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Kevin Bacon Biography:

Though Kevin Bacon may not be the kind of star that can open a movie, he is enough of a cultural phenomenon to have inspired the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" parlor game, whose creators guaranteed that anyone in Hollywood in the past fifteen years could be linked to the versatile actor in six strokes or less. With the support of his parents, he ventured to NYC at age 17 and became the youngest apprentice at Circle in the Square, embarking on a stage career that would see him win an OBIE before the age of 25 and perform on Broadway opposite Sean Penn in "The Slab Boys" (1983). Bacon made his feature debut with a small part in "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978) and appeared in five other films before gaining his first serious exposure as the confused rich kid with a drinking problem in Barry Levinson's directorial debut "Diner" (1982).

The agile blond actor burst into the leading man category as the dancing rebel in "Footloose" (1984), an improbably popular "Flashdance" rehash, and promptly set about sabotaging his career with his disdain for the teen-idol success the picture had earned him by choosing roles in quirky films. Headlining mediocre movies like "Quicksilver" (1986) and "Whitewater Summer" (1987) dimmed his star considerably, and a pairing with director John Hughes as the overwrought yuppie dad in the contemporary comedy "She's Having a Baby" (1988) also failed to ignite the box office. By the time he had played a cold-blooded killer in the pretentious "Criminal Law" (also 1988) and the young filmmaker in the underrated satire "The Big Picture" (1989), Bacon's career was in complete crisis, deepened by the death of his mother and the sudden sense of responsibility brought on by the birth of his first child.

After beginning the decade inauspiciously with "Flatliners" (an ensemble piece that actually did some business) and "Tremors" (both 1990) as well as "He Said, She Said" (1991), Bacon reinvented himself in the 90s, wisely opting for character parts in more ambitious mainstream projects. He was a revelation as the smirking gay hustler in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (also 1991) and rock solid as the no-nonsense Marine attorney in Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men" (1992). "The Air Up There" (1994) reinforced the fact that his name alone was not enough to carry a picture, but he returned to the winner's column menacing Meryl Streep and her family in "The River Wild" (1994), Streep's presence selling the movie while Bacon gave it its edge. Christian Slater drove the box-office bus of the historical courtroom drama "Murder in the First" (1995), but it was Bacon delivering the bravura performance that made the film worth watching, delving deeply into an Alcazar inmate whose Depression-era theft of five dollars had landed him in jail in the first place. That same year, he also brought a colorful "right stuff" cockiness to his role as Jack Swigert, one of the crew of Ron Howard's "Apollo 13".

Bacon made his directorial debut with the character drama "Losing Chase" (1996), a movie starring his wife Kyra Sedgwick, which got a theatrical release after its premiere on Showtime. He picked up his first credit as executive producer (in addition to playing a cop who suspects a conspiracy) for the neo-noir "Wild Things" (1998) and earned his first song credit ("Medium Rare") for "Telling Lies in America" (1997), in which he also starred as a cocky disc jockey accepting payola. The Bacon Brothers, the band he had formed with his older brother Michael, also put out their first album ("Forosoco") that year. Continuing in the musical vein, he sang on the ABC special "Happy Birthday Elizabeth--A Celebration of Life" (also 1997), honoring Elizabeth Taylor (a "Bacon number" of two), shared credit for the music of the European feature "Solo Shuttle" (1998) and saw the Bacon Brothers put out their second album, "Getting There" (1999), as well as playing their first major NYC concert at the venerable Town Hall in 2000.

Bacon gave an exceptional performance as a working-class Everyman who takes a dangerously long time to fully comprehend his newly acquired psychic powers in David Koepp's supernatural thriller "Stir of Echoes" (1998). Released after "The Sixth Sense" (also 1998), which also featured a boy who sees dead people, this underappreciated gem remained in the blockbuster's shadow, perhaps because Bacon can't open a movie like Bruce Willis. However, it is more likely that the late arrival of "Stir of Echoes" made it that year's "Kundun", a far superior Tibetan pic than "Seven Years in Tibet" (both 1997), which arrived in theaters first and walked off with the box office honors. He remained in the background as the 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 Verhoeven's "The Hollow Man" as a US government scientist who succumbs to his evil nature in the voyeuristic throes of invisibility. It was a perfect part for Bacon, who provided the picture with edge while the special effects and big name director served as its draw. Later that year, the actor turned edgier as a scientist who uses himself as a test subject with a drug that could turn mammals invisible in "Hollow Man".

In 2002, Bacon and Courtney Love portrayed professional serial kidnappers in Luis Mandoki's action feature "Trapped," which also co-starred Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend. He just starred in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003) as a cop who is investigating the murder of his childhood friend’s daughter. The movie also starred Sean Penn and Tim Robins. Coming up, Bacon appear with Meg Ryan in In the Cut (2003).

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