Ursula k. LeGuin

American Sci-fi and Fantasy novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, was born in Berkeley, California, on October 21, 1929. Her father Alfred Louis Kroeber was an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Le Guin’s mother Theodora Kroeber had a graduate degree in psychology, but turned to writing in her sixties. She developed a successful career as an author: her best known work was Ishi in Two Worlds, a biographical volume about Ishi, an indigenous American who was the last known member of the Yahi tribe. Ursula had three older brothers, Karl, Theodore, and Clifton. The family had a large book collection, and the siblings all became interested in reading while they were young. The Kroeber family knew well-known academics such as Robert Oppenheimer. Le Guin would later use Oppenheimer as the model for her protagonist in The Dispossessed.

The family divided its time between a summer home in the Napa valley, and a house in Berkeley during the academic year. Le Guin’s reading included science fiction and fantasy: she and her siblings frequently read issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Science Fiction. She was fond of myths and legends, particularly Norse mythology, and of Native American legends that her father would narrate. Le Guin developed an early interest in writing; she wrote a short story when she was nine, and submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction when she was eleven and She was also interested in biology and poetry but had difficulties with mathematics. Le Guin attended Berkeley High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Renaissance French and Italian literature from Radcliffe College in 1951, and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Le Guin undertook graduate studies at Columbia University, and earned a Master of Arts in French in 1952. Soon after, she began working towards a Ph.D., and won a Fulbright grant to continue her studies in France from 1953 to 1954.

In 1953, she traveled to France aboard the Queen Mary, And met historian Charles Le Guin, whom she married in Paris in December 1953. While her husband finished his doctorate at Emory University in Georgia, and later at the University of Idaho, Le Guin taught French and worked as a secretary until the birth of her daughter Elisabeth in 1957. In 1959 Charles became an instructor in history at Portland State University, and the couple moved to Portland, Oregon. Le Guin received further Fulbright grants to travel to London in 1968 and 1975. The couple had two daughters, Elisabeth and Caroline, by the time they moved, and a son, Theodore, was born in Portland in 1964.

Le Guin began writing in the 1950s, but the time she spent caring for her children constrained her writing schedule. She also became an editor and a teacher at the undergraduate level. She served on the editorial boards of the journals Paradoxa and Science Fiction Studies, in addition to writing literary criticism herself. She also taught courses at Tulane University, Bennington College, and Stanford University, among others.

Le Guin’s first published work was the poem “Folksong from the Montayna Province” in 1959, while her first short story was “An die Musik”, in 1961; both were set in her fictional country of Orsinia. Between 1951 and 1961 she also wrote five novels, all set in Orsinia, which were rejected by publishers on the grounds that they were inaccessible. Some of her poetry from this period was published in 1975 in the volume Wild Angels. Le Guin turned her attention to science fiction after lengthy periods of receiving rejections from publishers, knowing that there was a market for writing that could be readily classified as such. Her first professional publication was the short story “April in Paris” in 1962 in Fantastic Science Fiction, and four other stories followed in the next few years, in Fantastic or Amazing Stories Among them was The Dowry of the Angyar, which introduced the fictional Hainish Universe, and “The Rule of Names” and “The Word of Unbinding”, which introduced the world of Earthsea.

Rocannon’s World, Le Guin’s first published novel was released in 1966. Followed by, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions these became known as the Hainish Trilogy and contained many themes and ideas also present in Le Guin’s later works, including the “archetypal journey”, cultural contact and communication, the search for identity, and reconciling opposing forces. Le Guin’s next two books brought her sudden and widespread critical acclaim. A Wizard of Earthsea, published in 1968, was a fantasy coming of age story set in the fictional archipelago of Earthsea, the book received a positive reception in both the US and Britain

Her next novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, was a Hainish Universe story exploring themes of gender and sexuality on a fictional planet where humans have no fixed sex. it won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for best novel, making Le Guin the first woman to win these awards, and a number of other accolade. A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness were described by critic Harold Bloom as Le Guin’s masterpieces. She won the Hugo Award again in 1973 for The Word for World is Forest. Between 1966 and 1974, Le Guin also wrote the Hugo Award-winning “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” and the Nebula Award-winning “The Day Before the Revolution”, the next two novels in the Earthsea series, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, were published in 1971 and 1972. Her next novel The Dispossessed, was published in 1974 and took place in the Hainish Universe and explored anarchism and utopianism. This won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for best novel, making her the first person to win both for the same two books.

However Le Guin refused a Nebula Award for her story “The Diary of the Rose” in 1975, in protest at the Science Fiction Writers of America’s revocation of Stanisław Lem’s membership. Le Guin attributed the revocation to Lem’s criticism of American science fiction and willingness to live in the Soviet Union, and said she felt reluctant to receive an award “for a story about political intolerance from a group that had just displayed political intolerance”.

Next Le Guin published the speculative fiction collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, the novels The Eye of the Heron, Orsinian Tales, Malafrena and Far Away from Anywhere Else, a realistic novel for adolescents, in 1979 she released a collection of essays entitled The Language of the Night and a volume of poetry entitled Wild Angels. Between 1979, and 1994, Le Guin wrote primarily for a younger audience releasing an adolescent fantasy novel called The Beginning Place, the experimental Always Coming Home together with 11 children’s picture books, between 1979 and 1994. Le Guin also wrote four more poetry collection and another Earthsea novel Tehanu in 1992. In 1983 she delivered a commencement address entitled “A Left-Handed Commencement Address” at Mills College in Oakland, California.

In 1990 Le Guin published – “The Shobies’ Story” containing the story “Coming of Age in Karhide”. She also published Four Ways to Forgiveness, and “Old Music and the Slave Women”, and In 2000 she published The Telling, her final Hainish novel. Several collections and anthologies of Le Guin’s work were also published. A series of her stories from the period 1994–2002 was released in 2002 Including The Birthday of the World and Other Stories, the novella Paradises Lost, the novel Changing Planes and the anthology The Unreal and the Real. In 2008 she published Lavinia, this was based on a character from Virgil’s Aeneid and the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, consisting of Gifts, Voices and Powers which received the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2009.

Le Guin’s final publication, was a collection of non-fiction, titled Dreams Must Explain Themselves. Le Guin also resigned from the Authors Guild in protest over its endorsement of Google’s book digitization project. “You decided to deal with the devil”, she wrote in her resignation letter. “There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle. In a speech at the 2014 National Book Awards, Le Guin criticized Amazon and the control it exerted over the publishing industry, specifically referencing Amazon’s treatment of the Hachette Book Group during a dispute over ebook publication. Sadly. Le Guin died on January 22, 2018, at her home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 88 having been in poor health She was survived by her husband Charles and her three children. Private memorial services for her were held in Portland and A public memorial service, which included speeches by Margaret Atwood, Molly Gloss, and Walidah Imarisha, was held in Portland in June 2018.

Jim Henson (The Muppets)

Best known as the creator of The Muppets, The late great Jim Henson was born on 24th September 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi. Raised in Maryland he was educated atUniversity of Maryland, College Park, where he created Sam and Friends. He spent his early childhood in Leland, Mississipi moving with his family to Hyattsville, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., in the late 1940s. He later remembered the arrival of the family’s first television as “the biggest event of his adolescence,”having been heavily influenced by radio ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the early television puppets of Burr Tillstrom and Bil and Cora Baird. In 1954 while attending Northwestern High School, he began working for WTOP-TV, creating puppets for a Saturday morning children’s show called The Junior Morning Show.

After graduating from high school, Henson enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park, as a studio arts major. A puppetry class offered in the applied arts department introduced him to the craft and textiles courses in the College of Home Economics, and he graduated in 1960 with a B.S. in home economics. As a freshman, he was asked to create Sam and Friends, a 5-minute puppet show for WRC-TV. The characters on Sam and Friends were forerunners of the Muppets, and the show included a prototype of Henson’s most famous character: Kermit the Frog. Henson remained at WRC for seven years from 1954 to 1961. He began experimenting with techniques which improved puppetry, such as using the frame defined by the camera shot to allow the puppeteer to work from off-screen. To give his puppets “life and sensitivity,” Henson began making characters from flexible, fabric-covered foam rubber, making them more expressive. Henson also used rods instead of string to move his Muppets’ arms, allowing greater control of expression and to enable his muppet characters to “speak” more creatively than was possible for previous puppets, Henson used precise mouth movements to match the dialogue. Henson asked fellow University of Maryland sophomore Jane Nebel (whom he later married) to assist him on Sam and Friends Which became a financial success, After Graduating from college Henson visited Europe where he was inspired by European puppeteers who look on their work as an art form. Henson also contributed to Saturday Night Live, but eventually found success when In 1969, Joan Ganz Cooney and the team at the Children’s Television Workshop asked him to work on Sesame Street, Which featured a series of funny, colourful puppet characters living on the titular street, including Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Henson performed the characters of Ernie, game-show host Guy Smile, and Kermit the Frog, the roving television news reporter.At first, Henson’s Muppets appeared separately from the realistic segments on the Street, but the two were gradually integrated and The success of Sesame Street allowed Henson to stop producing commercials.

In addition to creating and performing Muppet characters, Henson was involved in producing various shows and animation inserts using a variety of methods including (“Dollhouse”, “Number Three Ball Film”), stop-motion (“King of Eight”, “Queen of Six”), cut-out animation (“Eleven Cheer”), computer animation (“Nobody Counts To 10″) and the original C is For Cookie. Henson also directed Tales from Muppetland, a short series of TV movie specials—in the form of comedic tellings of classic fairy tales—aimed at a young audience and hosted by Kermit the Frog. The series included Hey, Cinderella!, The Frog Prince, and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Henson, Frank Oz, and his team also created a series of adult orientated sketches on the first season of the comedy series Saturday Night Live(SNL). Eleven “Dregs and Vestiges” sketches, set mostly in the Land of Gorch, Around the time of Henson’s characters’ final appearances on SNL, he began developing two projects featuring the Muppets: a Broadway show and a weekly television series, which was rejected by American Networks however Henson convinced British impresario Lew Grade to finance the Muppet show which featured Kermit the Frog as host, and a variety of other memorable characters, notably Miss Piggy, Gonzo the Great, Scooter, Animal, the Swedish Chef, Bunsen Honeydew and Fozzie Bear. The creative team moved to England and began working on the Muppets. Jim Henson was himself the performer for several well known characters, including Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef,Waldorf, Link Hogthrob, and Guy Smiley. In 1977, Henson produced a one-hour television adaptation of the Russell Hoban story Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and Three years after the start of The Muppet Show, the Muppets appeared in their first theatrical feature film The Muppet Movie, which was a critical and financial success; and A song from the movie, “The Rainbow Connection”, sung by Henson as Kermit, hit number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for an Academy Award. A sequel, The Great Muppet Caper, followed in 1981 and Henson decided to end the still-popular Muppet Show to concentrate on making films, however the Muppet characters occasionally appeared in made-for-TV-movies and television specials.

Henson also aided others in their work. In 1979, he was asked by the producers of the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back to aid make-up artist Stuart Freeborn in the creation and articulation of enigmatic Jedi Master Yoda. Henson suggested to George Lucas that he use Frank Oz as the puppeteer and voice of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back and each of the four subsequent Star Wars films. The naturalistic, lifelike Yoda became one of the most popular characters of the Star Wars franchise. Lucas even lobbied unsuccessfully to have Oz nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. In 1982, Henson founded the Jim Henson Foundation to promote and develop the art of puppetry in the United States. He also began creating darker and more realistic fantasy films that did not feature the Muppets such as1982’s The Dark Crystal, which he co-directed with Frank Oz where he tried to create a sense of realism, which was helped immensely by the conceptual artwork created by Brian Froud.a year later, The Muppets Take Manhattan (directed by Frank Oz) was released, then In 1986 the film Labyrinth, was released, a Dark Crystal-like fantasy featuring David Bowie as The Goblin King which has since become a cult classic.

During production of his later projects, Henson began to experience flu like symptoms. On May 4, 1990, Henson made one of his last television appearances on The Arsenio Hall Show, Feeling tired and having a sore throat, Henson traveled to Ahoskie, North Carolina, for a family visit And consulted a physician in North Carolina before returning to to New York. At 2 am on May 15, Henson started having trouble breathing and began coughing up blood. But delayed visiting the hospital for two hours until he finally agreed to go to New York Hospital, By which time he could not breathe on his own anymore due to abscesses in his lungs and was placed on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe, but his condition deteriorated rapidly into septic shock, until sadly On the morning of May 16, 1990, Henson died at the age of 53 at New York Hospital. Henson’s death was covered as a significant news story, occurring on the same day as the death of Sammy Davis Jr. The official cause of death was first reported as a Bacterial Infection caused byStreptococcus pneumoniae, Henson’s actual cause of death, however, was organ failure resulting from Streptococcus pyogenes, a severe Group A streptococcal infection. A public memorial service was conducted in New York City On May 21, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Another one was conducted on July 2 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. As per Henson’s wishes, no one in attendance wore black, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band finished the service by performing “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Harry Belafonte also sang “Turn the World Around,” a song he had debuted on The Muppet Show, Big Bird, performed by Caroll Spinney,also sang Kermit the Frog’s signature song, “Bein’ Green”. six of the core Muppet performers—Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson and Richard Hunt—also sang, in their characters’ voices, a medley of Jim Henson’s favorite songs, eventually ending with a growing number of performers singing “Just One Person” which was recreated for the 1990 television special The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson and inspired screenwriter Richard Curtis, who attended the London service, to write the growing-orchestra wedding scene of his 2003 film Love Actually.

Henson was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery and his ashes were scattered at his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Henson’s companies, which are now run by his children, continue to produce films and television shows. The Jim Henson Company and the Jim Henson Foundation continued after his death, producing new series and specials. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, founded by Henson, also continues to build creatures for a large number of other films and series, such as Farscape, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the movie MirrorMask). Henson remains one of the most advanced and well respected creators of film creatures and In 2004, The Muppets were sold to The Walt Disney Company. One of Henson’s last projects is a show attraction in Walt Disney World and Disneyland featuring the Muppets, called Muppet*Vision 3D, which opened in 1991, shortly after his death. To date The Jim Henson Company retains the Creature Shop, as well as the rest of its film and television library including Fraggle Rock, Farscape, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.

George R.R.Martin

George Raymond Richard Martin was born September 20, 1948. As a boy He began writing and selling monster stories for pennies to other neighborhood children, dramatic readings included. He also wrote stories about a mythical kingdom populated by his pet turtles; the turtles died frequently in their toy castle, so he finally decided they were killing each other off in “sinister plots”. Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and then later Marist High School. While there he became an avid comic-book fan, developing a strong interest in the innovative superheroes being published by Marvel Comics and joined the fledgling comics fandom of the era, writing fiction for various fanzines and winning the Alley Award in 1965 for his prose superhero story “Powerman vs. The Blue Barrier”, the first of many awards he would go on to win for his fiction. In 1970 Martin earned a B. S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude; he went on to complete his M. S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern. Martin became a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and did alternative service work for two years (1972–1974) as a VISTA volunteer, attached to the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. An expert chess player, he also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973 to 1976. Then from 1976 to 1978 he was an English and journalism instructor at Clarke University (then Clarke College) in Dubuque, IA, becoming Writer In Residence at the college from 1978 to 1979. He became a full time writer After the sudden death of friend and fellow author Tom Reamy in the fall of 1977 and resigned from his job, and moved to Santa Fe in 1979.

At the Age of 21 Martin began selling science fiction short stories professionally. His first sale was “The Hero” and His first story to be nominated for the Hugo Award and Nebula Awards was With Morning Comes Mistfall, published in 1973 in Analog magazine. Between 1977 and 1979 Martin became the Southwest Regional Director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and from 1996 to 1998, he served as its vice-president.In 1976 Martin was nominated for two Hugo Awards at the 34th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), but lost both awards, to the novelette “…and Seven Times Never Kill Man” and the novella The Storms of Windhaven, co-written with Lisa Tuttle. Although Martin often writes fantasy or horror, a number of his earlier works are science fiction tales occurring in a loosely defined future history, known informally as “The Thousand Worlds” or “The Manrealm”. He has also written at least one piece of political-military fiction, “Night of the Vampyres”, collected in Harry Turtledove’s anthology The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century and, The Armageddon Rag. In 1983 Martin was hired as a staff writer and then as an Executive Story Consultant, for the revival of the Twilight Zone. Martin also worked on Max Headroom and created the show’s “Ped Xing” character (the president of the Zic Zak corporation, Network 23’s primary sponsor). However the show was canceled in the middle of its second season. Martin was then hired for the fantasy Beauty and the Beast writing 14 of its episodes.

He also oversaw development of the multi-author Wild Cards book series, which takes place in a shared universe in which a small slice of post–World War II humanity gains superpowers after the release of an alien-engineered virus; new titles are still being published in the on-going series from Tor Books. In Second Person Martin “gives a personal account of the close-knit role-playing game (RPG) culture that gave rise to his Wild Cards shared-world anthologies”. Martin’s own contributions to Wild Cards have included Thomas Tudbury, “The Great and Powerful Turtle” – a powerful psychokinetic whose flying “shell” consisted of an armored VW Beetle. Other titles in the series include Low Ball and High Stakes. Martin’s novella, Nightflyers, was adapted into a 1987 feature film of the same title.

In 1991 Martin briefly returned to writing novels and began what would eventually turn into his epic fantasy series: A Song of Ice and Fire, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses and Ivanhoe. It is currently intended to comprise seven volumes, including Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire and A Feast for Crows, which became The New York Times No. 1 Bestseller and The Wall Street Journal no 1 bestseller. A Feast for Crows was also nominated for both a Quill Award and the British Fantasy Award. The fifth book Dance with Dragons, was published July 12, 2011, and quickly became an international bestseller, including achieving a No. 1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List and In 2012, A Dance With Dragons made the final ballot for science fiction and fantasy’s Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, Locus Poll Award, and the British Fantasy Award and won the Locus Poll Award for Best Fantasy Novel. There are Two more novels in the Ice and Fire series: The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.

He is also a screenwriter and television producer andis best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels which HBO adapted for its dramatic series Game of thrones after acquiring the television rights for the entire Song of Ice and Fire series in 2007. Titled Game of Thrones, it ran weekly for ten episodes, each approximately an hour long.Although busy completing A Dance With Dragons and other projects, George R. R. Martin was heavily involved in the production of the television series adaptation of his books he also participated in scriptwriting; the opening credits list him as a co-executive producer of the series. The first season was nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, ultimately winning two, one for its opening title credits and one for Peter Dinklage as Best Supporting Actor.

The second season of ten episodes, based on the second Ice and Fire novel A Clash of Kings, was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards, including another Supporting Actor nomination for Dinklage. It went on to win six of those Emmys in the Technical Arts categories. The first season of 10 episodes was also nominated for a 2012 Hugo Award, fantasy and science fiction’s oldest award, presented by the World Science Fiction Society each year at the annual Worldcon; the show went on to win the 2012 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, in Chicago, IL; Martin took home one of the three Hugo Award trophies. The second season episode “Blackwater”, written by George R.R. Martin, won the Hugo Award at the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, in San Antonio, Texas. Martin serves as the series’ co-executive producer, and In 2005 Lev Grossman of Time called Martin “the American Tolkien” and in 2011 Time Magazine listed him as one of the “most influential people in the world.” Game of thrones has become immensely popular and has spawned eight seasons.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Best known for his creations of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, American novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs was born September 1, 1875. he also produced works in many genres. Aiming his work at the pulps, Burroughs had his first story, Under the Moons of Mars, serialized by Frank Munsey in the February to July 1912 issues of The All-Story —under the name “Norman Bean” as a precaution to protect his reputation. (Under the Moons of Mars inaugurated the Barsoom series. It was first published as a book by A. C. McClurg of Chicago in 1917, entitled A Princess of Mars, after three Barsoom sequels had appeared as serials, and McClurg had published the first four serial Tarzan novels as books.) Encouraged by the success of these, Burroughs soon took up writing full-time and by the time the run of Under the Moons of Mars had finished he had completed two novels, including Tarzan of the Apes, which was published from October 1912 and went on to become one of his most successful series.

In 1913, Burroughs and Emma had their third and last child, John Coleman Burroughs (1913–1979). Burroughs also wrote popular science fiction and fantasy stories involving Earthly adventurers transported to various planets (notably Barsoom, Burroughs’s fictional name forMars, and Amtor, his fictional name for Venus), lost islands, and into the interior of the hollow earth in his Pellucidar stories, as well as westerns and historical romances. Along with All-Story, many of his stories were published in The Argosy magazine. Tarzan was a cultural sensation when introduced. Burroughs was determined to capitalize on Tarzan’s popularity in every way possible. He planned to exploit Tarzan through several different media including a syndicated Tarzan comic strip, movies and merchandise. Experts in the field advised against this course of action, stating that the different media would just end up competing against each other. Burroughs went ahead, however, and proved the experts wrong — the public wanted Tarzan in whatever fashion he was offered. Tarzan remains one of the most successful fictional characters to this day and is a cultural icon.

In either 1915 or 1919, Burroughs purchased a large ranch north of Los Angeles, California, which he named “Tarzana.” The citizens of the community that sprang up around the ranch voted to adopt that name when their community, Tarzana, California was formed in 1927. Also, the unincorporated community of Tarzan, Texas, was formally named in 1927 when THE US Postal Service accepted the name, reputedly coming from the popularity of the first (silent) Tarzan of the Apes film, starring Elmo Lincoln, and an early “Tarzan” comic strip.In 1923 Burroughs set up his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and began printing his own books through the 1930s.Burroughs divorced his wife Emma in 1934 and married the former actress Florence Gilbert Dearholt in 1935, the former wife of his friend,Ashton Dearholt, and Burroughs adopted the Dearholts’ two children. The couple divorced in 1942 At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Burroughs was a resident of Hawaii and, despite being in his late 60s, he applied for permission to become a war correspondent. This permission was granted, and so he became one of the oldest war correspondents for the U.S. during the Second World War. American film director Wes Anderson is Burroughs’ great-grandson. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Burroughs in 2003. After the war ended, Burroughs moved back to Encino, California, where, after many health problems, he sadly died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950, having written almost 80 novels. The Barsoom novels were also adapted into the film John Carter starring Taylor Kitch and Lynn Collins.

Rupert Grint (Harry Potter)

English actor Rupert Alexander Lloyd Grint was born 24 August 1988. He rose to prominence playing Ron Weasley, one of the three main characters in the Harry Potter film series. Grint was cast as Ron Weasley at the age of 11, having previously acted only in school plays and at his local theatre group. From 2001 to 2011, he starred in all eight Harry Potter films alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.Starting in 1999, casting began for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the best-selling novel written by author J.K. Rowling. Rowling personally insisted that the cast be British and assisted Susie Figgis and director Chris Columbus in casting the roles. Grint chose to try out for the part of protagonist Ron Weasley, one of Harry Potter’s best friends at Hogwarts, because he had ginger-coloured hair, and was a fan of the book series. Having seen a Newsround report about the open casting, he sent in a video of himself rapping about how he wished to receive the part. His attempt was successful as the casting team asked for a meeting with him .On 8 August 2000 Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and an 11-year old Grint were selected to play the roles of Harry, Hermione Granger, and Ron, respectively. Grint is the oldest member of the trio.

The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 was Grint’s debut screen performance. Grint won a Satellite Award in the category of “Outstanding New Talent”, and a Young Artist Award for “Most Promising Young Newcomer”.A year later, Grint again starred as Ron in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), the second instalment of the series. The film opened to positive reviews and critics generally enjoyed the lead actors’ performances. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) was released on 31 May in the UK. The film sees all three of its lead characters hover on the brink of adolescence, “and while they look braver and more capable than before, the dangers they face seem far more grave and their own vulnerability more intense.”Academy Award-nominee Alfonso Cuarón took over direction for Prisoner of Azkaban which remains the lowest-grossing Harry Potter film with US$795 million in revenue.

Nonetheless it was the second highest-grossing movie of 2004 behind Shrek 2. Despite this it remains the second highest rated in the series in terms of critical reaction. In 2005, Grint reprised his role again for the fourth film in the series – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The adaptation, unlike previous projects, explored romantic elements and included more humour. This film was directed by Mike Newell. “Goblet of Fire stands as one of the best reviewed instalments within the series, and is noted for the maturity and sophistication of its characters, darker and more complex plotline, writing and performances of the lead actors. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise, was released to cinemas in 2007. A huge financial success, Order of the Phoenix set a record worldwide opening-weekend gross of US$394 million, superseding Spider-Man 3 as the title holder. This entry was directed by a new filmmaker, David Yates, who would continue to direct all of the following movies. Grint said the laid back director was “really good” and helped keep the material fresh.

On 15 July 2009, the series’s sixth instalment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released. This adaptation centred around more being learnt about Lord Voldemort’s dark past. Half-Blood Prince remains one of the most positively reviewed entries within the series among film critics, who praised the film’s “emotionally satisfying” story, direction, cinematography, visuals and music. Grint observed a change in Ron in this entry, pointing out that his once insecure, often overshadowed character started to become more secure and even began to show a dark side of himself. The actor found it fun to personify a more emotional Ron. Between 2009–2010, his work received three nominations, including one win – an Otto Award from the German magazine Bravo. For financial and scripting reasons, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was divided into two films which were shot back to back, with filming concluding in June 2010. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010) was released in November. His portrayal of Ron again earned him critical praise. Grint reprised his role for the eighth time, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last Harry Potter instalment. This film picked-up from where the previous film left-off and included a lot of action, whereas the first part had focused more on character development. Rupert, along with the film, was critically acclaimed: Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is currently the 4th highest-grossing film of all time.

From 2002, Grint began to work outside of the Harry Potter franchise, taking on a co-leading role in Thunderpants. He has had starring roles in Driving Lessons, a dramedy released in 2006, and Cherrybomb, a small budgeted drama of limited release in 2010. Grint co-starred with Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt in Wild Target, a comedy. His first project following the end of the Harry Potter series was the 2012 anti-war film, Into the White, in which he stars as the main role.  Grint starred in the 2013 film CBGB and he has been cast in CBS’s new pilot Super Clyde. Grint also made his stage debut in Jez Butterworth’s Mojo in October 2013 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.

Kenny Baker

Famous for portraying the robot R2-D2 in Star Wars, the late great English actor Kenneth George “Kenny” Baker was born 24 August 1934. Baker, who stood 3 ft 8 in (112 cm) tall, was born and educated in Birmingham, West Midlands, and went to boarding school in Kent. His parents were of average height. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an engraver, but had not received sufficient education. He went to live with his stepmother in Hastings, Sussex and in 1951 was approached on the street by a lady who invited him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. This was his first taste of show business.

He Later joined a circus for a brief time, he also learned to ice-skate and appeared in many ice shows. He had formed a successful comedy act called the Minitones with entertainer Jack Purvis when George Lucas hired him to be the man inside R2-D2 in Star Wars in 1977. Baker appears in seven Star Wars films and played an additional role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally going to play Wicket, but he fell ill and that role was handed over to Warwick Davis. Kenny is also featured on Justin Lee Collins’s programme “Bring Back Star Wars”. He also revealed that he didn’t get on with his co-star Anthony Daniels, whom He claimed had been rude to him on numerous occasions.

Baker’s other films include The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Willow (with Jack Purvis), Flash Gordon, Amadeus and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. On television, he appeared in the British medical drama Casualty. In the late 1990s, Baker launched a short stand up comedy career. Baker played harmonica with the James Coutts’ Scottish Dance Band at Hugh McCaig’s Silverstone Party in July 1997. In November 2009, his biography entitled From Tiny Acorns: The Kenny Baker Story was made available through his website and at conventions and book signings. It was written with Ken Mills. He reprised his role as R2-D2 in Star Wars Episode VII and He also had a part in the BBC production of “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Tragically Kenny Baker sadly died 13 August 2016 however his films remain popular.

Doctor Who

Sylvester McCoy

Best known for his portrayal of Seventh Doctor Who and Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit, the English actor and comedian Sylvester McCoy (Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith) was Born 20 August 1943 in Dunoon, on the Cowal peninsula, to an Irish mother and English father, killed in action in World War II a couple of months before his son was born. His maternal grandmother was from Portadown, Northern Ireland.

He was raised in Dunoon where he attended St. Mun’s School. He then studied for the priesthood at Blair’s College, a seminary in Aberdeen between the ages of 12 and 16, but he gave this up and continued his education at Dunoon Grammar School. After he left school he moved to London where he worked in the insurance industry for five years. He worked in The Roundhouse box office for a time, where he was discovered by Ken Campbell.

He came to prominence as a member of the experimental theatre troupe “The Ken Campbell Roadshow”. His best known act was as a stuntman character called “Sylveste McCoy” in a play entitled An Evening with Sylveste McCoy (the name was coined by actor Brian Murphy, part of the Roadshow at the time), where his stunts included putting a fork and nails up his nose and stuffing ferrets down his trousers, and setting his head on fire. As a joke, the programme notes liSylveste McCoy as played by “Sylveste McCoy” and, after a reviewer missed the joke and assumed that Sylveste McCoy was a real person, Kent-Smith adopted this as his stage name. Some years later, McCoy added an “r” to the end of “Sylveste”, in part because of the actors’ superstition that a stage name with thirteen letters was unlucky.

Notable television appearances before he gained the role of the Doctor included roles in Vision On (where he played Pepe/Epep, a character who lived in the mirror), an O-Man in Jigsaw and Tiswas. He also appeared in Eureka, often suffering from the inventions of Wilf Lunn and as Wart, assistant to StarStrider in the CITV series of the same name. McCoy also portrayed, in one-man shows on the stage, two famous movie comedians: Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He also appeared as Henry “Birdie” Bowers in the 1985 television serial about Scott’s last Antarctic expedition, The Last Place on Earth. McCoy also had a small role in the 1979 film Dracula opposite Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasence, and has sung with the Welsh National Opera.

McCoy became the Seventh Doctor after taking over the lead role in Doctor Who in 1987 from Colin Baker. He remained on the series until it ended in 1989, ending with Survival (see List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)). As Baker declined the invitation to film the regeneration scene, McCoy briefly wore a wig and appeared, face-down until the last moment before the regeneration commenced, as the sixth Doctor. He played the Doctor in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, and again in 1996, appearing in the beginning of the Doctor Who television movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. In his first series, McCoy, a comedy actor, portrayed the character with a degree of clown-like humour, but script editor Andrew Cartmel soon changed that when fans argued that the character (and plots) were becoming increasingly lightweight.

The Seventh Doctor developed into a much darker figure than any of his earlier incarnations, manipulating people like chess pieces and always seeming to be playing a deeper game. A distinguishing feature of McCoy’s performances was his manner of speech. He used his natural slight Scottish accent and rolled his rs. At the start of his tenure he used proverbs and sayings adapted to his own ends (e.g. “There’s many a slap twixt cup and lap” – Delta and the Bannermen), although this characteristic was phased out during the later, darker series of his tenure. In 1990, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted McCoy’s Doctor “Best Doctor”, over perennial favourite Tom Baker. Since 1999 he has continued acting in the role of the Seventh Doctor in a series of audio plays for Big Finish Productions.

After the original series of Doctor Who ended McCoy appeared a number of televison roles including Michael Sams in the 1997 drama Beyond Fear, shown on the first night of broadcast of Five. He has also returned to play the Seventh Doctor in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. In 1988, while still appearing in Doctor Who, McCoy presented a BBC children’s programme called What’s Your Story?, in which viewers were invited to phone in suggestions for the continuation of an ongoing drama..

In the early 1990s, McCoy was attached in the role of Governor Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl when Steven Spielberg was planning on directing, but Disney did not give permission for the film to be made. McCoy was the second choice to play the role of Bilbo Baggins in the Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, but went on to portray Radagst the Brown instead in The Hobbit. In 1991, he presented the Doctor Who video documentary release The Hartnell Years showcasing selected episodes of missing stories from the First Doctor’s era.

McCoy has also acted extensively in theatre in productions as diverse as pantomime and Molière. He played Grandpa Jock in John McGrath’s A Satire of the Four Estaites (1996) at the Edinburgh Festival. He played the role of Snuff in the macabre BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Cabaret of Dr Caligari. He also appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a musical version of Robin Hood that featured songs by British composer and lyricist Laurence Mark Wythe at the Broadway Theater, Lewisham in London. He also appeared as the lawyer Dowling in a BBC Production of Henry Fielding’s novel, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. In 2001 McCoy appeared in Paul Sellar’s asylum comedy “The Dead Move Fast” at the Gilded Balloon as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, playing the role of Doctor Mallinson. In 2012 McCoy played the part of the suicidal Mr. Peters in JC Marshall’s play, Plume, at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. McCoy has also appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and in King Lear in 2007, playing the Fool to Ian McKellen’s Lear, a performance which made use of McCoy’s ability to play the spoons. The RSC production with McKellen and McCoy was staged in Melbourne, during late July/early August 2007 and Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand, during mid to late August 2007. It came into residence at the New London Theatre in late 2007, ending its run in January 2008. He reprised the role for the 2008 television movie.

In May 2008 he performed with the Carl Rosa Opera Company in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, playing the title role. He only performed with the company briefly, for the week of the show’s run performing at the Sheffield Lyceum. Despite being set in Japan, he was able to demonstrate his ability to play the spoons by using his fan. In 2009 McCoy played the character of Mr. Mushnik in the Chocolate Factory’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

He has also made guest appearances in the television series The Bill, the Rab C. Nesbitt episode “Father” as Rab’s mentally ill brother Gash Sr and the Still Game episode “Oot” (AKA “Out”), where he played a hermit-type character adjusting to life in modern Glasgow, having remained in his house for over 30 years. In October 2008, he had a minor guest role as an injured ventriloquist on Casualty. In the same month McCoy guest starred in an episode of the BBC soap opera Doctors, playing an actor who once played the time-travelling hero of a children’s television series called “The Amazing Lollipop Man”. The role was written as a tribute to McCoy. In 2016, McCoy appeared in the three-part BBC series The Real Marigold Hotel, which followed a group of celebrity senior citizens including Miriam Margolyes and Wayne Sleep on a journey to India.


Sophie Aldred

Best known for her portrayal of feisty Doctor Who companion Ace, alongside Sylvester McCoy, the English Actress Sophie Aldred was Born 20 August 1962 in Greenwich, London, but grew up in nearby Blackheath. She sang in the church choir of St James’, Kidbrooke and attended Blackheath High School from 1973 until 1980, before enrolling as a drama student at University of Manchester. She graduated in 1983 and decided to embark on a career in children’s theatre. She also sang in working men’s clubs around Manchester.

In 1987, she was cast as Ace in Doctor Who, initially for Dragonfire, the final story of the series’ twenty-fourth season. Her tenure on the show spanned the last nine stories of the programme’s original run, which ended in 1989. In January 1992, she guested in More than a Messiah, one of the Stranger original videos starring Colin Baker, also formerly of Doctor Who. Both before and since Doctor Who, Aldred has had a varied and busy television career, particularly in children’s programming, where she has presented educational programmes such as Corners, Melvin and Maureen’s Music-a-grams (which ran from 1992 to ’96), Tiny and Crew (which she presented, 1995–99), the BBC series Words and Pictures (since 1992), and also CITV paranormal show It’s a Mystery in 1996. She also played the character Minnie The Mini Magician from Series 8 onwards on CITV’s ZZZap! between 1999 and 2001.

Aldred has presented and sung in several BBC Schools Radio series, including Singing Together, Music Workshop, Time and Tune and Music Box. She has also performed on radio and in the theatre. In 1993 She reprised her role as Ace in the 30th anniversary charity special Dimensions in Time and the Doctor Who audio plays produced by Big Finish Productions. She was also set to reprise her role in Doctor Who: The Movie.

Throughout the 2000s she has worked extensively as a voice-over artist for television advertisements and has also provided voices for animated series such as Bob the Builder, Sergeant Stripes, the UK dubbed version of the CGI animated version of the Australian TV series Bananas in Pyjamas, El Nombre, Peter Rabbit, Noddy in Toyland, The Magic Key. She co-wrote the hardcover nonfiction book, Ace, The Inside Story of the End of An Era with Mike Tucker, and provided voices for the 2009 series Dennis and Gnasher, including that of title character Dennis the Menace. She was also a former presenter of the 1996 CITV Saturday morning magazine programme; WOW!. Since 2012 Aldred has provided the voice of Tom in Tree Fu Tom, a BBC children’s series. The series’ other main voice actor, David Tennant (who voices Twigs), previously played the Tenth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who. In November 2013 she appeared in the one-off 50th anniversary comedy homage The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. In 2018, Aldred was confirmed to reprise the role of Ace in six audio dramas set during the first season of Class.


Anthony Ainley

Best known for his portrayal of The Master in Doctor Who English actor Anthony Ainley was Born 20 August 1932 in Stanmore, Middlesex, Under the name of Anthony Holmes, Ainley attended Cranleigh School from 1947 to 1950. His first job was as an insurance clerk which was followed by a period at RADA. He won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy whilst at RADA. His half-brother, Richard Ainley, was also an actor.

Ainley’s appearance tended to get him parts as villains, though an early regular role on British television was as Det. Sgt Hunter, sidekick to William Mervyn’s Chief Inspector Rose in the second series of It’s Dark Outside in 1966. Other notable roles include a subaltern in the 1969 film version of Oh! What a Lovely War, Dietz in the 1975 film version of The Land That Time Forgot, Reverend Fallowfield in the Tigon film The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), Henry Sidney in Elizabeth R (1971),[3] Clive Hawksworth in Spyder’s Web (1972), Rev. Emilius in the BBC’s adaptation of The Pallisers, Johnson in the first episode of the BBC programme Secret Army (1977), and Sunley in The Avengers episode “Noon Doomsday” (1968). He was also one of the Hong Kong policemen who discover James Bond’s supposed corpse in the opening sequence of You Only Live Twice (1967). Ainley played the role of the wealthy young peer Lord Charles Gilmour in the ITV series Upstairs, Downstairs

He also appeared as Rev. Emilius in The Pallisers and following this He was offered the role of the Master in Doctor Who by John Nathan-Turner, who had worked on The Pallisers seven years before becoming producer of Doctor Who. Ainley first portrayed the Master in the 1981 serial The Keeper of Traken and appeared in almost every season up until the cancellation of the original series in 1989, including its final serial, Survival. Ainley’s Doctor Who appearances included: The Keeper of Traken 1981, Logopolis 1981, Castrovalva 1982, Time Flight 1982, The King’s Demons 1983, The Five Doctors 1983, Planet of Fire 1984, The Caves of Androzani 1984, The Mark of the Rani 1985, The Ultimate Foe 1986, and Survival 1989. He later reprised the role for the 1997 BBC computer game Destiny of the Doctors. Ainley’s great love of the role is often cited in documentaries and DVD commentaries. He even introduced himself to Script editor Eric Saward as The master and both Colin Baker and Kate O’Mara say that “He only ever wanted to play the Master.” Sylvester McCoy confirms that all he ever wanted to be is the Master, and he kept his role active, even not on set. “He was as scary off camera as he was on it.” Sadly though, Ainley tragically died on 3 May 2004.