January 24: Happy Birthday Neil Diamond and Ernest Borgnine


Pop-rock singer and songwriter Neil Diamond celebrates his 77th birthday today.  He grew up in Brooklyn, and attended Erasmus Hall High School, where in the choral club he met a classmate named Barbra Streisand.  He attended NYU for a while but dropped out to pursue a music career.  He had some lean years, but in 1965 began to sell some songs that turned into hits, including “I’m A Believer” for The Monkees.  A year later he singed a recording contract with Bang Records and released his first successful singles, “Solitary Man” followed by his first Top Ten hit, “Cherry, Cherry.”

The seventies were Diamond’s heyday.  He had hit singles virtually every year, and almost all of his albums sold well.  A series of concerts in 1971 and 1972 at Los Angeles’s Greek Theater established his reputation as a live performer, and one concert was recorded and released as the album Hot August Night.

In the late seventies Diamond had one of his biggest hits when he recorded “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” as a duet with his old schoolmate Barbra Streisand.  His venture into acting, starring in a remake of The Jazz Singer, was not successful, although he had several hit singles off of the film’s soundtrack.  While “Heartlight” from 1982 was his last major hit single, his albums have continued to sell well through the years and he remains a popular live performer.  However, the singer announced earlier this week that he will have to give up touring, having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012) was born to Italian immigrants to the US and lived in Italy for a few years as a child.  Appropriately, given one of his most famous roles, he served in the US Navy in the late 1930s, and reenlisted after the Pearl Harbor attack.  After the war he studied acting, and began working in theater, moving to film and television in the early fifties.  He began building a reputation as a character player in films like From Here to Eternity and Bad Day at Black Rock.  Then, in 1955, he won a somewhat unexpected Best Actor Oscar in a role that, briefly, made him a star.

By the beginning of the sixties, only five years after Marty vaulted him to stardom, Borgnine’s day in the sun as a leading man was largely over, but he found a congenial TV role as the title character of McHale’s Navy, which brought him the first of his four Emmy nominations in 1962 (the fourth, nearly 50 years later, was for a guest appearance on ER).  A few highlights of the remainder of his long career included playing Dutch Engstrom in The Wild Bunch, being one of the few survivors of The Poseidon Adventure, costarring in a TV movie remake of All Quiet on the Western Front, and appearing as Dom Santini on the first three seasons of Airwolf.

Kristen Schaal is celebrating her 40th today.  She stars as Carol Pilbasian on Fox’s The Last Man on Earth, and is also known for her voice acting on Bob’s Burgers and BoJack Horseman.  Tatyana Ali, who turns 39, became known for playing Ashley Banks on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and also starred on the first three seasons of TV One’s Love That Girl!  Justin Baldoni, who is a regular on Jane the Virgin, is turning 34.  Director and animator Carlos Saldanha, who turns 53 today, has been a director or producer on all five films of the Ice Age franchise, and most recently directed last year’s Ferdinand.

Our headliners last year on this date were Daniel Auteuil and John Belushi.

Daniel Auteuil, who is turning 68 today, starred in last year’s Le Brio, and is directing and starring in the upcoming L’envers du decor, adapted from a recent play he also starred in.

Matthew Lillard, who continues to voice Shaggy Rogers in a variety of animated Scooby-Doo productions, is 48 today.  Voice actor Phil Lamar’s latest major role is as Cornell Jelly on Adult Swim’s The Jellies; Lamar is 51 today.  Ed Helms, who is 44, produced and starred in The Clapper, played Joe Gargan in Chappaquiddick, and had a major voice role in Captain Underpants: The First Epic MovieCarrie Coon, who is 37 today, can currently be seen as Meg Greenfield in The Post, and will appear in the upcoming heist movie WidowsMischa Barton, who turns 32, is seen in a lot of low-profile features these days.  French actress Karin Viard, who received a number of accolades for starring in the comedy Jalouse, is celebrating her 52nd.

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 24, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Very timely headliner selection given the sad news about Neil Diamond. His music may be corny, but good luck getting his songs out of your head!

    We enjoy Kristen Schaal on Last Man on Earth, but it seems like she’s all over the place. Including here:

    Matthew Lillard is a potential WTHH subject down the line. He was terrific in Twin Peaks last summer.


    • If you’re a karaoke regular, you know that sooner or later someone will do Sweet Caroline and of course, those in the know will join in with the “bum bum bum” and “so good! so good! so good!”


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