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November 4 & 5: Happy Birthday Sean Combs and Joel McCrea

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Sean Combs, known by a variety of performing names throughout his career, is turning 48 today.  He dropped out of Howard University at the end of the 1980s and began working as an intern at Uptown Records.  The rapper released his first studio album, No Way Out, in 1997, and saw it win the Grammy for Best Rap Album.  He has won two additional Grammys in the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group category, and released four additional studio albums, with a sixth, No Way Out 2, in the works.  He has also done some film and television acting, including supporting roles in films like Monster’s Ball and Get Him to the Greek, and a starring role, alongside the likes of Audra McDonald, in a TV adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun.

Combs has also been a major player on the production and business side of the music industry.  He founded Bad Boy Records in 1993; the label quickly made their mark releasing the two studio albums made by The Notorious B.I.G. before his death.  They have also been the home label for artists like Faith Evans, Mase, 112, and others.  Combs helped Mary J. Blige start her career while he was still at Uptown and has produced on albums for a number of other artists.

Joel McCrea (1905-1990) began working in film as a stunt double when he was still in high school, studied drama at Pomona College, and signed a contract with MGM after he graduated.  By 1930 he was getting starring roles, and in 1932 made one of his most famous pictures, The Most Dangerous Game, which was filmed on the same sets as King Kong, (at night with two of the stars of Kong, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong) in prominent roles.  Late in the 1930s he began his long association with Westerns, starring in Wells Fargo and Union Pacific, before playing the lead in one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood films.

McCrea made several of his best films in the early 1940s.  Besides Foreign Correspondent, he starred in two of Preston Sturges’ classics, Sullivan’s Travels and The Palm Beach Story, and with Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier.  Starting in the mid-1940s, he began working almost exclusively in Westerns.  Some of them were very routine, but a few were very good, and one, Sam Peckinpah’s directing debut, Ride the High Country, is a classic of the genre.

There are only a very small number of celebrity birthdays for November 4 and 5 who were not covered in last year’s article.  Canadian singer and actress Alexz Johnson turned 31 yesterday; she is known for starring on the Canadian series Instant Star and for her pop-rock albums like VoodooJudy Reyes, who is 50 today, currently stars on TNT’s Claws.  Previously she was a regular on Scrubs and Devious MaidsSam Page, who is a regular on Freeform’s The Bold Type, is celebrating his 41st.  Tamzin Outhwaite, who turns 47, recently returned to the role of Melanie Owen on EastEndersJimmy Vee, who is 58 today, will likely become a well-known name soon; he has taken over the role of R2-D2 from the late Kenny Baker.

Ida Tarbell (1857-1944) was one of the pioneers of investigative journalism, sometimes known as “muckrakers,” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  She is best remembered for her reporting on the Standard Oil company, published in McClure’s Magazine and then in book form.  Tarbell’s near contemporary Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) was a labor leader, one of the founders of the American Railway Union, and later the five-time Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party, winning nearly 6% of the popular vote in 1912.

The November 4 headliners last year were Matthew McConaughey and Kathy Griffin.

Matthew McConaughey is 48 today.  In the past year he has starred in the crime drama Gold and played Walter Padick in an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, and was a voice actor in Kubo and the Two StringsKathy Griffin, who turns 57, has been in the headlines lately even though she doesn’t have any major projects going—just google her name along with “beheading” to find out why.

Ralph Macchio, who is 56, is today’s WTHH birthday.  He will return to the role of Daniel LaRusso in the upcoming series Cobra KaiJeff Probst continues to host Survivor, now in its 35th season, as he also turns 56.  Heather Tom, who is turning 42, continues to star as Katie Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful, and received her 17th Daytime Emmy nomination this year.  Olivia Taylor Dudley, who remains a regular on Syfy’s The Magicians, is 32 today.  Jean-Luc Bilodeau is turning 27; the final episode of Baby Daddy, on which he starred, aired in May.  Travis Van Winkle, who is 35, continues as a regular on The Last Ship, which returnes for its fifth season next year.

Tilda Swinton and Vivien Leigh headlined the November 5 article a year ago.

Tilda Swinton celebrates her 57th birthday.  She was an executive producer and one of the narrators of the documentary Letters from Baghdad, about the life of Gertrude Bell.  She also reunited with director Bong Joon-ho on Okja, which screened at Cannes earlier this year before being released on Netflix.

Famke Janssen, who turns 53, starred on NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption, which was canceled after one season, and appeared in the films This Is Your Death and Once Upon a Time in VeniceAitana Sánchez-Gijón turns 49; she is currently a regular on the Spanish series Velvet Collection.  Also 49 is Seth Gilliam, known to fans of The Walking Dead for the role of Gabriel Stokes.  And a third 49th birthday celebrant today is Sam Rockwell, seen this year in several films including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Woman Walks AheadRobert Patrick, who is a regular on CBS’s Scorpio, celebrates his 59th today.  Bryan Adams, who is 58 today, is releasing a compilation album, Ultimate, this month.  Ryan Adams, who released his 16th studio album, Prisoner, earlier this year, is 43 today.

Playwright and actor Sam Shepard (1943-2017) died earlier this year of complications from ALS.  His final film role was in Never Here, filmed in 2014, but not released until early this summer.  Patti Smith wrote one of many tributes to him.

A final November 4 birthday was that of Irish folksinger Tommy Makem (1932-2007, covered in last year’s article), who gets the closing number for today (with Liam Clancy).

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 November 5, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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