SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin Bacon stepped out of a black SUV and into a Salt Lake City homeless shelter Monday, passing out dozens of blankets to Utahns trying to get back on their feet.
Many thought he looked familiar.
"I recognized him a little bit," said Francois Coeur, 55. "I didn't recognize that was the actual Kevin Bacon."
The 60-year-old actor broke away from the Sundance Film Festival to visit the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, part of his work with the nonprofit he heads, SixDegrees.org.
In a black beanie hat and mustache, he did not appear out of place. No one approached him as he sat on the altar in the mission's chapel before passing out the dark blue fleece blankets.
Dennis Devore, 56, who lives and works at the mission, was among those who waited in a single-file line.
"I love it. It's a good thing," said Devore, who likes Bacon's movies. Then he grinned and his blue eyes glinted. "I've had people say I look like him."
Many shook hands with Bacon briefly as he handed them a blanket and others said a short "thank you."
Coeur went a step farther.
"You're a really good actor," he said.
"Thanks. I try my best," Bacon replied with a smile. Coeur, who writes classical love songs with piano and guitar parts, plans to send sheet music of his compositions to Bacon.
"It's what you would put into movies," he said.
Bacon's group on Monday joined with Sackcloth and Ashes, an organization that donates blankets to homeless shelters around the country for each one purchased. Its leader Bob Dalton drew whistles and applause from a group of about 100 in the chapel when he recounted how his own mother slept on benches and beaches for a time but never gave up hope.
"Nobody can take your faith away," Dalton said.
Bacon did not take a turn at the microphone. In an interview, he said he doesn't end up in shelters very often, but he visits them with his nonprofit "more times than you would imagine" when he's on the road.
"We look for people that we can highlight who are doing good work on the ground," he said. "We have this kind of desire to distance people from us in a way. But if you actually look at somebody and talk to them and meet them, they're like us. Except for a few different sets of circumstances, you could be in the same situation. I could be in the same situation."
On a tour of the mission, Bacon nodded and listened quietly as he surveyed an open dormitory-style room with dozens of bunk beds and asked a question about how the mission raises money.
He grew up in Philadelphia before moving to New York and later spending much of his time in Los Angeles, he said, and the issue of homelessness in each city was apparent.
"There's just been a very, very clear need there," he said.
The "Footloose" star famed for having some type of link to most every other actor in Hollywood has also long had a tie to Utah. Parts of the 1984 movie were filmed at Lehi Roller Mills.7 comments on this story
Dennis Dickerson, director of community outreach at the shelter, said the governor visits every Thanksgiving, but Bacon's appearance brought more star power than ever to the Rescue Mission. The shelter also offers a substance abuse treatment program, free meals, clothing and other services.
"People will be interested in why he would come," Dickerson said. "It spreads the word that there are people who need help."
Bacon doesn't have a movie at Sundance this year, but he returned to the festival for work with the charity and to honor his wife, Kiera Sedgwick. The actress and director won a Creative Coalition award Saturday for her advocacy work.