Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Heather Graham!

Heather, track and field, single payer, & yoga, all in 30 seconds

 Picture legend:

1. Ms. Heather
2. Young Ms. Heather
3. "License to Drive"
4. As ex-nun Annie Blackburn turned waitress in "Twin Peaks"
5. With James Woods in "Diggstown"
6. As Rollergirl in "Boogie Nights"
7. As Dr. Judy Robinson in "Lost in Space"
8. As Felicity Shagwell in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"
9. With Johnny Depp in "In Hell"
10. An early favorite picture
11. In "Anger Management"
12. As Dr. Molly Clock in "Scrubs"
13. As stripper Jade in "The Hangover"
14. Another favorite picture... I don't know why.
15. With "The Hangover" boys.
16. Meditation... and Yoga with Heather and Beth Dian Prandini
17. Heather again!

   This morning it is my distinct honor and privilege to give a great big Joyce's Take happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite actresses and activists, and with whom I seem to have a great deal in common, Ms Heather Graham!
   Heather Joan Graham was born as a small female infant at a very early age in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Laverne De Fazio & Shirley Feeney used to live, and where people drink beer all day. She is the eldest of two sisters, Aimee Graham, another actress, being her younger sibling. Her dad, James was an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and her mom, Joan, is a teacher and author of children's books. The family, like me, is of Irish ancestry, which of course means their family came from Ireland, which is a beautiful island country west of Great Britain, where all the pommies live. James is 100% Irish, just like me. Joan's dad was 100% Irish, but her mom, Heather's grandmother, was of Scottish and German descent, so Ms Graham describes herself as being 3/4 Irish.
    Apparently the family may own some property in County Cork, in the south of Ireland, where those freaking Leprechauns live, the wily bastards!
   Like many of Irish descent, Heather's family was Catholic, and observed traditional Catholic values, which means the girls could have no fun whatsoever.
   Due to her dad's job the family moved around quite a bit, but eventually settled down in nearby Agoura Hills, California (34° 9′ 12″ N, 118° 45′ 42″ W), when she was 9, and where poor George C. Scott died (or Westlake Village, which is right next to Agoura Hills. He's buried in Westwood, right next to Walter Matthau... and Jack Lemon's nearby too!).
   Despite being somewhat shy (I was shy too! See how much we have in common! We're both not shy anymore as well) Heather developed an early interest in acting participating in a school production of The Wizard of Oz, and was eventually voted "Most Talented" by her Agoura High School class. However dad wasn't particularly keen on having his daughter, eventually both daughters) enter into the decadent acting profession, which created a certain tension within the family. Still Joan obligingly drove Heather to auditions in Hollywood throughout her adolescence.
   As a teenager Ms. Graham worked at Toys R' Us and as an usher at The Hollywood Bowl. I never did either of those things.
   At age 14 Heather got her first appearance on film as a factory girl in an uncredited roll in the film, "Mrs. Soffel," starring Mel Gibson and Diane Keaton. Two years later she appeared on a special "Teen Week" episode of the NBC-TV game show "Scrabble," and the next year she got her first credited role in the television film, "Student Exchange," along with Gavin MacLeod and Moon Unit Zappa.
   Being so pretty and all (for a girl), Heather modeled (contract with Emanuel Ungaro Liberte) and did commercials. She auditioned for the Jennifer Grey role in Dirty Dancing in 1987, which I'm sure made her dad real happy. In fact, the next year she was forced to turn down the lead role in "Heathers," because her parents thought the language was too risque (the part instead went to Winona Ryder, whose parents didn't mind how much she trash talked).
   Ms Graham graduated High School in 1988,  after which she enrolled in extension classes at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and studied English and drama for two years, but dropped out to pursue acting full time, again, much to her parents objections.
   She continued acting throughout those years, getting a big break and some critical recognition in 1988's "License to Drive," as Corey Haim's love interest. This part got her a a Young Artist Award nomination in the Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Fantasy category. The same year she also had an uncredited appearance as Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger's mother in "Twins" (Jeeez).
   The very next year Heather got what some consider her breakthrough role, as a drug addicted friend to Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch, in Gus Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy," which was about a lot of cowboys who lived in pharmacies. Her performance earned her a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress.
   In 1990 Ms Graham appeared in Lawrence Kasdan's "I Love You to Death," with 3 more of my favorite ladies, Tracey Ullman, Phoebe Cates, and Victoria Jackson (before she became a right wing lunatic), and 1991's "Shout," staring John Travolta and Gwyneth Paltrow in her first film appearance. Heather received a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Actress Starring in a Motion Picture for her performance.
   After co-starring with ("Traffic"s) Benicio Del Toro (who was also in "License to Drive") in a Calvin Klein commercial directed by David Lynch, he cast her as former nun Annie Blackburn in his idiosyncratic television series "Twin Peaks." Following that show's cancellation, Lynch had Heather reprise the role in the 1992 prequel film "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me." This show's cast included several of my favorite actresses. As a matter of fact this show's cast could be considered a virtual hot-bed of my favorite actresses, including Sheryl Lee, Lara Flynn Boyle,  Moira Kelly, Alicia Witt, Phoebe Augustine, and Sherilyn Fenn (who I recently saw blow herself up in an episode of "NCIS").
   Lynch also introduced Heather to Transcendental Meditation, a mantra (sound, syllable, word, or group of words) form of meditation I do not adhere to. I like my meditation silent, like my women.
   In 1992 she appeared with James Woods and Louis Gossett, Jr. in the boxing con-game film "Diggstown," and with Will Smith in 93's "Six Degrees of Separation." That year she  also appeared with a pre-Gandolf Ian McKellen in "The Ballad of Little Jo."
   A few years later Heather came to my attention, as well as a whole bunch of others, in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 critically acclaimed, "Boogie Nights," which was loosely based  on the John Holmes southern California porn industry story. Heather played porn actress Rollergirl for her penchant for wearing roller skates all the time. She initially auditioned for Julianne Moore's part but that went to Julianne Moore instead. The film also starred real life veteran porn actresses Nina Hartley.
   Here's a clip with Julianne.
   Ms Graham's role did require a certain amount of nudity, which her willingness to go along with caused a huge riff with her parents. They may not be speaking still. "I don't really like to talk about my parents. Because I just feel that it gets misinterpreted in the press, and stuff..." she says.
   Heather has gone on to star in such high-profile films as, "Lost in Space," with Mimi Rogers, "Bowfinger," with Steve Martin, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," with Will Farrell ("Those are skin tight. How do you get in those pants, baby?" "You can start by buying me a drink.")) Here's two clips:  American Woman in "The Spy Who Shagged Me"
And with Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello (son of Lou)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS1WnWjxfsk  ), and "From Hell," in 2001, with that Johnny Depp fellow, as well as a whole bunch of other fine films and TV shows. She was so busy she had to turn down the Teri Polo role in "Meet the Parents," and the Shannon Elizabeth role in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
   Speaking of 2001, on September 11th, Ms. Graham was due to move in an apartment she had bought in Manhattan. "I was flying into New York that morning from the Toronto Film Festival. I'd bought an apartment in Manhattan and I was due to move in that day. We were flying towards New York when I could see this huge black cloud over the city. The first plane had hit the Twin Towers but nobody knew what was happening at that stage. We landed and I was in the baggage-claim area when the second plane hit the towers. There was general panic. After going through something like that, you never take anything for granted again."
   Soon after that all flights across the country were grounded... except those taking the family of Osama bin Laden out of the country.
   In 2003 she appeared with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in "Anger Management." Here's a clip:
Anger Management
   She was given special guest-star status on nine episodes of NBC's "Scrubs," during its fourth season (2004–2005). Here's two very funny clips:
   And now Heather has and will be in the entire "The Hangover" franchise, I, II, and III. Here's an Irish interview with her discussing the first film:
   She enjoys yoga in Mexico (so do Beth and I!) and cooking (so do I!) and playing poker (me too! Boy, if she were only a couple of years younger I'd be after her myself)
   She is a public advocate for Children International, as I am ( http://joycestake.blogspot.com/2012/09/meivelyn-noemi-cacao-mendoza-children.html ), although I'm sure she's a  lot better at it than I am.
    "You are helping a child have a better life. It's great for that child to know that someone who lives in another country cares about them."
   Heather has never married or had children, although she has had romances with actors Edward Burns, Heath Ledger, James Woods, Matt Dillon, Josh Lucas, Kyle MacLachlan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elias Koteas, Benicio Del Toro, Russell Crowe, Scott Speedman, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Perry, and every other actor she's ever worked with, musicians Adam Ant, Elijah Allman, and Jason Falkner, directors Stephen Hopkins, Chris Weitz, and Yaniv Raz, former president Bill Clinton, nightclub owner Charles Ferri, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, and the starboard watch of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
   Wow, reminds me of Liz Taylor.
   Anyway, all of us here at Joyce's Take wish Heather and her friends and family (those she's still talking too at least) continued good fortune and health, and of course, a very happy birthday!
   Happy Birthday Heather!

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