January 19: Happy Birthday Damien Chazelle and Richard Lester


Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle is celebrating his 33rd birthday today.  He studied film at Harvard, and made his first feature film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, as his senior thesis project.  Like his subsequent films, it has a strong connection to the world of music.  After graduation he moved to Los Angeles, and began getting work as a writer; his credits include Grand Piano and 10 Cloverfield Lane.  He drew on his experiences in a high school jazz band when he wrote and directed Whiplash, which brought him an Oscar nomination for screenwriting, and won three Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for J. K. Simmons.

Chazelle then turned to a project that he had first conceived of while at Harvard.  The musical/romance La La Land brought Chazelle a number of Best Director honors, including an Oscar and a Golden Globe, and won a total of six Oscars, including Best Actress for Emma Stone.

Chazelle’s next feature is First Man, a Neil Armstrong biopic.  He is also the creator, director and executive producer of the upcoming Netflix series The Eddy, described as a musical drama.

Richard Lester is turning 86 today.  He began studies at the University of Pennsylvania at just 15 years of age, and in his late teens began working at a Philadelphia area television station.  He moved to London in 1953 and began directing on English television, and in 1959 he and Peter Sellers co-directed the comedy short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film.  In the mid-sixties he directed several prominent features.  One, The Knack…and How to Get It, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and also brought Lester a pair of BAFTA Award nominations.  Two others were made with the Beatles, the first of which Roger Ebert included in his first Great Movies collection.

Later in the sixties Lester directed the film adaptation of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the black comedy How I Won the War.  In the seventies he was noted for his two-film adaptation of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, while here at le Blog we have taken note of Lester’s contributions to the Superman franchise.

English actress Marsha Thomason, who is turning 42, is best known for starring as Diana Berrigan on White CollarElizabeth “Bitsie” Tulloch, who played Juliet Silverton/Eve on NBC’s Grimm for its six-season run, is celebrating her 37th.  Nickelodeon viewers may remember Erin Sanders for her regular roles as Quinn Pensky on Zoey 101 and Camille Roberts on Big Time Rush; Sanders is 27 today.

Edwidge Danticat, who turns 49, is known for novels such as The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner, and for her short story collection Krik? Krak!

Last year’s January 19 headliners were Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin.

Dolly Parton is celebrating her 72nd birthday.  Last fall she released her first children’s album, I Believe in You.  She shared in a Grammy, her ninth, for Best Country Duo/Group Performance when she recorded a version of her hit “Jolene” with the a cappella group Pentatonix.

Antoine Fuqua, who turns 52, is directing The Equalizer 2, a sequel to his 2014 film, which will star Denzel Washington.  Katey Sagal, who celebrates her 64th, is a regular on CBS’s Superior Donuts and appeared in the TV movie remake of Dirty DancingDrea de Matteo, who remains a star of Shades of Blue, is turning 46 today.  Nash Edgerton, who turns 45 today, is directing the upcoming action comedy GringoJodie Sweetin, who is 36, continues to play Stephanie Tanner on Fuller House, and also appeared as herself on Hollywood DarlingsLogan Lerman, who starred as the title character of The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, which screened at Sundance last year and goes into limited release in the near future, is 26 today.  Luke MacFarlane, who is turning 38, remains a regular on Killjoys.

While Michael Crawford, who is 76, does not appear to have had any new projects in the past year, it’s worth noting that he had roles in several of Richard Lester’s mid-sixties feature films.

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 19, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have given Richard Lester a hard time over his involvement in the Superman movies, but he is not without talent. He just wasn’t the right guy for that franchise (much like Zack Snyder today but for opposite reasons). If you are looking for a light comedy, Lester can deliver.


  2. Damien Chazelle certainly seems to be one of Hollywood’s up-and-comers these days. First Man looks to be a little bit different than his previous work; it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

    I know Richard Lester primarily for his The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers from 1973-74, which I enjoy a great deal. More than any other film adaptation of Dumas, he captures the spirit of the novels—not just the swashbuckling, but the intrigue, which is absent from Dumas adaptations.

    Day off for the birthday series tomorrow as I am consolidating Saturday and Sunday.


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