Happy 74th Birthday to Helen Mirren, the Brilliant British actress who was nominated for an Oscar three times before winning the golden statue, playing Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film The Queen. She also won a Tony Award for Best Actress in the stage performance of The Audience.

Dame Helen’s latest project is another royal role—playing Catherine the Great in an upcoming HBO series named after the 18th-century Russian empress. The new trailer for the 4-part fall series was released this week, showing Mirren as the formidable monarch during the end of her reign. The drama follows her climb to power and her love affair with military leader Grigory Potemkin—which helped shape the future of Russian politics. Mirren always wanted to play the part, and she presented the idea herself to executive producer David M. Thompson—no wonder, because her father (who once played the viola with the London Philharmonic) was Russian-born, and her grandfather fought in the Imperial Russian Army. WATCH the trailer… (1945)

Mirren said of Catherine, “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name—Catherine the Great.”

Helen’s other Academy Award nominations include The Madness of King George, Gosford Park, and The Last Station (in 2009). For her role as police detective Jane Tennison on the British television series Prime Suspect, which ran from 1991 to 2006, she won three consecutive BAFTA Awards for Best Actress and two Emmys. She also received another Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance in the miniseries Elizabeth I (2005).

2014 photo by See Li / the Moët British Independent Film Awards, CC license

We also love her versatility and comic timing—on display in the role of a sexy senior spy wielding machine guns, opposite Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich, in Red and Red 2.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Carl Jung, who founded analytic psychology, was born in Switzerland (1875)
  • A U.S. Postal Department was established by the Second Continental Congress and Benjamin Franklin was chosen as Postmaster General (1775)
  • Segregation in the U.S. military and federal government was banned by order of President Harry Truman (1948)
  • Greek Prime Minister Constantinos Karamanlis formed the country’s first civil government after seven years of military rule (1974)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act, which improved the nation’s landscape by requiring public ramps for wheelchairs, wider doorways, and accessible public transportation, became law (1990)
  • A lawsuit ended with Swiss banks awarding $1.25 billion to more than a half million plaintiffs who alleged the banks had hoarded money deposited by Holocaust victims (2000)

Happy Birthday to Sir Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who turns 76 today.

By Mexicaans fotomagazijn, CC

Born in Kent, England to a teacher and hairdresser, he’s spent more than 50 years as one of the most influential frontmen in the history of rock and roll—and showed the world that old age doesn’t have to mean the end of “cool”. WATCH a tribute below shared on the occasion of his 70th birthday. (1943)

And, on this day in 1968, The Jackson Five signed with Motown Records. They made history two years later as the first recording act ever to see their first 4 singles reach #1 on the Billboard charts. Who can forget ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’, ‘The Love You Save’ and ‘I’ll Be There’? WATCH the group perform a medley after 30 years…

Other Notable Birthdays: actress Sandra Bullock, 55 (Speed, The Blind Side), born in Washington, D.C. in 1964; actor and producer Jeremy Piven, 54 (Entourage, Serendipity, Mr. Selfridge), who grew up in Evanston, Illinois (1965).

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