Tuesday, November 5

Happy Birthday to Us

Let's celebrate my birthday today.  Yes, a Scorpio whose horoscope once read... you may be forgotten but you will never be ignored.  Ha.  Well, I am not forgetting or ignoring two dozen others,  famous in one way or another, who were also born today.  Let's just have a big party. You're invited.

Natalie Schaefer
(1900 - 1991)
I know she was Mrs. Lovey Howell in TVs Gilligan's Island, but deprive me of my birthday cake if I am lying when I say I am sure I have never seen one complete episode of that iconic series.  The show was the biggest thing she's ever done.  I have little knowledge of her, actually, but have seen her in fairly small parts in films such as AnastasiaFemale on the Beach, Back Street and Susan Slade. The most that I could offer about her is that she seemed to have a knack for playing snobby, aristocratic types.

Joel McCrea
(1905 - 1990)
Always a very popular actor with Hollywood types and the public alike, McCrea spent many years in romantic roles and did a lot of comedy.  While he did some dramas, too, he really wanted to be in westerns.  Will Rogers took McCrea under his wing and saw to it the younger actor was seen by the right people.  His dream of being a western star not only materialized but he became one of the most popular cowboys in Hollywood history.  I met him and his gorgeous wife, actress Frances Dee, standing in the ocean on Maui.  It was just the three of us at this beautiful Kihei beach.  They were a very classy duo and I will never forget him telling me that the we three were the luckiest people in the world to be right where we were.  He's the only one listed here with whom I have spoken about sharing our big day.

Roy Rogers
(1911 - 1998)
He was called King of the Cowboys.  He was one of the first celebrities I ever saw, although from my seat in Peoria's Bradley Auditorium while he and his golden palomino, Trigger, whooped it up on stage.  I had his autographed picture, some spurs, a hat, a lariat and a lunchbox.  I turned my Schwinn bicycle into Trigger and we headed out into Peoria looking for the meanest, most lowdown, mealy-mouthed varmits in that one-horse town.  In 1952 I saw him on the big screen alongside Bob Hope and Jane Russell in Son of Paleface and it was a religious experience. 

Vivien Leigh
 (1913 - 1967)
One of the screen's great beauties and one of its most acclaimed actresses was born in India to British parents.  She would go on to win two Academy Awards for playing belles of the American south, namely Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.  Primarily a stage actress, she made about two dozen films and I saw only a smattering of those, including the two already mentioned and Waterloo Bridge, A Yank at Oxford, That Hamilton Woman, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Ship of Fools.  Like Scarlett, in real life Leigh could be Super Bitch (beware the enraged Scorpio), whether on a film set or with her famed husband, Laurence Olivier, and like Blanche, she was mentally ill.  For much of her adult life she suffered from bipolar disorder and also had frequent bouts of chronic tuberculosis and frequent bouts of promiscuity (well, we are the sex sign).

John McGiver
(1913 - 1975)
Oh look at the above picture.  You know him... that fussy, opinionated, asexual character actor with the clipped speech and arrogant manner.  You might remember him from such films as the jewelry salesman in Breakfast at Tiffany's or the senator murdered by Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate or the nitwit driving Jimmy Stewart to distraction in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation or in The Gazebo, Period of Adjustment and Take Her, She's Mine and many more.  He was also a frequent TV guest star.

Richard Davalos
(1930 -  )
He and James Dean played the misunderstood, conflicted Trask brothers in the dynamic East of Eden.  Due to that alone, I do not know why his career didn't take off.  Sure there was Dean to be measured against, but Davalos was handsome and sensitive and talented.  There must be a story there.  That same year I saw him in a smaller part in The Sea Chase with John Wayne, Lana Turner and Tab Hunter, and also the High Sierra remake, I Died a Thousand Times, starring Jack Palance.  He mainly did TV in the 60s but in the 70s made a showing in Cool Hand Luke and Kelly's Heroes and then it was back to the tube and virtual oblivion.  He is the grandfather of an actress of today, Alexa Davalos.

Joaquin Martinez
(1930 - 2012)
The absolutely only thing I know of this actor is that he played a truly badass Indian in three of my favorite westerns, 1968s The Stalking Moon with Gregory Peck, 1972s Jeremiah Johnson with Robert Redford and the same year's Ulzana's Raid with Burt Lancaster.  We're pals forever, Joaquin.  You scared me.

Ike Turner
(1931 - 2007)
He was a musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, record producer, serious druggie, sex maniac, and the man who orchestrated the career of my sweet Tina Turner, while controlling her, keeping her a virtual prisoner and frequently beating her up.  Look up those born on your birthday and you'll find at least one thug.  This one is mine.  Get your own. 

Herb Edelman
(1933 - 1996)
Without looking it up, I couldn't tell you a single movie this actor was in but I sure know he was Dorothy's ex-husband, Stanley, in TV's golden hit, The Golden Girls

Harris Yulin
(1937 -  )
He was never able to make that leap to the big time, but perhaps it didn't interest him.  We usually assume that it does.  He had a little rush of fame in the early 70s due to his role in Doc, another story of the O.K. Corral bunch, and had a year-long romance with leading lady Faye Dunaway (which he survived).  But then, chameleon-like, he disappeared into the fabric of lots of films in usually small roles.  You have seen him in Al Pacino's Scarface, Clear and Present Danger and Training Day.

Isela Vega
(1939 -  )
She started her professional career as a model in her native Mexico and became an in-demand movie actress in that country and she is still working.  I know her only from her work in a few American films, mainly westerns filmed in her native country... most famously Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia but also The Deadly Trackers, Drum and Barbarosa.

Elke Sommer
(1940 -  )
Oh you remember her... if you were somewhat of an adult in the 1960s and your brain didn't fry.  She never met a bouffant hairdo  she wouldn't wear and her trademark pouty German lips brushed across those belonging to Paul Newman, Dean Martin, Peter Sellers, Stephen Boyd, Glenn Ford and Dick Van Dyke in such films as A Shot in the Dark, The Prize, The Act of Love, The Wrecking Crew, The Money Trap and The Oscar.  She was mainly decorative but I always liked her because she seemed to have a sense of humor about her sexpot image.  Her early work was in Europe.  She worked in American films for about 10 years and then picked up her career on the continent.

Art Garfunkle
1941 -  )
From the lower half of the billing of Simon and Garfunkle but my favorite of the two, so hello, Mrs. Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water was my anthem for those turbulent late 60s. I couldn't get enough of their music.  I saw him on a few talk shows over the years and found him to be quite an intelligent man.  He's done very little acting and I think it's a shame he didn't pursue it more.   Carnal Knowledge is the only film I've seen him in.

Sam Shepard
(1943 -  )
I've always felt a kindred spirit with him.  We were both born in Illinois and raised in California.  He was born in a city called Fort Sheridan and I used to work there.  He considers himself mainly a writer and I've done some writing.  He's won a Pultizer Prize for a play and I'd like to.  He's rather laconic and keeps his own counsel and I am still thinking I'd like to try that.  He loved Jessica Lange once and I still do.  Furthermore, Lange made her movie debut in King Kong and so did my partner.  Of course, she went on to do a few other movies and he didn't.  And we share the same birthday... actually I'm closest to him in years.  I fall in between Sam and Peter Noone.

Peter Noone
(1947 -  )
He is an Englishman who, if you know him at all, it would be as Herman, the leader of the 1960s rock band, Herman's Hermits.  His song, Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter, became so popular that a film by the same title was released in 1967.  He attempted a little television after his film career fizzled.

Jon-Erik Hexum
1957 - 1984)
This troll is lucky to have been born on my birthday.  Oh, did I say troll?  I meant doll.  Hey, let's be clear.  I would have traded in my seeing Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, Lauren Bacall, Clint Walker, Clark Gable and Tony Curtis for just a teensy little glimpse of J-EH but it was not to be.  One shivers to think what could have become of him had he lived beyond age 26.  I thought he was just about the finest example of male beauty Hollywood has ever known and with a magnificent voice to boot.  I own one thing he did, the exploitative TV movie The Making of a Male Model, far from my 50 Favorite Movies list but the first one I go for in case of fire or boredom.  On a TV movie set in 1984, he playfully put a prop gun filled with blanks against his temple and pulled the trigger.  He was taken off life support several hours later.  What a damned shame.  Jonny, we hardly knew ye.

Robert Patrick
(1958 -  )
With that gravelly Georgian voice and a physical presence that looks like he'd be a comfortable fit on a big Harley hog, Patrick has scared the bejesus out of me in a bunch of TV stuff.  He was  impressive in the recent Gangster Squad and Trouble with the Curve but unfortunately I have missed those films he did with Sly and Ahnold.

Bryan Adams
(1959 - )
I don't know much about him.  He is from a neighboring province a bit north of here, Ontario, Canada.  I owe my love of folk singing to my partner who introduced me to it while trying desperately to make me stop listening to Connie Francis.  (That still hasn't worked.)  I expect I have at least one cd for every Canadian who ever lifted his or her voice in Canadian folk songs.  I saw a piece once, on PBS I think, about Adams and his philanthropic nature which caters often to children and to education. 

Tilda Swinton
(1960 - )
She of the frequent androgenous look, odd hairstyles, sometimes bizarre clothes and laser-sharp stare was, for a time, the queen of art house films and I saw her in quite a few.  I think it would be fair to say I didn't care for some of them but she was always so watchable.  To me she is a certified original.  I really sat up and took notice of her loving and brave mother in The Deep End and she was perfect casting as Ewan McGregor's adulterous bedmate in the grim About Adam.  She dominated in The Beach, was all gussied up and delightful in The Chronicles of Narnia, another powerful mom in We Need to Talk About Kevin, a crafty government official in The Statement and an Oscar winner for Michael Clayton.  This is an actress to behold.  I get a kick out of sharing a birthday with someone I so admire.

Andrea McArdle
(1963 - )
I know one thing about her.  She is the only singer I can bear listening to sing Tomorrow from her Broadway turn in Annie.  From anyone else, I would start looking for some rafters, a chair and a rope. 

Famke Janssen
(1964 -  )
She is a statuesque brunette from the Netherlands and my first Famke.  I think it would be fair to call her a babe, although for quite some time I confused her with Julianne Margulies.  Not only do we share a birthday but there is a large branch of my family with her last name.  Hmmm, do you suppose?  Someone get me Lisa Kudrow.  I first saw her as a sexy assassin Bond girl in Goldeneye and then in two films that caught my fancy, Gingerbread Man and Eulogy.  I more recently enjoyed her as Liam Neeson's ex-wife in the exciting Taken and Taken2.

Sam Rockwell
(1968  -  )
Well, I'll tell you.  I just discovered he was born on my birthday as I was looking up the list of my birthday pals.  I was surprised, really surprised, to see he has appeared in 59 feature films and I've only seen five of them.  It amazes me that I have missed so many of one actor's films.  Even some of the ones I have seen, like The Green Mile and Celebrity, I don't recall him in them.  I most certainly took notice of him in Snow Angels as Kate Beckinsale's troubled ex-husband.  His part seemed rather lackluster to me in Cowboys and Aliens and he was quite the scene-stealer in the so-so The Way Way Back.  Now that I know he is one of the birthday club members, I will check out more of his work.

Tatum O'Neal
(1973  -  )
Now here is a Scorpio... see listing of traits below.  I've always found her life off the screen far more interesting than her films.  The one exception is Paper Moon, a treasure of a little film, in no small part due to the hijinx of Ms. O'Neal when she was pint-sized.  She's a big girl now who wrote a sizzling autobiography a few years back which was a couldn't-put-down for me.  She may be disliked but she will never be ignored.  Hmmm.

Kevin Jonas
(1987 -  )
Who?  Isn't he one of those bubbly boy band brothers?  I think still a current brother but a former band member.  Not sure of the bubbly part these days.  Hopefully the whole gaggle of 'em will convene for some birthday cheer. 

If you are one of those who share this day with us, do drop a line and let us know. 

Okay, let's cut the cake.

The Directors

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