Tragic Details About Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm became a breakout star and an international sex symbol as ad man and anti-hero Don Draper in AMC's critically-acclaimed drama, Mad Men. Since then, the ruggedly handsome leading man has slipped back and forth from drama to comedy roles with relative ease. But life hasn't always been easy for Hamm. "I've survived a lot in my life," he told People in 2014, adding, "I've had a lot of close calls with a lot of stuff. I think someone's watching out for me."

And once you read this article, you'll be more likely to agree with him. His at-times traumatizing road to stardom started at an early age and he found himself repeatedly finding bumps in that road that would have made almost anyone else give up their dreams. "Everyone's got a sad story. I've had two good decades and two bad ones. No one was raised in Happyland. It doesn't exist," he explained.

All we can say is that Hamm was perfectly cast as the haunted Don Draper. So pour yourself an Old Fashioned and drown your sorrows in the tragic details about Jon Hamm.

Losing both parents sent Jon Hamm into 'an abandonment situation'

When Jon Hamm was just 10, his mother died from colon cancer. His father passed away a decade later. "I was quasi-adopted by my friends' families. And even today I get emails or cards from these women who, for lack of a better word, were my mom. ... I've been incredibly lucky to have these people in my life," he told Elle.

Hamm also credits his sisters for being his lifeline following his father's death. "My sisters were my support network; I lived with my older sister for a year while we figured out what was going on," he told Stylist in 2014. 'They are from my father's first marriage and are seven and 11 years older than me. They live in St. Louis and have grown-up kids and one has a grandkid now so I'm the weird uncle who lives on the West Coast."

Hamm added that losing his parents at an early age forced him to become "an independent person very young" and deal with "an abandonment situation" that inevitably sinks into your being." He added: There's no shortcut through grief and it's hard to learn that lesson young because when you're presented with the actual concept of forever, it's very hard. It gets better but it never goes away."

A violent hazing incident haunts Jon Hamm's past

In 2015, San Antonio Light republished a story from its archives which detailed a violent hazing incident at the University of Texas in 1990. Jon Hamm was later arrested and charged in connection with the hazing, and his fraternity, Sigma Nu was disbanded. The story was then picked up by The Washington Post where further information regarding the incident emerged.

According to court documents obtained by Star Magazine, Hamm and six other fraternity brothers allegedly "hit a pledge with a wooden paddle more than 30 times" while Hamm allegedly ""hooked the claw of a hammer underneath his [the pledge's] genitals and led him by the hammer around the room." Hamm also reportedly set the pledge's pants on fire "and would not let [the pledge] extinguish the flame with his hand but made [him] blow it out." (via Star per San Antonio Light). The Mad Men star eventually reached a plea deal for community service. The pledge, Mark Allen Sanders, told The Washington Post that he required medical treatment as a result of the ordeal, and that he quit school afterwards. 

During a 2018 interview with Esquire, an irritated Hamm downplayed the reports as inaccurate, saying, "Everything about that is sensationalized." Claiming he didn't "want to give it any more breath," he did say, "It was a bummer of a thing that happened. I was essentially acquitted. I wasn't convicted of anything. I was caught up in a big situation, a stupid kid in a stupid situation ... I moved on from it."

Jon Hamm's first years in Los Angeles could be their own movie

In a 2012 profile in Men's Health, Jon Hamm revealed that after his time at the University of Missouri, he packed up and moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 1995 with $150 he had saved. His car was then repossessed after the City of Angels hit him with over $1,600 in unpaid parking tickets. After finding work in the classic profession of struggling actors — waiting tables — Hamm found work as a set dresser on adult films.

 "A friend of mine from college — a girl — couldn't take working on the creepazoid downtown toxic set anymore," he said. "It seemed like a wonderful way to spend 12 hours a day five days a week for $150 a day...nonunion, no benefits, just a sh***y job with a lot of boobs and sad people. Hollywood, baby!"

Luckily, he met his former partner, Jennifer Westfeldt, at a party and she asked him to audition for an unpaid part in her play. "Suffice to say, when Jen called with an actual acting opportunity, my days as a set dresser—all told, about a month—were over," he revealed. Hamm then spent six months living on a friend's couch while performing in the play and continuing to look for work. Westfeldt's play eventually turned into the 2001 independent romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein, that became, you guessed it, Hamm's second ever film role. 

A three-year acting dry spell defined Jon Hamm's early career

During a 2009 interview with Elle, Jon Hamm described his first three years in Hollywood as a perpetual state of "hustling and scrambling" — but that didn't translate to a successful casting in three years. "I came in the Dawson's Creek era; it was all about tiny guys who looked like teenagers, and I haven't looked like a teenager ever," he told the mag, adding, "So I was, like, auditioning to be their dads. At 25."

During a profile in the now-defunct Details magazine, Hamm further explained how his age kept him from booking television gigs. "If you didn't look 18 years old, you weren't working. And I didn't look 18 years old when I was 18. I always looked 10 years older than I was." However, Hamm never wanted to take the easy route. "L.A. represents opportunity, and, as has been proven over and over in the current media landscape, it doesn't take much for them to put you on TV. If that's all you want, you can be on The Bachelor or The Real Housewives or whatever show just wants oversized personalities, ridiculous behavior, and zero dignity."

In a 2008 profile in GQ, Hamm and the interviewer stopped by William Morris, the agency that first represented Hamm but terminated his contract. "They took me on because they saw a guy who could work," he said. "And then I didn't. For three years."

Jon Hamm planned to quit acting on his 30th birthday

Countless actors who are now household names found success later in life. Samuel L. Jackson became a superstar when he was cast in Pulp Fiction at the age of 45. Alan Rickman's first ever movie role in Die Hard came when the veteran stage actor was 41. Jessica Chastain didn't secure her first major role until she was 34. Jon Hamm is no different.

Hamm revealed to W in 2010 that in an attempt to to balance his acting dreams with pragmatic reality, he gave himself a deadline to succeed. "I had given myself five years to be self-sufficient as an actor. I was already self-sufficient as a waiter. But I knew a lot of 40-year-old waiters and I didn't want to be one of those. I had taught school and I knew that I could always go back to teaching. I gave myself to my 30th birthday," he explained.

But as fate would have it, Hamm barely squeaked by to the deadline. "And my 30th birthday actually happened on the set of We Were Soldiers, which was my first big Hollywood movie — a Mel Gibson vehicle. I was making enough money to quit my waiting job," he said. Six years later, he was cast as Don Draper in Mad Men and the rest is history.

Jon Hamm spent time in rehab for alcoholism

Just before the premiere of the last season of Mad Men in 2015, Jon Hamm completed a 30-day alcohol rehab program at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Conn., TMZ reported. "With the support of his longtime partner Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm recently completed treatment for his struggle with alcohol addiction. They have asked for privacy and sensitivity going forward," his representatives said in a statement. 

A year later the actor sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss why he checked himself into the program. "It has all these connotations, but it's just an extended period of talking about yourself," he said. "People go for all sorts of reasons, not all of which are chemically related. But there's something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind for a period of time and concentrating on recalibrating the system. And it works. It's great."

During a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Hamm revealed that he was in therapy and gave a glimpse into why. "I used to have six to eight months of every year all planned out, and then it evaporated," he said of his life during Mad Men. "Some people immediately build the scaffolding back up, but I'm more subject to inertia — a day turns into a week turns into a month and then you can't see the shore any more."

Jon Hamm's relationship Jennifer Westfeldt ended after nearly two decades together

Jon Hamm and his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt, announced their decision to split in 2015. ""With great sadness, we have decided to separate, after 18 years of love and shared history. We will continue to be supportive of each other in every way possible moving forward," they said in a joint statement (via ET). The pair never married, but we can assume ending an almost two decade relationship would be horrible.

According to People, Hamm called Westfeld "the love of my life" and credited her for helping to jump start his career. During a 2017 interview with InStyle, Hamm revealed that he was still single and it was not going well."It's hard. It's hard to be single after being together for a long time. It's really hard. It sucks," he said.

Hamm started dating his Mad Men co-star Anna Osceola in 2020, per Us Weekly. Hamm had previously been linked with Ben Affleck's ex-girlfriend Lindsay Shookus and his Baby Driver co-star Eiza Gonzalez. Is too much for us to ask for more January Jones?