclusively on modestly-budgeted direct-to-video action films. His big screen career was resurrected in 2010, when his onetime costar Sylvester Stallone cast him as Gunner Jensen in The Expendables, a role he returned to in two sequels. Last year he had a cameo in Hail, Caesar!, he will appear as King Nereus in Aquaman, and reportedly he will return to the role of Ivan Drago in a sequel to Creed.
Novelist turned screenwriter William Monahan is 57 today. He is best known for his Oscar-winning screenplay for The Departed, and has written and directed London Boulevard and Mojave. Kevin Murphy, who turns 61, voiced and performed Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Voice actor Jim Cummings is 65; he has done a lot of work for Disney and has voiced Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for nearly thirty years. Antonia Thomas, who stars on ABC’s Lovesick and previously was a regular on the British series Misfits and Lovesick, is celebrating her 31st. Peggy McCay turns 90 today. She won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress on The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, and has been nominated for five Daytime Emmys as Caroline Brady on Days of Our Lives.
Evgeny Plushenko, one of the most successful figure skaters ever, turns 35. He won medals at four consecutive Winter Olympics, including gold in men’s singles in 2006, and also won three World Championships and seven European Championships.
Mike Evans (1949-2006) became known in the role of Lionel Jefferson on All in the Family and then on seasons 1, 6 and 7 of the spinoff series, The Jeffersons (Damon Evans, no relation, played Lionel on seasons 2-4). He was also the co-creator of Good Times, a second generation spinoff of All in the Family (by way of Maude). French director Jean Rollin (1938-2010) was a major figure in French horror and fantasy cinema, particularly known for a quartet of vampire films that began with Le viol du vampire from 1968.
Stephen F. Austin (1793-1836) led the Old Three Hundred migration of American families into Texas (then part of Mexico) in 1825, and later took part in the Texas Revolution of 1836. Known as the “Father of Texas,” he gave his name to a long list of Texas places and institutions, most notably the state’s capital city.
Last year’s November 3 headliners were Roseanne Barr and Charles Bronson.
Roseanne Barr, who is 65 today, will return to television for the first time since 2015 when Roseanne returns for an 8-episode revival early next year on ABC. Brian Henson, who is turning 54, is an executive producer of the upcoming animated Christmas film The Star and the director of next year’s The Happytime Murders. Hal Hartley, who has recently been directing several episodes of Amazon’s Red Oak, is 58 today. Gary Ross turns 61; he wrote and directed the upcoming caper film Ocean’s Eight. Adam Ant, who turns 63, is working on a new album with the reported title Bravest of the Brave. Novelist Martin Cruz Smith is 75 today; his latest novel was The Girl from Venice, which came out last fall.
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 November 3, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged Antonia Thomas, Brian Henson, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Ross, MIke Evans, Monica Vitti, Roseanne Barr, William Monahan. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.