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Tom Hanks
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If you don't know who he is, take a moment and slap yourself :trout:

Early life

Hanks was born in Concord, California. His father, Amos Mefford Hanks, was a chef and a relation of President Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His mother, Janet Marylyn (née Frager), was a hospital worker; the two divorced in 1960.[1] The family's three oldest children, Sandra, (now Sandra Hanks Benoiton, a writer),[2][3] Larry (now Lawrence M. Hanks, Ph.D., an entomology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign),[4] and Tom, went with their father; while the youngest, Jim, now an actor and film maker, remained with his mother in Red Bluff, California. Both parents remarried. The first stepmother for Sandra, Larry, and Tom came to the marriage with five children of her own. Hanks once told Rolling Stone magazine: "Everybody in my family likes each other. But there were always about fifty 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 just 2 years, and Amos Hanks became a single parent, working long hours and relying on the children to fend for themselves often, an exercise in self-reliance that served the siblings well. In school, Hanks was unpopular with students and teachers alike, 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". Amos Hanks remarried in 1965 to 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, 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."

It was during his years studying theater that Hanks met Vincent Dowling, head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland. At Dowling's suggestion, Hanks became an intern at the Festival, which stretched into a three-year experience that covered everything from lighting to set design to stage management. Such a commitment required that Hanks drop out of college, but with this under his belt, a future in acting was in the cards. Hanks won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for best actor for his performance as Proteus in Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the few times he played a villain.

[edit] Early career

In 1979, Hanks moved to 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 a television movie entitled 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, featuring an original jazz score by Michael Wolff, original masks and costumes designed by Broadway designer Jane Stein, and was produced by W. Stuart McDowell and Gloria Skurski. This remains Hank'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 an ABC television pilot called Bosom Buddies, playing the role of Kip Wilson. Hanks moved to Los Angeles, California where he was teamed with Peter Scolari as a pair of young advertising men forced to dress as women so they could live in an inexpensive all-female hotel. He 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", the show's 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", Hanks’ best friend Tom Lizzio told Rolling Stone. "Then out of nowhere it got cancelled. He figured he'd be back to pulling ropes and hanging lights in a theater."

It was 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 that drew 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 which 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.

From 1983-84, Hanks made three guest appearances on Family Ties as Elyse Keaton's alcoholic brother Ned Donnelly. Hanks also appears for a moment as an uncredited extra in the movie Real Genius (1985), when the lead character, Mitch, bumps into him in a crowd.

Progression into dramatic roles

Hanks again climbed back to the top with his portrayal of an unsuccessful baseball manager in A League of Their Own (1992). Hanks admits that his acting in earlier roles was not great and that he has improved. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Hanks called the work that he's done since his "modern era of moviemaking ... because enough self-discovery has gone on.... My work has become less 'pretentiously fake."

This "modern era" welcomed in a spectacular 1993 for Hanks, first with Sleepless in Seattle and then with Philadelphia. The former was a blockbuster success about a widower who finds true love (in the character of Meg Ryan) over the airwaves. Richard Schickel of Time called his performance "charming", and most agreed that his portrayal ensured him a place among the premiere romantic-comedy stars of his generation, making him bankable. In Philadelphia Hanks played a gay lawyer with AIDS who sues his firm for discrimination (Hanks lost thirty-five pounds and thinned his hair in order to appear sickly for the role.) In a review for People, Leah Rozen stated "Above all, credit for "Philadelphia's" success belongs to Hanks, who makes sure that he plays a character, not a saint. He is flat-out terrific, giving a deeply felt, carefully nuanced performance that deserves an Oscar."

Hanks won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Philadelphia. During his acceptance speech he revealed that his high school drama teacher was gay. The revelation inspired the 1997 film In & Out, starring Kevin Kline as an English Literature teacher who is outed by a former student in a similar way.

Personal life

Hanks was married to Samantha Lewes from 1978 to 1987. The couple had two children, son Colin Hanks (now also an actor) and daughter Elizabeth Ann.[11][12] In 1988, Hanks married actress Rita Wilson; raised in several different Christian denominations, Hanks converted from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity when marrying Wilson.[13] 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 (Chet) and Truman.

He is a big sports fan, and as a teenager he was a peanut vendor at The Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics.[14][15] His favorite team is the Oakland Athletics.[14] Hanks is also a fan of the Oakland Raiders football team,[16] English Premier League football team Aston Villa.[17][18][19] Hanks lists "old manual typewriters" as a hobby on his MySpace page, owning about 80 of the classic mechanical types and traveling with one where ever he goes.[20][21]

Wikipedia

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