December 12: Happy Birthday Connie Francis and Edward G. Robinson


Concetta Franconero, better known as Connie Francis, turns 79 today.  As a child, she performed as a singer and on the accordion in talent contests and neighborhood gatherings in the Newark, New Jersey area where she grew up.  In the early 1950s, she appeared on NBC’s Startime Kids, and later in the decade she provided Tuesday Weld’s singing voice in Rock, Rock, Rock.  She was signed to a recording contract by MGM Records, and after a couple of false starts, her career took off when her recording of “Who’s Sorry Now” became a big surprise hit in early 1958.

Francis had a great run of success from 1958-1962, with fourteen Top Ten singles.  Two of them were #1 hits, “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own,” and “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You.”  However, her signature tune was a single that, while it “only” reached #4, also became the theme song for the first film she starred in.

Francis starred in a few films in the early 1960s.  Where the Boys Are, the first, was a coming-of-age film that starred Dolores Hart and Paula Prentiss, with Francis in a supporting role; her remaining films were lighter comedy-romances with plenty of music.  After 1962, Francis’s recordings were less and less successful commercially—like many early sixties pop stars, she faded in the face of the British Invasion.  However, she remained a popular concert performer for decades after that.

Edward G. Robinson (1893-1973) was born in Romania (his birth name was Emanuel Goldenberg) and moved to the US with his family in 1903.  He began his acting career in New York’s Yiddish Theater District when he was about twenty and made his Broadway debut in 1915.  He worked in a few silent films, but his career took off with the beginning of the sound era.  His big breakthrough was in 1931, in what was not the first of his gangster roles, but probably the definitive one.

Robinson was identified with gangster roles, and portrayed some classic ones, especially in Little Caesar and Key Largo.  But he appeared in a wide variety of roles.  In mid-forties film noir, he could be found as a classic victim-protagonist (in Scarlet Street), as an implacable war crimes investigator (in The Stranger), and as a dynamic supporting player (in Double Indemnity).  He appeared in comedies like Mr. Winkle Goes to War, caper films like Seven Thieves, and epics like The Ten Commandments.  He worked to the end of his life; his final film, Soylent Green, was a posthumous release.

Lucas Hedges, who celebrates his 21st today, became well-known with his Oscar-nominated performance last year in Manchester by the Sea.  This year he has had prominent roles in Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and he will star in next year’s Boy ErasedTamara Duarte, who was a regular on the Canadian medical drama Hard Rock Medical, turns 26.  Regina Hall is 47 today.  She became known for the role of Brenda Meeks in the Scary Movie franchise, was featured in the Think Like a Man films, and starred in this year’s Girls TripGbenga Akinnagbe, who turns 39, played Chris Partlow on The Wire, and recently has had prominent roles in Detour and Crown Heights.

Henry Armstrong (1912-1988) was a world boxing champion in three different weight divisions in his career—as a featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight—and is considered one of the finest boxers ever.

Harry Warner (1881-1958) was one of four brothers who founded the Warner Brothers movie studio, which has evolved, after a sequence of mergers and acquisitions, into one of the giants in the modern media business.

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) was a French novelist know as one of the most prominent figures of literary realism (in contrast to the romanticism of the likes of Victor Hugo).  His most famous work was the novel Madame Bovary.  Painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944), one of the most important cultural figures to come from Norway, is most famous for his painting The Scream.  The Russian writer Vasily Grossman (1905-1964) was relatively unknown during his lifetime due to Soviet censorship, but since his death the greatness of novels like Life and Fate has been recognized.

Last year’s December 12 headliners were Jennifer Connelly and Frank Sinatra.

Jennifer Connelly celebrates her 47th today.  She was a part of the ensemble cast of the recent release Only the Brave, and was the voice of Karen, the AI for Peter Parker’s Spidey-suit, in Spider-Man: Homecoming.  She will be featured in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, out next year, and has been cast in a TNT series based on the film Snowpiercer.

Mayim Bialik continues to play neuroscientist Amy Farah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory; she turns 42 today.  Bill Nighy, who is 68, returned to the role of Billy Mack for Red Nose Day Actually, and stars with Emily Mortimer in The BookshopKenneth Cranham, who turns 73, appears in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, which comes out in the US at the end of December.  Producer Paula Wagner is 71; her latest project is the legal drama MarshallSarah Douglas, who was seen in the recent Netflix release A Christmas Prince, is 65 today.  Mädchen Amick, who is turning 47, plays Alice Cooper on Riverdale and returned to the role of Shelly Johnson for the revival of Twin PeaksWallis Currie-Wood, who celebrates her 26th, continues to appear as Stevie McCord on Madam Secretary.

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 December 12, 2017, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’m snowed in here (I HAVE to move further south, because snow shoveling just stopped being fun), but this is a good read.
    Connie Francis? Yeah, my mother was a fan. Hey, didn’t they turn “Where The Boys Are” (I also like the song by The Waitresses, “I Know What Boys Like”) into a film? Fitting, since I’m headed to Florida when this weather calms down.
    Edward G. Robinson, wow, he was, like, one of the best early film gangsters (I also liked George Raft). I always liked 1955’s “A Bullet For Joey” (yes, that stars George Raft as well), but Robinson is actually a non-gangster there. Then again, there’s always “Little Caesar” (not pizza, pizza, it’s shoot, shoot!) and “The Man with Two Faces”, which along with the original “Scarface”, I thought were some of the finest gangster films of the 1930’s.
    Regina Hall, I liked her in 2003’s “Malibu’s Most Wanted” (a completely silly film I realize, but I was amused by it).


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