About Kevin Delaney Kline
Award-winning actor Kevin Kline is a familiar face to audiences both on the stage and screen. Much of his earliest work was done in a variety of roles with the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Acting Company. Kline first won praise as the pompous fiancé Bruce Granit in the musical On the Twentieth Century (1978) and as the unsettled writer Paul in Loose Ends (1979). He later undertook such classical roles as Richard III, Hamlet, Henry V, Benedict, Ivanov, Bluntschli, the Duke in Measure for Measure, and Trigorin in The Seagull, as well as the flamboyant Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1980). Regardless of his great success in films, Kline has returned regularly to the theatre. In December 2004 Kline became the 2,272nd recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.
He was born on October 24, 1947 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Robert and Peggy Kline. His father was a classical music lover and an amateur opera singer who owned and operated The Record Bar, a record store in St. Louis that opened in the early '40s, and also sold toys during the '60s and '70s; his father's family also owned Kline's Inc., a department store chain. Kline has described his mother as the "dramatic theatrical character in our family." Kline's father was an agnostic of German Jewish descent, while Kline's Irish-American mother, the daughter of an emigrant from County Louth, was Catholic. Kline and his siblings were raised as Catholic.
Kline graduated from the Catholic Saint Louis Priory School in 1965. He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he began as an aspiring classical pianist. After joining the on-campus theater group "Vest Pocket Players" as an undergraduate, he fell in love with the theater and switched to acting, graduating from Indiana University in 1970. He then moved to New York, where he was accepted at the Juilliard School.
In 1972, Kline added professional experience to his formal training when he joined New York's Acting Company, led at the time by John Houseman. He toured the country with the company, performing Shakespeare and winning particular acclaim for his portrayals of Romeo and Hamlet. This praise translated to the New York stage a few years later, when Kline won Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his role in the 1978 Broadway production of On the Twentieth Century. Three years later, he earned these same honors for his work in the Broadway production of The Pirates of Penzance (he later reprised his role for the musical's 1983 film adaptation).
After a stint on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow, Kline made his film debut in Alan Pakula's 1982 Sophie's Choice. It was an inarguably auspicious beginning: aside from the wide acclaim lavished on the film, Kline earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Nathan Landau. The following year, he again struck gold, starring in The Big Chill, Lawrence Kasdan's seminal exploration of baby-boomer anxiety. Two years later, Kline and Kasdan enjoyed another successful collaboration with Silverado, an homage to the Westerns of the 1950s and '60s.
After turning in a strong performance as a South African newspaper editor in Cry Freedom, Richard Attenborough's powerful 1987 apartheid drama, Kline won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his relentlessly hilarious portrayal of dimwitted petty thief Otto West in A Fish Called Wanda (1988). The award gave him international recognition and established him as an actor as adept at comedy as he was at drama, something Kline again proved in Soapdish; the 1991 comedy was a major disappointment, but Kline nonetheless managed to turn in another excellent performance, earning a Golden Globe nomination.
The '90s saw Kline -- now a married man, having wed actress Phoebe Cates in 1989 -- continue to tackle a range of diverse roles. In 1992, he could be seen playing Douglas Fairbanks in Chaplin, while the next year he gave a winning portrayal of two men -- one, the U.S. President, the other, his reluctant stand-in -- in Dave, earning another Golden Globe nomination. Kline then appeared in one of his most high-profile roles to date, starring as a sexually conflicted schoolteacher in Frank Oz's 1997 comedy In & Out. His portrayal earned him another Golden Globe nomination, as well as a number of other accolades (including an MTV Award nomination for Best Kiss with Tom Selleck).
Further praise followed for Kline the next year, when he turned in a stellar dramatic performance as an adulterous family man in 1973 Connecticut in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. He then turned back to Shakespeare, portraying Bottom in the star-studded 1999 adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. His work in that film was so well received that it helped to overshadow his involvement in Wild Wild West, one of the most critically lambasted and financially disappointing films of the year.
2001 found Kline returning to straight drama in the introspective Life as a House. The actor continued in this niche the following year, starring as an unorthodox prep school teacher in The Emperor's Club. After playing songwriter Cole Porter in the 2004 biopic De-Lovely, Kline began work on his return to comedy, a remake of the classic The Pink Panther, with him cast opposite Steve Martin.
Kline played Guy Noir in Robert Altman's film adaptation of the radio program Prairie Home Companion, and fulfilled the hopes of Shakespeare enthusiasts around the world when he appeared in the Kenneth Branagh directed adaptation of As You Like It, marking the first time the two respected Shakespearean performers collaborated on a work by the Bard.
Though he has been offered many roles that could have boosted him to box-office stardom, Kline has kept a wary distance from the Hollywood star-making machine. He developed a reputation for picking parts with discrimination (such as strong roles in Grand Canyon and Life as a House), leading to the industry nickname "Kevin Decline".
Kline's film The Conspirator premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was described as an "old fashioned historical thriller". It was well received by most critics.
In 1989, Kline married actress Phoebe Cates, 16 years his junior. The couple live in New York City and have two children: Owen Joseph Kline (born 1991), who had a featured role in The Squid and the Whale, and Greta Simone Kline (born 1994). After his son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, Kline became active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In November 2004, he was presented with the JDRF's Humanitarian of the Year award by Meryl Streep for his volunteer efforts on behalf of the organization.