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Jon Hamm '89

April 23, 2014

Jon Hamm '89 was featured in the 4.13.14 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the May 2014 issue of Town and Country magazine, the May 2014 issue of Men's Fitness, and the May 2014 issue of Alive.

The STLPD article is about season 7 of Mad Men. Click HERE for a link to creator Matthew Weiner's description of how Hamm's character, Don Draper, will change.

The Town and Country profile is about Hamm's relationship with Burroughs. "As Mad Men starts its final season, its star looks homeward — and helps open a new theater in honor of his high school director. ... Unlike Don Draper, who shrouds his origins, Hamm is an unabashed Midwesterner.... Hamm, class of '89, just helped spearhead a $45 million capital campaign that led to the construction of a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes a black box space named for his alma mater's longtime theater teacher Wayne Salomon, the man who first put Hamm on stage and who is retiring this spring. Hamm, already a star in football and baseball at that point, made his debut as Judas in Godspell in his senior year. But even before he set foot inside Burroughs, a private school that takes students from grades 7 to 12, he was deeply invested in the place. His mother died when was 10, but she had already made it clear that she wanted her only son to the attend the school when he was old enough. After meeting several accomplished Burroughs graduates, 'she thought it could make the person she wanted me to grow up to be,' Hamm says. 'We have this situation in popular culture where the term elite is a pejorative now. I guess it's hokey to say that it was my mother's dying wish that I go to this school, but it's true in a very real way....' Despite his success on Mad Men...the actor is quick to minimize his own contribution to the fundraising. 'I certainly didn't donate any large percentage of the campaign — I don't make Wall Street money,' he says. 'But I was helpful in going and talking to people who do make Wall Street money and convincing them that the theater is a valid part of the school.' ... He points out that he's not the only Burroughs grad to make it in Hollywood. His classmate and prom date Sarah Clarke was a key figure on 24; Beau Willimon, class of '95, is the show runner for House of Cards; Ellie Kemper, class of '98, appeared on The Office and in Bridesmaids. ... 'Part of graduating with an English degree is that you realize that there aren't a lot of opportunities out there to make a lot of money,' he says. So he persuaded Salomon to take him on to help out in the theater department. 'Wayne was a big believer in encouraging people to try,' Hamm says. 'I think it's important that the theater is named after him, because a big black box theater is just that: It's nothing but possibility. And you imbue it with your creativity. Wayne has certainly done that with several generations of kids.'"

The spread in Men's Fitness is based on an interview about Hamm's career, his TV show Mad Men, his upcoming movie Million Dollar Arm and his future. It also includes some reflections on his past: "Jon Hamm is very proud of his alma mater. The John Burroughs school, a progressive private school outside St. Louis, was such a seminal part of his upbringing that he returned there after graduating from the University of Missouri to teach drama. Among that things that Burroughs taught him, he says, was that success should be encouraged. .... Hamm lost his mother at age 10 and then moved in with is grandmother and father, a smart, genial man who wasn't the most involved parent. He's said in the past that his portrayal of the morally flexible Don Draper is, in some part, inspired by his dad, so it makes sense that he looked to...Burroughs...as a steadying influence. 'My greatest takeaway from my school was that "as good as you could be" wasn't good enough. Be better. Do sports and science and arts, all of it. Do all of it.' And Hamm did. He starred in stage productions and also on the football, baseball, and swim teams. His favorite teacher, Wayne Salomon, cast Hamm in plays as part of his larger plan to 'get the jocks involved in theater because then everybody will want to do it,' he says."

Like the interview in Men's Fitness, the cover story/interview in Alive covers Hamm's rise, success with Mad Men, upcoming movie and future plans. Click HERE for the May issue.