birthdays: january 2 & january 3

Cuba Gooding Jr., 43, though the hallmark of his career was his emphatic response to winning the 1996 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire, his successes and more often pratfalls have become the stuff of Hollywood legend; aside from Maguire, he had a promising start as the star of the critical masterpiece Boyz N the Hood, he had roles in well-received film such as Gladiator (1992), A Few Good Men, and As Good As It Gets, and he assisted Robin Williams through the afterlife in the divisive What Dreams May Come… but then there was Snow Dogs… and Boat Trip… and Radio… and Norbit and, well, it’s too painful to continue
Taye Diggs, 40, he made quite the impression as oft-shirtless Winston Shakespeare, the younger object of Angela Bassett’s affection in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but his biggest legacy may be as one of the original cast members of the Broadway hit Rent (he’s married to co-star Idina Menzel); since Stella, he had a stint on Ally McBeal, played a bit part in the hit movie Chicago, unsuccessfully headlined the series Kevin Hill, and is currently a regular on ABC’s hit show Private Practice
Lucy Davis, 38, though she’s probably best-known to American audiences as Dianne in Shaun of the Dead, she was a cast member in the original British The Office, playing receptionist Dawn Tinsley; it should also be noted she played the bubbly Maria Lucas in BBC’s fantastic adaptation of Pride & Prejudice in 1996
Todd Haynes, 50, major critical darling for being the writer/director for such films as Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, and I’m Not There, he’s known for his visual approach in film, and he was Oscar-nominated for screenwriting for Far From Heaven; next up he’s got the Kate Winslet-starring Mildred Pierce miniseries on HBO
Isaac Asimov, (1920-1992), best-known amongst my family members for his long-lasting legacy of “super quizzes” in the Star Tribune, this one-time biochemist and famed science fiction author has written somewhere around 500 published works, including the inspirations for the films I, Robot and Bicentennial Man (yeah, they should maybe do him better justice in Hollywood)
Adam Elliot, lauded in festival circuits and awards bodies alike in the past few years for his work animating, directing, and writing the film Mary and Max, his Harvie Krumpet series of shorts is quite popular in Australia and earned him an Oscar for Best Animated Short

Mel Gibson, 55, in possibly one of the biggest falls from graces in movie history, he went from young sex symbol to blockbuster action star to awards magnet filmmaker to slightly deranged to completely mental in the course of his 35-year career as an actor and director; highlights included the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon movies, a hilarious (and my personal favorite) turn in Bird on a Wire, some stellar voice work in Pocahontas and Chicken Run, and box office gold behind the camera thanks to Braveheart (for which he won his two Oscars), Apocalypto, and The Passion of the Christ – lowlights included the ill-received Edge of Darkness early last year, that incident with the female police officer, and last year’s violent tape-recordings fiasco
Josephine Hull, (1886-1957), veteran comic actress whose abilities at hysterics and zany antics made her a stage and film legend, originating on Broadway her roles in You Can’t Take it With You, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Harvey – the latter two she recreated for the film adaptations; in addition she won an Oscar and Golden Globe in 1950 for her performance in the comedy Harvey
Danica McKellar, 36, though she’s since become known for her smarts and for being a math whiz (her series helping kids make math fun are bestsellers), the official girl next door of the early ’90s popularized the role of sweet-natured Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years; her acting career hasn’t yielded much fruit since, but she had a recurring role on The West Wing and recently guest starred on both The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother
J.R.R. Tolkien, (1892-1973), one of the bestselling novelists of all time, his most popular books have sold like hotcakes for decades – The Hobbit (more than 100 million copies) and The Lord of the Rings (about 150 million copies) have spawned countless copycats and the latter hit a second wind from 2001-2003 with a multi-billion-dollar film franchise (oh, and there’s a high-profile adaptation of The Hobbit coming up in 2012)
Thelma Schoonmaker, 71, if it’s possible to be a celebrity film editor, then this woman is it – she’s won three Oscars for her work on Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, The Aviator, and The Departed, and her working relationship with the director has included editing The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Shutter Island, and the upcoming Hugo Cabret and biopics of Frank Sinatra and Theodore Roosevelt
Dabney Coleman, 79, character actor whose extensive filmography beginning in the 1960s has included supporting roles in countless films – Midway, Melvin and Howard, Nine to Five, On Golden Pond, Tootsie, You’ve Got Mail, etc. – and TV projects – The Fugitive, That Girl, Barnaby Jones, Buffalo Bill, The Guardian, and Boardwalk Empire – and has to make him one of the hardest working people in show business
Robert Loggia, 81, film actor whose Oscar nomination came for 1985’s Jagged Edge, but his most famous roles were in The Greatest Story Ever Told, An Officer and a Gentleman, the Pink Panther series, Scarface, Prizzi’s Honor, and, of course, dancing on that piano in Big
Sergio Leone, (1929-1989), revered filmmaker who, surprisingly enough, never managed an Oscar nomination, but somehow managed to helm such Western classics as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Once Upon a Time in America (not to mention influence the work of Quentin Tarantino for years to come)
Alex D. Linz, 22, child star whose most famous roles included trouble-causing son to Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day, a pseudo-Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 3, the voice of young Tarzan in the 1999 Disney incarnation, and the title role of kid flick Max Keeble’s Big Move; since, his only major credit was a regular role in the ill-fated TV series Providence

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