Tom Hanks Biography (1956-)

TomHanks, . Born July 9, 1956, in Concord, California. His parents divorced when Hanks was five years old; he was raised, along with his older brother and sister, by their father, Amos, a chef. The family moved frequently, finally settling in Oakland, California, where Hanks attended high school.

After graduating in 1974, Hanks attended junior college in Hayward, California. He decided to pursue acting after reading and watching a performance of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, and transferred into the theater program at California State University in Sacramento.

In 1977, Hanks was recruited to take part in the summer session of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Lakewood Ohio. Over the next three years, Hanks spent his summers acting in various productions of Shakespeare’s plays, and his winters working backstage at a community theater company in Sacramento. He won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in 1978, for his portrayal of Proteus in The Two Gentleman of Verona.

In 1993, Hanks emerged with two huge hits: Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy written by Nora Ephron that rematched him with his Joe Versus the Volcano co-star, Meg Ryan; and Philadelphia, co-starring Denzel Washington. In the latter film, Hanks played a lawyer fired from his high-paying firm because he has AIDS, delivering a courageous performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Actor.

He followed up on that tremendous year with the release of Forrest Gump (1994), the sprawling story of an unlikely hero’s path through late twentieth-century American history. The film was a phenomenal box office success, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Zemeckis). For his part, Hanks brought home his second straight Best Actor statuette, becoming the first person in 50 years to accomplish that feat.

In 1996, Hanks starred in another blockbuster, Apollo 13, a Ron Howard film based on the abortive lunar landing mission of the Apollo 13 spacecraft in 1970. The film was released in the IMAX format in 2002. Like Forrest Gump, the film made over $500 million at the box office.

That same year, Hanks made his directorial and screenwriting debut with That Thing You Do!, which enjoyed moderate success. He continued his behind-the-camera duties in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, for which he produced, directed, wrote, and acted in various episodes.

In 1998, he starred in another groundbreaking blockbuster, Saving Private Ryan, a World War II drama directed by Steven Spielberg and filmed with gruesome accuracy. While the film was nominated for Best Director and Best Actor, and was a favorite for Best Picture, only Spielberg took home the Oscar.

In late 1998, Hanks also teamed once more with Ryan and Ephron, in the hit romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail.

Hanks soared to the top of the holiday box office in late 1999, as he reprised his role as the voice of Woody, the cowboy at the center of 1995’s animated Toy Story. Toy Story 2, also featuring the voice of Tim Allen, surpassed all expectations at the box office, grossing a record-breaking $80.8 million when it opened over Thanksgiving weekend. He also starred in The Green Mile, which shot to No. 2 at the box office, behind Toy Story 2, in its opening weekend. The film was set in a Depression-era prison and adapted from a story by Stephen King.

Hanks underwent a striking physical transformation to play a man stranded on a desert island in his next film, the long-awaited Cast Away, directed by Zemeckis and co-starring Helen Hunt. His performance propelled the film to the top of the holiday box office, earning Hanks critical raves and yet another well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

In the 1990s, Hanks compiled an imposing record of box office hits and has emerged as arguably the most powerful and well-respected actor in Hollywood. His accessible good looks and regular-guy charisma has earned him comparisons with screen legends of the past, such as Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and Gary Cooper. In 2002, Hanks was honored with the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the youngest actor ever to receive the award.By 1980, Hanks had dropped out of college, and after his third season with the Great Lakes festival, he moved to New York City. Many rounds of auditions later, he landed a small part in the 1980 slasher film, He Knows You’re Alone. That same year, he was spotted by a talent scout for ABC, and was cast in the television sitcom Bosom Buddies, as one of two advertising executives who dress in drag in order to rent an apartment in an all-female building.

The show was cancelled after two seasons, but it gave Hanks some exposure and led to his casting in guest roles on various episodes of popular shows like Happy Days, Taxi, The Love Boat and Family Ties. In 1982, Ron Howard, co-star of Happy Days, remembered Hanks from his guest stint on the show, and had him read for a supporting part in a movie he was directing. That supporting role eventually went to John Candy, and Hanks instead landed the lead role in Howard’s Splash, as a man who falls in love with a mermaid, played by Daryl Hannah. The movie, released in 1984, became a surprise hit, and Hanks was suddenly a recognizable face.

A string of critically panned movies followed, most notably Bachelor Party (1984), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), Volunteers (1985), The Money Pit (1986), and Dragnet (1987). Hanks managed to emerge relatively unscathed from these critical failures, as critics often pointed to his performance as the best thing about each movie.

In 1988, he was finally cast in a star-making role, in director Penny Marshall’s Big, as a 13-year-old boy transplanted overnight into the body of a 35-year-old man. His performance charmed both critics and audiences, and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

With Big, Hanks established his reputation as a box-office draw as well as a talented actor. Over the next several years, however, his films failed to match the critical or commercial success of that film, although they did display Hanks’s wide range, from light-hearted comedies (1989’s Turner and Hooch, 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano) to more serious fare (1988’s Punchline, 1990’s Bonfire of the Vanities).

In 2002, Hanks produced the surprise hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. His next producing projects include the drama Society Cab and the Imax space documentary Magnificent Desolation. In 2004, the actor starred in the Coen brothers’ remake of the classic 1955 comedy Ladykillers. He teamed with Steven Spielberg for the drama Terminal, and starred in the family film The Polar Express.

Hanks next starred in the highly anticipated The Da Vinci Code, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. It grossed over $750 million worldwide.

For Christmas 2007, Hanks appeared as the lead in Charlie Wilson’s War, a drama based on a Texas congressman’s efforts to assist Afghan rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects. The performance earned Hanks a Golden Globe nomination for his role.

In 2009, Hanks appeared in Angels and Demons, the long-awaited film sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

Hanks met his first wife, actress and producer Samantha Lewes (real name: Susan Dillingham), while he was in college. They were married in 1978 and had two children, Colin and Elizabeth, before divorcing in 1987.

In 1988, he married actress Rita Wilson, with whom he co-starred in Volunteers. Hanks and Wilson have two children, Chester and Truman.

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