Helen McCrory died Friday at the age of 52, after a long battle with cancer. Perhaps best known for playing Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, she was a formidable theater actress in productions like Macbeth, TwelfthNight, As You Like It and UncleVanya. She also portrayed Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders. She was married to actor Damian Lewis, beloved in my house for his role in Band of Brothers, my husband’s very favorite thing ever. McCrory was originally cast for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as Bellatrix Lestrange, but was forced to pull out of the project due to pregnancy. She finally made her way into the franchise a few years later, playing Bellatrix’s sister Narcissa.
On this day in 1979, Real People premiered on NBC. The show featured a panel of hosts who introduced segments spotlighting non-celebrity folks who had unique occupations or hobbies. The show was a rare hit for NBC at a time when they were consistently third-place in the ratings (this was before FOX was even a thing, so third-place was last-place). The show spawned a bevy of imitators, the most popular of which was ABC’s That’s Incredible! Fun fact: Real People is responsible for giving Richard Simmons his big break in mass media. Thanks, RealPeople!
Today is Hayley Mills’ 75th birthday. Best known for Disney movies like Pollyanna and The Parent Trap, Mills also starred in the Disney Channel television show Good Morning, Miss Bliss, the rights to which were acquired by NBC; the series was reformatted and retitled Saved by the Bell. Mills is also a stage actress, appearing in productions like Peter Pan and The King and I. The Parent Trap was a favorite of mine growing up, and though the Lindsay Lohan version is charming, I still prefer the Hayley Mills version. And as a side note, I just now figured out that Brian Keith is a hottie in this movie.
Hilarious, charming, beloved Scottish actor David Tennant turns 50 today! Best known as the Tenth Doctor Who (full disclosure: I am not a Doctor Who fan), Tennant has also appeared in series like Broadchurch, Jessica Jones, Des and Good Omens, and films like Fright Night (2011). He also voices Scrooge McDuck, a fact that makes me absurdly happy. Tennant will star as Phileas Fogg in a BBC version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, and I am 100% here for that casting.
On this day in 1996, the revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opened at the St James Theater in New York City. Starring the fabulous Nathan Lane (who won his first of three Tony Awards for his performance), the Sondheim farce ran for 715 performances. A cast recording of this show doesn’t seem to exist on Spotify (you can buy the CD, if you still listen to music that way), but here is the Original Cast Recording, featuring the iconic, also-Tony-winning Zero Mostel.
And finally, the 93rd Academy Awards will air next Sunday. Stay tuned to Peanut Butter and Julie this week for my coverage of this year’s nominees and highlights from past telecasts.