The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger was born in Athens, GA, on 8 December 1953 to parents in the entertainment business -- her father was a jazz musician and her mother had performed water ballet in Esther Williams movies. A shy schoolgirl, Kim won the Junior Miss Georgia pageant and went on to the nationals in New York, where she was offered a modeling contract by the prestigious Ford Agency. In the 1970s she was a top model, appearing on dozens of magazine covers, and earning a stint as the "Breck Girl." Meanwhile, she took acting classes and sang on the club circuit using the stage name of Chelsea. In 1976 she moved to Hollywood and garnered guest starring roles in various television series before graduating to TV-movies. She starred in the miniseries From Here to Eternity and the subsequent series before getting her big screen break in 1981's Hard Country.
Basinger became a major film star in the 1980s, co-starring with the likes of  Richard Gere, Sean Connery and Mickey Rourke -- with the latter in the steamy pulp hit Nine 1/2 Weeks. She earned a million-dollar paycheck for her part in No Mercy (1986). Yet by the end of the decade she'd been unable to shed the "dumb blonde" sex kitten image -- an image that dogged her steps through the '90s, as well. (That she promoted Never Say Never Again with a nude layout in Playboy magazine probably didn't help.) Basinger formed an investment group to purchase the whole town of Braselton, GA, and in 1993 married Alec Baldwin. Two years later she gave birth to a daughter, Ireland. In 1997, Basinger earned an Oscar for her role in L.A. Confidential. This rekindled her career, and brought her the more serious roles she had always sought.
-- JM
1980s Filmography
Hard Country (1981)
Mother Lode (1982)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
The Man Who Loved Women (1983)
The Natural (1984)
Fool for Love (1985)
Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986)
No Mercy (1986)
Blind Date (1987)
Nadine (1987)
My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988)
Batman (1989)

Critics' Comments
Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986)
"A lot of the success of 9 1/2 Weeks is because Rourke and Basinger make the characters and their relationship convincing....Basinger's strategy is...effective, and...complicated. Physically, she looks sensuous and luscious; if you saw her in Fool for Love, you won't be surprised by the force of her first appearance here. But if she'd just presented herself as the delectable object of all of these experiments, it would have been a modeling job, not acting. In the early scenes...she does a wonderful job of seeming distracted by this new relationship; her eyes cloud over and her attention strays. But one of the fascinations of the movie is the way her personality gradually emerges and finds strength, so that the ending belongs completely to her."
-- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
No Mercy (1986)
"Basinger has elsewhere insisted on being taken seriously as an actress. This translates to pouting, strutting around in a form-fitting negligee and rubbing her breasts with cold water through a diaphanous blouse, a scene director Richard Pearce, with impeccable good taste, shoots in close-up." -- Paul Attanasio, Washington Post
Nadine (1987)
"As Nadine, Basinger, who may be much more of an actress than her films so far would indicate, certainly gives her all, and clearly Benton delights in putting this big blond in motion. And in a different context, her performance might have been a great one, but stuck with what Benton's given her, she can't blossom." -- Hal Hinson, Washington Post
Blind Date (1987)
"Blake Edwards directs this unfunny farce, a banal boozer's comedy that relies on the comedic e'clat of Basinger: basically, Barbie doing standup."
-- Rita Kempley, Washington Post

For many years Basinger suffered from severe agoraphobia.
She was a cheerleader at Athens (GA) High School.
Basinger was listed as one of the twelve "Promising New Stars of 1984" in John Willis' Screen World (Vol. 36).
In 1995, Empire magazine named Basinger one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#40).
Basinger replaced Sean Young, who was originally slated to play the role of Vicki Vale in 1989's Batman.
Basinger turned down the female lead in Basic Instinct (1992), a role that went to Sharon Stone.

1998--Best Actress in a Supporting Role, L.A. Confidential, Academy Awards
1998--Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, L.A. Confidential, Golden Globes
1998--Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, L.A. Confidential, Screen Actor Guild Awards