Oscar Actors: Kline, Kevin–Best Supporting Actor–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Tonys)

Research in Progress (April 13, 2021)

Kevin Delaney Kline (born October 24, 1947) is an American actor who has won an Oscar and three Tony Awards.

Kline began his career on stage in 1972 (age 25) with The Acting Company.

He has won three Tony Awards for his work on Broadway, winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the 1978 original production of On the Twentieth Century, Best Actor in a Musical for the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance, and Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for the 2017 revival of Present Laughter.

He made his film debut 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 two Emmy Awards, two BAFTA Awards and five Golden Globe Awards.

His other films include The Big Chill (1983), Silverado (1985), Cry Freedom (1987), Grand Canyon (1991), Dave (1993), The Ice Storm (1997), In & Out (1997), Wild Wild West (1999), De-Lovely (2004), The Conspirator (2010), My Old Lady (2014), and Beauty and the Beast (2017). Kline has voiced characters in the films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Road to El Dorado (2000), The Tale of Despereaux (2008) and the animated comedy series Bob’s Burgers (2011–present), for which he earned a Primetime Emmy nomination.

Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Margaret Agnes Kirk and Robert Joseph Kline (1909–1996). 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 also sold toys during the 1960s and 1970s;[4][6] 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”.[7] Kline’s father was Jewish, from a family that had emigrated from Germany, and had become an agnostic. Kline’s mother was a Catholic of Irish descent, the daughter of an emigrant from County Louth. Kline was raised in his mother’s Catholic faith. He has an older sister, Kate, and two younger brothers, Alexander and Christopher.

He graduated from the Saint Louis Priory School in 1965. In 1997, the school named its new auditorium as the Kevin Kline Theater in his honor. Kline performed selections from Shakespeare as a benefit 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.”[10] While an undergraduate, he was a co-founder of the Vest Pocket Players, an off-campus theatrical troupe.

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.[12][citation needed]

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.

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 Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, winning another Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, for his comically dashing portrayal of the Pirate King.

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.

In the ensuing years, Kline appeared many times in New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Shakespeare plays, including starring roles in Richard III (1983), Much Ado About Nothing (1988), Henry V (1984), and two productions of Hamlet, in 1986[18] and 1990 (which he also directed).[19] A videotape of the 1990 production has aired on PBS.

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.

Dubbed “the American Olivier” by New York Times theater critic Frank Rich for his stage acting,[22] Kline finally ventured into film in 1982 in Sophie’s Choice. He won the coveted role of the tormented and moody 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)[23] and BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer To Film.

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.

He provided his first voice acting role in The Nutcracker in 1993, and also provided the role of Captain Phoebus in the 1996 Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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. He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[27] 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, 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 2017, Kline returned to Broadway in a revival of the play Present Laughter, for which he received his third Tony Award.

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

Kline met actress Phoebe Cates in 1983. They began dating in 1985 and married in 1989. The couple live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York. They have two children, Owen Kline (born 1991) and Greta Kline (born 1994), who fronts the band Frankie Cosmos.

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.


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