June 23 & 24: Happy Birthday Joel Edgerton and Claude Chabrol

Joel Edgerton turned 44 yesterday.  Edgerton began working in theater, with the Sydney Theater Company in his native Australia, in the mid-1990s; around that time he also began working in Australian television, and won critical acclaim in the early 2000s for starring on the drama series The Secret Life of Us.  Around that time, Edgerton also had major roles in Australian films like Ned Kelly, The Hard Word, and Crossbow; however, American viewers are more likely to remember that he played Owen Lars in two of the Star Wars prequels.

Edgerton began to emerge as a star when he played a major role in the internationally-acclaimed Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom, and then appeared in films like the 2011 remake of The Thing and in Zero Dark Thirty.  In 2015 he starred in Black Mass, and wrote and directed the psychological thriller The Gift.  A year later, Edgerton received a number of acting accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination, for starring as Richard Loving in Loving.

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June 22: Happy Birthday Cyndi Lauper and Billy Wilder

Cyndi Lauper celebrates her 65th birthday today.  Lauper grew up in Queens, and in the early 1970s she became a vocalist with a variety of East Coast cover bands.  In about 1978, she became the lead vocalist for a rockabilly band called Blue Angel, who released a studio album and a few singles, none of which were very successful.  After the band was dropped by their label, Lauper waited tables for a while, before signing a contract with Epic Records.

Lauper’s first solo album, She’s So Unusual, came out in 1983.  It was a worldwide bestseller; although it reached “only” #4 on the Billboard 200, it remained in the top 40 for well over a year.  She also had four Top 5 singles off of the album; several of them also became favorites of MTV in its early days.  At the 1985 Grammys, Lauper was nominated for five awards, winning Best New Artist.  Two of her nominations, including one for Record of the Year, were for the album’s lead single.

Read more about June 22: Happy Birthday Cyndi Lauper and Billy Wilder

June 21: Happy Birthday Chris Pratt and Maureen Stapleton

Chris Pratt is turning 39 today.  Pratt was living in a tent on a Maui beach and waiting tables at a restaurant when he met actress Rae Dawn Chong, who cast him in a short she was directing.  He was then cast in the regular role of Bright Abbott on Everwood, remaining with the series for its four season run.  Pratt began making film appearances in the mid-2000s, and in 2009 he was cast as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation; his role was originally intended to be a guest star for a few episodes, but the character was so popular he was made a regular.  One of his first really significant film role was in Moneyball, as Oakland A’s first baseman Scott Hatteberg.

Pratt then was cast in supporting roles in films such as 10 Years and Zero Dark Thirty, before making his film breakthrough in 2014, when he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as a man with 12% of a plan.

Read more about June 21: Happy Birthday Chris Pratt and Maureen Stapleton

June 20: Happy Birthday Robert Rodriguez and Brian Wilson

Robert Rodriguez is celebrating his 50th today.  He began making short films while attending the University of Texas; one of them, Bedhead, won a number of film festival prizes.  Rodriguez used that prize money, and a few other sources of funding, to make his first feature.  Rodriguez shot El Mariachi on a budget of $7,000 (or so the story goes), and won an Audience Award at Sundance and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.  Columbia then picked it up for distribution in the US, and provided funding for Rodriguez to make a sequel.  While his first film had a no-name cast, Desperado was headlined by a pair of then-new faces who went on to considerable fame, Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

Read more about June 20: Happy Birthday Robert Rodriguez and Brian Wilson

June 19: Happy Birthday Kathleen Turner and Aidan Turner

Kathleen Turner is turning 64 today.  After studying theater at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Turner moved to New York, and made her Off-Broadway and Broadway debuts in 1977.  Her screen debut was on the NBC soap opera The Doctors, but she first became known for starring as Matty Walker in Lawrence Kasdan’s neo-noir, Body Heat.  She was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, and then went on to win two consecutive Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for 1984 and 1985, as Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone and Irene Walker in Prizzi’s Honor.  Turner received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Peggy Sue Got Married, provided the speaking voice of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and capped a terrific decade with her fifth Golden Globe nomination for the 1989 black comedy The War of the Roses.

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June 18: Happy Birthday Isabella Rossellini and Jeanette MacDonald

Isabella Rossellini celebrates her 66th birthday today.  She is the daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian neorealist director Roberto Rossellini, and has a twin sister Isotta Ingrid Rossellini, who earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University and has taught literature at Harvard and Princeton.  Isabella Rossellini began her acting career with a cameo in her mother’s film A Matter of Time in 1976, and appeared in a couple of Italian films at the end of the seventies.  During the early 1980s she became a prominent model.  Rossellini made her starring debut in Hollywood in the 1985 film White Nights, and then won an Independent Spirit Award for what is probably her most famous film role, as Dorothy Valens in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

Read more about June 18: Happy Birthday Isabella Rossellini and Jeanette MacDonald

June 16 & 17: Happy Birthday John Cho and Greg Kinnear

John Cho is turned 46 yesterday.  Born in South Korea, Cho moved to the US with his family in the late seventies.  He graduated from UC-Berkeley and taught high school for a short while, before beginning his film and television career in 1997.  Cho had a small but noticeable cameo as “MILF Guy #2” in American Pie, and has returned to play the character, eventually named “John,” in three sequels.  He then played a prominent role in Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow in 2002, and followed that a couple of years later with his first starring role, as Harold Lee in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (another role he has returned to multiple times).

Cho has had supporting roles in a variety of films in the past decade or so, including the 2012 remake of Total Recall and last year’s Gemini.  He has had regular roles on the short-lived ABC series FlashForward and Selfie.  Last year, Cho starred with Haley Lu Richardson in Columbus, and he will star in the upcoming thriller Searching, which premiered at Sundance and goes into release in August.  Cho’s best-known film role probably remains that of Hikaru Sulu in the rebooted Star Trek features.

Read more about June 16 & 17: Happy Birthday John Cho and Greg Kinnear

June 14 & 15: Happy Birthday Boy George and Waylon Jennings

Today’s article is short as it’s been a very busy last couple of days for me, but I will at least try to do adequate justice to Boy George and Waylon Jennings.

George Alan O’Dowd, known by his performing name of Boy George, turned 57 yesterday.  He grew up in the London area and after completing his schooling, he was recruited by music impresario Malcom McLaren to perform with a new wave band called Bow Wow Wow (his recruitment was due to both his talent and his androgynous dress style, which was soon to be famous).  George then moved on to form his own group, which soon began performing and recording as Culture Club.

Boy George and Culture Club were among the most successful English new wave bands of the early 1980s.  They released their first album, Kissing to Be Clever, a major success, in 1982.  They followed it up with the even more successful Colour by Numbers two years later.  They also had several hit singles, most of them written collaboratively by the entire band, with Boy George as lead vocalist.  Their biggest hit was “Karma Chameleon,” a #1 single on both sides of the Atlantic.

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June 13: Happy Birthday Chris Evans and Stellan Skarsgård

Although our two headliners today have both made multiple appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was unable to find a really usable photo with Chris Evans and Stellan Skarsgård together.

Chris Evans is celebrating his 37th birthday today.  Evans began working in film and television in his late teens, as a regular on the Fox summer series Opposite Sex in 2000; he made his feature film that year in The Newcomers, and a year later starred in the parody/comedy Not Another Teen Movie.  Evans then went on to star in films such as The Perfect Score and Cellular, and played Johnny Storm/Human Torch in the two mid-2000s Fantastic Four films.  By the end of that decade, his career seemed to be stalling, as in 2010 audiences saw him in supporting roles in The Losers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Evans’s career turned around in 2011, when he was cast in Captain America: The First Avenger as Steve Rogers/Captain America.  It would be fair to say that over the past seven years, Evans has become the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although Robert Downey, Jr., would also have a claim).  He has appeared in major roles in six MCU films to date, not to mention making cameos in three others.

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June 10 & 11: Happy Birthday Jürgen Prochnow and Shia LaBeouf

German actor Jürgen Prochnow turned 77 yesterday.  Prochnow, who is fluent in English, has been working regularly in American and British film since the early 1980s; his Hollywood debut was in Michael Mann’s The Keep in 1983.  Many readers will know Prochnow for his roles as villains, in films such as Beverly Hills Cop 2, Judge Dredd, and The Replacement Killers.  He also played Duke Leto Atreides in David Lynch’s Dune and has appeared in films like The Fourth War, The English Patient, and, more recently, Atom Egoyan’s Remember.

Prochnow has also had a substantial career in European cinema.  He has worked in Italian and Spanish film now and then, and received critical praise for his roles in the German films The Consequence and The Cop and the Girl.  Prochnow’s best known role in European film is almost certainly Der Alte/The Old Man, the German submarine commander in Das Boot.

Read more about June 10 & 11: Happy Birthday Jürgen Prochnow and Shia LaBeouf

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