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Kevin Bacon Biography


Home > Actors > B > Bacon, Kevin > Biography


Birth Name: Kevin Bacon
Born: 07/08/1958
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Born on July 8, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA, Bacon was raised the youngest of six children by his father, Edmund, an urban planner who reinvented the city and was once dubbed "The Father of Modern Philadelphia," and his mother, Ruth, a teacher and political activist. Bacon knew all along that he wanted to be an actor, which led him to attend the Pennsylvania Governors School for the Arts. After continuing his dramatic training at the Manning Street Actor's Theatre in Philadelphia, he left for New York, where he became the youngest-ever apprentice at the Greenwich Village theater school, Circle in the Square. While there, he made his off-Broadway premiere in Marsha Norman's "Getting Out" (1978). He followed with his feature debut with a small, but memorable part in "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978). In two long-revered scenes, Bacon portrayed Chip Diller, a young ROTC soldier pledging the Omega Theta Pi fraternity, who receives a severe paddling during rush week while intoning, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" At the end of the movie, he pleaded for a frenzied parade crowd to "Remain calm all is well!" before getting trampled into the cement cartoon fashion.

Bacon moved on to several small supporting roles, making his television movie debut in the Christmas drama, "The Gift" (CBS, 1979) while appearing in features like "Starting Over" (1979), "Friday the 13th" (1980) and "Only When I Laugh" (1981). He gained his first serious exposure as a confused rich kid with a drinking problem in "Diner" (1982), Barry Levinson's directorial debut that also introduced the likes of Steve Guttenberg, Paul Riser and Mickey Rourke He elevated his career with an OBIE-winning performance on Broadway opposite Sean Penn in "The Slab Boys" (1983). But all was mere prologue to the insane amount of celebrity Bacon received for his performance in the smash hit "Footloose" (1984), an improbably popular riff on "Flashdance" (1983) that forever changed the actor's career. As the rebellious Ren McCormack, who moves from the big city to a small town where the local government has banned rock music and dancing, Bacon - who had up that point considered himself a serious dramatic actor - became an unlikely heartthrob, appearing on covers of all the teen magazines, including Tiger Beat, as well as more adult entertainment publications like People. Along with the hit title song by Kenny Loggins - which accompanied Bacon's famed warehouse dance scene - "Footloose" became one of the iconic cultural symbols of the 1980s.

Though he became an instant celebrity because of "Footloose," Bacon soon learned that his fame came with a price - namely that he would spend the rest of his natural born life being associated with the role no matter what else he did on screen. The other downside was the idea entering his mind that he was somehow invincible. But headlining mediocre fare like "Quicksilver" (1986) and "White Water Summer" (1987) dimmed his star considerably, offering the actor a large helping of humble pie. Even a pairing with director John Hughes as an overwrought yuppie dad in the contemporary comedy "She's Having a Baby" (1988) failed to set the box office on fire. By the time Bacon played a cold-blooded killer in the pretentious "Criminal Law" (1988) and a young filmmaker in the underrated satire "The Big Picture" (1989), his career was in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, his personal life took a turn with the death of his mother and the sudden sense of responsibility brought on by the birth of his first child with actress Kyra Sedgwick.

After beginning the next decade with the uninspired "Flatliners" (1990) and the ridiculous, but fun horror flick "Tremors" (1990) - which spawned numerous sequels and incarnations - Bacon tried in vain to revitalize his waning career with the failed throwback romantic comedy, "He Said, She Said" (1991). But it was his next performance - a small supporting one at that - in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991) that began righting the course of his career. Bacon played the fictional Willie O'Keefe, a fascist-minded gay hustler associated with alleged conspirators David Ferrie (J Pesci), Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones), and the only man officially accused of pulling the trigger, Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman), in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Though only onscreen for several minutes, including a memorable scene with New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) at a Louisiana prison, Bacon made an indelible impression on critics and movieg rs, who saw a completely different side of the actor. Soon he began to take on darker, more challenging roles like the serious dramatic actor he knew himself to be.

One such role was a compelling performance as a rock solid, no-nonsense Marine prosecutor trying a hazing ritual gone bad in Rob Reiner's feature adaptation of Aaron Sorkin's play, "A Few Good Men" (1992). He next played an American basketball coach who brings the game to an African tribe in "The Air Up There" (1994), a role that reinforced the fact that his name alone was not enough to carry a picture. But he returned to the winner's column playing a fugitive killer menacing Meryl Streep and her family in "The River Wild" (1994), which earned Bacon his first-ever Golden Globe nomination. While Christian Slater was top-billed for the historical courtroom drama "Murder in the First" (1995), Bacon delivered a strong performance as a Depression-era inmate at Alcatraz who suffers severe abuse, transforming him from a petty thief into a murderer. Many were disappointed with Bacon being shut out of award nominations for a role that was one of the best of his career. Also that year, he was appropriately cocky as astronaut Jack Swigert, who gets trapped aboard the doomed "Apollo 13" (1995) with Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton).

Bacon made his directorial debut with the character drama "Losing Chase" (1996), starring wife Kyra Sedgwick, which got a theatrical release after its premiere on Showtime. If any traces of his teen idol image were still visible after "JFK," they were completely erased with his next project, "Sleepers" (1996), in which he played a guard at a 1960s reform school who - along with his fellow guards - systematically rape and beat four boys. Years later, the boys have grown into men and by chance find their chief tormentor, murdering him in broad daylight. Meanwhile, he earned his first song credit writing "Medium Rare" for "Telling Lies in America" (1997), in which he also starred as a brash disc jockey accepting payola. Bacon next picked up his first credit as executive producer with "Wild Things" (1998), a neo-noir that saw him play a police sergeant who becomes suspicious after a high school guidance counselor is accused of rape by two students, one Goth (Neve Campbell), the other rich and popular (Denise Richards), only to be acquitted when one of the girls admits she falsified her story, leading to a multi-million dollar settlement.

By this time in his career, Bacon had worked on a number of films that made it seem as though he had worked with everyone in show business. In fact, while conducting an interview with Premiere magazine, Bacon made a comment claiming that he had worked with everyone in Hollywood or someone who has worked with that person. The claim led to a game created by three Albright College students called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which required players to connect him to any other actor in film history as quickly and with as few links as possible. The number of links would be the actor's Bacon number. For example, Tom Cruise worked with Kevin Bacon in "A Few Good Men," which meant that he had a Bacon number of one - the lowest possible. By the end of the decade, the game had become infused into popular culture, while a good-humored Bacon often played into the joke, even making mention of it in a cameo appearance as himself on an episode of "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006).

Bacon pursued other avenues of creative expression when he joined older brother Michael to form the aptly-named band, The Bacon Brothers, a country-rock outfit that formed in 1995 and released its debut album, Forosoco, two years later. Continuing his music trip, Bacon sang on the television special "Happy Birthday Elizabeth - A Celebration of Life" (ABC, 1997), which honored the life and career of Elizabeth Taylor, who herself possessed a Bacon number of two. He then shared credit for the music on the European feature "Solo Shuttle" (1998) and released a second Bacon Brothers album, Getting There (1999), which led to the band playing their first major concert at the venerable Town Hall in New York City in 2000. Of course, Bacon was full steam ahead with his film career, giving an exceptional performance as a working-class Everyman who takes a dangerously long time to comprehend his newly acquired psychic powers in David K pp's supernatural thriller "Stir of Ech s" (1999). Released in the shadow of the blockbuster thriller, "The Sixth Sense" (1999), which featured a similar plot line, the unappreciated film languished at the box office.

Bacon remained in the background as a gruff father in "My Dog Skip" (2000), allowing young Frankie Muniz to dominate the nostalgic tale of growing up in the Deep South of the 1940s. Later that year, he headlined Paul Verh ven's sci-fi thriller, "The Hollow Man" (2000), playing as a U.S. government scientist whose experiments on a secretive invisibility serum backfires, causing him to fade away and turn homicidal. It was a perfect part for Bacon, who provided the picture with a necessary edge amidst special effects and a big name director. Bacon next joined Courtney Love to portray a pair of professional kidnappers in Luis Mandoki's middling action feature "Trapped" (2002), costarring Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend. Bacon delivered one of his best turns to date when he appeared in director Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" (2003), playing a homicide detective assigned to the murder of the daughter of a childhood friend (Sean Penn), while another friend from the neighborhood (Tim Robbins) is suspected of the crime.

He followed with an even more challenging role in "The Woodsman" (2004), playing a convicted pedophile who returns to his hometown to begin a new life after a dozen years in prison. Bacon's realistic and even sympathetic depiction was praised as one of his finest performances. But the controversial subject matter may have cost the actor some major award nominations. Still, he did earn an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead. Radically shifting gears, he enjoyed a scene-stealing supporting turn as an over-the-top hair stylist in the "Barbershop" spin-off "Beauty Shop" (2005). Scoring another coup, Bacon costarred with Colin Firth in director Atom Egoyan's sly and seductive show biz noir, "Where the Truth Lies" (2005). Bacon played Lanny Morris, the manic half of a 1950s comedy duo caught up in the mysterious murder of a beautiful blonde who turns up naked and dead in the bathtub of their New Jersey hotel room, leading to the dissolution of their partnership and a years-later investigation.

Bacon sat back down in the director's chair for "Loverboy" (2006), a heartfelt drama about an iconoclastic woman (Sedgwick) who wants nothing more than to have a child. Meanwhile, he formed the charitable group, sixdegrees.org, which helped raise money for various causes through its partnership with companies like AOL and Entertainment Weekly. Back on screen, he played a doctor compromised by personal feelings while trying to save the life of someone he loves in the ensemble drama, "The Air I Breathe" (2008). In "Frost/Nixon" (2008), he portrayed John Brennan, a former Marine officer and the post-resignation chief of staff for disgraced president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella), who agreed to do a series of historic interviews with British broadcaster David Frost (Michael Sheen). Bacon delivered another exquisite performance, this time as a U.S. Marine who volunteers to bring back the remains of a 19-year-old soldier killed in Iraq in the real-life inspired drama, "Taking Chance" (HBO, 2009). The role earned him nominations for an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and he won both. He next had a supporting role as a philandering band leader in "My One and Only" (2009), a comedic look at the early years of actor George Hamilton (Logan Lerman).