Best Local Boy Made Good

Jon Hamm

As Don Draper, the brilliant, troubled 1960s ad exec at the heart of AMC's critically lauded TV series Mad Men, St. Louis native Jon Hamm has achieved the rare actor's trifecta: He's an icon to men, a sex symbol to women and a flat-out brilliant performer. An alumnus of John Burroughs School — a former drama teacher there, too — Hamm brings a depth of soul; a keen, searching intelligence; and a palpable, heartbreaking loneliness to Draper, turning what easily could have been a heavy-drinking, womanizing cliché into television's most riveting character post-Tony Soprano. Hamm has won both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for his work on Mad Men, but no award — and, honestly, no words — can capture the jaw-dropping scene in the final episode of the show's first season, in which he turns a two-minute ad pitch to Kodak executives for the company's new slide projector into a poignant meditation on family, memory and pain. You have to see it to believe it. Scratch that — you must see it.

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