March 14: Happy Birthday Billy Crystal and Jamie Bell


Billy Crystal is turning 70 today.  He graduated from NYU in 1970, one of the very long list of NYU alumni in film and television (he graduated one year before Christopher Guest and Oliver Stone).  He worked regularly as a comedian, and began making TV guest appearances in the mid-seventies.  In 1977, he landed his first major role, as Jodie Dallas on Soap (one of the first gay regular characters on American television).  In the late 1980s he became a major presence in film, starring in comedies like Running Scared and Throw Momma From the Train, and with Meg Ryan in the rom-com When Harry Met Sally.  One of his most remembered parts from this period was a cameo, as a miracle man.

Crystal made his directing debut with 1992’s Mr. Saturday Night, and also began writing and producing regularly.  City Slickers became the biggest live action box office hit of his career, and one of the biggest hits of 1991.  He also had successes with Analyze This and as a voice actor in Monsters, Inc., and later with a prequel, Monsters University.  In the late eighties, he found another niche as an awards show host.  After hosting the Grammys three times, and winning an Emmy, he went on to host the Oscars nine times between 1990 and 2012 (winning several additional Emmys).

Jamie Bell celebrates his 32nd birthday today.  He began his screen career with a bang when he was cast in the title role of Billy Elliott in 2000, and won a BAFTA Award and several other acting honors.  For the next several years, Bell worked steadily, although generally in low-profile films—a small role in Peter Jackson’s King Kong and a supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers were exceptions.  He won praise for his roles in films like Undertow and Hallam Foe.

In the past several years Bell has made a successful transition to adult roles.  He was the voice and motion capture actor for the title character in Steven Spielberg’s motion capture film The Adventures of Tintin, which did very well in Europe.  He had a major role in Snowpiercer and headlined the cast of AMC’s series Turn: Washington’s Spies for its four-season run (which ended last summer).  The failure of Fantastic Four is looking like not much more than a speed bump in Bell’s career (not to mention that he and Kate Mara found a silver lining in the cloud of that troubled production).  Last year Bell starred in two films, 6 Days and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, and was a BAFTA Award nominee for the latter.

Meredith Salenger, who turns 48, was well known in the 1980s as the teen star of films like The Journey of Natty Gann and Dream a Little Dream.  She took time off to attend Harvard, and returned to acting afterwards, without the same level of success.  Grace Park, known for playing two roles on the mid-2000s revival of Battlestar Galactica and as Kono Kalakua in the revived Hawaii Five-0, is celebrating her 44th.    Etan Cohen, who wrote and directed Get Hard and the upcoming Holmes and Watson, is also 44.  James Frain, who is turning 50, is known for films like Hilary and Jackie (as Daniel Barenboim) and Where the Heart Is, and currently plays Sarek on Star Trek: Discovery.  Also 50 today is Megan Follows, who played the title character in the 1985 miniseries Anne of Green Gables and two sequel series, and more recently was Catherine d’Medici on The CW’s ReignPenny Johnson Jerald, who stars as Claire Finn on Fox’s The Orville, is 57.  Betsy Brandt, who is 45, has been a regular on Breaking Bad and, currently, Life in Pieces.  English actor and musician Johnny Flynn is 35.  He has been in films like Song One and Clouds of Sils Maria and played the young Albert Einstein on Genius (in a neat coincidence, today was Einstein’s birthday too).

Last year, our headliners were Michael Caine and Quincy Jones, each of whom turns 85 today.

Sir Michael Caine starred in last year’s remake of Going in Style with Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.  His latest film is Dear Dictator, which goes into release on Friday.  Quincy Jones gave a recent interview to GQ in which he outlined projects he is working on, including a Broadway musical about Michael Jackson.

Kevin Williamson is 53; his latest project was the short-lived ABC series Time After Time.  Also 53 is Aamir Khan, who won his third Filmfare Award for Best Actor last year for DangalElise Neal, who is 52, had a supporting role in LoganDaniel Gillies, who continues to star on The Originals as Elijah Mikaelson, is 42.  Also celebrating his 42nd is Corey Stoll, who will play Boris Trigorin in a film adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull and astronaut Buzz Aldrin in Damien Chazelle’s First ManAnsel Elgort, who turns 24, was a Golden Globe nominee for starring in Baby Driver and also starred in November Criminals.  Elgort’s latest, Billionaire Boys Club, has an uncertain future owing to the sexual abuse allegations against costar Kevin Spacey.  Stephen Curry, who is 30, led the Golden State Warriors to their second NBA title in three seasons last spring.  Rick Dees, who continues to host his syndicated Weekly Top 40, is turning 68.

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 14, 2018, in Celebrity Birthdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I am pretty sure I first saw Billy Crystal in Running Scared, which as an action comedy is a bit untypical of his work. But I will always remember him most as Miracle Max.

    I have seen Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer, Man on a Ledge, and maybe one or two more roles. He seems to have some talent. I am a lot more likely to check out Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool than I am Fantastic Four.

    Ansel Elgort seems to be hitting a number of markers to become a fairly major star; one pitfall for him, though, might be getting a bit too strongly identified with “quirky” characters, like Baby in Baby Driver.


    • I was aware of Billy Crystal on Soap. I am not sure how since no one in my family watched it. I think extended family exposed me to it at a gathering. I was an avid watcher of Saturday Night Live during Crystal’s ’84-85 season. What a great season that was! All the kids I knew talked about Crystal’s catch phrases on the playground at school Monday morning. Lots of “You look mahvelous” and “I hate it when that happens”.


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