Kane was born in Dallas, Texas as Christopher Short. He claims Cherokee Native American ancestry - he has no documented evidence, but it is part of his family's oral history. His parents participated in, and met at, the rodeo. The family moved around the South and the Midwest because his father was in the oil business, and they finally settled in Norman, Oklahoma, when Kane was in eighth grade. While growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, Kane was a collegiate-style wrestler and played football (as a strong safety). He studied art history at the University of Oklahoma, but decided he wanted to be an actor and headed to Los Angeles before finishing the degree. In Los Angeles, he worked at a talent management company, where he delivered scripts in exchange for getting acting jobs.