March 7: Happy Birthday Donna Murphy and Bryan Cranston


Donna Murphy is celebrating her 59th birthday today.  She has had a variety of screen roles in her career.  She has been a regular on the short-lived series What About Joan? (on ABC) and Hack (on CBS), and more recently on PBS’s Mercy Street; she also won a Daytime Emmy for an episode of HBO’s Lifestories: Families in Crisis.  On the big screen, she is known for playing Anij, Captain Picard’s love interest, in Star Trek: Insurrection, and Rosalie Octavius in Spider-Man 2.  Many people have heard (if not seen) her as the voice of Mother Gothel in Tangled.

Murphy is, however, first and foremost a stage actress, primarily in musical theater.  She made her Broadway debut at just 20 in the original production of They’re Playing Our Song.  She is a five-time Tony nominee, with two wins for Best Lead Actress in a Musical—for the original production of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion, and as Anna Leonowens in the 1996 revival of The King and I.  Most recently she was Bette Midler’s alternate in the title role of the recent revival of Hello, Dolly!, while her other notable roles include Lotte Lenya in the original production of LoveMusik, and Ruth Sherwood in the 2003 revival of Wonderful Town.

Today is Bryan Cranston’s 62nd birthday.  He began his television career in 1980, and for much of the eighties and nineties worked in relative obscurity, in a long list of guest appearances.  His first really notable TV role was as Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, for which he received three Emmy nominations.   Recently he has been the co-creator, as well as part of the cast, of Amazon’s Sneaky Pete.  But his biggest television success came as Walter White on Breaking Bad, for which he won four Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama as well as two more as a producer.

In the past few years, Cranston has also become a prominent film actor.  He has had prominent roles in big-budget films like Argo and the remake of Total Recall, and starred in indie films like Cold Comes the Night (opposite Alice Eve).  He was nominated for all four of the major Best Actor awards (Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and SAG) for playing Dalton Trumbo in 2015’s Trumbo.  On stage, he won a Tony for starring as Lyndon Johnson in the original Broadway production of Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way, and he received two more Emmy nominations, for acting and producing, for the HBO TV movie adaptation of the play.

Audrey Marie Anderson, who turns 43, was a regular on The Unit and currently is one on Ice; she also plays Lyla Michaels in the Arrowverse.  Nick Searcy, who is 59 today, has had several regular roles on television series such as Seven Days, Rodney, and Justified, and appeared in two of 2017’s Best Picture nominees, The Shape of Water (as General Hoyt) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (in an uncredited cameo).  Brandon T. Jackson, who starred on the first two seasons of Hulu’s Deadbeat, is 34 today.  Jay Duplass, who celebrates his 45th, starred as Josh Pfefferman on Transparent.  With his brother Mark, he has made films like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and created the series Togetherness and Room 104.

Janet Guthrie, who turns 80, earned a place in sports history in 1977 when she became the first woman to compete in both the Daytona 500, the signature event of the NASCAR circuit, and the Indianapolis 500.

English comedian and actor Rik Mayall (1958-2014) was an Emmy winner as a voice actor on The Willows in Water, and was known for his work on English sitcoms like The Young Ones and Bottom.

Rachel Weisz and Matthew Vaughn were our headliners last year on this date.

Rachel Weisz is turning 48.  Last year she produced and starred in Sebastian Lelio’s Disobedience, and also starred in the title an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel (hopefully she had no problem remembering her character’s name).  Her latest, The Mercy, was released in the UK last month.  Matthew Vaughn celebrates his 47th.  His latest directing effort, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, came out to mixed reviews last September.  He has been announced as directing a third Kingsman film and an adaptation of Terry Hayes’s I Am Pilgrim, but neither project seems to be very far into development.

Our second major musical theater birthday today is Ruthie Henshall, who turns 51.  She will play Mama Morton in the upcoming West End revival of Chicago; in the previous West End production from the late 1990s, she played both Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly at different times.  Wanda Sykes, who turns 54, was an Emmy nominee for Outstanding Guest Actress on Black-ish, and returned to the role of Dr. Karl in A Bad Moms ChristmasPeter Sarsgaard, who starred in the feature Loving Pablo and on the Netflix miniseries Wormwood last year, is turning 47.  Jenna Fischer, who celebrates her 44th, will headline the upcoming ABC sitcom Splitting Up Together, starred opposite Ben Stiller in Brad’s Status, and also wrote a book, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, which came out last fall.  Tobias Menzies, who stars on the upcoming AMC miniseries The Terror, is also 44 today.  Laura Prepon, who is 38, continues to play Alex Vause on Orange is the New Black, and starred with Sam Elliott in The HeroBel Powley, who is 26, will star in the upcoming crime drama White Boy RickHaley Lu Richardson is turning 23; she starred in last year’s Columbus and also stars in Support the Girls, which will premiere at South by Southwest this year.

John Heard (1946-2017) died of a heart attack last summer, at the age of 71.  His two final films, both released posthumously, were The Tale and Living Among Us.

Finally, today was the birth date of legendary singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), so let’s have one of his most famous tunes as a musical closer.

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 March 7, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. A couple of pretty big, if not huge, names today. Donna Murphy has been a big name on Broadway going back to the 1980s; I have the cast recording of Wonderful Town with her as Ruth and it’s hard to imagine the part being sung or performed better. Bryan Cranston has had an impressive career surge in the last 10-12 years, with a great gig on TV and a bunch of significant film roles.

    As I mentioned in the article, as of later this month, Ruthie Henshall will have performed all of the three main female roles in Chicago on the West End—she has also sung both Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart on Broadway. So here’s a little musical bonus with her:


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