On This Day … 17 February [2023]

People (Births)

  • 1916 – Raf Vallone, Italian footballer and actor (d. 2002)
  • 1925 – Hal Holbrook, American actor and director (d. 2021)
  • 1954 – Rene Russo, American actress
  • 1962 – Lou Diamond Phillips, American actor and director
  • 1965 – Michael Bay, American director and producer
  • 1971 – Denise Richards, American model and actress

Raf Vallone

Raffaele Vallone (17 February 1916 to 31 October 2002) was an Italian actor and footballer. One of the top male Italian stars of the 1950s and ’60s, he first became known for his association with the neorealist movement, and found success in several international productions. On stage, he was closely associated with the works of Arthur Miller. He played the role of Eddie Carbone in A View from the Bridge several times, notably in Sidney Lumet’s 1962 film adaptation, for which he won the David di Donatello for Best Actor.

In 1941, Vallone became the culture editor for the culture section of L’Unità, then the official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party, and also a film and drama critic for the Turin newspaper La Stampa. An anti-fascist, he joined the Italian resistance organisation Giustizia e Libertà in 1943, after the Badoglio Proclamation. He was arrested and incarcerated in Como, but escaped during a prisoner transfer, swimming across Lake Como in the process.

Vallone made his film debut in 1942 as an extra in We the Living, but he was not initially interested in an acting career. Nevertheless, he was cast as a soldier competing with Vittorio Gassman for the love of Silvana Mangano in Riso amaro (Bitter Rice) (1949). The film became a neorealist classic and Vallone was launched on an international career.

Hal Holbrook

Harold Rowe Holbrook Jr. (17 February 1925 to 23 January 2021) was an American actor, television director, and screenwriter. He first received critical acclaim in 1954 for a one-man stage show that he developed called Mark Twain Tonight! while studying at Denison University. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1966 for his portrayal of Twain. He continued to perform his signature role for over 60 years, only retiring the show in 2017 due to his failing health. Throughout his career, he also won five Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on television and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in film.

Holbrook made his film debut in Sidney Lumet’s The Group (1966). He later gained international fame for his performance as Deep Throat in the 1976 film All the President’s Men. He played Abraham Lincoln in the 1973 mini-series Lincoln and 1985 mini-series North and South. He also appeared in such films as Julia and Capricorn One (1977), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), Wall Street (1987), The Firm (1993), Hercules (1997), and Men of Honour (2000).

Holbrook’s role as Ron Franz in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007) earned him both an Academy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2009, he received critical acclaim for his performance as recently retired farmer Abner Meecham in the independent film That Evening Sun. He also portrayed Francis Preston Blair in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012).

In 2003, Holbrook was honoured with the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush.

From 1942 through 1946, Holbrook served in the United States Army in World War II, achieving the rank of staff sergeant; he was stationed in Newfoundland, where he performed in theatre productions such as the play Lady Precious Stream.

Rene Russo

Rene Marie Russo (born 17 February 1954) is an American actress and model. She began her career as a fashion model in the 1970s, appearing on magazine covers such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She made her film debut in the 1989 comedy Major League, and rose to international prominence in a number of thrillers and action films throughout the 1990s, including Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), In the Line of Fire (1993), Outbreak (1995), Get Shorty (1995), Ransom (1996), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), and The Thomas Crown Affair (1999).

After headlining the family comedy Yours, Mine & Ours (2005), Russo took a five-year break from acting. She returned to the screen as Frigga, the mother of the titular hero, in the superhero film Thor (2011), a role she reprised in Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). In 2014, Russo starred in the acclaimed crime thriller Nightcrawler, for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She has also appeared in The Intern (2015), Just Getting Started (2017), and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019).

Lou Diamond Phillips

Louis Diamond Phillips (born Upchurch; 17 February 1962) is a Filipino-American actor and film director. His breakthrough came when he starred as Ritchie Valens in the biographical drama film La Bamba (1987). For Stand and Deliver (1988), Phillips was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won an Independent Spirit Award.

Phillips made his Broadway debut with the 1996 revival of The King and I, earning a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam. Phillips’ other notable films include Young Guns (1988), Young Guns II (1990), Courage Under Fire (1996), The Big Hit (1998), Brokedown Palace (1999), Che (2008), and The 33 (2015). In the television series Longmire, he played a main character named Henry Standing Bear. He played New York City Police Lieutenant Gil Arroyo on Prodigal Son on FOX from 2019 to 2021.

Phillips was named after the US Marine Leland “Lou” Diamond. After his father’s death, he was adopted by his stepfather and his surname was changed to Phillips.

In the 2000s, Phillips hosted the weekly series An Officer and a Movie on The Military Channel. This series featured various theatrical World War II dramas, with discussion breaks during the film in which Phillips interviews members of the US military and intelligence communities about details of the events that inspired each film.

Michael Bay

Michael Benjamin Bay (born 17 February 1965) is an American film director and producer. He is best known for making big-budget, high-concept action films characterised by fast cutting, stylistic cinematography and visuals, and extensive use of special effects, including frequent depictions of explosions. The films he has produced and directed, which include Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbour (2001) and the Transformers film series (2007-present), have grossed over US$7.8 billion worldwide, making him one of the most commercially successful directors in history.

He is co-founder of commercial production house The Institute, a.k.a. The Institute for the Development of Enhanced Perceptual Awareness. He co-owns Platinum Dunes, a production house which has remade horror films, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Amityville Horror (2005), The Hitcher (2007), Friday the 13th (2009) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).

Despite his commercial success at the box office, Bay’s work is generally held in low esteem by film critics. While The Rock (1996), Transformers (2007), 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016), and Ambulance (2022) received moderately positive reviews, most of his other films, particularly the four Transformers sequels, have been received negatively by critics.

His cousin, Susan Bay, is the widow of Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy (whom he eventually cast as the voice actor for Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark of the Moon).

Bay got his start in the film industry interning with George Lucas when he was 15, filing the storyboards for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

His 90-second World War II–inspired Coca-Cola advertisement was picked up by Capitol Records.

Denise Richards

Denise Richards (born 17 February 1971) is an American actress, television personality, and former fashion model. Her most recognized roles are Carmen Ibanez in Starship Troopers (1997), Kelly Van Ryan in Wild Things (1998) and Bond girl Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough (1999). She has also appeared in films Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), Valentine (2001), Undercover Brother (2002), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Love Actually (2003), and Madea’s Witness Protection (2012).

Her television roles include Paramount Network’s sitcom Blue Mountain State (2010-2011), ABC Family’s mystery-thriller series Twisted (2013-2014) and CBS’ soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (2019-present). Richards starred on the E! reality show Denise Richards: It’s Complicated (2008-2009) and Bravo’s reality television series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2019-2020). In 2011, Richards published a memoir, The Real Girl Next Door, which became a New York Times Best Seller.

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