Kim Basinger was born December 8, 1953, in Athens, Georgia, the third of five children. She is the daughter of Ann Lee (Cordell) and Donald Wade Basinger, a loan manager. Both her parents had been in entertainment; her father had played big-band jazz, and her mother had performed water ballet in several Esther Williams movies. Kim was introspective, a trait she has credited as having come from her father. As a schoolgirl, she was very shy. To help her overcome this, her parents had Kim study ballet from an early age. By the time she reached sweet sixteen, the once-shy Kim entered the Athens Junior Miss contest. From there, she went on to win the Junior Miss Georgia title and traveled to New York to compete in the national Junior Miss pageant. Kim, who had blossomed to a 5′ 7″ beauty, was offered a contract on the spot with the Ford Modeling Agency. At the age of 20, Kim was a top model, commanding $1,000 a day. Throughout the early 1970s, she appeared on dozens of magazine covers and in hundreds of ads, most notably as the Breck girl. Kim took acting classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse, performed in various Greenwich Village clubs, and sang under the stage name Chelsea. Kim moved to Los Angeles in 1976, ready to conquer Hollywood. Kim broke into television doing episodes of such hit series as Charlie’s Angels (1976). In 1980, she married Ron Snyder (they divorced in 1989). In movies, she had roles like being a Bond girl in Never Say Never Again (1983) and playing a small-town Texas beauty in Nadine (1987). Her biggest success was in the role of photojournalist Vicki Vale in the blockbuster hit Batman (1989). This took her to a career high. With perhaps too much disposable income, Kim headed up an investment group that purchased the entire town of Braselton, in her native Georgia, for $20 million (she would later have to sell it). In 1993, Kim married Alec Baldwin, and in 1995 they had a daughter, Ireland Eliesse. Kim took some time off to stay at home with her child. Kim, who loves animals and is a strict vegetarian, devoted energy to animal rights issues and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), even posing for some ads. In 1997, Kim gave an Oscar-winning performance in the film noir classic L.A. Confidential (1997). Kim’s salary for I Dreamed of Africa (2000) was $5,000,000, putting her firmly in the category of big-name movie star. And no doubt there are still many great things ahead, in the career of cover girl turned Oscar-winning actress Kim Basinger.