The past week or so has been a good one for TV birthdays! We figure better late than never so here are a few highlights from last Thursday onward:
Actress Barbara Hershey was born on February 5, 1948, in Hollywood, California, the perfect birthplace for a woman who would grow up to become one of the most unique and hardworking actresses in the industry. She began acting in television series while still a teen, appearing in popular series such as The Farmer's Daughter and Gidget, and in 1966 she landed a starring role in the ABC-TV western series The Monroes. Barbara played the oldest daughter in a family of five orphans who struggled to live together in the Old West. The show lasted only one season but it established Hershey as an actress to watch and led to many other guest roles in other classic series including Daniel Boone, Run For Your Life, The Invaders and The High Chaparral.
In 1968 Barbara made the leap into features where she made several films and in 1972 she landed the title role in Boxcar Bertha, Martin Scorcese's outlaw action film that changed Hershey's life in several important ways. It got her an enormous amount of publicity and shot her into the spotlight, mainly due to her sensational romance with co-star David Carradine and the "did they or didn't they really do it?" passion in their sex scenes together. (Both say they did.) Her relationship with Carradine was a major influence on her at that time and in 1974 she made a two-episode guest appearance on his hit TV show Kung Fu. She also briefly changed her last name to "Seagull" around this time.
Hollywood's interest in Hershey was more than justified as she soon began a run of amazing feature films -- The Stunt Man, The Entity, The Natural, Tin Men, Hoosiers, The Last Temptation of Christ, Beaches,The Right Stuff -- which catapulted her to the top of her profession. Please check out her list of credits on IMDb; click here to see the super-impressive totality of her career. She also moved freely between movies and TV with roles in several big television miniseries and TV movies.
Currently TV audiences enjoy Barbara's starring role on ABC's fairy tale adventure series Once Upon a Time as the evil Cora.
Our second Happy Birthday girl is actress Laura Linney, born on February 5, 1964. This supremely talented, lovely and utterly classy thespian has been all over the movie screen and on television sets since at least 1992. Early works of note include the popular PBS American Playhouse adaption of author Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and its two sequels, several TV movies (The Laramie Project, Running Mates for TNT and others) and series appearances including Frasier (Emmy win). In 2008 she became a special favorite here for her award-winning role as Abigail Adams in HBO's multi-part miniseries John Adams starring Paul Giamatti in the title role.
Linney has kept continually busy with a full plate of critically praised roles in major films -- Kinsey, Hyde Park on Hudson among many others -- as well as her spectacular (more awards!) performance on Showtime's half-hour dramedy The Big C which ran for three years beginning in 2010.
Be sure to check out her impressive list of credits on her IMDb page -- click here -- and she also was involved in another production of equal importance when she gave birth at the beginning of last year at the age of 49. Well-liked and uniformly praised -- check out this charming NY Times article, click here -- Laura Linney is a wonder and a gift to us all. Be sure to also check out this article written by her playwright father about his talented and beloved daughter, click here.
Another February 5th birthday -- her 30th this year -- belongs to American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer who has become a favorite for her work in three seasons of the FX series.
The talented actress and Downs Syndrome activist is an integral part of what makes American Horror Story so continually fascinating. We hope to keep seeing her on this series and many others!
Also from last week, actor Patrick Macnee from the classic and oh-so-classy series The Avengers celebrated his 93rd birthday on February 6th. Like so many talented veteran performers of his era, Macnee has amassed a huge list of credits over his long career; please check out his IMDb page for his movie and TV performances. He also has a snazzy personal webpage filled with delightful information and features; click here to access.
On February 7th Little House on the Prairie author and TV character Laura Ingalls Wilder (played by actress Melissa Gilbert) would have celebrated her 148th birthday. She was born in 1867 and passed away in 1957.
A newly-published autobiography from Wilder has become a bestseller, illuminating some of the less idyllic aspects of prairie life for her legions of fans. The beloved TV series which was overseen by actor Michael Landon is one of American TV's classic family-friendly shows.
On Febuary 8th composer John Williams celebrated his 83rd birthday. Best known for his long and impressive string of Oscar-winning movie scores, Williams cut his teeth in TV with some wonderful series theme songs, including our favorite 3rd season Lost in Space opening.
Veteran actress Mary Steenburgen also celebrated a birthday on February 8th. This multi-talented actress moves easily between screen and TV appearances; check out her IMDb credits here. TV-wise she's appearing now on Justified and her past work includes 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ink, Back to the Future and one of our particular favorites, her two seasons on Joan of Arcadia beginning in 2003.
February 9th was the 39th birthday of brilliant, adorable and hilarious Charlie Day, one of the stars and creators of FX's trademark cult comedy hit It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and now co-star in the Horrible Bosses movie franchise. Here is one of our favorite moments as he composes the "Dayman-Nightman" song with Glen Howerton:
And on February 10th, actor Robert Wagner celebrated his 85th birthday! The still-active long-time movie heartthrob has a wonderful career spanning nearly seven decades; definitely check out his IMDb credits -- amazing! Along the way he's starred in several popular TV series including It Takes a Thief, Switch and Hart to Hart:
A sincere Flaming Nose Happy Birthday to all these talented performers!