VetFamily: Kevin Bacon, Award Winning Actor

Kevin Bacon, the award-winning actor who is arguably at the epicenter of Hollywood and A-list celebrities, is also the son of a WWII Navy Vet credited with leading the architectural rebuilding of 20th Century Philadelphia.

Veterans Advantage members may know Bacon best, and most recently as the Marine Lt. Colonel tasked with bringing home the remains of an Iraq war Veteran in the Emmy nominated HBO production “Taking Chance.”

In it, Bacon plays, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, who came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance’s remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.

Fans and critics alike hailed the production for its eloquence, simplicity and accuracy in portraying the last journey home for an American killed in action.

"You can read an article that says a certain number of Marines were killed in this city, or you see a body count coming up. It doesn’t really hit home in the same kind of way as it does if you actually see what happens to the actual remains," Bacon told a group of TV critics in January. "You see the preparation, you see the respect and you see the tradition and the honor that is involved with actually returning them to their final resting place."

"The story is really a very, very simple one," Bacon said. "It’s really just the story of this man and this person Chance he’s returning. And it’s almost completely unembellished with anything to make it more cinematic or dramatic or to somehow force us to feel one way or another based on what our preconceived notions are about Iraq and whether or not we should have been in there or whatever. It’s just the simple telling of what this process is like and, in its simplicity, I think, becomes an extremely profound kind of comment on the casualties of war."

Bacon also has a history playing military men – such as his roles in “A Few Good Men” with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, and more recently Ron Howard’s production “Frost Nixon.” He even played Air Force Vet Jack Swigert in “Apollo 13.”

Bacon’s breakthrough as an actor came in the 1982 comedy-drama Diner, directed by Barry Levinson, which launched his career with many other stars, including Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly and Ellen Barkin. Bolstered by the attention garnered by his performance, Bacon starred in the 1984 box-office smash Footloose.

And speaking of famous connections, he’s also the name behind of “The Six Degrees of Separation,” the cult favorite trivia game that links Bacon to nearly every famous person imaginable. In a recent interview with AOL, Bacon notes that the most unbelievable connection someone has made to date is Bacon’s linkage to Lincoln assassinator John Wilkes Booth. Within six degrees, of course.

His Vet father -- who served in the United States Navy aboard the attack cargo ship USS Shoshone in the Pacific in World War II -- spurred the son to the success that he enjoys today. Describing his father as a ’city-planning superstar’, Bacon told “Cosmopolitan” magazine that his father set very high goals for himself because he ’felt nothing less than stardom would be enough.’

’I grew up in the home of a wonderful, intelligent, and intensely gifted father,’ Kevin Bacon commented at a public appearance in Philadelphia to honor his father. ’It’s a deep honor for me and my entire family, and we thank the Commonwealth and the City.’

Edmund Bacon was born in 1910 in Philadelphia. Educated in architecture at Cornell University, he first found work as a city planner in Flint, Michigan. From Flint, Bacon would return to his hometown as Director of the Philadelphia Housing Association. Bacon became Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in 1949, where his work brought him national attention. His bold moves and unique designs put him on the cover of Time in 1964 and on the cover of Life in 1965. That same year, Bacon was appointed by President Johnson to serve as a member of the White House’s Conference on Recreation and Natural Beauty. In 1967, he wrote Design of Cities, still considered an important architectural text. After his retirement from the planning commission in 1970, his accomplishments included teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Pennsylvania.

Bacon’s father is perhaps best known for his design of Love Park, the famous Philadelphia plaza he designed while attending Cornell in 1932. Designed in collaboration with Vincent Kling, the large space, granite surfaces, and curved steps made the plaza attractive to skateboarding. In the 1980s, it became an international mecca for the skateboarding community, and helped secure the popular ESPN X-Games for Philadelphia in 2001 and 2002.

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