January 1 & 2: Happy Birthday Taye Diggs and Dana Andrews


Taye Diggs celebrates his 46th birthday today.  He studied musical theater at Syracuse University, and has had an extensive career in musicals both on and off Broadway.  He made his Broadway debut in the 1994 revival of Carousel in a couple of small parts.  Two years later he became better-known in the role of Benny Coffin in the original production of Rent.  He has appeared on Broadway as Billy Flynn in Chicago, Fiyero in Wicked, and most recently as the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Diggs made his film debut starring with Angela Bassett in How Stella Got Her Groove Back in 1998.  He has had starring roles in The Best Man, Brown Sugar, and Drum, and been a supporting player in films that include Go, The Way of the Gun, and Equilibrium.  He played The Bandleader in the film version of Chicago and returned to the role of Benny in Rent.  On television, he has had regular roles on series such Kevin Hill, Day Break, and Murder in the First.  His must durable TV gig was as Dr. Sam Bennett on Private Practice.

Dana Andrews (1909-1992) grew up in Mississippi and Texas, and moved to California in the early 1930s.  He hoped to become a singer, but would up working at a gas station for a time.  It took nearly a decade for Andrews to break into the film industry.  At the end of the 1930s he signed a contract with producer Samuel Goldwyn; he was soon loaned out to Fox for his film debut, in Lucky Cisco Kid, a Western.  Fox then worked out an arrangement to share the actor’s contract with Goldwyn.

Andrews, while never a top-rank star, was well-known to 1940s movie audiences.  His most famous role was probably as one of the three returning veterans at the center of the 1946 Best Picture winner, The Best Years of Our Lives.  He appeared in several film noir thrillers, such as Fallen Angel, Boomerang, and most famously, Laura.  He was in more Westerns, notably The Ox-Bow Incident, and in the musical State Fair.  In 1950, he reunited with his director and costar in Laura, Otto Preminger and Gene Tierney, for the noir Where the Sidewalk Ends.

In the fifties, Andrews’ alcoholism hurt his career.  Often relegated to B-movies, he did make two more good noirs in 1956, While the City Sleeps and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, both directed by Fritz Lang.  A year later he starred as Lt. Ted Stryker in Zero Hour!, which trivia buffs probably know was the source of the story and much of the dialogue for Airplane!  While he seldom got lead roles after the late fifties, Andrews continued working in film and television for another 25 years.

Other New Year’s Day birthdays include Angourie Rice, who turned 17.  The Australian actress has had major roles in The Nice Guys  and in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and appeared in a small role in Spider-Man: Homecoming.  She will star in the upcoming Every Day.  Scottish actress Fiona Dolman, who is 48, has been a regular for several seasons on the long-running British crime drama Midsomer MurdersSam Spruell, known for his roles in films including Snow White and the Huntsman, Taken 3, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, celebrated his 41st.  Jennifer Hale, who turned 53, is best known for her voice acting work on a variety of video games, including Mass Effect, SOCOM, and several Star Wars and Spider-Man games.  Jonas Armstrong, who starred on the BBC’s Robin Hood in the late 2000s, turned 37.

Lorenzo de’Medici (1449-1492) was one of the most prominent of the members of the famous Florentine family.  He was the de factor leader of the Florentine Republic for over 20 years and is remembered as a patron and sponsor of Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Other birthdays today include Kristen Hager, best known for her starring role on Syfy’s Being Human; she turns 34.  Panamanian actress Patricia de Leon, who is 42, has done a lot of work in Spanish-language film and television and has had significant roles in English-language films like Confessions of a Womanizer and Your MoveDavid Gyasi, who is 38, starred on The CW’s limited series Containment and had prominent roles in Cloud Atlas and InterstellarPeter Gadiot turns 32.  He is a regular on Queen of the South and has appeared on Supergirl as Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Christy Turlington, who turns 49, was one of the most prominent models of the 1990s (part of a “Trinity” that also included Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista).  She has become known as a documentary filmmaker, who has directed No Woman, No Cry and Every Mile, Every Mother.

Last year’s New Year’s Day headliners were Frank Langella and Colin Morgan.

Frank Langella turned 80 with the New Year.  His most recent appearance was as Gabriel, the Jennings’ KGB handler on The AmericansColin Morgan is now 32.  He will return to the role of Leo Elster on season 3 of Humans, and will appear in the upcoming feature The Happy Prince (an Oscar Wilde biopic).  Morgan also starred in a London production of Branden Jacob-Jenkins’s play Gloria last summer.

Morris Chestnut, who turned 49, wrapped the second and last season of Rosewood and cameoed as himself in Girls TripStacy Martin, who starred in the French film Redoubtable and has several other films in various stages of production, celebrated her 27th.  Dana DeLorenzo, who is now 35, continues to star as Kelly Maxwell on Ash vs. Evil DeadSharon Small turned 51; she appeared in the recent British miniseries Born to Kill and Trust Me.

Todd Haynes and Cuba Gooding, Jr., were the headliners on this date last year.

Todd Haynes turns 57.  His seventh feature film, Wonderstruck, screened at Cannes in May of last year, and went into limited release in the US in October, to generally positive reviews.  There have been reports for a few years that he is working on a biopic of jazz singer Peggy Lee, to star Reese Witherspoon.  Cuba Gooding, Jr., celebrates his 50th.  He will return to the anthology series American Crime Story this year for its third season, Katrina (having starred as O. J. Simpson in season 1).

Kate Bosworth celebrates her 35th today.  Last year she starred on the British miniseries SS-GB (adapted from a Len Deighton novel) and the American miniseries The Long Road HomeRenée Elise Goldsberry, who turns 47, starred in the TV movie adaptation of Rebecca Skoots’ book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (as the title character) and will appear in the upcoming The House with a Clock in Its Walls (adapted from the book by John Bellairs).  Gabrielle Carteris, formerly of  Beverly Hills, 90210, remains president of SAG-AFTRA as she turns 57.  James Marshall, who is 51, returned to the role of James Hurley for the Twin Peaks revival.  Dax Shepard, who wrote, directed, and starred as Jon Baker in the feature film version of CHiPs (which was not a success), is 43 today.  Paz Vega, who celebrates her 42nd, appeared in the thriller Acts of Vengeance, and has several projects in varying stages of development.  Shelley Hennig, who turns 31 today, appeared in last year’s Roman J. Israel, Esq., and will be in the upcoming rom-com When We First MetBen Hardy, who turns 27, had a prominent role in last year’s Mary Shelley, and will play Queen drummer Roger Taylor in Bohemian Rhapsody.

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 January 2, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Happy birthday, Skeletor!


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