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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