Huffpost Fifty

Rita Wilson Turns 56!

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RITA WILSON
AP

Happy birthday, Rita Wilson! The actress, producer, singer and Huff/Post50 editor-at-large turns 56 today.

In her own birthday well wishes to us here at Huff/Post50, Rita recalled a toast her dear friend Nora Ephron gave her on her 50th birthday: "I am here to tell you good things can happen after turning fifty." Rita is a living embodiment of that statement, showing a joyful fearlessness as she tackles new challenges with her trademark moxie and gusto.

Whether it's putting on a producer hat or stepping into a recording booth, Rita is living her 50s out loud and with no reservations. It's one of the many things we love about her. In fact, to honor our editor-at-large on her big day, here are 10 things we love about Rita Wilson:

1. She takes big risks. In 2006 when Wilson took on the role of Cook County Jail's most infamous murdress Roxie Hart in the Broadway musical "Chicago," it wasn't with 100 percent confidence, the actress said. Having never been on stage before, the idea of vamping on stage kind of made her "sick to my stomach," she told the Associated Press then.

But it was something she wanted to do. And so she did it. "I had to learn the Fosse choreography, the Kander and Ebb music, and the script, all in three weeks," she told Harper's Bazaar. "I've learned that if you're frightened to do something, that usually means you should do it. From fear comes growth."

2. She believes great stories should be told. The hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is celebrating its 10th anniversary next month, but the little film that could may not have seen the light of day if it weren't for Rita Wilson. Wilson caught star Nia Vardalos performing "Big Fat Greek Wedding" as a one-woman show in L.A. and thought it would be perfect for the big screen, later becoming co-producer of the 2002 flick. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is now ranked as one of the most profitable independent movies ever made.

3. She's not afraid to be one of the "Girls." We're excited to see Rita on the hit HBO comedy "Girls" in January. She'll be playing the mom of straight-laced Marnie (Allison Williams) in the series best known for its frank, yet realistically awkward handling of quarter-life sex.

4. She knows how to have fun! At an L.A. Kings game with her husband, Tom Hanks, Wilson got caught in the infamous "Kiss Cam" gaze. But instead of ducking, Wilson -- who's been married for 24 years -- went in for the kiss while giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to the crowd.

5. She embraces her passions. Far from being content with producing and acting, Wilson pursued her love of music -- beyond the confines of her car. "I finally admitted to myself that my lifelong love of music and singing had to be a part of my future," she wrote. That realization led to her debut album, "AM/FM," a compilation of covers spanning her favorite hits from the 60s and 70s, including "Come See About Me" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."

6. She has great hair. Sorry. OK we're not sorry -- would you just look at that mane? Seriously, it's like something out of Disney princess movie. We admit this is a totally superficial observation, but we can't help ourselves. The woman has fantastic hair.

7. She's a great mom. Wilson has two children with Hanks, as well as two step-children from his previous marriages. Asked by personal trainer Jillian Michaels what her proudest moment has been, Wilson replied:

As a parent I would have to say anything where you can see that what you’ve done as a parent has impacted them positively. Seeing your children become really lovely young adults and human beings is overwhelming in some ways.

8. She relishes both big moments and the subtle details that make life fulfilling. If you've read Rita's poignant essay about Nora Ephron, you'll know what we mean. If you haven't, please do.

9. She knows the meaning of hard work. Rita's dad escaped from a Bulgarian labor camp to come to the U.S., and her mom escaped from her Greek village during World War II by hiking -- at night, by herself -- over the mountains. Rita started working at age 13 in a neighborhood market, landed an episode of "The Brady Bunch" at 16 and hasn't stopped. She once said: "I've never wanted to be a big star. I just want to keep on working."

10. She's fun to watch on the screen, fun to read in print and has amazing style. (OK, that was three.) From "Volunteers" to "Sleepless in Seattle" to "That Thing You Do!" we've loved Rita's movies and TV roles, which have included "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Good Wife" and "Body of Proof." Along with her thoughtful writings here, Rita has contributed to Harper's Bazaar and O The Oprah Magazine.

And lastly, for one to grow on, we love that she's a woman who knows life just gets better every year. Happy birthday, Rita!

Also on The Huffington Post

Rita Wilson Through The Years
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