November 11: Happy Birthday Stanley Tucci and Robert Ryan


Our headliners today both had chances here and there to be leading men, but both are much better known for their character roles.

Stanley Tucci is turning 57 today.  He graduated from SUNY-Purchase, where one of his acting classmates for a time was Ving Rhames.  He made his Broadway debut in 1982 and has worked regularly on the stage throughout his career; he was a Tony nominee for Best Actor in a Play for a revival of Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.  Tucci then made his film debut in a small role in Prizzi’s Honor.

Tucci began to appear in larger film roles in the nineties, playing Lucky Luciano in Billy Bathgate and the comically inept Muerte in Undercover Blues.  He was a regular on the first season of ABC’s mid-nineties legal drama Murder One, and then won two Golden Globes for his television work, starring as the title character of the 1998 HBO film Winchell, and then playing the supporting role of Adolf Eichmann in the BBC/HBO film Conspiracy three years later.  He was nominated for an Oscar, and several other Best Supporting Actor awards, for The Lovely Bones in 2009.

Tucci’s more recent work includes a Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance, as Abraham Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger.  He played Caesar Flickerman in the Hunger Games films and Maestro Cadenza in Beauty and the Beast, and also appeared as Jack Warner on Feud: Bette and Joan.  He has directed several times over the years, most recently this year’s Final Portrait, which he also wrote.

Robert Ryan (1909-1973) graduated from Dartmouth, where he was a boxing champion (later in life, he was often mentioned as one of Hollywood’s “real life tough guys”).  During the 1930s, he worked on WPA construction projects and went to sea as a stoker, before beginning an acting career in 1940.  His early film roles were small, although he made his Broadway debut in 1941 in Clifford Odets’ Clash by Night (he would play a different role in the 1952 feature film version).

Ryan’s film career began to take off after he returned from serving in the Marines in World War 2.  He received the only Oscar nomination of his career, for Best Supporting Actor, in the 1947 film noir Crossfire.  His success at playing an anti-Semitic veteran led to his often being typecast in villainous roles for much of his career.  He was frequently seen in film noir, such as The Racket or Act of Violence, and in Westerns such as The Naked Spur and Day of the Outlaw—and was also in Bad Day at Black Rock, which blended both genres.  The Set-Up allowed him to make use of his boxing experience, while he had a rare chance to play a romantic lead—one with plenty of hard edges, of course—opposite Ida Lupino in On Dangerous Ground.

The 1960s found Ryan appearing in several large-scale World War 2 films, such as The Longest Day, The Dirty Dozen, and Battle of the Bulge.  He also appeared in several Westerns, most notably as Deke Thornton in The Wild Bunch.  He continued working until his death of cancer in 1973; two of his last films, Executive Action and The Iceman Cometh, were released posthumously.

Richard Dormer, who turns 48, has had a notable career in Irish theater.  Television audiences may know him as Beric Dondarrion from Game of Thrones, or for his starring role on the British series FortitudeMelanie Liburd, who is 30 today, was a regular on season 2 of Syfy’s Dark Matter and then on the single season of Netflix’s GypsyCamille Hyde, a regular on Netflix’s American Vandal, is turning 24.  Singer-songwriter Dave Alvin, who is 62, was a founder of the roots rock band The Blasters and has had a lengthy solo career as a folk rocker.

Walter “Rabbit” Maranville (1891-1954) made Baseball’s Hall of Fame, largely on the strength of his reputation as a great defensive shortstop.  He starred for the “Miracle Braves” in their 1914 World Series-winning season, one of the more unexpected championships in baseball history.

Comedian and actor Jonathan Winters (1925-2013) was an eleven-time Grammy, mostly in the Comedy and Spoken Word categories, who won Best Spoken Comedy Album for Crank Calls in 1995.  He won an Emmy for his role on ABC’s Davis Rules in the early 1990s.  Director John Guillermin (1925-2015) directed a variety of largely big-budget films during his career.  His filmography included two Tarzan films (including Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, one of the best in the long series), The Towering Inferno, the 1976 remake of King Kong along with its sequel, King Kong Lives, and Death on the Nile.

On November 11 of last year, our headliners were Leonardi DiCaprio and Demi Moore.

Leonardo DiCaprio is turning 43 today.  In the past year he has been active as a producer on Live by Night and the upcoming Robin Hood.  He has also been announced as the star of a Teddy Roosevelt biopic to be directed by Martin Scorsese.  Demi Moore is 55 today.  She starred in Blind, released earlier this year, and had a supporting role in Rough Night.  She will also appear in the upcoming Love Sonia.

Tye Sheridan is 21 today.  He starred in two films this year that seem to have been indie-scale pictures, The Yellow Birds and Grass Stains.  Next year he will return to the role of Scott Summers/Cyclops in X-Men: Dark Phoenix and star in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player OneAshleigh Cummings, who is 25, is currently a regular on the New Zealand series Westside and appeared in the film Pork PieAdam Beach is turning 45.  He will reunite with Wes Studi, his costar from the PBS adaptations of the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels, in the upcoming Western HostilesScoot McNairy, seen this year in films such as Aftermath and Sleepless, is turning 40.  Calista Flockhart, who turns 53, continues to make recurring appearances as Cat Grant on Supergirl.

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 11, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone.

    I remember Robert Ryan best from “Crossfire”. I knew he was the one who killed the Jewish solider halfway through the movie, but it was still fun to watch the mystery unfold.

    I really like Leonardo DiCaprio, and I was very happy when he finally won his Oscar this year. I haven’t seen “The Revenant”, but I have seen “Titantic” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, and he was very good in both those movies. Plus, he still looks amazing.

    RIP Robert Vaughn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One thing about Robert Ryan is the contrast between many of his screen roles and his real life. He constantly played men who were violent, bigoted, and/or psychopathic, but he was one of the leading Hollywood liberals of his time—active in the civil rights movement, the ACLU, etc.

      He made almost every film he was in better, because he was such a dynamic screen presence.


  2. Just a reminder that Demi Moore is today’s WTHH birthday:


  3. I like Stanley Tucci; I feel he’s equally adept at playing decent guys (like the husband who wants to adopt a child in the “Miami Vice” episode ‘Baby Blues’ and as the grieving father in 2007’s “Blind date”) or playing mobster/sleazy types (again to “Miami Vice”, he played crime boss Frank Mosca in two episodes there, plus playing Lucky Luciano in “Billy Bathgate” and Frank Nitti in “Road to Perdition”). I think he’s had a very entertaining career overall.


    • With a character player like Tucci who plays so many roles, it’s hard to cover more than a small fraction of his career in a post like this. I think my first time noticing Tucci was as the comically inept “Morty” in Undercover Blues—he stole the film, to the extent that a not-terrribly-good film can be stolen.

      Liked by 1 person

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