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No one could have envisioned the heights to which actor, writer, director, and producer Tom Hanks would ascend during his lifetime. Hanks is a behemoth in Tinseltown, with a slew of films under his belt and a body of work that has grossed over $4.22 billion at the US box office and a total of $8.5 billion globally. These figures easily land him the title of the highest-grossing box-office star of all time.
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, better known as Tom, was born on July 9, 1956, in Concord, California, to Amos Hanks, a cook, and Janet Marylyn, a hospital worker. Hanks’ parents divorced when he was very young, after which he lived with his father along with two of his siblings. As a teenager, Hanks was deeply religious and described himself as a “geek” who was “painfully shy.”
Like many actors, he first discovered a passion for his craft by performing in school plays while he attended Skyline High School in Oakland, California. He studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward before transferring to California State University in Sacramento. During his college years, Hanks would often go by himself to local theater houses and watch plays alone. He would go on to learn much about the theater during his stint as an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also won his first award for Best Actor from the Cleveland Critics Circle. The award was bestowed for his 1978 role as the villain in the theatrical production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
In 1979, Hanks made the move to New York City and in 1980, landed a part in “He Knows You’re Alone,” a low-budget horror flick. He also starred in the TV movie “Mazes and Monsters” the same year. In 1981, Hanks landed the lead role in “Bosom Buddies,” an ABC TV series, and made the move to Los Angeles for the part. It was in 1982 that a guest appearance on “Happy Days” would mark a turning point in Hanks’ career. There he met director Ron Howard, who would later contact Hanks while working on “Splash” in 1984. Eventually Hanks was cast in the lead role. “Splash” went on to make a big splash at the box office and would be the break Hanks needed to go mainstream.
Among his other early films are “Bachelor Party” (1984), “Nothing in Common” (1986), and “Big” (1988). Hanks’ career took a dip during this period, which was due largely to the lackluster success of the films that he starred in. In 1989, he saw some success with the dog-themed comedy “Turner & Hooch,” but it wasn’t until he started to take on more dramatic roles that his career really took off.
A string of hits would cement Hanks into the minds of the moviegoing public beginning in 1992 with “A League of Their Own” and 1993’s “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Philadelphia,” a movie that led to Hanks winning his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as a gay lawyer suffering from AIDS.
One of the defining films of Hanks’ career was “Forrest Gump” (1994), a romantic comedy/drama for which Hanks won the Academy Award, People’s Choice Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award-all for Best Actor. To date, Hanks is only the second actor to hold the distinction of winning back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor. The only other actor was Spencer Tracy, who won the award in both 1937 and 1938. The film, which was based on Winston Groom’s novel, was North America’s top-grossing film that year, with a theatrical run that netted Paramount Studios more than $677 million and won the title of Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year.
His next role in 1995’s “Apollo 13” would also earn him nine Academy Awards nominations. That same year, he would begin his long-running stint as the voice of Sheriff Woody in the animated Disney/Pixar hit “Toy Story.”
In the following years, Hanks’ most notable works include his performances in “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), “The Green Mile” (1999), and “Cast Away” (2000). He would also put in solid performances in HBO’s miniseries production “Band of Brothers” (2001), “Road to Perdition” (2002), and the family-fun now-classic holiday flick “The Polar Express” (2004). He also starred in two movie productions based on Dan Brown books “The Da Vinci Code” (2006) and “Angels & Demons” (2009). His most recent works include “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (2011), and ” Captain Phillips ” (2013).
Hanks was married for nine years to actress Samantha Lewes, and the couple had two children. He is currently married to Rita Wilson, whom he met during his time on “Bosom Buddies,” and the pair has two sons together. Hanks has two grandchildren.
write by Ula