One of Hollywood's most prominent strong, silent types, Kevin Costner was for several years the celluloid personification of the baseball industry, given his indelible mark with baseball-themed hits like Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For Love of the Game. His epic Western Dances with Wolves marked the first break from this trend and established Costner as a formidable directing talent to boot. Although several flops in the late '90s diminished his bankability, for many, Costner remained one of the industry's most enduring and endearing icons.
A native of California, Costner was born January 18, 1955, in Lynnwood. While a marketing student at California State University in Fullerton, he became involved with community theater. Upon graduation in 1978, Costner took a marketing job that lasted all of 30 days before deciding to take a crack at acting. After an inauspicious 1974 film debut in the ultra-cheapie Sizzle Beach USA, Costner decided to take a more serious approach to acting. Venturing down the usual theater-workshop, multiple-audition route, the actor impressed casting directors who weren't really certain of how to use him. That may be one reason why Costner's big-studio debut in Night Shift (1982) consisted of little more than background decoration, and the same year's Frances featured the hapless young actor as an off-stage voice.