Jon Hamm Biography: From 'Mad Men' to 'Bridesmaids'

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Born March 10th, 1971 in St. Louis, Missouri, Jon Hamm initially struggled to become an actor. After being orphaned by the age of 20, he worked as a drama teacher before eventually moving to LA to give his career a try. He finally landed a recurring role on the popular show 'Providence'; however, it wasn't until 2007 when he won the role of Don Draper on AMC's 'Mad Men' that Hamm really made his mark. From there, he jumped to film and even comedy, with success on TV's '30 Rock' and in the film 'Bridesmaids.' And man, can that guy wear a suit. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of Jon Hamm.

Biography of Jon Hamm

If it’s a suave and hunky ad exec you’re looking for, then he’s your Mad Man. Welcome to, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Jon Hamm.

Early Life

Jonathan Daniel Hamm was born March 10th, 1971 in St. Louis, Missouri. After his parents divorced when he was two, Hamm lived with his mother. Soon, Hamm’s first grade production of Winnie-the-Pooh sparked his initial love of the stage. Unfortunately, cancer took his mother when he was only ten, and he then went to live with his father.

Career Struggles

While at prep school, Hamm played football and continued performing. After his father died during his sophomore year at university, Hamm eventually graduated with an English degree from the University of Missouri in 1993. He used that to win a job teaching drama at his old prep school. However, the call of performing became too much for him, and in 1995 he moved to Los Angeles to give his acting career a try.

First Roles

Hamm struggled for years, and supported himself as a waiter. He eventually set his 30th birthday as a deadline for success, and fortunately he made it. His breakthrough came in 2000 when he graced both the small and the big screens: Hamm played firefighter Burt Ridley on the drama series “Providence,” and was cast in the Clint Eastwood’s “Space Cowboys” as Young Pilot No. 2.

More Movies and TV

Hamm earned more screen time in 2001 when he appeared in the independent film “Kissing Jessica Stein” alongside his real-life leading lady, Jennifer Westfeldt. The next year he made a showing in Mel Gibson’s “We Were Soldiers.” He also continued guest starring on a variety of TV shows, and won a regular position on the Lifetime police drama “The Division” as Inspector Nate Basso.

“Mad Men”

It wasn’t until 2007 that Jon Hamm really made his splash. That year, he took the role of the philandering, alcoholic and brilliant ad executive Don Draper on the AMC drama “Mad Men.” Ironically, Hamm went through seven auditions and almost missed out on the role because he was too handsome. But his troubled youth helped him portray the damaged Draper perfectly. The show became an instant hit, and Hamm was nominated for an Emmy Award and won a Best Actor Golden Globe.

Low Budget vs. Blockbuster

Hamm tried to replicate his television success in film with a spot in the low-budget independent movie “Ira & Abby,” and alongside Keanu Reeves in the blockbuster science fiction remake “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 2008. To promote that movie, Hamm hosted “Saturday Night Live” and showed off his stellar comedic chops.

Comedy Success

His success on that show actually earned him a recurring role on former “SNL” star Tina Fey’s sitcom “30 Rock” in 2009. For that, Hamm earned yet another Emmy nomination.

More Control

It was in 2009 that Hamm landed his first leading film role in the thriller “Stolen;” however, the film failed to make a dent at the box office. That year, Hamm decided to take on more responsibility in filmmaking by founding the production house Points West Pictures with longtime partner, Jennifer Westfeldt.

More Movies

In 2010, Hamm appealed to a new audience by lending his voice to an ogre in “Shrek Forever After.” He then became an FBI agent on the hunt for Ben Affleck in the successful crime drama “The Town.” He shared screen time with James Franco later that year in “Howl,” where Hamm played Allen Ginsberg’s lawyer.

“Friends with Kids”

While still thriving on “Mad Men,” Hamm took on more movie roles in 2011. He played ‘The High Roller’ in Zack Snyder’s action fantasy “Sucker Punch,” and co-produced the indie ensemble film “Friends with Kids” with his girlfriend.


He also worked his comedic muscle by playing Kristen Wiig’s on-again-off-again love interest in the hugely successful farce “Bridesmaids.” In 2012, he appeared on the second season of the David Cross-led sitcom “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.”

Sexiest Man Alive

He’s been named one of the sexiest men alive multiple times, and is appreciated by both men and women for his quiet dignity and rugged good looks. Jon Hamm is able to move from drama to comedy flawlessly, and if he continues to wear a suit so successfully, he’ll have a job for years.