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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 15 - Emma Thompson, actress and screenwriter  

Do you remember watching “Howard’s End?” How about “In the Name of the Father” or “Fortunes of War”? Dame Emma Thompson is a national treasure belonging to the Brits, and the winner of two Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Primetime Emmy Award. Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame of the British Empire in 2018 for her contributions to drama.

Lacking conventional good looks but possessing an inner resolve and likeability, the daughter of two actors “was surrounded by creative people” and believes her career was fated. When Thompson’s father died at the age of 52, the family was “torn to pieces” she recalls. “At the same time, it's possible that were he still alive I might never have had the space or courage to do what I've done ... I have a definite feeling of inheriting space. And power.”

She is one of the wave of British actors that defined the 90s, including Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, and Helena Bonham Carter. Her outwardly composed, inwardly roiling character portrayals have been compared to those of Maggie Smith. She has been lauded for playing roles that show “restraint, rendering emotions through intellect rather than feelings, and a sense of irony, which demonstrates the heroine's superior understanding" wrote author Karen Hollinger.

Long married to fellow actor Greg Wise, Thompson’s love life was not always so steady. A previous marriage to actor and director Kenneth Branagh lasted only six years. In blockbuster “Love Actually”, Thompson plays a wife who discovers her husband has strayed. The scene where she breaks down has been described as the best crying scene in a movie, ever. Thompson explained, "I've had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer."

But to see the actor in perhaps her finest role, look for the HBO television film “Wit”. Thompson plays a Harvard University professor whose beliefs are challenged when she gets diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After spending months in rehearsal and shaving her head for the part, Thompson’s performance was dubbed her finest work by film critic Roger Ebert. It was “one of her most brilliant performances,” according to The New York Times film critic Caryn James. “We seem to be peering into a soul as embattled as its body.”

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 18 - Jim Eisenreich, outfielder and first baseman, Tourette syndrome

A top slugger, Jim Eisenreich batted .318 in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies to help propel the team to win the 1993 National League pennant. As the Phillies began a slide toward a major slump, Eisenreich remained a bright spot. In 1997, he signed with the Florida Marlins, helping them win a World Series in only their fifth year. Eisenreich maintained a career .290 batting average across 1,422 games in 15 seasons, a remarkable achievement. But it wasn’t his greatest feat. 

Starting in early grade school, Eisenreich began having a series of tics: eye blinking, sniffling, shoulder twitches, facial grimaces, and grunts. He was called “hyperactive”,and other children stared at him and giggled. He became self-conscious and embarrassed. The tics continued into adulthood and followed Eisenreich onto the field.

“I got self conscious as a major league player, thinking, ‘Are they watching me play? Are they watching me do all my tics?’ That was difficult for me,” he explained. “At the time, I still didn’t know what Tourette’s was and was getting embarrassed and, honestly, scared.” At age 23, he took several years out of his baseball career for treatment, finally returning to the game with the Kansas City Royals. 

Eisenreich started a foundation to share his story and help kids with Tourette’s achieve their dreams. Children are encouraged to start the school year by telling their teacher and classmates about their condition. “I kind of make a joke of this but, in my day, I was the oddball,” said Eisenreich. “Nowadays, it’s almost that if you are a little different, you’re cool. You’re normal. And that’s a good thing.”

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 24 - Yvonne Cagle, physician and NASA astronaut

Holding the distinction of being one of six Black women astronauts, Yvonne Cagle had already distinguished herself by getting a medical degree from the University of Washington in 1985 after majoring in biochemistry at San Francisco State University. She also earned a certificate of Aerospace Medicine from the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base.

Cagle was a commissioned medical officer assigned to the 48th Tactical Hospital in the United Kingdom before serving as Air Force Medical Liaison Officer on a mission to test the Magellan spacecraft prior to becoming an astronaut. She was a member of the Astronaut Class of 1996. 

After retiring from the Air Force with the rank of Colonel in 2008, Cagle concentrated on her duties with NASA. She is an advisor to NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and is on faculty as well as serving as the liaison for exploration and space development with Singularity University. Although she never flew in space, Cagle embedded with a flight crew as training consultant and advisor. 

Cagle became a visiting professor at Fordham University prior to the university awarding her an honorary Ph.D. for contributions to the fields of science, technology, and human health. Her list of adjunct professorships includes Stanford University and UC Davis. She remains a NASA Management Astronaut, employed by NASA but no longer eligible for spaceflight assignments.