Though she may not possess the name recognition that some of her contemporaries do, Blythe Danner has nonetheless conquered stage, film, and television with equal aplomb – a feat worthy of celebration. Equally worthy of merit is the milestone that she’s about to pass.
Happy Birthday, Blythe Danner!
And that’s because she was born on February 3, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which means that this multi-talented star is turning 78 years old today! After reaping the benefits afforded to her as a result of maturing in an artistically inclined family, and after witnessing firsthand the construction of the Berlin Wall while on furlough as an exchange student, Danner enrolled in Bard College.
Upon graduating, Danner joined the Theatre Company of Boston and made her professional debut in a production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. A plethora of stage work followed. In New York, The Infantry served as her introduction to Off-Broadway stardom, while Cyrano de Bergerac marked her Great White Way debut.
Danner gained acclaim for her performance in Moliere’s The Miser, then earned a Best Actress Tony Award for her turn as Jill Tanner in Butterflies Are Free. During that play’s run, Danner married producer Bruce Paltrow with whom she would have two children: Jake and Gwyneth, a future director and Oscar-winning actress, respectively.
Danner’s early TV credits include a guest spot on N.Y.P.D. (1968), and roles in several small screen pictures including To Confuse the Angel (1970), George M! (1970), and Dr. Cook’s Garden (1971). In 1972, she appeared in her first feature – To Kill a Clown – opposite Alan Alda. Four years later, Danner was re-teamed with Alda in a pivotal episode of M*A*S*H for his character, Hawkeye Pierce.
In the interim, she starred alongside Ken Howard in a filmed adaptation of the musical 1776, and then in the short-lived sitcom Adam’s Rib (1973), a reimagining of the same titled Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy romantic comedy-drama. She also appeared in Lovin’ Molly (1974), the TV movie F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Last of the Bells (1974), and the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s showing of The Seagull amongst others.
Danner’s other notable efforts include the biopic A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story (1978), the melodrama Too Far Gone (1979), the Barbra Streisand-directed The Prince of Tides (1991), a trio of Woody Allen films – including Husbands and Wives (1992) – and the Meet the Parents film series.
Danner has appeared in several projects opposite her daughter, such as a stage mounting of Picnic, the miniseries Cruel Doubts (1992), and the 2003 film Sylvia.
She also received significant praise for her work in the television programs Huff – for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards – and Will & Grace. In the latter, she played Marilyn, Will Truman’s blue-blooded mother who’s frequently humiliated by the exploits of her adulterous husband.
In addition to her acting, Danner is dedicated to raising awareness for several environmental causes, as well as awareness for oral cancer – the disease which claimed her husband. Entertainment Hub would like to wish Blythe Danner a very happy birthday.