Kevin Costner

Born Jan. 18, 1955, in Lynwood, Calif., Kevin Costner had a classic American boyhood building river rafts, playing school sports and singing in the church choir. He later took acting lessons while majoring in business at California State University at Fullerton.

A chance meeting with Richard Burton on an airline flight encouraged Costner to devote himself to showbiz, which he's done as an actor, director and producer. His first break came in The Big Chill (1983), where most of his scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor. But two years later, Costner toplined the Western Silverado and became a star.

The actor's crowning achievement came with his protean turn in 1990's Dances with Wolves, which won the Best Picture Oscar and earned Costner a Best Director Oscar (he also starred in the film). His other key movies include For Love of the Game, Bull Durham, Tin Cup and Field of Dreams.