Born in: Concord, California
Career: Actor, Director, Voice-over Artist, Writer, Producer
Tom Hanks is one of those American actors who have managed to carve a niche for themselves in the film industry. He is mainly known for his intense roles, like those in ‘Philadelphia’, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Cast Away’. Apart from acting, he is also involved in direction, voice-overs, writing and film production. Hanks is one of the only three actors who have achieved the feat of having seven consecutive US$100 million blockbusters, till date. In 2006, Hanks was ranked as #1 in the 1,500-strong list of 'Most Trusted Celebrities' compiled by ‘Forbes’ magazine.
Tom Hanks was born as ‘Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks’ on 9th July 1956, in Concord, California. He is the son of Amos Mefford Hanks, an ex-chef and a relative of President Abraham Lincoln's mother, and Janet Marylyn, a hospital worker. He has three siblings, Sandra Hanks Benoiton - a writer, Lawrence M. Hanks - an entomology professor at the University of Illinois and Jim - an actor and film maker. His parents got divorced in 1960, when he was hardly four years old. After the divorce, Sandra, Lawrence and Tom moved in with Amos.
Jim, the youngest of the four children, remained with his mother in Red Bluff, California. Both of his parents remarried. Amos got married to a woman with five children of her own, but the couple got divorced two years later. Being raised by a single parent, for quite sometime, inculcated the concept of self-reliance in all the children. While in school, Hanks was extremely shy and sort of a geek, qualities that did nothing to make him popular amongst fellow students or teachers. However, he described himself as a good and responsible kid.
Hanks’ father got married again, in 1965, to Frances Wong, who had three children of her own. Hanks attended Skyline High School in Oakland, California, and during this time, also acted in school plays. Later, he went to Chabot College and studied theater. After two years there, he was transferred to California State University, Sacramento. During his days at the university, he spent a lot of his time watching plays. It was around this time only that he met Vincent Dowling, the Head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland.
The suggestion of Dowling to Hanks, to become an intern at the Festival, proved to be a blessing for him. While working as an intern, he got involved in almost all the aspects of theater, right from lighting to set design to stage management. The internship stretched on for three years and since it demanded a lot of his time, Hanks had to drop out of college. However, it taught him a lot. Thereafter, he was seen as ‘Proteu’ in Shakespeare's ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’. The play won him the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for ‘Best Actor’.
Entry in Films
Hanks moved to the New York City in 1979 and started his film career with a low-budget slasher film, ‘He Knows You're Alone’. After that, he got a part in a television movie ‘Mazes and Monsters’ and also won the lead role of ‘Callimaco’ in ‘The Mandrake’, a production of Riverside Shakespeare Company. The play helped Hanks get an agent in ‘Joe Ohla’, of the J. Michael Bloom Agency. In 1980, he was seen in ABC television pilot called ‘Bosom Buddies’, in which he played the lead role.
His performance in ‘Bosom Buddies’, combined with the guest appearance in ‘Happy Days’, attracted the attention of Ron Howard. Hanks bagged the lead role in Howard’s movie ‘Splash’ (1984), which went on to become a commercial success. The same year, he appeared in another sizable hit ‘Bachelor Party’. During this time, he was also seen in guest appearances, on ‘Family Ties’. In the next couple of years, Hanks was seen in a number of movies, but none of them turned to be a box-office hit.
Ups and Downs
It was in the year 1988 that success once again knocked at Hanks’ doors. This time, it was ‘Big’, a fantasy film, that established him as one of the major actors in Hollywood and also won him Saturn Award and Golden Globe Award, for ‘Best Actor’. The following movie ‘Punchline’ also managed to do satisfactory business. As time passed, Hanks was seen in successful, like ‘Turner and Hooch’ as well as flop films, like ‘The 'Burbs’ and ‘Joe Versus the Volcano’. However, in 1992, he received major success with ‘A League of Their Own’.
With ‘Philadelphia’, Hanks again climbed back to the top. The movie was not only a hit, but also won him Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Sliver Berlin Bear Award for ‘Best Actor’. Even ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, which came just before Philadelphia, received major critical and box-office acclaim. Following soon after was the film ‘Forrest Gump’, which won him his second Academy Award for ‘Best Actor’. With this win, Hanks became only the second actor to have accomplished the feat of winning back-to-back ‘Best Actor’ Oscars.
The next movie to land in his kitty was Ron Howard’s ‘Apollo 13’ (1995), another critical success that earned nine nominations for Academy Awards. The same year, he did his first voice-over, for the animation film ‘Toy Story’. In 1996, he made his debut as a producer and a writer, in ‘That Thing You Do!’ Thereafter, he founded Playtone, a record and film production company, along with producer Gary Goetzman. Next, he executive produced, co-wrote and co-directed the HBO docudrama ‘From the Earth to the Moon’.
In 1998, Hanks was seen in two major hits- ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘You've Got Mail’. The former won critical acclaim and also got him Empire Award for ‘Best Actor’, apart from many nominations. The next year, he starred in ‘The Green Mile’ and again did a voice-over, for ‘Toy Story 2’. In 2000, he was seen in ‘Cast Away’ and walked away with Golden Globe Award and NYFCC Award for ‘Best Actor’. The year 2002 saw him in ‘Road to Perdition’, in which he played an anti-hero, followed by ‘Catch Me if You Can’, a hit crime comedy.
The same year, he produced the hit movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, along with his wife Rita Wilson. Hanks was again seen on-screen, in 2004, when he starred in three films - ‘The Ladykillers’, ‘The Terminal’ and ‘Elvis Has Left the Building’ (cameo). Next, he was seen in the much awaited film ‘The Da Vinci Code’, which turned to be a worldwide hit. In 2007, he did a voice-over for ‘The Simpsons Movie’ and starred in ‘Charlie Wilson's War’. In 2005, Hanks was voted as the Vice President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tom Hanks’ first marriage was with Samantha Lewes, in the year 1978. The couple had a son - Colin Hanks (now an actor) and a daughter - Elizabeth Ann. However, the matrimony came to an end in 1987. The next year, Hanks got married to Rita Wilson and for the purpose, converted from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. They have two sons, Chester (Chet) and Truman. Hanks is a big sports fan. Though his favorite team is the Oakland Athletics, he also admires Oakland Raiders Football Team.
1988 - Saturn Award and Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actor’ (Big)
1993 - Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Sliver Berlin Bear Award for Best Actor (Philadelphia)
1994 - Academy Award, NBR Award and Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actor’, along with SAG Award for ‘Outstanding Actor’ (Forrest Gump)
1998 - Empire Award for ‘Best Actor’ (Saving Private Ryan)
2000 - Golden Globe Award and NYFCC Award for ‘Best Actor’ (Cast Away)
2002 - American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award (Youngest Recipient)
1980 - He Knows You're Alone
1984 - Splash, Bachelor Party
1985 - The Man with One Red Shoe, Volunteers
1986 - The Money Pit, Nothing in Common, Every Time We Say Goodbye
1987 - Dragnet
1988 - Big, Punchline
1989 - The 'Burbs, Turner & Hooch
1990 - Joe Versus the Volcano, The Bonfire of the Vanities
1992 - Radio Flyer (uncredited), A League of Their Own
1993 - Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia
1994 - Forrest Gump
1995 - Apollo 13, Toy Story (voice only)
1996 - That Thing You Do! (Also writer and director)
1998 - Saving Private Ryan, You've Got Mail
1999 - Toy Story 2 (voice only), The Green Mile
2000 - Cast Away (also producer)
2001 - Band of Brothers
2002 - Road to Perdition, Catch Me if You Can
2004 - The Ladykillers, The Terminal, Elvis Has Left the Building (cameo), The Polar Express (executive producer and voices only)
2006 - Cars (voice only), The Da Vinci Code
2007 - The Simpsons Movie (voice only), Charlie Wilson's War
1980 to 1982 - Bosom Buddies
1982 - Taxi
1982 - Mazes and Monsters
1982 - Happy Days
1983 - Family Ties
1994 - Vault of Horror I (also director)
1998 - From the Earth to the Moon (Narrator, executive producer/director/writer)
2001 - Band of Brothers (producer, director)
2002 - The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch (Cameo), Saturday Night (Live Host)