My favorite actor is Denzel Washington and I'd like to know more about him. Does he have a fan club?
—Delia N., Mississippi
The 49-year-old actor is the middle child of three, born to a preacher father and a beautician mother. When Washington played reporter Gray Grantham in The Pelican Brief, he was stepping into the profession that might have been. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native graduated from Fordham University with a journalism degree, but he never pursued that career. Interested in acting during college, he appeared in a number of student productions and, after graduation, got a scholarship to San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater. But after a year there, he wanted to do acting instead of studying it, so he started looking for work as an actor. After getting some small TV roles, he landed his first movie, Carbon Copy, a comedy co-starring George Segal. But his big break came when he took the part of Dr. Chandler on St. Elsewhere. It didn't take long for movie offers to start rolling in, and he established himself as a serious, talented actor in films such as Cry Freedom, Glory (for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor), Courage Under Fire, and Training Day, in which he played against type as a villainous and violent crooked cop. The performance earned him another Oscar, this time as Best Actor. He and his wife Paulette have been married for 20 years and have four children. In 1995, they renewed their wedding vows in South Africa, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu officiating. Washington does not have an official fan club.