Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor, producer, writer and director. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies, gaining wide notice in 1988's Big, before achieving success as a dramatic actor in several notable roles, including Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia, the title role in Forrest Gump, Commander James A. Lovell in Apollo 13, Captain John H. Miller in Saving Private Ryan, Joe Fox in You've Got Mail and Chuck Noland in Cast Away. Hanks won consecutive Best Actor Academy Awards, in 1993 for Philadelphia and in 1994 for Forrest Gump. U.S. domestic box office totals for his films exceed $3.9 billion. He is the father of actor Colin Hanks.
His father, Amos Mefford Hanks (born in Glenn County, California, on March 9, 1924 – died in Alameda, California, on January 31, 1992), was a distant relative of President Abraham Lincoln, through Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. His mother, Portuguese-American Janet Marylyn (née Frager; born in Alameda County, California, on January 18, 1932), was a hospital worker. Hanks's parents divorced in 1960. The family's three oldest children, Sandra (now Sandra Hanks Benoiton, a writer), Larry (now Lawrence M. Hanks, Ph.D., an entomology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Tom, went with their father, while the youngest, Jim, now an actor and film maker, remained with his mother in Red Bluff, California. Afterwards, both parents remarried. Hanks's first stepmother came to the marriage with five children of her own. Hanks once told Rolling Stone: "Everybody in my family likes each other. But there were always about 50 people at the house. I didn't exactly feel like an outsider, but I was sort of outside it." That marriage ended in divorce after two years.
Amos Hanks became a single parent, working long hours and often leaving the children to fend for themselves, an exercise in self-reliance that served the siblings well. In addition to having a family history of Catholicism and Mormonism, Hanks was a "Bible-toting evangelical teenager" for several years. In school, Hanks was unpopular with students and teachers alike, later telling Rolling Stone magazine: "I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who'd yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn't get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible." In 1965, Amos Hanks married Frances Wong, a San Francisco native of Chinese descent. Frances had three children, two of whom lived with Tom during his high school years. Tom acted in school plays, including South Pacific, while attending Skyline High School in Oakland, California.
Hanks studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward, California, and after two years, transferred to California State University, Sacramento. Hanks told The New York Times: "Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant. I spent a lot of time going to plays. I wouldn't take dates with me. I'd just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat, and read the program, and then get into the play completely. I spent a lot of time like that, seeing Bertolt Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, and all that, and now look at me, acting is my job. I wouldn't have it any other way."
During his years studying theater, Hanks met Vincent Dowling, head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. At Dowling's suggestion, Hanks became an intern at the Festival. His internship stretched into a three-year experience that covered most aspects of theater production, including lighting, set design, and stage management, all of which caused Hanks to drop out of college. During the same time, Hanks won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his 1978 performance as Proteus in Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the few times he played a villain.
In 1979, Hanks packed his bags for New York City, where he made his film debut in the low-budget slasher film He Knows You're Alone and got a part in the television movie Mazes and Monsters. Early in 1979, Hanks was cast in the lead role of Callimaco in the Riverside Shakespeare Company's production of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Mandrake, directed by Daniel Southern. This remains Hanks's only New York stage performance to date; as a high profile Off Off Broadway showcase, the production helped Tom land an agent, Joe Ohla with the J. Michael Bloom Agency. The next year Hanks landed a lead role on the ABC television pilot of Bosom Buddies, playing the role of Kip Wilson. Hanks moved to Los Angeles, where he and Peter Scolari played a pair of young advertising men forced to dress as women so they could live in an inexpensive all-female hotel. Hanks had previously partnered with Scolari in the 1970s game show Make Me Laugh. Bosom Buddies ran for two seasons, and, although the ratings were never strong, television critics gave the program high marks. "The first day I saw him on the set," co-producer Ian Praiser told Rolling Stone, "I thought, 'Too bad he won't be in television for long.' I knew he'd be a movie star in two years." But if Praiser knew it, he was not able to convince Hanks. "The television show had come out of nowhere," best friend Tom Lizzio told Rolling Stone. "Then out of nowhere it got canceled. He figured he'd be back to pulling ropes and hanging lights in a theater."
Bosom Buddies and a guest appearance on a 1982 episode of Happy Days ("A Case of Revenge," where he played a disgruntled former classmate of The Fonz) prompted director Ron Howard to contact Hanks. Howard was working on Splash (1984), a romantic comedy fantasy about a mermaid who falls in love with a human. At first, Howard considered Hanks for the role of the main character's wisecracking brother, a role that eventually went to John Candy. Instead, Hanks got the lead role and a career boost from Splash, which went on to become a box office hit, grossing more than US$69 million. He also had a sizable hit with the sex comedy Bachelor Party, also in 1984.
In 1983–84, Hanks made three guest appearances on Family Ties as Elyse Keaton's alcoholic brother, Ned Donnelly.
Hanks was married to American actress Samantha Lewes (née Susan Jane Dillingham) from 1978 to 1987. The couple had two children, son Colin Hanks (also an actor) and daughter Elizabeth Ann. In 1988, Hanks married actress Rita Wilson. The two first met on the set of Hanks's television show Bosom Buddies but later developed a romantic interest while working on the film Volunteers. They have two sons: Chester, or "Chet" (who has a small part as a student in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and Truman.
Regarding his religious views, Hanks has said, "I must say that when I go to church – and I do go to church – I ponder the mystery. I meditate on the 'why?' of 'Why people are as they are' and 'Why bad things happen to good people,' and 'Why good things happen to bad people'… The mystery is what I think it is, almost, the grand unifying theory of mankind.
A supporter of NASA's manned space program, Hanks has said that he originally wanted to be an astronaut but "didn't have the math." Hanks is a member of the National Space Society, serving on the Board of Governors of the nonprofit educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher Von Braun. He also produced the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon about the Apollo program to send astronauts to the moon. In addition, Hanks co-wrote and co-produced Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D, an IMAX film about the moon landings. Hanks also provided the voice over for the first new planetarium show following the opening of the new Rose Center for Earth & Space in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
In 2006, the Space Foundation awarded Hanks the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to public awareness of space programs.
In June 2006 Hanks was inducted as an honorary member of the United States Army Rangers Hall of Fame for his accurate portrayal of a Captain in the movie Saving Private Ryan; Hanks, who was unable to attend the induction ceremony, was the first actor to receive such an honor. In addition to his role in Saving Private Ryan, Hanks was cited for serving as the national spokesperson for the World War II Memorial Campaign, for being the honorary chairperson of the D-Day Museum Capital Campaign, and for his role in writing and helping to produce the Emmy Award-winning miniseries, Band of Brothers.
Hanks was one of several celebrities who frequently participated in planned comedy bits on Late Night with Conan O'Brien while a guest. On one visit, Hanks asked Conan to join his run for president on the "Bad Haircut Party" ticket, with confetti and balloons and a hand held sign with the slogan "You'd be stupid to vote for us". On another episode, O'Brien, noting that Hanks was missing Christmas on his promotional tour, brought the season to him, including a gift (the skeleton of Hooch), and a mass of snow burying them both. On yet another episode, Conan gave Hanks a painting he had commissioned reflecting two of his interests: Astronauts landing on the beach at Normandy. On March 10, 2008, Hanks was on hand at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to induct sixties sensation The Dave Clark Five. He praised the group for both the joy of their music and for never signing away their publishing rights.
Hanks is a known fan of English Premier League Football club Aston Villa and was presented with a shirt on a TV show with the print 'Hanks 1' on the back. Hanks confirmed his affiliation with the club in an interview with Jonathan Ross in May 2009, citing his public like for the name as the reason why the media portray him as an Aston Villa fan.
Monday, July 9, 1956
Concord, California, USA