January 23rd is the 54th birthday of “Law & Order: SVU” star MARISKA HARGITAY, the 68th birthday of “MacGyver,” RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON and the 85th birthday of Broadway legend, CHITA RIVERA.
I saw a newborn Mariska Hargitay, in 1964, in Yonkers, New York, in the dressing room of her mother, moviestar Jayne Mansfield. Mansfield was starring in the Marilyn Monroe role in William Inge’s play, “Bus Stop. Jayne was fantastic and after the matinee I took pictures of her in her dressing room. In 1967, Mariska was asleep on the back seat of her mother’s car, with her twin brothers, when her mother, her boyfriend and the driver were killed. Fortunately, the children suffered only minor injuries. Flash forward 15 years, when an 18 year old Mariska was crowned Miss Beverly Hills, U.S.A., followed by a small role in “Ghoulies,” (1985). Recurring roles in “Falcon Crest,” (1988), as Carly Fixx, “E.R.,” (1997) as Cynthia Hooper, came next. In 1999 she created Olivia Benson for “Law & Order: SVU”, who she is still playing. She’s been wed to actor Peter Hermann since 2004, who she met on the set of “Law & Order: SVU” and they have 3 children.
When Richard Dean Anderson was cast as Dr. Jeff Webber, in “General Hospital,” (1976-1980), he was called back from his cross country motorcycle adventure. He has a natural charm that wins over anyone he meets. He starred in several TV series: “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” (1982-1983), “Emerald Point, N.A.S.,” (1983-1985) and then the huge hit, “MacGyver,” (1985-1992) and 2 MacGyver TV films, in 1994 followed by a misfire in the series, “Legend,” (1995) and then the mega-hit, (as executive producer and star) “Stargate SG-1,” (1997-2007), for 214 episodes, which led into “Stargate: Atlantis,” (2004-2006), “Stargate: Continuum,” (2008) and “Stargate Universe, (2009-2010). I spent some time with him when he was dating “Days of Our Lives” star, Deidre Hall and although he’s never been married, he has a daughter from a unnamed woman. He divides his time between Vancouver, Los Angeles and northern Minnesota.
Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero accompanied a friend to an audition for “Call Me Madam,” in 1951 and walked off with the part herself. Roles in “Guys & Dolls,” and Can-Can followed as Chita rivera. In 1957 she created the role of Anita in “West Side Story,” (the film version in 1961 won an Oscar for Rita Moreno). She was married to cast mate Tony Mordente and during the Broadway run she became pregnant. The London premiere of the show was postponed until she gave birth to her daughter, Lisa Mordente, because they felt the success of the show there depended on her. She created the role of “Spanish Rose” in Bye, Bye, Birdie, (1963), and although Dick Van Dyke made the movie, (Janet Leigh was given her role). She also created roles in “Sweet Charity,” (1967), (Shirley MacLaine insisted she be cast in the 1969 film version) and “Zorba,” (1969). She created the role of Velma Kelly, in “Chicago,” (which Catherine Zetta-Jones won an Oscar for), and starred in the show in 1975/1977/1985/1997 & 1999. In 1984 she starred with Liza Minnelli in “The Rink,” and despite her Tony Award for the show, it only ran for 204 performances. Chita came back stronger than ever in “The Kiss of the Spider Woman,” (1993) for which she won her second Tony award. In 2015 she received her 10th Tony Award nomination for Kander & Ebb’s last musical collaboration, “The Visit.” Her daughter Lisa Mordente is a talented actress and a good friend. These are not any of “THE LAST MOVIE STARS” but two huge TV stars and a Broadway legend. a line mother of the groom dress
SPECIAL MENTIONS to 5 people who left us on this date:
Talk show legend JOHNNY CARSON, 1925-2005, (79), Fitness guru, JACK LALANNE, 1914-2011, (96), art genius SALVADOR DALI, 1904-1989, (84), “Emperor Jones” (1933) filmstar, PAUL ROBESON, 1898-1976, (77) and prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, 1881-1931, (1949).
MARISKA HARGITAY: USA Today
MARISKA & JAYNE MANSFIELD: pinterest
RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON: FlickFilospher
ANDERSON NOW: Gate.com
CHITA & dgtr LISA MORDENTE: Broadway.com