February 8: Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon and Lana Turner


Two-time Oscar winner Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard.  He began working in film and television at the end of the 1940s, and had his first significant film role in 1954’s It Should Happen to You.  A year later, he had a breakout performance, winning Best Supporting Actor as Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts.  His stature as a top star was confirmed at the end of the decade, when he made a pair of films with director Billy Wilder.  He played the bass player Jerry, alias Daphne, in Some Like it Hot, and then starred as the office worker who grows a backbone, C. C. Baxter, in The Apartment.  He received Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, along with Oscar nominations, for each film.

Lemmon remained a major star for most of his career.  He made several more films with Wilder, and also became known for his on-screen pairing with Walter Matthau.  Their first film together was The Fortune Cookie in 1966 (directed by Wilder), and they went on to make The Odd Couple, the 1974 remake of The Front Page (with Wilder again), Grumpy Old Men, and several more.  Lemmon won a second Oscar, for Best Actor, for Save the Tiger in 1973, and received a total of eight Oscar nominations.  Starting in the 1970s, he also regularly made a number of TV movies, and won an Emmy for the 1999 adaptation of Tuesdays With Morrie.  He also made periodic stage appearances and was a two-time Tony nominee.  And these are just the highest of highlights of a great career.

One of the most famous tales in Hollywood history is the discovery of Lana Turner (1921-1995).  Turner, then a student at Hollywood High School, was seen by a reporter at a soda fountain.  That set in motion events that ended with the teenager being signed by Warner Brothers (she moved to MGM within a year or two).  One of her first prominent roles was in Love Finds Andy Hardy, and by the early 1940s, Turner was starring in films like Johnny Eager and Honky Tonk, the latter her first of several pairings with Clark Gable.  Many of her early starring roles were in comedies, but she began to establish herself in more dramatic parts as well; one of the most famous was in 1946.

Turner was certainly a major star by the time of The Postman Always Rings Twice, and remained one until the end of the 1950s.  She starred in the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers (as Milady de Winter) and the 1952 version of The Merry Widow, as the title character.  Some of her other famous films included The Bad and the Beautiful, The Sea Chase, Peyton Place (which brought her her sole Oscar nomination), and Imitation of Life.  From 1960 on, she was less successful.  Whether her career suffered from the media attention she attracted after her sometime boyfriend, mobster Johnny Stompanato, was stabbed and killed by her teenage daughter, Cheryl Crane, or whether her day was simply past by the 1960s, is hard to tell.

Dawn Olivieri, known for her starring role on Showtime’s House of Lies and for films like Bright, is turning 37 today.  William Jackson Harper, who celebrates his 38th, stars on NBC’s The Good Place as Chidi Anagonye.  Cecily Strong, who turns 34, has been a cast member of Saturday Night Live since 2012 and had a supporting role in Ghostbusters.  French actress Mathilda May, a Cesar Award winner for The Cry of the Owl who might be remembered for her role in 1997’s The Jackal, is turning 53.

John Williams and James Dean were headliners on this date last year.

John Williams is still actively composing as he turns 86.  He received his 51st (!) Oscar nomination for the score for The Last Jedi, and received a Golden Globe nomination for the score for The Post.

Nick Nolte is turning 77 today.  He received a Golden Globe nomination for the first season of Graves, and will appear later this year in The PadreMary Steenburgen, who celebrates her 65th, remains a regular on The Last Man on Earth, and will star in the upcoming Book ClubMary McCormack, who is 49, is a regular on the British series Loaded, which is carried on AMC in the US.  Sherie Rene Scott is 51; she starred in a Broadway revival of The Front Page as Mollie Malloy.  Seth Green, who turns 44, is doing a lot of voice work, including Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and will play Christopher Guest in A Futile and Stupid GestureLiam McIntyre, who appeared in the thriller Security and stars in the Australian series Pulse, is turning 36.  Anna Hutchison, who is 32, starred in Vengeance: A Love Story and will be in the upcoming Encounter.

Novelist John Grisham celebrates his 63rd.  He had two novels come out last year, Camino Island, a crime novel about a theft of rare manuscripts, and The Rooster Bar, his latest legal thriller.

Let’s close with a little music from John Williams.

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 February 8, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. By coincidence, I had the Sequels of 1998 scheduled for today. I wasn’t sure whether or not I could get it done by then, but when I saw that Jack Lemmon was a headliner today I really buckled down to get the article done on time. There is a section on The Odd Couple II which deals with the Lemmon-Matthau partnership.

    A Stupid & Futile Gesture is already streaming on Netflix. Seth Green is barely in it. Most of the actors playing famous faces looked kind of like the people they were playing. But does anyone think Green looks like Christopher Guest? I didn’t see it.

    Liam McIntyre I know from Spartacus. He stepped into the lead role after original star Andy Whitfield passed away.


  2. Big name headliners today. Jack Lemmon was a terrific comic actor—great in his films with Billy Wilder, in The Great Race, and more. But he also had some great dramatic performances to his name; I have seen him in his Oscar-nominated turn in Missing and in the ensemble cast of Short Cuts.

    I don’t know Lana Turner’s career as well as I do some of her contemporaries, like Lauren Bacall, but she was terrific in The Postman Always Rings Twice and good in Johnny Eager.

    Today is a big day for celeb birthdays. We had two very big names to headliner last year’s article, two more today, and Nick Nolte and Mary Steenburgen are still waiting in the wings.

    Liked by 1 person

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