February 27 & 28 (&29): Happy Birthday Kate Mara and Mercedes Ruehl


Kate Mara, the elder of two acting sisters, turned 35 yesterday.  Like her sister Rooney, she is a member of the founding families of two NFL franchises, the New York Giants (founded by Tim Mara) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (by Art Rooney, Sr.).  She made her screen debut in an episode of Law & Order in 1997, and two years later she made her film debut in Random Hearts, as the daughter of Kristin Scott Thomas’s character. In the early 2000s she made a number of TV guest appearances, notably in a multi-episode run on Nip/Tuck, and then had her first starring film role in the horror film Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.  That same year, she had a small role, but with one big scene, in Brokeback Mountain.

While Mara has not reached quite the career heights of her Oscar-nominated sister, she has been a successful actress by any reasonable standard.  She has had major roles in a lengthy list of films, including action thrillers (Shooter, Transsiberian), sci-fi drama (The Martian), a medieval war movie (Ironclad), and sci-fi/borderline horror thrillers (Transcendence, Morgan).  She has had some substantial television work, notably as a “special guest star” on season 1 of American Horror Story, and in an Emmy nominated turn as Zoe Barnes on House of Cards.  She recently starred in the war movie/biopic Megan Leavey as the title character, costars with recent headliner Ellen Page in My Days of Mercy, and plays Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick, which screened at Toronto and will be released in April.

Mara has made two appearances in Marvel Comics adaptations.  She had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo as a US Marshal in Iron Man 2, and then played Sue Storm in 2015’s Fantastic Four.  While the latter film was not a success, it turned out nicely for Mara on a personal level—she and costar Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) were married last summer.

Mercedes Ruehl, who celebrates her 70th today, has had a notable stage career going back to the 1970s, when she began working in regional theater.  She made her Broadway debut in 1985 in I’m Not Rappaport, and the same year won an Obie Award for a Public Theater production of The Marriage of Bette and Boo.  She is a three-time Tony nominee, winning Best Actress in a Play as Bella in the original production of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers.  Last year she starred in an off-Broadway revival of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy as Mrs. Beckoff; the production comes to Broadway later this year.

While Ruehl’s stage work has been the core of her career, she had a period when she was highly active in film.  She played jealous mob wife Connie Russo in Married to the Mob, and reprised her stage role in the film of Lost in Yonkers in 1993.  She also played the mothers of juvenile protagonists in Big and The Last Action Hero.  Her most notable film success was as Anne Napolitano in The Fisher King, for which she won Oscar and Golden Globe honors for Best Supporting Actress.

Other birthdays from yesterday include Grant Show, who turned 56.  He is know for his regular roles on Melrose Place, Devious Maids, and, currently, on the reboot of Dynasty, as Blake Carrington.  Nikki Amuka-Bird, who is 42, is a regular on the BBC-Hulu produced crime drama Hard SunBarbara Babcock, who celebrated her 81st, had a long career on television.  She won an Emmy as Grace Gardner on Hill Street Blues, was nominated for another on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and had several appearances on Star Trek.

Alice Hamilton (1869-1970) was a physician who became a pioneer in the field of occupational health and the first woman appointed to the faculty of Harvard.  Ralph Nader, who turned 84 yesterday, was one of the most influential social and political activists of the 1960s and 1970s, who achieved major reforms in areas like consumer protection and product safety; he later became a perennial third-party presidential candidate.

Today’s birthdays also include country rocker Jason Aldean, who is 41.  These days he might be most recognized as the singer who was performing when Stephen Paddock began his infamous shooting spree last October 1, but he is a very successful performer who has had three #1 albums on the Billboard 200.  Mexican-American actress Stephanie Sigman turns 31.  She starred in the 2011 Mexican crime thriller Miss Bala, and is likely known to US audiences for her roles in Spectre and as a regular on Narcos and the new reboot of S.W.A.T.  Rory Cochrane, who turns 46, has had prominent supporting roles in recent films such as Argo, Black Mass, and HostilesAmanda Abbington, known for playing Mary Morstan on Sherlock, is 44; she will star on the upcoming Netflix/Canal production Safe.

Hollywood greats Joanne Woodward and Elizabeth Taylor were the February 27 headliners last year.

Joanne Woodward has not been active for several years, but we send best wishes out to her on her 88th birthday.

Adam Baldwin continues to star on The Last Ship, which returns for its fifth season, as he turns 56.  Donal Logue, who turned 52, continues to play Harvey Bullock on Gotham.  Also 52 is director Baltasar Kormákur, whose latest, the romantic drama Adrift, comes out in June.  Timothy Spall, who is 61, remains busy in English film, appearing in several films last year including The Party and Finding Your FeetNoah Emmerich celebrated his 53rd; he plays Stan Beeman on The AmericansJosh Groban, who turned 37, will star on Netflix’s upcoming The Good CopRozanda “Chili” Thomas, who is 47, was part of TLC’s self-titled fifth studio album, their first in 15 years.  Lindsey Morgan, who continues to star as Raven Reyes on The 100, turned 28.  Chinese actress Li Bingbing, who turned 45, made her first film appearance since 2015 in Guardians of the Tomb.

Our headliners on this date last year were Bernadette Peters and John Turturro.

Bernadette Peters celebrates her 70th.  She recently returned to Broadway in the revival of Hello, Dolly!, replacing Bette Midler in the title role.  She remains a regular on Mozart in the Jungle and plays the recurring character of Lenore Rindell on The Good FightJohn Turturro, who is 61, returns to his Big Lebowski role of Jesus Quintana in the upcoming Going Places, and to the role of Seymour Simmons in the latest Transformers film.  He also stars in Sebastian Lelio’s upcoming Gloria.

Gilbert Gottfried, who is 63, appeared in the documentary Gilbert, which is about—Gilbert Gottfried.  Canadian director Guy Maddin, whose latest is The Green Fog, a “re-imagining” of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, turns 62.  Robert Sean Leonard, who turns 49, appeared in a Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George as Jules/Bob.  Irish actress Sarah Bolger, who celebrates her 27th, stars in the upcoming thriller A Good Woman is Hard to Find, and will be a regular on FX’s Mayans MCDaniel Handler turns 48.  His latest novel, All the Dirty Parts, came out last year; he is also known for his children’s lit published under the pen name of Lemony Snicket.  Handler is also an executive producer of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which returns for a second season in March.

February 29 birthdays are covered in last year’s article; however, we send our best out in particular to Joss Ackland as he turns 90.

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 28, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’ve enjoyed several of Kate Mara’s films. She was very good in Transsiberian and in the ensemble cast of The Martian and did the best she could in Shooter given the limits of the script. She hasn’t become a huge star but she’s getting roles these days that are at least as good as she had a decade ago.

    I missed The Fisher King, but I really enjoyed Mercedes Ruehl as the jealous wife of a Mafioso in Married to the Mob.


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