On This Day … 31 December [2022]


People (Births)

  • 1937 – Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor, director, and composer.
  • 1943 – Ben Kingsley, English actor.
  • 1944 – Taylor Hackford, American director, producer, and screenwriter.
  • 1953 – Jane Badler, American actress.
  • 1959 – Val Kilmer, American actor.

People (Deaths)

  • 2015 – Wayne Rogers, American actor and investor (b. 1933).
  • 2016 – William Christopher, American actor (b. 1932).

Anthony Hopkins

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. One of Britain’s most recognisable and prolific actors, he is known for his performances on the screen and stage. Hopkins has received many accolades throughout his career, including two Academy Awards, three British Academy Film Awards, a British Academy Television Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Laurence Olivier Award. He has also received an honorary Golden Globe Award and the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts, and in 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his achievements in the motion picture industry.

After graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in 1957, Hopkins trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He was then spotted by Laurence Olivier who invited him to join the Royal National Theatre in 1965. Productions at the National included King Lear (his favourite Shakespeare play), Coriolanus, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. In 1985, he received great acclaim and a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in the David Hare play Pravda. His last stage play was a West End production of M. Butterfly in 1989.

In 1968, Hopkins achieved recognition in film, playing Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter. In the mid-1970s, he started a collaboration with Richard Attenborough who called him “the greatest actor of his generation”. Hopkins starred in Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far (1977), David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), and Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991), in which he portrayed Hannibal Lecter, a role which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He reprised the role in Hannibal (2001) and the prequel Red Dragon (2002). Other notable films include The Bounty (1984), 84 Charing Cross Road (1987), Howards End (1992), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Shadowlands (1993), Legends of the Fall (1994), Meet Joe Black (1998), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and the Thor franchise (2011-2017), set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He received four more Academy Award nominations for James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993), Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995), Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) and Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes (2019), before winning a fourth BAFTA Award and a second Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an elderly man diagnosed with dementia in The Father (2020), becoming the oldest Best Actor Oscar winner to date.

Since making his television debut with the BBC in 1967, Hopkins has continued to appear on television. In 1973, he received a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor for his performance in War and Peace. He received two Primetime Emmy Awards for portraying Richard Hauptmann in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976) and Adolf Hitler in The Bunker (1981). In 2015, he starred in the BBC film The Dresser, and in 2018, he starred in King Lear, earning a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In 2016 and 2018, he starred in the HBO television series Westworld, for which he received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Ben Kingsley

Sir Ben Kingsley (born Krishna Pandit Bhanji; 31 December 1943) is an English actor. He has received various accolades throughout his career spanning five decades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Grammy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. Kingsley was appointed Knight Bachelor in 2002 for services to the British film industry. In 2010, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2013, he received the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.

Born to an English mother and an Indian Gujarati father with roots in Jamnagar, Kingsley began his career in theatre, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967 and spending the next 15 years appearing mainly on stage. His starring roles included productions of As You Like It (his West End debut for the company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1967), Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (including Peter Brook’s 1970 RSC production of the play), Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

In film, Kingsley is known for his starring role as Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982), for which he subsequently won the Academy Award for Best Actor and BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He also appeared as Itzhak Stern in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), receiving a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Subsequent roles have included Twelfth Night (1996), Sexy Beast (2000), House of Sand and Fog (2003), Thunderbirds (2004), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Shutter Island (2010), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Hugo (2011), The Dictator (2012), and Ender’s Game (2013). Kingsley played the character of Trevor Slattery in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in Iron Man 3 (2013), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), and the upcoming Disney+ series Wonder Man. Kingsley also voiced the antagonistic Archibald Snatcher in The Boxtrolls (2014), and Bagheera in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016).

Taylor Hackford

Taylor Edwin Hackford (born 31 December 1944) is an American film director and former president of the Directors Guild of America. He won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for Teenage Father (1979). Hackford went on to direct a number of highly regarded feature films, most notably An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Ray (2004), the latter of which saw him nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Jane Badler

Jane Badler (born 31 December 1953) is an American-Australian actress and singer. She is known for her role as Diana, the main antagonist in NBC’s science fiction series V between 1983 and 1985. Badler also appeared in ABC’s version of V in 2011, again playing an alien named Diana, who this time is the mother of the series’ chief antagonist, Anna. Badler has also become an established nightclub singer in Australia, where she lives, and has released three albums.

Val Kilmer

Val Edward Kilmer (born 31 December 1959) is an American actor. Originally a stage actor, Kilmer found fame after appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! (1984) and Real Genius (1985), as well as the military action film Top Gun (1986) and the fantasy film Willow (1988).

Kilmer gained acclaim for his portrayal of Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991). Kilmer’s stardom continued, as he was often cast as a main character in critically acclaimed films such as the western Tombstone (1993), and the crime dramas True Romance (1993), and Heat (1995). He replaced Michael Keaton portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995). He continued acting in films such as The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), The Saint (1997), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Pollock (2000), Alexander (2004), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Déjà Vu (2006), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009), and Song to Song (2017). “If there is an award for the most unsung leading man of his generation, Kilmer should get it,” wrote critic Roger Ebert, “he has shown a range of characters so convincing that it’s likely most people, even now, don’t realize they were looking at the same actor.”

Since 2015, Kilmer has privately struggled with throat cancer; he had a procedure on his trachea that damaged his vocal cords to the point where he had extreme difficulty speaking. He also underwent chemotherapy and two tracheotomies. In 2020, he published his memoir titled, I’m Your Huckleberry: A Memoir. His struggle was captured in the 2021 documentary titled Val which documented his career and health issues. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim. In 2022, Kilmer reprised his role as Iceman, reuniting with Tom Cruise, in Top Gun: Maverick (2022). One of the best-paid actors of the 1990s, movies featuring Kilmer have grossed over $3.5 billion at the worldwide box-office.

Wayne Rogers

William Wayne McMillan Rogers III (07 April 1933 to 31 December 2015) was an American actor, known for playing the role of Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre in the CBS television series M*A*S*H and as Dr. Charley Michaels on House Calls (1979-1982).

He was a regular panel member on the Fox News Channel stock investment television program Cashin’ In as a result of having built a career as an investor, investment strategist, adviser, and money manager. Rogers also studied acting at the Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City.

William Christopher

William Christopher (20 October 1932 to 31 December 2016) was an American actor and comedian, best known for playing Private Lester Hummel on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. from 1965 to 1968 and Father John Mulcahy on the television series M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983 and its spinoff AfterMASH from 1983 to 1985.

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