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Profile on Kevin Bacon, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Aired October 11, 2003 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next, on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS the mega action star who terminated big screen stardom to become governor of California.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIF. GOV.-ELECT: Thank you very much to all the people of California.

ANNOUNCER: Growing up poor in a war-torn Austria, he saw his ticket to fame in the weight room

SCHWARZENEGGER: I needed to go and become Mr. Universe in order to get into movies.

ANNOUNCER: This staunch Republican fell in love and married into Camelot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was huge, confident, and trying to make time with my sister.

ANNOUNCER: Allegations from his past dogged him on the campaign trail.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Have behaved badly sometimes.

ANNOUNCER: Cyborg, humanitarian, businessman and now, California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd better find him, she's dead.

ANNOUNCER: You'll find him six degrees from the Terminator or most any other actor. He's the pop phenomenon who grew up with a famous dad in downtown Philly and showed a dramatic flare early on.

Suddenly, Kevin age 2, sat up in his chair and said am I me? He shot to fame and became a reluctant teen idol after his dance moves in "Footloose."

KEVIN BACON, ACTOR: I mean I was David Cassidy. I couldn't handle it.

ANNOUNCER: A string of box office bombs led to smaller roles, but ultimate success.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are really the signal to Hollywood, I don't have to be the lead.

ANNOUNCER: Now, he shares the spotlight with Sean Penn in the Clint Eastwood drama, "Mystic River". The six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Now, their stories on "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS".


Governor Schwarzenegger, the man who conquered bodybuilding and the box office has now conquered politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger wins as California votes to oust Governor Gray Davis. It was an historic vote, but it is just the latest victory for an icon who has made winning a profession. Bill Hemmer has our profile of the governor- elect.


BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you don't remember the face, you may remember the body. A young Mr. Universe pumping iron in the early '70s. A physique that strained the imagination.

JOE WEIDER, CHAIRMAN WEIDER HEALTH & FITNESS: When it comes to size and proportion, he was the best.

HEMMER: As the gargantuan '80s action hero, Conan the Barbarian.

JAMIE LEE CURTIS, ACTRESS: He is an enormously talented man with enormous charisma.

HEMMER: And perhaps his biggest and most memorable role, the larger-than-life killer robot, in "The Terminator".


HEMMER: The Terminator kept his promise.

SCHWARZENEGGER: When I go anywhere, people always talk about, hey, when you going to do another "Terminator."

HEMMER: Now the Terminator leaves Hollywood and heads to Sacramento for an even bigger role, governor of California.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Let me tell you something. I will do everything I can to live up to that trust. I will not fail you. I will not disappoint you. And I will not let you down.

HEMMER: But Schwarzenegger's road to victory was not without bumps, early in his campaign, he was criticized for not spelling out his political views.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When are you going to answer our questions, sir? When are you going to talk us to about substance?

SCHWARZENEGGER: We will be rolling it out. Remember, we just started the campaign

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This bothered the press. Did it bother the voters? Well, in the exit poll, we asked do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger has spelled out his position on the issues? They said, no, by 2-1, and they still voted for him?

Why, because it had nothing to do with the issues. They voted because of personal qualities. What the voters of California see in Arnold Schwarzenegger is someone who is simply a leader.

HEMMER: And the media aired controversial clips about Schwarzenegger's past. Mostly excerpts from the 1975 documentary "Pumping Iron". They showed the 29-year-old bodybuilder smoking pot and speaking candidly ability missing his father's funeral.

SCHWARZENEGGER: My mother called me on the phone and said, You know, your dad died. This was two months before the contest. She said you coming home for the funeral? I said, no, it's too late. He's dead. There's nothing to be done.

HEMMER: Portions of a graphic interview Schwarzenegger gave to an adult magazine 25 years ago were publicized. He allegedly told "Oui" magazine about group sex he had an a California gym.

Just days before the election, questions were raised about Schwarzenegger's treatment of women in the past. "The Los Angeles Times" reported women had accused him of sexual harassment. One claiming that Schwarzenegger quote, "groped her, and tried to remove her bathing suit".

SCHWARZENEGGER: I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right, which I thought then was playful but now I recognize that I have offended people. To those people I have offended, I want to say to them, I'm deeply sorry about that.

HEMMER: But reaction to his past behavior did not deter him. Despite the controversy, Schwarzenegger came out on top.

SCHNEIDER: It was as if "The L.A. Times" and other stories never appeared, because the final vote on October 7 looked very much like the vote that was predicted two weeks earlier, before all of these accusations broke in the press. As if they never happened. That really was a surprise.

GEORGE BUTLER, DIRECTOR, "PUMPING IRON": Never underestimate Arnold. People have always counted him down-and-out at every particular moment of his career right from the beginning.

HEMMER: The odds were stacked against Arnold Schwarzenegger early on. His life began in Austria during a climate of uncertainty, July 30, 1947. Adolph Hitler was no longer in power and World War II had ended. But Europe was in disarray with rampant unemployment and poverty.

SCHWARZENEGGER: My mother had to literally go 20, 30 kilometers around, you know, to find food for us kids.

HEMMER: Little Arnie and his big brother Meinhard group up in this house in a sleepy farming community called Thal, nestled in the hilly southeastern region of Austria. His mother, Aurelia, was a homemaker and his father, Gustav, a police officer who kept a strict household.

SCHWARZENEGGER: There was serious kind of punishments if you did something wrong. My mother was much more disciplined. She was waiting at home after I came home from school and she would demand to do the homework first before I was allowed out of the house.

HEMMER: Arnold's father, at one time a member of the Nazi Party, was even more of a disciplinarian. He pitted son against son in everything from school to sports.

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Everyone thought Meinhard was the one that was going to go to bigger and weather things. In fact, they said Arnold was so timid when he followed Meinhard around, that to goof on him his friends would call him Cinderella, as if he was the sister that wasn't really getting all the star treatment.

HEMMER: Those insults just pushed Arnold to work harder. He became obsessed with competition.

He also discovered another passion, action movies, mostly those featuring muscular film stars like Steve Reeves in 1958, "Hercules Unchained".

SCHWARZENEGGER: I looked at him and said, Wow, this guy became a Hercules star because he was Mr. Universe. Maybe that's what I need to do. I need to become Mr. Universe and win Mr. World Competition and with be a world champion in bodybuilder in order to get into movies.

HEMMER: He plotted his destiny, studying muscle magazines, discovering the gym and enduring grueling workout sessions.

SCHWARZENEGGER: When I started training with weights at the age of 15, my body responded very quickly. So, it was very clear that was where my potential was.

HEMMER: In 1961, the well-developed 15-year-old came in second at his first body building contest in Austria. During a short stint in the army he entered and won more competitions. He took home the title of Junior Mr. Europe in a 1966 runner-up of the Mr. Universe contest. The 19-year-old trained even harder. In 1967, at the age of 20, Schwarzenegger became the youngest Mr. Universe in history. American bodybuilding Joe Weider was impressed.

WEIDER: I knew at that time he would be a great champion. He was charming. He made you laugh. And he trained hard and he was totally dedicated.

HEMMER: Weider encouraged the 20-year-old to leave Austria and train in the United States. Schwarzenegger was elated.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I wanted to get into movies. I wanted to be the top in body building. I wanted to make a lot of money.

HEMMER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Schwarzenegger makes millions, conquers Conan, and marries into Camelot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was huge, confident, and trying to make time with my sister.


HEMMER: By 1968, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the best bodybuilder in the world, but the 21-year-old Austrian was looking for more than just trophies?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I wanted to go to America and I wanted to be part of something really big.

HEMMER: He left Austria and muscled his way to L.A.'s Venice Beach, the bodybuilding Mecca in the '60s. He took classes, learned English, and worked out. In 1969 he captured the coveted Mr. Olympia title. He still craved a bigger title, and a bigger audience

SCHWARZENEGGER: Bodybuilding was a wonderful sport. I had a great time. But it was always a means to an end, as everything ought to be. The bodybuilding was a way of getting into the movies.

HEMMER: After a few acting classes he landed his very first part. Billed as Arnold Strong, he was seen but not heard in the 1969s low-budget flick "Hercules in New York". His voice was dubbed when movie execs decided his Austrian accent was too thick.

SCHWARZENEGGER: A fine chariot, but where are the horses?

HEMMER: Schwarzenegger gained his first real notoriety in "Pumping Iron", the documentary about body builders training for Mr. Olympia. George Butler directed the film

BUTLER: The entire movie is almost like a Schwarzenegger monologue. And he is wickedly funny in it. Very smart, very canny, very surprising.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I have no fear of fainting in a gym because I know it could happen. I threw up many times while I was working out. It doesn't matter, because it is all worth it.

HEMMER: Schwarzenegger's body, charm, and wit made him a hit with American audiences. He also captured someone else's attention.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I would say I fell in love with her very much in the beginning when I met her.

HEMMER: In 1977, 30-year-old Schwarzenegger was further Americanized when he began dating the niece of President John F. Kennedy, Maria Shriver. Shriver's parents and brothers are well-known philanthropists -- and liberals.

TIM SHRIVER, BROTHER-IN-LAW: There was no expectation that an Austrian bodybuilder, who was Republican, would ever be anything more than a weekend visitor. I think he was fascinated most by my parents, really. BUTLER: Right from the start, long before he met Maria, he was very clear that he was interested in the Kennedy's. And he really had a plan to do exactly what he's done. He wanted to get from A to Z. And Z was to be a millionaire, to be somehow to be associated with the White House.

HEMMER: After an eight-year courtship, Schwarzenegger and Shriver married in 1986. Politics aside, he says they have much in common.

SCHWARZENEGGER: She was always a very ambitious girl and I was always ambitious. We are all big believers in family. I wanted to have kids; she always wanted to have kids. I always wanted to have two; she wanted to have five, so we settled at four.

HEMMER: Schwarzenegger had become a member have America's most famous family. His next role would make him a member of Hollywood's elite.

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: "Conan The Barbarian" was essentially a revival of these cheesy, sword and sandals, sort of cartoon epics. I mean, these things were cheesy, but it made it clear this guy could be a movie star.

HEMMER: And he continued to capitalize on his body off screen, building on his brawn and his brain. After earning a business degree from the University of Wisconsin Superior in 1979, he put his education to the test.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I was smart enough to make money off my bodybuilding to write books, best-selling books. Any money that I made, I invested in real estate. I would say in the late '70s I was already a millionaire.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Good to see you. Let's see those muscles.

HEMMER: A millionaire, and in 1984, a career-changing role as the indestructible alien in "The Terminator".

SCHWARZENEGGER: It was the first movie that became like a huge hit without really using the body, and exploiting the body. Because I had my leather jacket on throughout the whole movie.

HEMMER: He'd use his body again, though, in many '80s action flicks, as a war veteran battling terrorists in "Commando", a soldier on a dangerous mission in "Predator", and a man sentenced to a game show execution in "Running Man".

ROZEN: They were very carefully tailored to his talent? No one gave him reams of English dialogue. You knew he couldn't do reams of English dialogue. So, you gave him these short often funny lines, these sort of cracks. And you had him kill a whole lot of people in a whole lot of exciting, special effects kinds of ways.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Let off some steam, Bennett.

Beautiful. Perfect.

HEMMER: Schwarzenegger used his success to help disadvantaged kids. He launched the Inner City Games and became a driving force behind the Special Olympics.

TIM SHRIVER, PRESIDENT, SPECIAL OLYMPICS: He's been an enormously powerful force for putting people with mental disability on the map in places where they are not known, as people have dignity and respect.

HEMMER: But with fame, for tune and good deeds came scathing reviews of his personal life, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Schwarzenegger's reputation butchered in a movie magazine.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I've gotten bad press. There's always some people out there that want to do you harm.

HEMMER: And asta la vista, Hollywood, Conan the Politician.



SCHWARZENEGGER: Asta la vista, baby!

HEMMER: In the early '90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the king of action heroes. He returned as the unstoppable alien in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". And rocked the box office with a violent big budget "Total Recall".

SCHWARZENEGGER: You blew my cover!

Everybody down!

HEMMER: His labor of love, "Last Action Hero", fell flat

SCHWARZENEGGER: This hero stuff has its limits.

HEMMER: But he rebounded later as a spy and family man in the romantic comedy "True Lies." And Schwarzenegger earned kudos off the screen. He was a thriving businessman, owned cool real estate and restaurants.

DANA CARVEY, UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just want to pump, you up!

HEMMER: Hosted hit TV shows, like "Saturday Night Live".

SCHWARZENEGGER: Oh, you guys make me sick. This is what you have to do. Like this.

HEMMER: But all the muscles in the world could not save his next movies, comedies, "Junior" and "Jingle All the Way" fizzled

ROZEN: The late '90s, in particular, were not that kind to Arnold. He tried to broaden his range because it was clear he was getting a little older and the stunts were a little harder to do. It was clear. He was no longer the box office star he had been.

HEMMER: Box office bombs coincided with some personal problems. In 1997 the 50-year-old underwent surgery to replace a defective heart valve. He made a full recovery but rumors circulated that his bad heart was due to steroid use in his early years

WEIDER: He knew I didn't like it, but they all had to take it on order to compete in those days. He didn't overdo it.

HEMMER: And in 2001 Schwarzenegger was incensed when "Premier" magazine featured an article alleging his boorish behavior toward women. That he had fondled female co-stars.

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: An article came out in "Premier" magazine that sort of brought to the forefront a lot of things that had been sort of whispered about Arnold in the past. Basically his infatuation with women. In Europe he's know as the octopus.

He contends it's all playful. It was amazing the reaction to that article. He got, basically, all of Hollywood to line up on his side and deny these charges.

HEMMER: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis was one of those Hollywood friends. She even wrote a letter to "Premier" magazine defending him.

CURTIS: The door to his trailer was open every single day, all day. There is nothing going on. He's in there Christi's catalogs. "Jamie Lee, do you think I should buy this for Maria for her birthday." I mean, I just didn't see it.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I've gotten bad press. You cannot just expect people to talk nice about you, or to just compliment you with your movies, or everyone loves your movies, everyone loves your politics, everyone loves your lifestyle.

HEMMER: Bad press and some bad movies have not deterred him.


HEMMER: But after other film flops like "Sixth Day" and "Collateral Damage" he's been seen less on movie screens and more on the political trail.


HEMMER: He funded and served as lead spokesman for Proposition 49, an act that established after-school programs in California.

This year, it became evident, the 56-year-old was dead serious about politics. With news of the unusual recall election to oust the unpopular governor of California, he hinted he might run for office, but later backed off. Then a surprise Schwarzenegger announcement on late night TV.

SCHWARZENEGGER: This is why I'm going to run for governor of the state of California.


SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much. Make sure to vote, OK?

HEMMER: Schwarzenegger ran a campaign mired in controversy. During what was dubbed with the "Super Bowl" of debates he sparred with the then candidate Arianna Huffington

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, CALIF. GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: ... very hypocritical of Arnold, to come here.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Arianna, you are talking about the car tax, right now, not education.

HUFFINGTON: Let me finish. Let me finish. This is completely impolite. This is the way you treat women, we know that, but not now.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I just realized I have a perfect part for you in "Terminator 4".




HEMMER: In "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines", Schwarzenegger faced opposition of a different sort, a female super android.

SCHWARZENEGGER: She's just a very, very dangerous and very advanced terminator, whereas I'm much more like the older model of the terminators.

HEMMER: Older model perhaps, but this machine shows no sign of breaking down.

SHRIVER: In the end of the day, Arnold is impatient, and when he feels like he's gotten something, he wants to figure out what he can do next.

BUTLER: He's always managed to find the odd angle that works. And I would love to see Arnold Schwarzenegger fool everyone.

CURTIS: I think we would be so lucky if he could run for president.

HEMMER: That would take a constitutional amendment. But for this Austrian bodybuilder turned Hollywood action hero, turned governor of California, anything is possible.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Have had the most interesting ride from the time of my childhood to now. I feel lucky, I feel thankful to all the people that helped me. And, you know, this is just the beginning.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: As California's governor-elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger will serve out the remaining three years of Gray Davis' term. And he will have his work cut out for him. California currently faces a projected $8 billion budget deficit.

ANNOUNCER: Up next, from Arnold to Danny to Twins.

From Danny to Jack in "Hoffa", from Jack to Kevin in "A Few Good Men", less than six degrees away, actor Kevin Bacon. When "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" returns, a look at the resilient career of the pop icon.


ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

Kevin Bacon is a man of many degrees, both on-screen and off. He is an actor, a musician, and to some extent a near permanent fixture now in pop culture. Twenty-five years after his Hollywood debut, Bacon remains very much in demand. His latest film "Mystic River" just opened nationwide this weekend.

Kyra Phillips has the profile.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chances are you've heard of the actor, Kevin Bacon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, how are you doing?

KEVIN BACON, ACTOR: How you doing?


PHILLIPS: His dance moves in "Footloose" brought him pop star fame.

BACON: Somebody asked me yesterday in the airport, hey, could you do that dance?

PHILLIPS: It may have been that dance or maybe it was his portrayal of the brutalized Alcatraz prisoner in "Murder In The First" that you remember.

BACON: I'm the one that has to do that job, not you. I can't do it.

PHILLIPS: Or it could have been his charming but bad guy role in "The River Wild," that rafting trip from hell.

BACON: I need your wife to get me down the river.

PHILLIPS: That one earned him a Golden Globe nomination. But the sum of all these diverse roles has led to an even greater status for the 45-year-old. In the last decade, Kevin Bacon has become a cultural phenomenon. BACON: I sort of, you know, came to find it amusing. Thinking, of course, that it would basically go away. And it's been a long time now.

PHILLIPS: The six degrees of Kevin Bacon phenomenon has perhaps brought Bacon more recognition than his films. With character roles in almost 50 movies from 1982s "Diner" to 1985s "Apollo 13." Bacon has become the center of the tongue in cheek cinematic universe.

BRIAN TURTLE, AUTHOR, "SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON": You start with an actor, any actor from movies, television, sometimes --in some cases you can use professional athletes. And you basically, you have to get that person to Kevin Bacon.

PHILLIPS: Now, Bacon is less than six degrees from Oscar winner Clint Eastwood. He co-stars in the Eastwood directed drama, "Mystic River."

LAWRENCE FISHBURN, ACTOR: You were friends when you were kids. This makes you a liability.

BACON: Hey, he's not my friend, all right? It turns out you're right. I'll have my cuffs off my hip faster than yours.

PHILLIPS: Bacon stars with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins as three deeply, damaged friends in the middle of a murder investigation. He fought hard to get noticed by the legendary Eastwood

BACON: I tracked him down in Doville (ph) and went up and I said, hey, you know, I'd love to do a movie with you some day. And he said, OK. You know, it's a great story because I got the gig.

PHILLIPS: Bacon is accustomed to getting what he wants. Born in Philadelphia on July 8 1958, Kevin was the youngest of six kids, adored by his older siblings.

MICHAEL BACON, BROTHER: He came in quite a bit later than the rest of us. He was kind of like our baby because he wasn't really like a little brother. It was sort of halfway in between a parent and sibling kind of relationship.

ED BACON, FATHER: I took Kevin -- there's Kevin and this is me, to see my work in Society Hill.

PHILLIPS: Although Kevin's father, Ed, is a famous Philadelphia architect, who was once featured on the cover of "Time" magazine, and mom, Ruth, was a New York City socialite turned teacher and political activist; the Bacons lived a simple life.

E. BACON: He and his mother came out here with their baseballs and he and she played baseball in the alley.

BACON: We had this combination of a very, very urban lifestyle of public schools, you know, a small house on a little street in Philadelphia. But, you know, within that house was this like place where you could kind of create anything, if it was music or theater or sculpture, painting.

PHILLIPS: Kevin showed a creative side early on. He performed at his parent's parties?

E. BACON: Suddenly, Kevin, aged 2, sat up in his chair and said, am I me? And that set the character of the rest of his life. But he had the most fiercely independent notion of himself.

PHILLIPS: He became more serious about acting as a teenage.

BACON: I started taking some acting classes; fell in love with it, I guess, when I was about 13. And from that point on, it was -- I was just counting the days until I got out of high school and could come to New York.

PHILLIPS: Bacon was only 17 years old when he ventured to New York. He got little resistance from his parents. His father even helped him out with prize money from his career.

E. BACON: I had won the Philadelphia Award just a few months earlier. So I simply gave him, I think, about $20,000, and said, here, kid; this is to fill you in between performances. And so goodbye.

PHILLIPS: Bacon enrolled at the Circle In The Square Theater School and became one of the school's youngest students. Classmate John la Fayette admired him from the start.

JOHN LA FAYETTE, BACON'S CLASSMATE: And I remember distinctly thinking that Kevin was cool beyond his years. When I first met him, he had this confidence about him, and this sense of himself.

PHILLIPS: Kevin took classes and supported himself by waiting tables at the All State Cafe, a burger joint on the Upper West Side. He got his first big break, while still in theater school.

BACON: The director of the school or something came up to me and said, listen, there's this movie and they're looking for preppy freshmen who are wet behind the ears.

PHILLIPS: Bacon apparently fit the bill. He auditioned and landed his first onscreen role in the 1978 frat comedy "Animal House." Although his part was small, Bacon thought he'd become a movie star. He didn't. When People In The News returns, Bacon goes back to his day job.

BACON: I couldn't convince anybody that I was in the movie.

PHILLIPS: But snags a regular spot on the "Guiding Light." And later, "Footloose" brings fame. But then years of rejection and hard times.

BACON: Everyone's kind of looking at you, like, Jesus, what a loser.


BACON: Thank you, sir. May I have another?

PHILLIPS: In 1978, 19-year-old Bacon got his first taste of film work in the comedy hit "Animal House." His acting school classmates did not applaud.

BACON: I think that there was some kind of a, I don't know, a little bit of resentment maybe from the students about doing that. Because we were really supposed to be there to, you know, feel it, learn and feel and you know, not be out there to make a buck in a stupid trashy comedy like "Animal House. "

PHILLIPS: But Bacon thought the raunchy comedy would bring him fame, that he'd be able to leave his day job waiting tables.

BACON: I quit when I did "Animal House" and ran through that money in about two weeks.

PHILLIPS: Hoping to get more acting roles, Bacon also quit school. He got an offer in LA, a part in the "Animal House" TV spin- off. He turned it done.

BACON: It was a hell of a lot more money than I ever dreamed of making, you know. And would have been, from a career standpoint, probably the right decision, you know? But something said to me, I want to stay here off Broadway, you know, and see where else I can take this.

PHILLIPS: He got his first shot off Broadway as a drug addicted male prostitute in "40 Deuce." A year nearly later, he starred in the film version. Bacon went on to play more shady characters. He got a small role in the slasher film "Friday The 13." And later landed a recurring role as a teenage alcoholic on the "Guiding Light."

BACON: What did you do, mom? Invite everybody over so they can see what a drunk looks like the day after.

PHILLIPS: Drawn to the darker side Bacon took on a bigger role as a teen drunk in 1983s sleeper hit "Diner."

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: The film that I think really put him on Hollywood's radar screen was "Diner." He was clearly among the smartest of the bunch but he was also really disaffected. And it was a very good performance.

PHILLIPS: That same year, Bacon left the big screen and made his Broadway debut. He co-starred with Sean Penn and Val Kilmer in the coming of age drama "Slab Boys." But it was back onscreen where Bacon really tested his versatility.

BACON: We can have a dance. You know, a dance?

PHILLIPS: And found his way to mainstream stardom. In 1984, his role as the teen rebel and savior of dance in "Footloose" earned him accolades. It also gave him a new title, teen idol. But the "Footloose" star didn't enjoy his teen idol status.

BACON: I wanted to be taken seriously, you know. I wanted to be, you know, like Merrill, you know, DeNiro, Pacino, you know. I mean I was David Cassidy and I couldn't handle it. It was so not what I wanted.

PHILLIPS: Bacon struggled to change his pop star image. It led to the most difficult years of his career. He headlined many '80s films. He played a bike messenger in "Quicksilver." A frustrated yuppie dad in "She's Having A Baby." And a Hollywood filmmaker in "The Big Picture." They all bombed.

BACON: I think that what I needed to do was, you know, spend 10 years, you know, basically screwing up. Later on into my 30s, that's when I sort of started figuring out a little bit more of who I was and what I wanted to do.

PHILLIPS: Bacon's career was in crisis but his personal life began to turn around. During the production of the TV "Lemon Sky," he met actress Kyra Sedgwick.

BACON: When I met my life, I was kind of, you know, bummed out about my career. And she was like she didn't have a clue about my career. You know, you kind of get into this head that the whole world is Hollywood and that everyone is kind of looking at you like, Jesus, what a loser. And Having her in my life was like a great, fresh kind of, you know, infusion.

PHILLIPS: The two married in 1988 and started a family a year later. Bacon's film career picked up soon after.

BACON: What really turned around for me was when I went, wait a second, why am I just looking at like, leads, you know? I mean I don't need to do that, you know. I need to be playing parts, you know, I'm a character actor basically.

PHILLIPS: Things changed for Bacon after his revelation. He opted for supporting roles. A strutting gay inmate in "JFK."

BACON: These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed.

PHILLIPS: A competitive military lawyer opposite Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men." And a villain who terrorized Merrill Streep in "The River Wild. "

ROZEN: It was suddenly clear he'd made that transition to boyish role to grown-up. And I think those were really the signal to Hollywood, hey, I'm back, I'm looking -- I don't have to be the lead. I'm looking for really good supporting roles, put me in coach. And indeed they did.

PHILLIPS: Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Bacon lands more supporting roles.

BACON: I had no choice.

PHILLIPS: But takes center stage when he bears it all in the sex thriller "Wild Things."

ROZEN: I'm guessing any number of people have hit the pause button and been impressed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

BACON: You just keep talking, talking, talking.

PHILLIPS: By the mid-90s Bacon had reinvented himself as an ensemble actor in films like "Murder In The First."

BACON: Alcatraz! I mean where do you think they're going to send me in those 10 years you're talking about?

PHILLIPS: He co-starred with Christian Slater and shined as an abused Alcatraz prisoner, and later as a cocky astronaut opposite Tom Hanks in "Apollo 13." Bacon says he's now comfortable taking the back seat to the bigger stars.

BACON: First off, I mean if the movie goes (BEEP) in the theaters, you don't take the hit. You know, the other guy does. So that's good. And on the upside, you can ride the coattails of, you know, Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise.

PHILLIPS: Bacon took on some edgier roles? He was an abusive reform school guard who molested young boys in "Sleepers," and a cop investigating a rape allegation in "Wild Things."

ROZEN: It was really sort of like "Beverly Hills 90210" drenched in suntan oil. And Kevin Bacon was a lot of fun in it. Not to mention he had a now famous nude scene that I'm guessing, you know, any number of people have hit the pause button and been impressed.

PHILLIPS: And Bacon struck a chord with audiences off screen. In 1994, Bacon and his brother, Michael, formed The Bacon Brothers, and upbeat band that blends folk, rock, soul and country.

BACON: And I really started writing songs before I even became an actor. And I was thinking about being a musician, and I was playing percussion and playing a little bit of guitar. But I kind of felt like my brother had taken that road.

PHILLIPS: Although the two had collaborated on songs together since they were kids, they waited years to start the band.

M. BACON: I think that Kevin felt that, you know, after being in "Footloose," if we put a band together it would be perceived as kind of a vanity thing. And I think he really kind of avoided it for a while.

PHILLIPS: But for Bacon, there was no avoiding becoming a pop phenomenon. A few years ago his celebrity shot up when some college kids created the "Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon" board game. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Will smith.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I've got three moves to do Will Smith, huh?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, It's easy. "Men In Black" with Tommy Lee Jones and "JFK" with Kevin Bacon.


PHILLIPS: The object of the game is to link Bacon to another actor in less than six films or six degrees. The game creators say they came up with the concept when several Bacon movies aired back to back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were we watching, like "Tremors?"

TURTLE: "Tremors" -- it was actually "Footloose" and then "Quicksilver" came on. And while we we're watching those movies on cable, the commercial for the movie "The Air Up There" came on.

PHILLIPS: The game became instantly popular and the "Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon" phenomenon took on a life of its own. At first, Bacon wasn't amused.

BACON: I thought it was basically joke at my expense. I thought the idea was, can you believe that, you know, this idiot can be actually connected in three steps to one of our -- to Lawrence Olivier or something like that, you know.

PHILLIPS: Bacon came around once he realized the creators were fans. And over the years he's embraced the used of being a cultural phenomenon. He even got in on the joke for a Visa commercial.

BACON: You recently remove the appendix of him who dumped you sophomore year.

Let's dance.

PHILLIPS: And Bacon's gotten comfortable about being known as the "Footloose" guy. He kicked off his Sunday shoes on a recent "Will & Grace" episode.

But in his latest movie role Bacon shows a more serious side. He plays a tough cop assigned to investigate the murder of his best friend's daughter in the dark drama, "Mystic River." An ensemble role that's a serious departure from his own life.

BACON: How many of us actually end up, you know, living our dreams when you're 6 years old, and you're thinking about hitting one out of the park. Or you know, slamming on an electric guitar in Madison Square Garden. Or you know, getting your Oscar. I actually had these dreams and I actually lived them. I mean, exactly the way I pictured them. PHILLIPS: Kevin Bacon, from "Footloose" fame to pop phenomenon, six degrees away from the starring role, but close enough to steal the limelight.


ZAHN: In addition to celebrating his new star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Kevin Bacon is also looking forward to the release of three more films, one later this year, two others in 2004. And the actor/musician can also be seen in a concert DVD featuring The Bacon Brothers Band is due out in the fall.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Pope John Paul the Second on the 25-anniversary of his papal election.

I'm Paul Zahn, thanks so much for joining us. Hope you'll be back with us again next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For an inside look at the Arnold victory and what it means for the Schwarzenegger family, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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