Kevin Kline

This article is about the actor. For the ice hockey player, see Kevin Klein.
Kevin Kline

Kline in 2010
Born Kevin Delaney Kline
(1947-10-24) October 24, 1947
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) Phoebe Cates (m. 1989)

Kevin Delaney Kline (born October 24, 1947) is an American film and stage actor, comedian, and singer. He has won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards, and is a 2003 American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.[1]

Kline began his career on stage in 1972 with The Acting Company. He went on to win two Tony Awards for his work in Broadway musicals, winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the 1978 original production of On the Twentieth Century and Best Actor in a Musical for the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance.[2]

He made his film debut the following year, opposite Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice (1982). For his role in the 1988 comedy hit A Fish Called Wanda, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2003, he starred as Falstaff in the Broadway production of Henry IV, for which he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play.

He has been nominated for an Emmy Award, two BAFTA Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. His other films include The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985), Cry Freedom (1987), Dave (1993), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Ice Storm (1997), In & Out (1997), De-Lovely (2004) and My Old Lady (2014).

Early life

Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Margaret Agnes Kirk and Robert Joseph Kline (1909-1996).[3][4] 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 1940s, and sold toys during the 1960s and 1970s;[3][5] 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".[6] Kline's father was Jewish, from a family that had emigrated from Germany, and had become an agnostic. Kline's mother was a Roman Catholic of Irish descent, the daughter of an immigrant from County Louth. Kline was raised in his mother's Catholic faith.[7] He has three siblings, Alex, Christopher, and Kate.[4] He graduated from the Saint Louis Priory School in 1965.[8]

In 1997, the school named its new auditorium the Kevin Kline Theater, and Kline did a benefit performance of selections from Shakespeare at the dedication.

He attended Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was a classmate of actor Jonathan Banks. He began studying composing and conducting music, but switched to a theater and speech major for his last two years, graduating in 1970. Kline remembers: "When I switched to the Theater Department, all I did was theater...I could barely make it to class because this was my passion."[9] While an undergraduate, he was a co-founder of the Vest Pocket Players, an off-campus theatrical troupe.[10]


Kline at the film premiere of No Strings Attached in January 2011

In 1970, Kline was awarded a scholarship to the newly formed Drama Division at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, he joined with fellow Juilliard graduates, including Patti LuPone and David Ogden Stiers, and formed the City Center Acting Company (now The Acting Company), under the aegis of John Houseman.[11]

The Company traveled across the U.S. performing Shakespeare's plays, other classical works, and the musical The Robber Bridegroom, founding one of the most widely praised groups in American repertory theatre. At Juilliard he studied singing with Beverley Peck Johnson.[12]

In 1976, Kline left The Acting Company and settled in New York City, doing a brief appearance as the character "Woody Reed" in the now-defunct soap opera Search for Tomorrow. He followed this with a return to the stage in 1977 to play Clym Yeobright opposite Donna Theodore as Eustacia Vye in The Hudson Guild Theater production of Dance on a Country Grave, Kelly Hamilton's musical version of Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native.[2] In 1978 he played the role of Bruce Granit, a matinée idol caricature, in Harold Prince's On the Twentieth Century, for which he won his first Tony Award. In 1981, Kline appeared with rock diva Linda Ronstadt and singer Rex Smith in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of The Pirates of Penzance, winning another Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, for his comically dashing portrayal of the Pirate King.[2] In 1983, he played the role in a film version of the musical, also with Ronstadt, Smith and Angela Lansbury, which had a limited theatrical release.[13]

In the ensuing years, Kline appeared many times in New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Shakespeare plays, including starring roles in Richard III (1983),[14] Much Ado About Nothing (1988),[15] Henry V (1984)[16] and two productions of Hamlet, in 1986[17] and 1990 (which he also directed).[18]

He also appeared in a Lincoln Center production that combined the two parts of Henry IV on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2003 as Falstaff. Kline was nominated for the 2004 Tony Award, Actor in a Play.[19][20]

Dubbed "the American Olivier" by New York Times theater critic Frank Rich for his stage acting,[21] Kline finally ventured into film in 1982 in Sophie's Choice. He won the coveted role of the tormented and mercurial Nathan opposite Meryl Streep. Streep won an Academy Award for her performance in the film. Kline was nominated for a 1983 Golden Globe award (New Star of the Year)[22] and BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer To Film.[23]

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Kline made several films with director Lawrence Kasdan, including The Big Chill, Silverado, Grand Canyon, I Love You to Death, and French Kiss. He played Donald Woods in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom opposite Denzel Washington about the friendship between Activist Stephen Biko and editor Donald Woods.

In 1989, Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the British comedy A Fish Called Wanda, in which he played a painfully inept American ex-CIA thug opposite John Cleese's genteel British barrister and Jamie Lee Curtis' femme fatale/con woman. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film twenty-first on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.[24]

Kline had a reputation for being so picky about his roles that it was actually detrimental to his career, and thus earned himself the nickname "Kevin Decline". Other awards have included Drama Desk Awards, Golden Globe awards, a Gotham Award, a Hasty Pudding Theatricals Man of the Year Award, and a St. Louis International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2003.[25] He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[26] Film reviewers have praised Kline. Newsday critic Lynn Darling wrote on July 13, 1988 that Kline "has proved himself to be one of the most talented and versatile American actors of his generation."

Kline played the title role in King Lear at the Public Theater, and took the lead role in a Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jennifer Garner. That production was forced to close temporarily after only 11 performances as a result of the Broadway stagehands' strike,[27] but subsequently reopened. Cyrano was filmed in 2008 and aired as part of PBS's Great Performances series in January 2009.

In January 2008, Kline won a Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Jaques in Kenneth Branagh's film As You Like It, adapted from Shakespeare's play. The film premiered theatrically in 2006 in Europe. It bypassed theatres and was sent straight to HBO in the U.S. 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. Kline also starred in the 2012 comedy Darling Companion alongside Diane Keaton.

In December 2004, Kline became the 2,272nd recipient of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame,[28] for his contributions to the motion picture industry, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.[29]

Personal life

Kline and his wife Phoebe Cates at the Academy Awards Governor's Ball party, 1989

During the 1970s Kline was in a relationship with his Juilliard classmate Patti LuPone. He met actress Phoebe Cates in 1983 and they were married in 1989. The couple live in New York City and they have two children, Owen and Greta. [30]

After his son, Owen, 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.

The Kevin Kline Awards honor theatre professionals in St. Louis in an array of categories, which include best actor and actress, set design, choreography, and new play or musical.[31][32][33]



Title Year Role Notes
Sophie's Choice 1982 Nathan Landau
Pirates of Penzance, TheThe Pirates of Penzance 1983 Pirate King, TheThe Pirate King
Big Chill, TheThe Big Chill 1983 Harold Cooper
Silverado 1985 Paden
Violets Are Blue 1986 Henry Squires
Cry Freedom 1987 Donald Woods
Fish Called Wanda, AA Fish Called Wanda 1988 Otto West Won - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
January Man, TheThe January Man 1989 Nick Starkey
I Love You to Death 1990 Joey Boca
Soapdish 1991 Jeffery Anderson / Dr. Rod Randall
Grand Canyon 1991 Mack
Consenting Adults 1992 Richard Parker
Chaplin 1992 Douglas Fairbanks
Dave 1993 Dave Kovic / President William Harrison Mitchell
The Nutcracker 1993 Narrator Voice role
Princess Caraboo 1994 Frixos
French Kiss 1995 Luc Teyssier
Hunchback of Notre Dame, TheThe Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 Captain Phoebus Voice role
Ice Storm, TheThe Ice Storm 1997 Ben Hood
Fierce Creatures 1997 Vince McCain / Rod McCain
In & Out 1997 Howard Brackett
Midsummer Night's Dream, AA Midsummer Night's Dream 1999 Nick Bottom
Wild Wild West 1999 U.S. Marshal Artemus 'Artie' Gordon / President Ulysses S. Grant
Road to El Dorado, TheThe Road to El Dorado 2000 Tulio Voice role
Anniversary Party, TheThe Anniversary Party 2001 Cal Gold
Life as a House 2001 George Monroe
Orange County 2002 Marcus Skinner Uncredited
Hunchback of Notre Dame II, TheThe Hunchback of Notre Dame II 2002 Captain Phoebus Voice role
Emperor's Club, TheThe Emperor's Club 2002 William Hundert
De-Lovely 2004 Cole Porter
Pink Panther, TheThe Pink Panther 2006 Chief Inspector Dreyfus
Prairie Home Companion, AA Prairie Home Companion 2006 Guy Noir
As You Like It 2006 Jaques
Trade 2007 Ray Sheridan
Definitely, Maybe 2008 Hampton Roth
Tale of Despereaux, TheThe Tale of Despereaux 2008 Andre Voice role
Queen to Play 2009 Docteur Kröger
Extra Man, TheThe Extra Man 2010 Henry Harrison
No Strings Attached 2011 Alvin Franklin
Conspirator, TheThe Conspirator 2011 Edwin Stanton
Darling Companion 2012 Dr. Joseph Winter
Last Vegas 2013 Sam Harris
The Last of Robin Hood 2013 Errol Flynn
My Old Lady 2014 Mathias Gold
Ricki and the Flash 2015 Pete
Dean 2016 Robert
Beauty and the Beast 2017 Maurice In post-production


Title Year Role Notes
Search for Tomorrow 1976 Woody Reed
Cyrano de Bergerac 2008 Cyrano de Bergerac
Bob's Burgers 2011–present Mr. Calvin Fischoeder Voice role

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1978 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical On the Twentieth Century Won
1978 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Musical On the Twentieth Century Won
1981 Best Actor in a Musical The Pirates of Penzance Won
1981 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actor in a Musical The Pirates of Penzance Won
1982 BAFTA Awards Best Newcomer Sophie's Choice Nominated
1982 Golden Globe Awards New Star of the Year - Actor Sophie's Choice Nominated
1988 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor A Fish Called Wanda Won
1988 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role A Fish Called Wanda Nominated
1991 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Soapdish Nominated
1993 Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Dave Nominated
1997 Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy In & Out Nominated
1997 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared with Tom Selleck) In & Out Nominated
1997 Satellite Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy In & Out Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Life as a House Nominated
2004 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actor in a Play Henry IV Won
2004 Tony Awards Best Actor in a Play Henry IV Nominated
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy De-Lovely Nominated
2004 Satellite Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy De-Lovely Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie As You Like It Won
2008 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie Cyrano de Bergerac Nominated
2009 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Cyrano de Bergerac Nominated


  1. "Theater honors put women in the spotlight". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Kevin Kline at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. 1 2 "Robert J. Kline, 87; Was Opera Buff, Owner of Record Stores". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 7, 1996. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  4. 1 2 "Peggy Kirk Kline profile". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 8, 2000.
  5. "Kevin Kline biography". 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  6. "Kevin Kline star bio". Tribute. 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  7. "Herald-Journal - Google News Archive Search".
  8. "Kevin Kline Biography" The New York Times, accessed February 12, 2016
  9. Lindquist, David. "Kevin Kline returns to IU, where his acting began", September 12, 2014
  10. "Kevin Kline", accessed February 12, 2016
  11. Klein, Alvin. "Theater. From Juilliard to Shakespeare at a Pond" The New York Times, July 12, 1992
  12. Anthony Tommasini (January 22, 2001). "Beverley Peck Johnson, 96, Voice Teacher". The New York Times.
  13. Maslin, Janet. "'The Pirates of Penzance' OvervieW" The New York Times, accessed February 12, 2016
  14. "'King Richard III', Delacort Theater", accessed February 12, 2016
  15. "'Much Ado About Nothing', Delacort Theater", accessed February 12, 2016
  16. "'Henry V', Delacort Theater", accessed February 12, 2016
  17. "'Hamlet' 1986, Delacort Theater", accessed February 12, 2016
  18. "'Hamlet' 1990, Delacort Theater", accessed February 12, 2016
  19. "'Henry 1V Broadway", accessed February 12, 2016
  20. Simonson, Robert. "Lincoln Center Hears the Chimes at Midnight as Ambitious 'Henry IV' Opens" Playbill, November 20, 2003
  21. Charles Isherwood, "This King, This Courtier, These Kevin Klines",, January 1, 2008.
  22. "'Sophie's Choice' Golden Globe Awards and Nominations", accessed February 11, 2016
  23. "'Sophie's Choice' Awards and Nominations", accessed February 11, 2016
  24. "100 Years, 100 Laughs". American Film Institute. 2000. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  25. "American Theatre Critics Association". 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
  26. St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  27. Hetrick, Adam (September 25, 2007). "Morton, Sarandon and Baker Will Join Kline in Broadway's Cyrano; Casting Complete". Playbill. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  28. "Kline gets Hollywood star",, December 4, 2004.
  29. "Kevin Kline". Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  30. Pelly, Jenn. "Frankie Cosmos". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  31. Brown, Dennis. "Great Expectations" Riverfront Times, December 14, 2005
  32. "Official website", accessed February 11, 2016
  33. Jones, Kenneth. "St. Louis' Kevin Kline Awards Go to Steven Woolf, 'Red', Curtis Holbrook, 'Awake and Sing!', 'Immigrant' and More", April 4, 2012
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