January 9: Happy Birthday Imelda Staunton and J. K. Simmons



Imelda Staunton celebrates her 62nd today.  She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at 20 and worked for several years in regional theater in England.  One of her first London performances came in a 1982 revival of The Beggar’s Opera, for which she received Olivier Award nominations for Most Promising Newcomer and Best Actress in a Musical.  She won her first of four Olivier Awards, for Best Supporting Actress, in 1985, and has since won Best Actress in a Musical three times—as the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and Mama Rose in Gypsy.  Most recently she starred as Sally Plummer in a London revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.

Staunton began working in film and television in the mid-1980s.  On television, she has been a two-time BAFTA Televsion Award nominee, as Octavia Pole in the BBC series Cranford, and as Alma Hitchcock in the HBO/BBC film The Girl.  Film audiences are most likely to recognize her for playing Dolores Umbridge in two Harry Potter films, or perhaps as Knotgrass from Maleficent.  Her most acclaimed performance, though, was as the title character in Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake, for which she received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress, and won BAFTA and European Film Awards in that category, along with a long list of film festival honors.

J. K. Simmons, who turns 63 today, studied music at the University of Montana and has a little bit of a career in musical theater himself, having appeared on Broadway in Guys and Dolls and Peter Pan.  On television, Simmons has had regular roles as Vernon Schillinger on Oz and Will Pope on The Closer, and played the recurring character of Dr. Emil Skoda on the Law & Order franchise.  He currently stars as the lead character, Howard Silk, on Starz’s Counterpart.

Simmons is best known for his film work, where he is a very busy character actor.  He has played important authority figures in adaptations of both Marvel and DC Comics—as J. Jonah Jameson in three Spider-Man films, and as Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League.  He has worked regularly with the Coen Brothers, in films like The Ladykillers and Burn After Reading, and with Jason Reitman, in Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air.  And of course, he has dozens of other films on his resume, but we have to wrap up here with Simmons’s big moment in the sun—he swept the major Best Supporting Actor awards for 2014 as music instructor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash.

Writer and voice actor Bob Peterson, who celebrates his 57th, is known for his work with Pixar.  He was a co-director on Up, and has shared writing credits on that film as well as Finding Nemo, Cars 3, and more.  Steve Lund, known for his regular role on the Canadian supernatural drama Bitten, turns 29.  German actress Julia Dietze, who is 37, has starred in films like the sci-fi action comedy Iron Sky.  Indian filmmaker Farhan Akhtar turns 44.  He has won Filmfare Awards in acting, writing and producing, and been nominated as a director.

David Johansen, who turns 68 today, is known for his days as the lead singer of the “protopunk” band the New York Dolls.

Our January 9 headliners last year were Joan Baez and Jimmy Page.

It’s Joan Baez’s 77th birthday.  The folk legend was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April of last year.  She will be touring in Europe later this year and has announced the release, in March of this year, of her first studio album in a decade, Whistle Down The WindJimmy Page is celebrating his 74th today.  He talks periodically of touring or recording again, but as far as I can tell his last live performance was in 2011.

Joely Richardson, who turns 53, appeared as Glinda on NBC’s short-lived Emerald City, and will play the mother of Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Red SparrowNina Dobrev turns 29 today.  Last year she appeared in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and the remake of Flatliners, and she is scheduled to appear in several upcoming releases.  Nicola Peltz, who is 23, had a voice cameo in the latest Transformers film and is also scheduled to appear in multiple future releases.  Kerris Dorsey, who continues to play Bridget Donovan on Ray Donovan, is turning 20.  Omari Hardwick, who turns 44 today, starred in last year’s Shot Caller and continues to headline the Starz series Power.  Country singer Crystal Gayle continues to actively tour at 67 and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry last January.  Dave Matthews, who is 51, continues to tour with the band that takes its name from him.  And A. J. McLean, who turns 40, continues to be an active member of the Backstreet Boys.

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 9, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Dolores Umbridge is from what I understand the most hated character in all of Potter lore. But fans love to hate her, right?

    J. K. Simmons is always great, but he is hands down the definitive JJ Jameson. No one will ever play that part truer to the source material.


  2. Aside from playing Dolores Umbridge, Imelda Staunton has had a terrific stage career, and in particular to have an affinity for Sondheim. I would not be at all surprised to see her become Dame Imelda in a few years.

    It’s always nice when an actor who has worked as hard as J. K. Simmons has over the years gets a moment in the limelight, as Simmons did with all the honors he received for Whiplash.


  3. For a musical birthday bonus, here’s Joan Baez at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, singing her biggest hit.

    Also, with some light days ahead I am consolidating Wednesday and Thursday into a single article.


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