July 9, 1956
Tom Hanks is one of today's most admired and respected actors. He was the first actor to be
awarded back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, since
Spencer Tracy scooped two of the golden boys in 1937 and 1938.
Ranked #17 in Empire magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list, the five foot
eleven Hanks for the most part spent his childhood with his three siblings in an unusual family
atmosphere. His parents, Amos and Janet, divorced when Tom was five and went through several
remarriages, hardly providing an Ozzy and Harriet environment for their children. Instead,
Tom and remaining family, found themselves traveling around a lot. But even so, Tom never
had problems making friends. His father evenutally married Frances Wong, who had her own
family, which would sometimes have twenty-two members scrambling for time and attention. In
his Mademoiselle interview, Tom said of the situation, "You could get lost in the shuffle or
you could be a loudmouth." Tom chose to go the loudmouth route, unknowingly preparing himself
for centre stage.
He attented Skyline High in Oakland, California, and after failing to make the team in various
sports, he was encouraged to pursue the performing arts by his drama teacher, who undoubtedly
saw the comedic potential in the young man. He immersed himself in the stage and literally
worked his way through all the behind-the-scene jobs, from lighting and set design to stitching
costumes and even selling tickets.
Voted best actor by the readers of US magazine in 1995, fans may remember Hanks from the
comedy television series Bosom Buddies, and at the time it may have seemed that Tom's niche
would be in television, but fate had other plans. After a guest appearance on Happy Days,
producer Ron Howard asked him to read for a secondary part in Splash. He read and got the
lead instead. Tom was on his way to super stardom. In fact, Entertainment Weekly
chose him as the only actor worth a 20 million dollar pay check.
After numerous and compelling parts made Tom Hanks a household name, the eager thespian decided
to try his hand at directing, taking it a step further by also penning the critically praised
1996 comedy That Thing You Do!. But more importantly, Hanks later went on to executive produce the
inspiring HBO mini-series, From the Earth to the Moon, a 12-hour anthology exploring the
Apollo space program. A project which received several Emmy Awards. Without a doubt, Tom Hanks
is a creative force to be reckoned with, and the future of quality entertainment seems that
much brighter knowing he's on board.
Tom has four children. A son and daughter, Colin and Elizabeth, from his first marriage to
Samantha Lewes, and Chester and Truman from Rita Wilson, whom he married in 1988 after meeting
on the set of Volunteers.
Photo © Nigel Parry/Premiere - Bio by ThespianNet.com ©2000
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