March 11: Happy Birthday Anton Yelchin and Raoul Walsh


Before his death, at a tragically young age in an auto accident that can only be described as incredibly improbable, Anton Yelchin (1989-2016) was building an impressive resume as a film actor.  Born in Russia, he moved to the US as an infant.  He began working in film in 2000.  In 2004, he was cast in a regular role on Showtime’s Huff, which ran for two seasons.  He then went on to a supporting role in Alpha Dog (one of his costars was yesterday’s headliner Olivia Wilde), and then played the title character in Charlie Bartlett.

His best known film role was as Pavel Chekov in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, a role he returned to in two sequels.  He also played Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, and starred in the 2011 remake of Fright Night.  But besides those high-profile films, he also made nearly 20 other features in his last few years of life.  A sampling of these would include starring in the romantic drama Like Crazy with Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, playing the title role in an adaptation of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, and playing a central role in the ensemble cast of Jeremy Saulnier’s highly-acclaimed Green Room (which reunited him with his Fright Night costar Imogen Poots).  He had completed five films that were unreleased at the time of his death; the last of them, Thoroughbreds, came out last Friday.

Our other headliner had a career stretching back to the early days of feature films.  Raoul Walsh (1887-1980) began working as an assistant to D.W. Griffith in 1914, and was featured in that year’s The Life of General Villa.  A year later he was an assistant director on The Birth of a Nation, and also played John Wilkes Booth.  By the 1920s, Walsh was a well-established feature director, known for films like Douglas Fairbanks’s The Thief of Bagdad and the 1926 war film What Price Glory?

During the sound era, Walsh did not make high-prestige films (he was never nominated for an Oscar of any kind), but made a long list of memorable genre films.  He was adept at film noir, gangster movies, Westerns, war pictures, and adventure films of all sorts.  Along with Michael Curtiz, he was one of Errol Flynn’s two best directors, working with the swashbuckling star on seven films, including They Died With Their Boots On, Gentleman Jim, and Objective, Burma!  He also gave Humphrey Bogart’s career a boost with High Sierra, and made several good films with James Cagney, notably the film noir/gangster movie White Heat.

Mircea Monroe, who is turning 36, is best known for her regular role as Morning Randolph on Showtime’s EpisodesDavid Anders, who is currently a regular on The CW’s iZombie, is 37.  TV veteran Jeffrey Nordling, who celebrates his 56th, had a regular role as the husband of Laura Dern’s character on Big Little LiesJames Fleet, who is 64, is best known to English audiences, for his regular role on the BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley and for his stage work with the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, who turns 29, is known to US audiences for her role as Segen in World War Z.

Our sports birthday is African footballer Didier Drogba, who turns 40.  Drogba was a star for the Ivory Coast national team and for Chelsea in the English Premiership for over a decade.

Sam Donaldson, who turns 84, was one of the best-known journalists in the late 20th century US, particularly during his years as ABC’s White House correspondent.  Ralph Abernathy (1926-1990), a leader of the civil rights movement in the US, co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with Martin Luther King, Jr., and became president of the SCLC after King’s assassination.

Our headliners last year on March 11 were Bobby McFerrin and Peter Berg.

Bobby McFerrin has not released any new albums in several years, but continues to tour actively as he turns 58.  Peter Berg, who is 56, directed the upcoming film Mile 22, an action thriller starring Mark Wahlberg.

David Newman, who is turning 64, continues to be an active composer for film; hew rote the scores for last year’s Girls Trip and Naked, and the upcoming Night School.  Voice actor Rob Paulsen continues to be extremely busy as he turns 62; sometime in the near future he will return to the roles of Yakko Warner and Pinky as an Animaniacs reboot comes to Hulu.  Alex Kingston, who will appear in the upcoming biopic Bukowski, is turning 55.  John Barrowman, who is celebrating his 51st, has been appearing in the Arrowverse as Malcolm Merlyn.  Terrence Howard, who turns 49, stars as Lucious Lyon on Fox’s EmpireElias Koteas turns 57; he appeared in last year’s My Days of MercySimon Curtis, who directed last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin, is turning 58.  Thora Birch, today’s WTHH birthday, is 36; she returns to feature films for the first time in several years in Philip Noyce’s Above Suspicion.  Appearing with her in that film is Johnny Knoxville, who is 47.  LeToya Luckett, who is turning 37, released her third studio album, Back 2 Life, in May of last year.  Jodie Comer, who celebrates her 25th, made her feature film debut in last year’s England Is Mine, after several years of work in British television.

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 11, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. An auto accident is one respectful way to put it, I guess ((( I am still grieving for Anton. He had so much talent, gone too soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anton Yelchin was extremely talented. I recently rewatched “Star Trek Beyond”, and it’s sad to think it’s the last time we’ll ever see Chekov. My favorite Anton movie is “Charlie Bartlett”. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you do.

    RIP Anton. I still miss you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The saving grace of the Star Trek reboot trilogy was the terrific cast, in which Anton Yelchin, who was only 18 when filming started, held up his end quite nicely. He was excellent in Green Room (which I seem to recall we’ve had some coverage of at le Blog), and I have plans to check out a few other films on his resume, like Odd Thomas and maybe the just-released Thoroughbreds. NPR was talking about the latter film just the other morning; Yelchin isn’t the star but he has what seems to be an important supporting role.

    Raoul Walsh is a director who, I think is held in higher esteem today than he was in his own time. While for me, he isn’t quite on the same level with directors like Hawks or Ford, or writer-directors like Billy Wilder, he turned out a number of very good genre films from the late thirties to the mid-fifties.

    Liked by 1 person

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