Tag Archives: celebrity birthdays

Lady Gaga’s Birthday

gaga terry richardson bookMarch 28 is Lady Gaga‘s birthday! Lady Gaga is a pop star, fashion icon, and political activist best known for hit singles like “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance,” “Born This Way,” and more recently “Applause.”

Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germonatta in 1986 in New York City. Her father, Joe Germanotta, was an internet entrepreneur, so Gaga grew up affluently, living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. When she was younger, she attended New York’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls Roman Catholic school which saw other famous alumni pass through such as socialite Paris Hilton. When Gaga later reminisced of her time at the school, she claims she never fit in and always “felt like a freak.” In spite of this, Gaga had a theatrical high school career in which she starred as the lead in school productions like Guys and Dolls.

The lady’s love affair with music started at the age of 4, when she taught herself how to play piano by ear. By age 13, she had written her first piano ballad, and by 14 she was performing at open mic nights in the city with the accompaniment of her mother. Recognizing her daughter’s talents both academically and musically, Gaga’s mother convinced her to apply for the prestigious Collaborative Arts Project 21 at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Gaga was one of only twenty-one students to be accepted for early admission to the program when she was 17. While enrolled in the program, Gaga honed her songwriting skills, while also completing other academic essays and projects on art, religion, social issues and politics.

Feeling stifled and as though she could teach herself more about music than the CAP21 program could, Gaga dropped out of school in the middle of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on developing her music career. Her father made an agreement with her to pay her rent for a year while she focused on her creative interests, under the condition that she re-enroll in Tisch if her efforts were unsuccessful. It was during this time that the soon-to-be star took on several different musical endeavors. For a short period of time, she fronted the Stefani Germonatta Band (SGBand), and was scouted for a new project music producer Rob Fusari was working on which required a female vocalist.

Stefani, as she was still then known, began recording with Fusari, and soon her stage name “Lady Gaga” was accidentally coined through an autocorrect texting error made by Fusari when he was trying to type “Radio Ga Ga.” His phone corrected “radio” to “lady.” The hit song by Queen had become the singer’s “theme song” when she entered the studio every day. When Gaga received the text from Fusari, she replied with, “That’s it. Don’t ever call me Stefani again.”

After recording a series of electropop tracks with Fusari, Gaga was signed to Def Jam records, but was dropped a few months later. Devastated by this blow to her musical reputation, Gaga returned to the underground scene of New York City’s Lower East Side which she had previously made a name for herself in with the SGBand. She began performing neo-burlesque go-go dance shows in Lower East Side clubs. She soon befriended and began performing with Lady Starlight, who helped her experiment with wild costuming and helped mold her on-stage persona. The two performed their “Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow” in which they lit cans of hairspray on fire in between Gaga singing pop songs and Starlight spinning heavy metal and glam records at 2007′s Lollapalooza. Their performance received positive reviews and music producer Vincent Herbert quickly signed Gaga to Streamline Records, a subsidiary of Interscope. Gaga soon began working as a songwriter, writing songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Fergie, and New Kids on the Block. Singer-songwriter Akon recognized Gaga’s vocal abilities and signed her to his Interscope label Kon Live.

lady gaga paper dollThroughout 2007 and 2008, Gaga began recording her first album, The Fame. Though slow to start, the album received positive reviews and commercial success. Her debut single, “Just Dance,” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, but lost to Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Gaga began developing her own creative team, the Haus of Gaga, based on Andy Warhol‘s Factory. Her second single “Poker Face” experienced even more critical and commercial acclaim, topping singles charts in almost every country.

Gaga supported her new record by touring in Europe and in small gay clubs in the United States, as well as opening for New Kids on the Block during their reunion tour before eventually embarking on her own Fame Ball Tour. While touring for The Fame, she began writing the EP The Fame Monster, which explored the darker side of her new-found fame. From this was born one of her most iconic singles, “Bad Romance.” It was also during this time that she further developed and was both scrutinized and praised for her highly eccentric and avant-garde fashion choices. She embarked on The Monster Ball World Tour in 2009, and performed sold-out shows to audiences across the world until 2011. The tour grossed over $227 million, and became one of the highest-grossing and critically acclaimed tours of all time, producing an HBO documentary of her Madison Square Garden performance which won several Emmy awards.

2011 also saw the release of Gaga’s next album, Born This Way. Though it received more critical reviews because of it’s reference to religion, sexuality, and politics in many songs, Born This Way still sold over 1 million copies in its first week in the United States and received three Grammy nominations. Scheduled to go on another two-year world tour, Gaga’s Born This Way Ball was cut short when she injured herself too badly to perform anymore and underwent surgery.

Her injury did not set her back however, and she began working on her next album, Artpop, which was released in November 2013. Gaga has already had two hit singles from the album, “Applause” and “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly. She is planning her next world tour, and also made her silver screen debut in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, though the film did not receive much positive press. The pop star is slated to make another appearance in Rodriguez’s next Sin City film, and is working on a jazz album with Tony Bennett. Gaga is also going to perform the first ever concert in space as part of a three-day music festival called Zero G Colony.

Though she started out playing small shows in New York City’s underground arena, Gaga has risen to a level of international stardom few have achieved.

Sources: IMDB, Biography.com, Wikipedia

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Alexander McQueen’s Birthday

scan02.tifOn March 17, 1969, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was born.

McQueen was the youngest of six children born to taxi driver Ronald McQueen and social science teacher Joyce McQueen in Lewisham, London. While in primary school, McQueen began making dresses for his three sisters and announced his intentions to eventually become a fashion designer. At age 16, he dropped out of school and began working on Savile Row, a famous area of London well-known for offering shoppers made-to-order men’s suits. After working for a few different tailors, McQueen finally moved to Savile Row to further develop his career in fashion. He eventually began working for costume designers Angels and Bermans and developed the theatrical and extravagant style he later became known for.

The blossoming designer moved to Milan for a short period of time and worked for designer Romeo Gigli. In 1994, he returned to London and enrolled in Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, from which he received a masters degree in fashion design. His final school collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper and bought in its entirety by eccentric London stylist Isabella Blow. She has been credited with “discovering” McQueen and bringing him into the public eye.

His women’s designs became popular, with his pieces like “bumster” pants (pants with an extremely low-cut waistline) receiving considerable recognition. Shortly after graduating, he was appointed the Chief Designer for Louis Vuitton-owned haute couture house, Givenchy. McQueen worked for the house from 1996-2001, often pushing the limits of what people expected of the house and of the world of high fashion in general. His rebellious nature led to controversy. One famous incident was when McQueen used an amputee model in a Givenchy runway show, who walked down the catwalk with intricately carved wooden legs. Although he felt as though his talents were being held back, McQueen won British Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, and 2001 – all during his time at Givenchy.

Pieces from McQueen's Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

Pieces from McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

With his full potential yet to be untapped, McQueen was able to strike out on his own when Gucci bought a 51 percent stake in McQueen’s private company in 2000. He left Givenchy the next year when his contract with the house ended. McQueen was honored with British Designer of the Year once more and was named International Designer of the Year in 2003 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He opened stores in New York, Milan, Las Vegas, London, and Los Angeles, and his success skyrocketed even more with production of his fantastical and spectacular runway shows. One of his most famous shows was for his 2006 Fall/Winter line which included an ethereal floating hologram of model Kate Moss.

Although he celebrated incredible success and achievement in the fashion industry, McQueen began to suffer from depression after his long-time friend Isabella Blow committed suicide and his mother died of cancer two years later. Haunted by the deaths of these two important figures in his life, McQueen was found dead in his apartment after an apparent suicide.

McQueen’s story is one admired by many, as he came from a lower-class family and skyrocketed himself into international fame. His remarkable designs and runway shows have inspired designers all over the world, and his fashions are worn by many celebrity patrons to this day including the likes of Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna and more.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, The Biography Channel

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Justin Bieber’s Birthday and GIVEAWAY

justin bieber wall calendarMarch 1 is Justin Bieber‘s birthday! Bieber is a pop musician, dancer and actor. He is most well known for his teen heartthrob status and for his songs “One Time” and “Baby,” which is the second most viewed video on YouTube.

Bieber was born to a single mother on March 1, 1994 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. His interest in music started at a young age when he was gifted a drum set by his mother. At the age of 12, he participated in a talent competition at his school, coming in second. Bieber and his mother began uploading videos to YouTube of him singing and performing on various musical instruments shortly after to share with his friends and family. After just a few months, his YouTube channel started gaining a considerable fan base, and Bieber attracted the attention of former marketing executive, Scooter Braun. Braun contacted Bieber’s mother, and Bieber was flown to Atlanta, Georgia to begin recording demos when he was 13.

While in Atlanta, Braun set up a meeting between Bieber and R&B recording artist, Usher. Usher was impressed by Bieber’s prodigy-like talent and signed him to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), and then to an Island Records recording contract. It has been reported that Justin Timberlake had also wanted to sign Bieber, but lost a bidding war against Usher. Usher made the young musician his protégé, and he released his debut extended play, My World, in 2009, which went platinum in the United States. Seven songs from his debut album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first artist to accomplish this feat. In 2010, he released his first full-length studio album, My World 2.0, featuring 10 new songs for his already large and growing fan base.

After embarking on a successful world tour, Bieber released his documentary biopic called Never Say Never, and fans flocked to see their favorite pop star on the big screen. The concert documentary earned $73 million at the box office, and featured guest appearances by fellow musicians Usher, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and more. He then recorded a number one holiday album titled Under the Mistletoe in 2011.

justin bieber comp book

The pop star released his third full-length studio album Believe, featuring the hit song “Boyfriend” in 2012. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Though Bieber’s image has been somewhat tarnished throughout the years due to various public scandals, his fanbase of “Beliebers” grows daily, and it is reported that he gains 24,00o Twitter followers every day. He is currently second in Twitter followers only to Katy Perry. He has won and been nominated for a plethora of awards including Artist of the Year at the 2010 and 2012 American Music Awards, and Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards. Forbes named him the third most powerful celebrity in 2012, and he earns an estimated $55 million per year.

Happy birthday, Justin Bieber!

Sources: Biography.com, IMDB, Hollywood Life, ACESHOWBIZ, Wikipedia

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Ansel Adams’ Birthday

ansel adamsAmerican landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams, was born on February 20, 1902. He became well-known for his large detailed monochrome images of nature, especially photographs from Yosemite National Park in California.

Born in San Francisco, Adams was mostly home schooled as a child after being kicked out of several schools due to his bad behavior. Adams’ first creative passion was the piano, and at age 14, he began to discover his love for photography after a trip to Yosemite National Park. His love turned to obsession and a discovery of his life’s work. He attended camera clubs, poured over photography magazines, and studied darkroom techniques. In the 1920s, he began developing and selling his snapshots in the Yosemite Valley at Best Studio. He married the owner’s daughter, Virginia Best, who inherited the studio when her father died. Adams helped run the studio until 1971, and it was renamed Ansel Adams Gallery.

After publishing Parmelian Prints of the High Sierrashis first portfolio, Adams began to gain considerable fame. The portfolio contained one of his most famous images, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome,” and he was hired for many commercial assignments following his portfolio’s publication. He became the first person to produce a commissioned photographic portrait of a photographer when he was hired to take President Jimmy Carter‘s portrait. Adams dabbled in many different photography techniques ranging from soft-focus images to etching, but over time his style developed into detailed close-ups and large-format photographs, recognized for their stark contrast and intense exposure.

ansel adams2The photographer had close relationships with other artists including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. As a member of the environmental preservation organization, the Sierra Club, since age 17, Adams was known for his environmentalism and worked with photographers Dorthea Lange and Walker Evans on creating social and political change through art. He produced photo essays to advocate wilderness protection, especially in Yosemite, and wartime injustice through his photographs of WWII Japanese internment camps. In 1946, he photographed every national park in the United States as part of his Guggenheim Fellowship. He also helped to found what is one of the most popular photography magazines, Aperture.

As photography transformed into a more greatly appreciated art form, Adams began showing his work in galleries more often, and presented a photographic retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974. His photographs were in such high demand, that he spent most of his time in the late ’70s printing negatives of his previous work.

In 1984, Adams suffered a heart attack and died in Monterey, California at the age of 82.

Adams has inspired many modern-day photographers with the visualization techniques he used in producing images. He would imagine the image he wanted to create in his “mind’s eye,” and use this meditative state to create his photographs. One of Adams’ favorite Gaelic quotes and words he lived by were, “I know that I am one with beauty and that my comrades are one. Let our souls be mountains, let our spirits be stars, let our hearts be worlds.”

Sources: Biography.com, Huffington Post, Wikipedia

 

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Taylor Lautner’s Birthday

taylor_lautner300February 11 is Taylor Lautner’s birthday! The actor is best known for his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight film series.

Lautner was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1992, and began practicing karate heavily at the age of six. Within just one year, he was winning tournaments. After meeting the found of  Xtreme Martial Arts,  Michael Chaturantabut, he attended one of his karate camps and trained with him for the next several years. He received a black belt at the age of eight and won several junior world championships. Chaturantabut, who played the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescueconvinced Lautner to try out a career in acting. Lautner was already very active in many extracurricular activities at school, so he often flew back and forth from Michigan to Los Angeles for auditions before his family finally relocated to California.

After a string of minor television roles and voiceover work, Lautner landed his breakthrough role as Shark Boy in Robert Rodriguez’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-DFor three months, he lived in Austin, Texas while filming the movie. Three years later, in 2008, Lautner was pushed by his agent to go to an open casting call in Portland for the first screen adaptation of the widely popular Twilight series. The young actor auditioned for the role of Jacob Black, the Native American friend of the lead character, Bella Swan. With no knowledge of the series or the character, Lautner went into the audition and read lines with Kristen Stewart, who had already been cast in the role of Bella. He landed the role, not knowing that it would quickly propel him into celebrity status.

twilight calendarThe Twilight saga followed a love triangle between three characters – Bella, a human, Edward, a vampire, and Jacob (portrayed by Lautner), a werewolf. Though it was not given favorable reviews by critics, the movie was a commercial success due to its cult following, grossing $392 million worldwide. The adaptation of the second film was immediately picked up, though the director was hesitant to recast Lautner in the second film because of the major physical changes his character went to between the first and second part of the saga. To avoid being recast, Lautner gained almost 30 pounds of muscle to get himself into proper shape. He went on to star in the following four Twilight movies, which grossed a total of $3 billion worldwide. His role as Jacob Black built up a significant fanbase with people of all ages rooting for “Team Jacob.”

Lautner has taken on a few other projects including roles in romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, action flick Abduction, and comedy Grown Ups 2, though none have been as commercially successful as the Twilight series. Voted as one of People’s “100 Most Beautiful People” in 2009, Lautner has also been romantically linked to other young celebrities like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. In his spare time, he roots for some of his favorite sports teams like the University of Texas Longhorns and University of Michigan Wolverines and has been known to make home movies with his Shark Boy co-star, Taylor Dooley.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

Sources: IMDB, Wikipedia, Biography.com

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James Dean’s Birthday

james dean1On February 8, 1931, James Dean, the “forever young” actor who appeared in films East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, was born.

Dean began his life in Marion, Indiana, born to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson. Dean’s father, who was originally a farmer, moved to California to become a dentist, and six years later, Dean’s family joined his father in Santa Monica, California. Dean had a very close relationship with his mother, who some said was the only person capable of understanding him. When Dean was only nine years old, his mother started experiencing stomach pains and soon after died of uterine cancer. His father doubted his abilities to take care of his young son alone, and sent Dean to live with his Quaker aunt and uncle on a farm in Fairmont, Indiana.

During his struggling adolescent time, Dean looked to Rev. James DeWeerd, a local Methodist pastor, for advice and friendship. It is thought that DeWeerd had a major influence on some of Dean’s interests later in life like bullfighting, car racing, and theater. After graduating high school, Dean moved back to California where he studied law at Santa Monica College, but quickly switched to the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a degree in theater. He was picked from a group of 350 other actors to play the part of Malcolm in Macbeth, and after just this one stage performance, he dropped out of college to take on a career in acting full-time.

The newbie actor made his first television appearance in a commercial for Pepsi, and earned a speaking part in Sailor Beware, alongside Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. He was convinced to move to New York City in 1951 to further pursue his career by his then mentor, Roger Brackett. His career began to take off after he was accepted into the Actor’s Studio under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg. A series of performances in episodes of television shows like Kraft Television Theatre and Robert Montgomery Presents began to make Dean a recognizable force in the acting world.

james dean 2In 1953, director Elia Kazan was searching for someone to fill the role of the emotionally complex ’Cal Trask’ in a screenplay adaptation of East of Eden by John Steinbeck. After Steinbeck met Dean, he thought the young actor was perfect for the role and he was immediately cast. Probably his most prominent film portrayal was that of the misunderstood teenager, Jim Stark, in Rebel Without a Cause. This role instilled him in the heart of American youths as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment.

His last film was Giant, which he scooped up a supporting role for as an oil-rich Texan alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. On September 30, 1955, Dean, who was a non-professional car racer on the side, took his new Porsche 55 Spyder out to a race with his mechanic, Rolf Wütherich. On the way to the race, he received a speeding ticket, and not much later he was involved in a deadly head-on collision with a 23-year-old Cal Poly student. Dean’s car flipped in the air, and he and Wütherich were killed almost immediately.

After his death, Dean was nominated for two Oscars for his work in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. He became the first actor to receive a nomination posthumously and the only actor to receive two nominations posthumously in history. Because of his death at the age of 24, he remains one of those celebrities who will be viewed as forever young, and his cinematic impact on American teens lives on through today.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, The Biography Channel

 

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Oprah’s Birthday

Oprah_WinfreyJanuary 29 is Oprah Winfrey’s birthday! Winfrey is a media mogul, actress, philanthropist, and producer, who is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show ran for 25 seasons, won multiple awards, and is credited with popularizing confessional media.

In 1954, Winfrey was born in a rural town in Mississippi, and lived an impoverished childhood with her grandmother until her mother moved her to inner-city Milwaukee at the age of 6. Winfrey has stated that she suffered sexual abuse from her male family members and her mother’s male friends when she was younger. She eventually moved to Nashville to live with her supposed father who was a barber turned businessman.

Winfrey’s father, Vernon, put an emphasis on her education, and she became an honor student, eventually receiving a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. Around this time, she began reporting news for a local black radio station, and soon became the youngest and first black female anchor on  Nashville’s WLAC-TV. After moving to Baltimore in 1976 to co-anchor the six o’ clock news, she was hired on as a co-host for Baltimore’s TV chat show, People are Talking.

It was after a move to Chicago to host AM Chicago, a morning show with low ratings, that Winfrey began to take the televised talk show world by storm. She brought the show from last to first in ratings, passing up former leader Phil Donahue‘s talk show. Because of her bold and open personality, she gained hundreds of thousands of viewers, and was cast in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple in 1985. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and the next year was given her own hour-long syndicated talk show named The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show’s syndication allowed it to be on 120 channels, gaining a whopping 10 million loyal viewers. In its first year, the show made $125 million, $30 million of which went to Winfrey. In order to gain ownership of her program from ABC, Winfrey started her own production company called Harpo Productions (Oprah spelled backwards). This move meant Winfrey would make even more from the continued syndication of her show.

During the early years of her show, it was dubbed as tabloid television. Not wanting to be associated with other gossipy and “trashy” television shows, Winfrey shifted the topics of her show and began reporting on a wider range of topics including health, geopolitics, spirituality, and celebrities who were involved in social issues. At first, her ratings suffered, but the respect she earned from her decision to avoid tabloid topics gained her popularity, and her viewership steadily increased.

Winfrey’s opinions and endorsements have proven to have a huge influence on public opinion. Her launch of “Oprah’s Book Club,” has had a significant impact on the publishing industry. After her successful weight loss efforts, Winfrey’s personal chef and trainer both produced best-selling books. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Rachael Ray can all credit their talk show successes to Winfrey and Harpo Productions after each made multiple appearances on The Opera Winfrey Show. Winfrey’s only political endorsement came with the campaign President Barack Obama, for whom it is estimated she influenced over a million votes in his favor.

In 1999, Winfrey co-founded the Oxygen Network, which produced programming targeted at female audiences. The next year she launched O, The Oprah Magazine and soon after signed a contract to continue making The Oprah Winfrey Show through 2011. When her 25-year old talk show ended, it was syndicated on 212 stations in the United States and 100 countries across the world. She started her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, when her contract with ABC was finished. The network didn’t receive much attention at first, but made headlines when Winfrey interviewed Lance Armstrong, cyclist and seven time Tour de France winner. His titles were rescinded when he was charged with using performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong’s admission of his substance abuse on OWN reportedly earned the network millions of dollars in revenue.

Winfrey has been ranked as the richest African-American of the 20th century, the only black billionaire in North America, Life magazine’s most influential woman of her generation, and the greatest black philanthropist in the history of the United States. As a children’s rights activist, Winfrey played a pivotal role in President Bill Clinton signing a bill creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. She also founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and was the first person to receive the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was given to Winfrey by President Obama in 2013 for the contributions she has made to her country.

Happy birthday, Oprah!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB

 

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Ellen Degeneres’ Birthday

39th Annual People's Choice Awards - PortraitsJanuary 26 is Ellen Degeneres’ birthday! Degeneres is an American comedian, actress, and talk show host best known for starring in her self-titled sitcom, Ellen, and hosting her own talk show since 2003 called the Ellen Degeneres Show.

Degeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana in 1958, and moved to Atlanta, Texas with her mother when she was a teenager after her parents divorced. She worked a variety of odd jobs when she was younger ranging from waitress to house painter to legal secretary. She had dreams of becoming a veterinarian because of her love for animals, but believed she wasn’t “book smart” enough to pursue the career. Her older brother, Vance, who was pursuing a career as an actor and comedian as a correspondent on The Daily Show first sparked her interest in comedy. At a public speaking event, Degeneres was nervous and began inadvertently making jokes to the crowd. They loved her awkward comedic style, and she was soon offered stand-up comedy gigs.

Her comedy career began when she was in her early 20s and began performing at a local coffee shop. Before long, she was touring nationally and won Showtime‘s Funniest Person in America in 1982. Her big break came in 1986 when a booking agent from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson caught her act at the Improv in Hollywood. She was invited to perform on the show, and after her performance was invited to sit on the famous “couch” and chat with Carson. She was the first female comedian to be offered this opportunity on the show. From then on, she became a regular guest on late night talk shows and her popularity with the American public grew.

The young comedienne’s observational humor was a hit with audiences, and she began starring in her own sitcom, Ellen, in 1994. In 1997, the show and Ellen’s life took a major turn when she made her homosexuality public in an episode of the popular show titled, “The Puppy Episode.” This was the first time the lead character of a sitcom openly acknowledged their homosexuality on air. Degeneres and the network both received criticism, which they had expected, and several affiliate networks and sponsors refused to air the episode and withdrew their advertisements. Gay activists and supporters praised their efforts in raising awareness to gay issues, and many episodes following the coming out episode focused on gay themes, bringing them to the attention of national audiences. Despite making history, receiving an Emmy award, and gaining supportive audiences, the show was cancelled in 1998.

Degeneres’ popularity has only grown stronger over the years, and she starred in several movies before returning to television in 2003 as the host of her own talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Though many other daytime talk shows popped up during this time, Degeneres was the only one to leave a lasting impression on her audience and has received countless awards for her show, including 11 Daytime Emmy Awards. The same year she began hosting her talk show, she lent her voice to Dory, the ditzy lovable companion of Nemo in the hit animated feature, Finding Nemo. In 2009, she celebrated the 1000th episode of the talk show, and that same year, became a judge on the ninth season of American Idol. Her infectious comedic style has also led her to host a plethora of award shows including the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards.

In 2004, Degeneres began dating fellow actress Portia de Rossi, and in 2008 they were married in one of California’s most high-profile same-sex unions after its legalization. Degeneres is also known for her ethical vegan diet, and has started a vegan outreach website called “Going Vegan with Ellen,” as well as opened an all-vegan restaurant in Los Angeles.

Happy birthday Ellen!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB 

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Dolly Parton’s Birthday

Photo of Dolly PARTONJanuary 19 is country music legend Dolly Parton’s birthday!

Parton was born in 1946 in Sevierville, Tennessee, and was one of 12 children born to tabacco farmer Robert Lee Parton and his wife, Avie Lee. Her childhood was spent on a rundown farm in the Great Smokey Mountains, and when she recounts stories of her family life, she describes their financial situation as “dirt poor.” Music played an important role in her life, even as a child, where her first exposure came from her mother singing to her, and the hymns they sang together in church. She was gifted her first guitar from a relative, and immediately began playing and writing her own music.

By age 10, Parton began performing on television and radio shows in eastern Tennessee, and made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry a mere three years later. She met musician Johnny Cash while performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and he encouraged her to follow her dreams of becoming a musician. In 1964, the day after she graduated from high school, Parton moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music.

She was first hired as a songwriter, but soon moved on to recording her own songs. Her first big break came in 1967 when Porter Wagoner invited her to partner with him on his show. In the following years, the duo recorded several number one hits and Parton was signed to RCA, where she began recording solo material. Her first solo number one hit was “Joshua” in 1971, and was soon followed by “Jolene” in 1973, and “I Will Always Love You,” which was written about her split from Wagoner, in 1974. After seven years of recording hits with Wagoner, Parton’s fame began to overshadow his, and she decided to break out on her own.

In 1975 and 1976, Parton won the Country Music Award for best female vocalist. She crossed over into pop music with 1977′s “Here You Come Again,” which topped country and pop charts and won the artist her first Grammy Award. She skyrocketed into mainstream fame in the 1980s when she also began her acting career. She starred in 9 to 5, which proved to be successful on many levels for Parton. For her role, she received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy, and an Academy Award nomination for her original song for the movie “9 to 5.” Two years later, she received another Golden Globe nomination for her role in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and introduced a whole new generation to her hit song “I Will Always Love You.”

Aside from her music and acting career, Dolly has pursued many other ventures including the opening of her own theme park in 1986 called “Dollywood,” which is located in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. She has also put forth many efforts in helping with children’s literacy including her Imagination Library, Dixie Stampede, and Pirates Voyage.

Dolly Parton performing during her Better Day World Tour.

Dolly Parton performing during her Better Day World Tour.

In her career spanning over 40 years, Parton has paved the way for other female country musicians and has become the most honored female country performer of all time. Her long list of awards and achievements includes 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, 25 number 1 Billboard Country hits, 41 top 10 country albums, and 110 charted songs. She has sold over 100 million records worldwide, earned 8 Grammy awards, 2 Academy Award nominations, 10 Country Music Association Awards, 5 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music Awards, and she is only one of five women to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and has composed over 3,000 songs in her lifetime.

Never giving up on her life’s work, Dolly performed across the world in 2011 on her Better Day World Tour, which grossed over $34 million. Dolly once said in an interview, “My music is what took me everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I will go. It’s my greatest love. I can’t abandon it. I’ll always keep making records.”

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB

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Jason Segel’s Birthday

segel-bdayJanuary 18 is Jason Segel’s birthday! You may know this 6’4″ comedic actor from his role as Marshall Eriksen in the hit TV series How I Met Your Mother, or his work in big screen comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man; and The Muppets.

Segel was born in 1980 in Los Angeles. He grew up in a wealthy neighborhood due to his father’s profession as a lawyer. He attended a Christian elementary school when he was younger, despite the fact that he was raised Jewish. Already standing out for his religious background at school, he also reached his full height of 6’4″ at the age of 12, and described himself as, ”this weird, gangly kid who was like ET trying to figure out how his limbs worked.” To add to his quirkiness, Segel was a fan of puppetry and began making movies on his own as a young teen.

When attending Harvard-Westlake School, Segel took advantage of his tall stature and joined the basketball team. It wasn’t until his senior year, however, that he discovered his passion for acting. Segel then decided to pass up going to college in favor of pursuing a career in acting. He was cast at age 18 in Judd Apatow’s new high school dramatic comedy Freaks and Geeks. It was here that he first met and worked with future acting buddies James Franco and Seth Rogan. Though the show was cancelled after only one season, it would go on to grow a huge cult following.

HIMYM2014_FULLCALENDAR.inddHe took another shot at television acting with Apatow’s next project, college sitcom Undeclared. This show too failed, not attracting enough viewers to last long. In 2005, Segel finally caught a stroke of luck after being cast as Marshall Erikson in How I Met Your Mother, a sitcom that follows a group of five friends as protagonist Ted, played by Josh Radnor, tells the long-winded story of how he met his wife to his children. The show is currently in its ninth and final season.

While working on How I Met Your Mother, Segel has undertaken several other projects throughout the years, including roles in comedies like Knocked Up, I Love You, Man; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Segel wrote and starred in in 2008. Reviving his love for puppets, and famous puppet master Jim Henson, he starred in and co-wrote the screenplay for The Muppets. Also a musician and composer, Segel wrote musical selections for The Muppets as well.

Segel is currently living in Los Angeles, and continuing to work on future feature film projects. Happy birthday to this beloved funny man!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, TV Guide

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