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Author Archives: jestak2

November 23: Happy Birthday Ricky Whittle and Boris Karloff


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Ricky Whittle is turning 36 today.  He began working as a model for Reebok in 2000, and as he had been a footballer in school, he had the background to win his first regular TV role, as a member of the fictional Harchester United side on the British series Dream Team.  He then became a regular for about five years on the British teen soap Hollyoaks as Calvin Valentine.  He made his feature film debut in Austenland, and was a regular on seasons 2 and 3 of The 100.  He currently stars as Shadow Moon on the Starz adaptation of American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

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November 22: Happy Birthday Mark Ruffalo and Mads Mikkelsen


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We have three prominent Marvel Cinematic Universe birthdays today, and two of them are our headliners—the third was a headliner last year.

Mark Ruffalo is celebrating his 50th today.  The three-time Oscar nominee studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles, and worked as a bartender and with an LA area theater company during the 1990s while also appearing in some film roles.  His first major film role came in 2000, when he starred with Laura Linney in the family drama You Can Count On Me.  Over the next ten years, Ruffalo mixed some lead roles, in films like Just Like Heaven and The Brothers Bloom, with supporting roles in the likes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Collateral.

From about 2010 on, Ruffalo has had a much higher profile.  In that year, he received his first Oscar nomination for The Kids Are Alright, and also starred in Shutter Island.  Since then he has joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a man with breathtaking anger management issues, and also appeared in the Now You See Me series of caper films.  He won a Primetime Emmy as a producer of the TV movie The Normal Heart and received an acting Emmy nomination as well.  And he added two more Oscar nominations, for Foxcatcher (which allowed him to draw on his high school wrestling experience) and Spotlight.

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November 20: Happy Birthday Sean Young and Terrence Malick


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Sean Young celebrates her 58th birthday today.  She made her film debut in Jane Austen in Manhattan in 1980 (a Merchant-Ivory film), and a year later had her first major role as MP Louise Cooper in one of 1981’s biggest hits, Stripes.  However, her next role, though it was in a far less successful film financially, was the one that became the most iconic of her career.

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November 19: Happy Birthday Allison Janney and Laura Osnes


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Seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney is turning 58 today.  She studied at Kenyon College, where she was in a play directed by Kenyon alumnus Paul Newman.  She did further study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began her stage and screen career in the late 1980s.  She had supporting roles in a long list of 1990s films, but her breakthrough didn’t come until the end of the decade.  She starred in a 1998 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and received a Tony nomination.  A year later, she was cast in the role of C. J. Gregg on The West Wing, and became the breakout star of the series, winning four Emmys in its seven-season run.

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November 18: Happy Birthday Delroy Lindo and Susan Sullivan


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Delroy Lindo is turning 65 today.  He was born in London, but moved first to Canada and then San Francisco as a teenager.  He studied at the American Conservatory Theater, and after a couple of film appearances in the seventies, he concentrated on his stage career in the eighties.  He made his Broadway debut in Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the Boys, and was a Tony nominee for starring in the original cast of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

In 1990, Lindo returned to working regularly in film.  Over the next 15 years or so, he appeared in a wide variety of supporting roles in major films.  He made a number of movies with Spike Lee in the first half of the 1990s—Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Clockers.  He had prominent roles in Get Shorty, A Life Less Ordinary, The Cider House Rules, and Heist.  Currently, Lindo is a regular on the CBS All Access series The Good Fight, which has been renewed for a second season.

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November 17: Happy Birthday Rachel McAdams and Rock Hudson


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It’s Rachel McAdams’s 39th birthday today.  The Canadian actress studied theater at Toronto’s York University.  She made her film debut in a Canadian production titled My Name is Tanino, and then appeared in a film adaptation of Judith Thompson’s play, Perfect Pie.  Although she was already in her twenties, her first Hollywood productions cast her as high school students.  She first played a cheerleader who somehow swaps bodies with Rob Schneider in The Hot Chick, but her real breakout came when she was cast as Regina George in Mean Girls.

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November 15: Happy Birthday Ed Asner and Petula Clark


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Ed Asner is celebrating his 88th birthday today.  He graduated from the University of Chicago and spent some time in theater in Chicago before moving to New York, where played Jonathan Peachum in the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, and made his Broadway debut in Robert L. Joseph’s Face of a Hero in 1960.  He made his feature film debut in The Satan Bug in 1965, and has had prominent roles in El Dorado, Fort Apache, the Bronx, Daniel, Hard Rain, and other films.

However, Asner is best known for his television career.  He is a seventeen-time Primetime Emmy nominee, and has won seven times.  Two of his wins were for the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.  The other five were all for playing the character of Lou Grant—three for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the other two for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama on Lou Grant.  Asner is one of only two people to win an acting Emmy in both Comedy and Drama categories for the same role (the other is Uzo Aduba of Orange is the New Black), and also one of only two people to win an Emmy for the same role in two different series (along with James Spader).

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November 14: Happy Birthday Veronica Lake and Dick Powell


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Our headliners today were both familiar faces in the classic era of film noir.

Veronica Lake (1922-1973) became famous in the early 1940s for her “peek-a-boo” hairstyle (a very subdued version of which is in her photo above), but changed it during World War 2 after she learned that women working in factories were getting their hair caught in machinery when emulating her style.  She had moved to Beverly Hills with her family in 1938 and began working in film in her late teens.  Initially billed in films as Connie Keane, she began appearing under her famous screen name in the 1940 film I Wanted Wings.

One of Lake’s most famous roles was starring opposite Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels; Lake was six months pregnant during filming; however, costume designer Edith Head came up with some ingenious ways to conceal the fact.  Her other famous roles are the films she made with Alan Ladd.  The first two of these, This Gun For Hire and The Glass Key, came out in 1942.  Later in the decade the two reunited for The Blue Dahlia and Saigon.  The latter was probably the last successful film Lake ever made; she had some serious personal problems, beginning but not ending with alcoholism, and found it very hard to get work after the late 1940s.

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November 13: Happy Birthday Gerard Butler and Steve Zahn


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Gerard Butler, who as you can possibly tell from the above photo is Scottish, is celebrating his 48th today.  He studied law at the University of Glasgow and worked for a short time at an Edinburgh law firm, before beginning an acting career in a theatrical adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting (also the source for Danny Boyle’s film).  He made his film debut in Mrs. Brown in 1997 and appeared in a bit part in Tomorrow Never Dies the same year.

Butler moved to Los Angeles a couple of years later and began getting starring roles in films in the early 2000s.  Films like Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and The Phantom of the Opera were high-profile productions, but not financial successes; however, he had a breakthrough in 2007 when he starred as the historical character of King Leonidas of Sparta, in a film that very, very loosely retold some historical events.

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November 12: Happy Birthday Ryan Gosling and Neil Young


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Two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling is celebrating his 37th birthday today.  The Canadian actor made his screen debut in the early 1990s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club and then worked in Canadian television as a teenager, starring on Breaker High and then on Young Hercules.  He made his first notable film appearance in Remember the Titans in 2000, and in the next few years began to build a solid filmography, with major roles in Murder By Numbers, The United States of Leland, and The Notebook, a romantic drama with Rachel McAdams which was his first major financial success.

Gosling received his first nomination for Best Actor for the 2006 indie film Half Nelson, and his first Golden Globe nomination a year later for Lars and the Real Girl.  He then took a sabbatical from film work, pursuing a music career as part of the indie rock band Dead Man’s Bones.  He returned to film with several starring roles in 2010 and 2011, including the romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love, his first pairing with Emma Stone, and the contemporary noir thriller Drive.

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November 11: Happy Birthday Stanley Tucci and Robert Ryan


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Our headliners today both had chances here and there to be leading men, but both are much better known for their character roles.

Stanley Tucci is turning 57 today.  He graduated from SUNY-Purchase, where one of his acting classmates for a time was Ving Rhames.  He made his Broadway debut in 1982 and has worked regularly on the stage throughout his career; he was a Tony nominee for Best Actor in a Play for a revival of Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.  Tucci then made his film debut in a small role in Prizzi’s Honor.

Tucci began to appear in larger film roles in the nineties, playing Lucky Luciano in Billy Bathgate and the comically inept Muerte in Undercover Blues.  He was a regular on the first season of ABC’s mid-nineties legal drama Murder One, and then won two Golden Globes for his television work, starring as the title character of the 1998 HBO film Winchell, and then playing the supporting role of Adolf Eichmann in the BBC/HBO film Conspiracy three years later.  He was nominated for an Oscar, and several other Best Supporting Actor awards, for The Lovely Bones in 2009.

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November 9 & 10: Happy Birthday Neil Gaiman and Roy Scheider


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Neil Gaiman, who is turning 57 today, has won writing awards for science fiction, fantasy, horror fiction, and children’s literature, not to mention general writing awards like a British National Book Award.  He began writing professionally in his early twenties; both his first short story and his first nonfiction book (about the band Duran Duran) were published in 1984.  A friendship with Alan Moore brought him into writing for comics; probably his best known work in that medium has been his revival of DC’s The Sandman.  His first novel, Good Omens, was a collaboration with the late Sir Terry Pratchett of Discworld fame.  His best known novels include American Gods (winner of a bunch of honors including Hugo and Nebula Awards), The Graveyard Book, winner of a Hugo as well as the Newberry and Carnegie Awards, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, honored by the British National Book Awards.

Gaiman has written regularly for film and television as well as having several of his works adapted for the screen.  He created and wrote the mid-1990s BBC fantasy series Neverwhere, and wrote the story and screenplay for the film MirrorMask.  His novels Stardust and Coraline, and his short story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” have all been adapted into feature films.  He is currently an executive producer of the Starz network series adapting his novel American Gods.

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November 8: Happy Birthday Richard Curtis and Alain Delon


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Writer and director Richard Curtis is turning 61 today.  He has a connection to both of yesterday’s headliners—he was born in New Zealand, like Lorde, while Lindsay Duncan had a prominent role in his film About Time.  He moved to England as boy and studied literature at Oxford, where he met Rowan Atkinson.  The two had a lengthy partnership in British television, working together on Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, and Mr. Bean.  Curtis also created the popular British sitcom The Vicar of Dibley.

Curtis began working in film when he wrote the 1989 film The Tall Guy, but really became known for his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Four Weddings and a Funeral.  He subsequently wrote the scripts for films such as Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary, before making his directing debut in 2003 with Love Actually.

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