"I realize how talented our hair and wardrobe people are every time I have to get dressed on my own."

Happy Birthday, Jon Hamm!

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Jon Hamm (born March 10th, 1971) is an American film and television actor. After being raised in Missouri and living through the death of both his parents, Hamm moved to Los Angeles. He struggled for many years to land parts and served tables in the meantime. After a string of small roles on various television shows, Hamm was eventually cast as the lead character of Don Draper on critically-acclaimed AMC series Mad Men. For this role, Hamm received much attention and praise. He won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for this performance, as well as six other major awards and dozens of nominations.

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Jonathan Daniel "Jon" Hamm was born in St. Louis, Missouri. His father ran a family trucking company and instilled in his son images of the classic American businessman, down to the collection of suits in his wardrobe. Hamm's parents divorced when he was only two years old at which point the young boy lived with his mother in Creve Coeur, Missouri. When Hamm was nine years old, his mother died of colon cancer, a sickness Hamm had been witnessing and helping with for years. Hamm was sent to live with his father and attended high school in Ladue, Missouri.

John_HammJon Hamm was successful at high school, where he was a member of the football, baseball, and swim teams. His first acting role was playing Winnie the Pooh in a first grade play. Though he starred in other roles during his school years and enjoyed it, he did not consider acting as a career. Hamm attended the Univesity of Texas until his father died when he was twenty years old. Hamm returned home and continued his studies at the University of Missouri. There, he responded to a casting call for a theater production of Midsummer Night's Dream and was cast. Hamm graduated in 1993 with an English degree and spent his time teaching acting at his high school, in gratitude for their support throughout his tragic childhood.

Jon Hamm relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career full-time in 1995. He arrived in the City of Angels with a car and only $150. Hamm waited tables and lived with four aspiring actors while trying to get roles. Hamm was signed on by the William Morris Agency but dropped three years later, after his lack of success in landing parts. Despite growing frustrated with his barely growing vocation, Hamm set himself a deadline. If he had not "made it" by age 30, he would give up and try something new. Then the offers started pouring in.

"Losing both parents at a young age gave me a sense that you can't really control life - so you'd better live it while it's here. I stopped believing in a storybook existence a long time ago. All you can do is push in a direction and see what comes of it." - Hamm

Beginning in the year 2000, Hamm began landing small parts on Television shows from NBC's Providence, Lifetime's The Division, What About Brian, CSI: Miami, Related, Numb3rs, The Unit, and The Sarah Silverman Program. He also appeared in three feature films, first with a one liner in Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys (2000) then in independent film Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and in war movie We Were Soldiers (2002). In 2007, Jon Hamm was cast out of 80 candidates for the lead role in new period drama Mad Men. This role would be a life changing opportunity and finally, his big break.

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Publicity Still for Mad Men

Mad Men, a drama about an advertising agency in 1960s New York, was created by Matthew Weiner and broadcast on AMC. The show premiered in June, 2007 to 1.4 million viewers. Both the season premiere and Hamm's performance received fantastic reviews and high critical praise. Hamm's role as protagonist Don Draper was a fitting part. Draper was a strong and handsome man, with a mysterious and tragedy-riddled past. His coworkers craved his guidance and approval and both his bosses and clients recognized his brilliant mind. For his performance, Hamm won a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild award and an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor. He would receive a second Emmy the following year and enjoy many other nominations.

Some classic quotes from Don Draper

"The reason you haven't felt it is because it doesn't exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons."

"You want some respect? Go out and get it for yourself."

"Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay."

"I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie, there is no system, the universe is indifferent."

"It's your life. You don't know how long it's gonna last, but you know it doesn't end well. You've gotta move forward ... as soon as you can figure out what that means."

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Don Draper, Mad Men

Don Draper in episode The Carousel

Don Draper pitches to Lucky Strike in Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Over the next few years, Mad Men alternated between being on air and being in a state of production while producer Weiner quibbled with the network. In the meantime, Hamm appeared in film The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) and was revealed to also be an excellent comedic actor in Tina Fey's 30 rock and as a host on Saturday Night Live. His successful participation led Hamm to be invited back to SNL seven times. His first leading role in a feature film was playing a man whose son is kidnapped in Stolen (2009). He also appeared in The Town (2010) alongside Ben Affleck, Howl (2010), Sucker Punch (2011) and Bridesmaids (2011) with SNL friend Kristen Wiig. Hamm starred in his long-term girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt's film Friends with Kids in 2011.

"Acting is sort of an extension of childhood. You get to play all of these roles and have so much fun. Playing an athlete would be so cool. Or where you get to shoot guns, ride horses. I wouldn't turn down any of that." - Hamm

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Hamm on Saturday Night Live

Jon Hamm in an SNL sketch

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"I was raised by a single mother and I've been in a 10-year relationship with my girlfriend. My whole life I've been surrounded by women." - Hamm

Even though Jon Hamm has been in a serious relationship with actress Jennifer Westfeldt since 1997, he frequently states that he views marriage as being just a legal act and an unnecessary one for himself and Jennifer, possibly due to his own parents' divorce and the impression it left. The couple own houses on each Coast together and have appeared together in Gap campaigns as well as co-founding production company Points West Pictures. Hamm was voted one of the Sexiest Men Alive by both Salon.com and People magazine. He also won GQ's International Man award and Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year (2008). Hamm still plays Don Draper on Mad Men, has a recurring role in sitcom The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, had a guest appearance on The Simpsons and is going to star in sports drama The Million Dollar Arm.

BAFTA Interview with Jon Hamm

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Monday, 10 March 2014
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