Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Ida Lupino


Today is the birthday of Ida Lupino, born this day in 1918.

If you've never heard of Lupino, now is the time to look her up.  An actress from toddlerhood, Lupino appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, alongside Bogart (High Sierra) and a host of other notables, and was wildly talented, but somehow never passed into modern ideas of classic-film royalty.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Birthday to Ms. Sherilyn Fenn


Happy Birthday to actress Sherilyn Fenn.  She's been great in some great movies and good in some bad movies and I was as stunned as the next person to see her combatting Bigfoot in the accurately titled 2012 SyFy/ Asylum movie, Bigfoot.

You may know her as Audrey Horne from cult TV series, Twin Peaks, making sweaters and saddle shoes a very good idea to high-school-me.


I am thrilled to say it seems she's returning to the role when the show returns late this year or early next year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Birthday of Audrey Totter




Today marks the birthday of film and television star Audrey Totter, born this day in 1917 in Joliet, Illinois.

The 12th marked the second anniversary of her passing.  We remain big fans of Ms. Totter and continue to enjoy her work.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Belated 100, Frank

You're correct.  You will never be this cool.

December 12th marked the 100th birthday of singer, actor, Ava Gardner sexer, and true 20th Century man, Frank Sinatra.  Old Blue Eyes himself.

Sinatra was a complicated man, and he is beyond our judgment.  Like Thomas Jefferson, we can only try to understand such a wild contradiction in life as a product of his times and his nature.   For every nightmare story about the guy, there's a dozen about him as a humanitarian.

And now, the first Sinatra song I ever learned specifically because it was Sinatra: "Strangers in the Night".  All you need to know about why I learned the song: fifteen year old boys are weird.



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Uncle Walt


Today marks the 114th Birthday of Walter Elias Disney.  Maybe you've heard of him?

Since the 90's it's been both fair game and fun for the internet to point out Disney's many flaws from a modern context.  Yup.  The man was a product of his times, both in the best and worst ways, and his influence on the world magnified those traits considerably.  Also, if you think Walt was somehow unique in those questionable opinions, it's both a testament to the progress of American culture that we've reached a point where the documentable sexism, classism and racism seems weird, and - if that surprises you - maybe a sign you're not much of a non-fiction reader.

I recently watched the American Experience doc on Walt Disney, so you can probably pick up my opinions from that.

In the meantime, as we consider the absolutely gigantic multimedia empire Disney has become (TV networks, cable carriers, movies, innumerable TV shows, print and web, Amusement parks, cruise ships, private islands, that Frozen Freefall game Jamie plays non-stop)...  it all started with a Mouse, and one I have a lot of affection for.





Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gloria Grahame's Birthday


Today marks the 92nd birthday of actress Gloria Grahame.

We're big fans of the work of Ms. Grahame here at The Signal Watch, and seeing her listed in the credits for a movie will always get us to check it out.  We generally prefer her noir work, where she plays a wide range of roles, but always with a certain flair.  We particularly recommend her work in The Big Heat, Human Desire and In a Lonely Place.

But, she's also Ado Annie in Oklahoma! and she's Violet in It's a Wonderful Life.

Her personal life was like an unscripted noir that ignored the Hayes Code, but I'll let you look into that yourself.  What I will say is that she died too young, and I wish she'd had a second go with her career.  She's so darn good, it's hard to believe she wouldn't have ended up doing more on TV or in movies.

Here's to one of the good ones.  Do yourself a favor and take time out for a Gloria Grahame picture this month.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday to Noel Neill, Our Lois Lane!

Technically, Jamie is Our Lois Lane, and I hate to play favorites when it comes to the great talent that has come to the role in radio, movies and television.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to tremendous affection for actress Noel Neill in her role as Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, and her affiliation with Superman as a character in other ways.

November 25th marked Neill's 95th, and we want to wish her a very happy belated birthday.

Ms. Neill was not in the first season of The Adventures of Superman when the role was played by actress Phyllis Coates.  She arrived in Season 2, and brought her own spark to the part.


She had practice!  Neill also played Lois in the 1948 Superman serials starring Kirk Alyn as The Man of Steel.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy 157th Birthday, Colonel Roosevelt


Today marks the 157th Birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and, undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating human beings you can read about.

I've lost count of how many Roosevelt books I've read, and each one reveals another layer of the man.  Modern Americans would do well to study the challenges of his Presidency as they truly can provide instruction as to how history is nothing but a series of repeating circumstances, and the choices Roosevelt and his contemporaries made might shed light on our own path forward.

Of course, Roosevelt is most famous for his boisterous personality, his rich history of service, and his spirit of travel and adventure - all of which begins with a series of tragic preambles from his own ill health as a child, to the tragic death of his father, to the death of his mother and wife on the same day.  And even how he dealt with personal calamity can be instructive:  go be a cowboy.

The man was deeply flawed, had an outsized ego and the propensity to be a tyrant and make up his own laws when convenient.  He shattered his own party, handled some sensitive events better than others (the coal strike - pretty well, the Brownsville incident is still a mark of shame on his record), and had difficulty with personal relationships when they damaged his pride in any way, shape or form.

To have personal heroes as an adult is a difficult task.  You have to accept and admit that everyone is flawed, but its the nature of those flaws and what they did in spite or because of them that you can come to an understanding of what you value and your own ideals.

I am uncertain if Theodore Roosevelt is a personal hero.  Maybe I should be more of a Taft man, or James Garfield.  But there's something stirring about Roosevelt, and just keeping up with him in books recounting events moving ever further into the past can still be exhilarating.

Here's to our 26th Preisdent, the hero of Kettle Hill/ San Juan Hill.  The Governor of New York.  The Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  The Commissioner of the Police of New York City.  The New York State Assemblyman.  The cowboy.  The naturalist.  The explorer. The big game hunter.  The conservationists.  The elitist.  The progressive.  The soldier.  The son.  The father.

Here's to TR on his birthday.  Let us always celebrate the man for what he was - all the greatness and faults of America, all the things we could be and shouldn't be, all in one man.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Christopher Reeve's 63rd Birthday



Today would have marked the 63rd birthday of actor and activist Christopher Reeve.

A child of the 1970's and 1980's, of course I am most familiar with Reeve from his portrayal of Superman, and I've seen the Reeve-starring Superman movies dozens of times.  I've seen a few of his other movies, such as Somewhere in Time, Village of the Damned, Noises Off..., The Remains of the Day and a few other appearances.

You forget, because of the broadness of the Superman films, but Reeve was a heck of an actor.  Just to do what he did with his dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent, in film, is worth checking out.  It's near Shakespearean.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy 65th, Bill Murray


Today marks Bill Murray's 65th Birthday.  And while we never say it out loud, I'd posit that Bill Murray is one of the greatest actors of his generation.

People like Bill Murray, there's no question.  And his willingness to participate in surprising ways in films (see: the otherwise waste of a movie Zombieland) has become a bit of a calling card for him as he's made the very real realization that he is free to do as he likes, and movie-dom's acceptance that he's at his best when he's given a long leash.

Like a lot of my generation who were too young to stay up late enough for SNL, my first exposure to Murray was not the racy Caddyshack, which I didn't see until middle school, but the cultural megalith of Ghostbusters, which my mom took me to see opening day.*

I dig those early roles and his SNL stint.  Stripes.

Murray wasn't really pigeonholed from the start.  He did The Razor's Edge (no, I've never seen it), and never quite got locked into any particular character with which he became identified even as the roles became distinctly his own.  There's not a lot of similarities between Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters), Bob Harris (Lost in Translation), Bunny Breckinridge (Ed Wood), Frank Cross (Scrooged) or Raleigh St. Clair (The Royal Tenenbaums).

Probably my favorite role is from Rushmore as Herman Blume, the life-weary corporate mogul who is coming to terms with the failure of all parts of his life that aren't related to his business and finds a bit of a friend and inspiration and competition in Max Fischer.

If there is a thread between the parts, particularly his later roles, maybe it's the exhaustion the characters wear on their sleeve.  He gets what it means to be at the end of your rope, that it's not anger that sets in but, often, a sense of resignation.  Watching the characters climb back out against that point (or, in the case of Raleigh St. Clair, head towards that resignation) is what makes the performances interesting.  And, frankly, relatable.  Right up to and including Steve Zissou.

Here's to Bill on his 65th.  May the Garfield money have bought him many rounds of golf and a couple of good bottles of something.



*you're the best, Ma!  Dad, you still get point for getting me to many action movies, not the least of which is Empire Strikes Back opening weekend.  I haven't forgotten!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby! Design Aesthetic

One last shout out for The Kirby4Heroes/ Hero Initative event today in honor of Jack Kirby's legacy.

Nobody did it like The King.  Nobody before and nobody since.




More Happy Birthday to Jack Kirby - Marvelous Marvel

A friendly reminder that in honor of Jack Kirby's birthday, you can donate today to the Heroes Initiative, an organization that helps freelance comics folk with financial support in times of need.

Click here to donate and see what else is going on today thanks to the Kirby4Heroes Campaign.

So, Jack Kirby more or less made up about 90% of the Marvel Universe that anyone cares about.  He didn't do Spider-Man and had limited contributions to Iron Man, but he drew up a whole lot else.

Way back before World War 2 and his own enlistment, Kirby went ahead and made-up a superhero to throw a punch at Hitler as a proxy for the slug Jack would have gladly thrown himself.




Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby! Some Favorites from his time at DC

Today marks Jack "King" Kirby's 98th birthday.

Jack's granddaughter runs to Kirby4Heroes Campaign, which is an annual event focused on raising money for The Hero Initiative.  The Hero Initiative raises money for freelancer comic artists and creators who may need some financial assistance.

Let's honor Jack Kirby by donating today!

And what better way to celebrate the man and artist than with a glimpse of his amazing work.  We're doing more than one post on Kirby, so look for two more today.  But we're starting with DC as I first went from "that's Jack Kirby" to appreciating Jack Kirby, specifically via his Fourth World work and that era of DC output.

Let's start with one of my favorite DC characters, and an original Kirby creation...




Friday, August 21, 2015

Happy B-Day to The Admiral

This was the look I got - more or less - from ages 10 -25
Happy B-Day to my Old Man, The Admiral.  He's no doubt somewhere out with friends today with my mum, doing whatever it is he does before noon.  I'll be going out to see him tomorrow.

You don't do much better when it comes to dads.  He was a busy guy when we were kids, making a career to put food on plates and all that, but he was always engaged and around.  Heck, the man endured permanent hearing loss after acting as a bouncer at my high school's "Battle of the Bands" and getting stationed next to the speaker stack.  He was there for soccer and basketball games, concerts during my foray into tuba-playing, and showed up to see all my bad acting in high school.  And he was some sort of officer of the parents' drama club auxillary.

More than that, he was always around for a chat.  I don't know how many other dads were good at that, but The Admiral was always ready to listen and to call bullshit on me when the time was right.  See the above stare.

The man put me through college, supported me and Jamie as we got married, and helped me buy my first cars, used and new.  And, he taught me to drive.  So there's that.  And, he was the one who decided it was totally cool if we watched Rated-R action movies as long as my mom didn't know.

All in all, a good guy.

I'll see you tomorrow, Dad.  We'll have some brisket.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

August 17th is the comic book birthday of Lois Lane.  For whatever reason, that's her fictional birthday, with the year sliding around to keep her somewhere between 28 and 38ish.  I tend to think of Lois as maybe a couple of years older than Superman.



Lois Lane is an ass-kicker, and has been since her first appearance in Action Comics #1.

don't just assume you can claim a spot on Lois' dance card

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Neil Armstrong - Reboot the Suit


Today marks the birthday of Neil Armstong, the first human to step foot on The Moon.

Next time you're feeling cocky, just remember, Neil Armstrong walked on that shiny thing up there that's affecting the tides and spawning werewolves.

I know Armstrong passed years ago, but why not get him a present?  He got you one.  He went to THE MOON.

There's a Kickstarter going on that's already reached it's financial goal.  The Smithsonian is raining funds to restore the spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore wandering around on THE MOON.

Now they're in stretch goals, and the big one is to raise funds to restore the Mercury suit for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Restored, we'll all be able to see these suits down at the Air and Space Museum in DC.  Already a pretty fantastic place, but who wouldn't want to see even better space displays?  And see the very suits of America's real life heroes?

Sure, you aren't helping some dweeb from BFE fund their dream project of a Yu-Gi-Oh fan film, but you are, you know, supporting things that actually matter and aren't a waste of time and resources.  I mean, just...   ugh.

If you're wondering why the Smithsonian needs to go to Kickstarter...  well, (a) it's a publicly funded institution, and we haven't been great about funding public institutions the past decade or so, and (b) what money they do have could also be allocated to work on less high-profile items as well as the suit, so you're making the Smithsonian budget go farther (further?).

Here's that link again.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Birthday to Arnie


Today actor, politician, barbarian, adultery enthusiast and former-Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger turns 68.

Let's hope he runs over a cake with his tank.