On This Day … 18 December [2022]


People (Births)

  • 1908 – Celia Johnson, English actress (d. 1982).
  • 1932 – Roger Smith, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2017).
  • 1946 – Steven Spielberg, American director, producer, and screenwriter, co-founded DreamWorks.
  • 1963 – Brad Pitt, American actor and producer.
  • 1968 – Casper Van Dien, American actor and producer.

People (Deaths)

  • 2008 – Majel Barrett, American actress and producer (b. 1932).

Celia Johnson

Dame Celia Elizabeth Johnson, DBE (18 December 1908 to 26 April 1982) was an English actress, whose career included stage, television and film. She is especially known for her roles in the films In Which We Serve (1942), This Happy Breed (1944), Brief Encounter (1945) and The Captain’s Paradise (1953). For Brief Encounter, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. A six-time BAFTA Award nominee, she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969).

Johnson began her stage acting career in 1928, and subsequently achieved success in West End and Broadway productions. She continued performing in theatre for the rest of her life and much of her later work was in television, including winning the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for the BBC Play for Today, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (1973). She suffered a stroke and died soon after at the age of 73.

Roger Smith

Roger LaVerne Smith (18 December 1932 to 04 June 2017) was an American television and film actor, producer, and screenwriter. He starred in the television detective series 77 Sunset Strip and in the comedy series Mister Roberts. Smith went on to manage the career of Ann-Margret, his wife of 50 years.

In 1957 he starred in Operation Mad Ball as Corporal Berryman.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Allan Spielberg KBE (born 18 December 1946) is an American director, writer, and producer. A major figure of the New Hollywood era and pioneer of the modern blockbuster, he is the most commercially successful director of all time. Spielberg is the recipient of various accolades, including three Academy Awards, a Kennedy Centre honour, a Cecil B. DeMille Award, and an AFI Life Achievement Award. Seven of his films been inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. He moved to California and studied film in college. After directing several episodes for television including Night Gallery and Columbo, he directed the television film Duel (1971) which gained acclaim from critics and audiences. He made his directorial film debut with The Sugarland Express (1974), and became a household name with the 1975 summer blockbuster Jaws. He then directed box office successes Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and the Indiana Jones series. Spielberg explored drama in The Colour Purple (1985) and Empire of the Sun (1987).

After a brief hiatus, Spielberg directed the science fiction thriller Jurassic Park, the highest-grossing film ever at the time, and the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List (both 1993), described as one of the greatest films ever made. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for the latter and for the 1998 World War II epic Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg continued in the 2000s with science fiction films A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Minority Report (2002), and War of the Worlds (2005). He also directed the adventure films The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and Ready Player One (2018); the historical dramas Amistad (1997), Munich (2005), War Horse (2011), Lincoln (2012), Bridge of Spies (2015), and The Post (2017); the musical West Side Story (2021); and the semi-autobiographical drama The Fabelmans (2022).

Spielberg co-founded Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks, and has served as a producer for many television series and films. He is also known for his long collaboration with the composer John Williams, with whom he has worked for all but five of his feature films. Several of Spielberg’s works are among the highest-grossing films of all time. In 2013, Time listed him as one of the 100 most influential people.

Brad Pitt

William Bradley Pitt (born 18 December 1963) is an American actor and film producer. He is the recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards, a British Academy Film Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award. As a public figure, Pitt has been cited as one of the most powerful and influential people in the American entertainment industry.

Pitt first gained recognition as a cowboy hitchhiker in the Ridley Scott road film Thelma & Louise (1991). His first leading roles in big-budget productions came with the drama films A River Runs Through It (1992) and Legends of the Fall (1994), and the horror film Interview with the Vampire (1994). He gave critically acclaimed performances in David Fincher’s crime thriller Seven (1995) and the science fiction film 12 Monkeys (1995). The latter earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and his first Academy Award nomination.

Pitt found greater commercial success starring in Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Ocean’s Eleven (2001), and reprised his role in its sequels. He cemented his leading man status starring in blockbusters such as the historical epic Troy (2004), the romantic crime film Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), the horror film World War Z (2013), and the action film Bullet Train (2022). Pitt also starred in the critically acclaimed films Fight Club (1999), Babel (2006), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Burn After Reading (2008), Inglorious Basterds (2009), The Tree of Life (2011), and The Big Short (2015). Pitt received Academy Award nominations for his performances in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Moneyball (2011), and he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing a stuntman in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

In 2001, Pitt co-founded the production company Plan B Entertainment. He produced The Departed (2006), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and Moonlight (2016), all of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, while others such as The Tree of Life (2011), Moneyball (2011), Selma (2014), and The Big Short (2015) were nominated for the award.

For many years, he was cited as the world’s most attractive man by various media outlets, and his personal life is the subject of wide publicity. He is divorced from actresses Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. Pitt has six children with Jolie, three of whom were adopted internationally.

Military-orientated films:

Casper van Dien

Casper Robert Van Dien Jr. (born 18 December 1968) is an American actor. He is best known for his lead role as Johnny Rico in the 1997 science-fiction action film Starship Troopers. He has also appeared in a large number of television and film roles, often in daytime and primetime soap operas, and a large number of TV movies and direct-to-video films, including Starship Troopers 03: Marauder, a 2008 sequel to the original film.

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (born Majel Leigh Hudec; 23 February 1932 to 18 December 2008) was an American actress and producer. She was best known for her roles as various characters in the Star Trek franchise: Nurse Christine Chapel (in the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and two films of the franchise), Number One (also in the original series), Lwaxana Troi (on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and the voice of most onboard computer interfaces throughout the series from 1966 to 2009. She married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in 1969. As his wife and given her relationship with Star Trek – participating in some way in every series during her lifetime – she was sometimes referred to as “the First Lady of Star Trek”.

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