Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Toxic Birthday Suits

Your cinematic birthdays for 12/02. If it's your big day, let us know.

Steven, Lucy and Warren

1894 Warren William, charming snake, pre-code movie star who was often paired with formidable actresses like Claudette Colbert (Imitation of Life, Cleopatra), Joan Blondell (Gold Diggers of 1933, Stage Struck) and Bette Davis (Three on a Match, Satan Met a Lady)
1914 Ray Walston, the Damn Yankees! devil had a lengthy career on screens small and large
1914 Adolph Green, musical giant of 'Comden & Green' fame. I can't even begin to choose a favorite song by that duo. Plus they wrote the screenplay to Singin' in the Rain!
1923 Maria Callas, La Divina. Fanny Ardant recently played her in Callas Forever. The next actress who'll have a go at her is Eva Mendes in Greek Fire
1925 Julie Harris was Oscar nominated for her film debut (The Member of the Wedding), co-starred with James Dean (East of Eden) and even found nighttime stardom (Knots Landing). But her real legacy is on the stage. Until this past June she was the only actor to have ever won five Tony Awards on Broadway (now she shares that honor with Angela Lansbury)
1943 Steve Rubell, 'Pasha of Disco' was portrayed on film by Mike Myers in the notoriously 'edited' 54 (1998). Has anyone had the chance to see the director's cut of that film?
1945 Penelope Spheeris, 90s film director (Wayne's World, Beverly Hillbillies, The Little Rascals) before female directors were a regular occurence. Here's a list of the top ten grossers by female directors.
1946 Gianni Versace, tragically slain designer. He dressed so many movie stars. His name was mangled so endearingly in Showgirls
1954 Dan Butler one of Hollywood's first out actors so put your hands up for him today. Though he's most famous for his years on Frasier as womanizing "Bulldog" he's also been in several movies from classics (Silence of the Lambs) to gay landmarks (Longtime Companion) to his own projects (he amusingly plays himself as an obsessive actor in Karl Rove, I Love You)
1956 Steven Bauer 80s hunk of Scarface and Thief of Hearts fame
1967 Nick Cheung Ka Fai Hong Kong star (Exiled, The Beast Stalker) who just won the Golden Horse (previous post)
1968 Lucy Liu "Cottonmouth"
1981 Britney Spears, ♪ toxic star, one-time-only movie actress, snake charmer

Today is also the 150th birthday of Georges-Pierre Seurat and 118th birthday of Otto Dix, two painters I love. Seurat, the famous pointilist, has never had a proper biopic though he was portrayed onscreen by Christopher Lee in Moulin Rouge (1952). He also inspired one of Stephen Sondheim's greatest musicals Sunday in the Park with George. That's a musical which should probably never be transferred to the screen but which should be seen on stage every single chance one gets. As far as I know (and it's very possible that I don't know enough in this case) Otto Dix, a neue sachlichkeit painter, has never been so much as a character in a movie. But I'm rather bewitched by Weimar era Germany and his portraiture is pretty incredible. More filmmakers should revisit that era. I could see whole mini movies within his weird and often unflattering portraits. Or at least movie-worthy characters.

6 comments:

Jim T said...

I love it that you include painters' birthdays. I don't know any of them but I've seen some beautiful paintings thanks to you. The portrait of Anita Berber is marvelous! (I didn't know her either)

MrW said...

One round birthday I just have to mention: Today is the Sybille Schmitz centennial. Even if she might not be the greatest of all actresses (though I did like her in Dreyer's 'Vampyr'), the tragic story of her final years (drug abuse, depression, committal to a psychiatric clinic, suicide at age 45) was the inspiration to Rainer Werner Fassbinder's great 'Veronika Voss'.

Robert said...

I like the Birthday posts, but I'm starting to suspect you do them just to have a reason to google image search for naked actors and actresses.

Not that I blame you. I wish I had as good an excuse.

Catherine said...

Sunday... is probably my single favourite piece of art (film/music/play/book) of all time. My heart.

Wayne said...

*laughs* I like the pic of Lucy Liu front and centre. Oh and the new profile pic is smokin' too. :)

NATHANIEL R said...

Catherine -- i actually felt like i couldn't breathe from the emotion during "sunday" in sunday in the park with george. My god that show/song.

unbelievably beautiful