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Eugene Allen "Gene" Hackman (born January 30, 1930) is a retired American actor and novelist.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two, Hackman has also won three Golden Globes and two BAFTAs in a career that spanned four decades. He first came to fame in 1967 when his performance as Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde earned him an Oscar nomination. His major subsequent films include I Never Sang for My Father (1970), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; his role as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1970), which won him his first Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA; The Poseidon Adventure (1972); his roles in The Conversation (1974) and French Connection II (1975), both of which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations; A Bridge Too Far (1977); his BAFTA-nominated role as arch-villain Lex Luthor in Superman (1978); his Golden Globe-nominated roles in Under Fire (1983) and Twice in a Lifetime (1985); Hoosiers (1986); No Way Out (1987); his Academy Award- and Golden Globe nominated role in Mississippi Burning (1987); his role as Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven (1992), which won him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA; Wyatt Earp (1994); The Quick and the Dead and Crimson Tide (both 1995); Enemy of the State (1998); his Golden Globe winning performance in The Royal Tenenbaums (2001); and his final film role before retirement, in Welcome to Mooseport (2004).

Early life

Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Lyda and Eugene Ezra Hackman.He has a brother, Richard. Hackman's family moved frequently, until finally settling in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in the house of his English-born maternal grandmother Beatrice, and where Hackman's father operated the printing press for the Commercial-News, a local paper. Hackman's parents divorced in 1943, and his father subsequently left the family. His mother died in 1962 as a result of a fire she accidentally set while smoking. At 16, Hackman left home to join the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served four-and-a-half years as a field radio operator. Having finished his service, he moved to New York, working in several minor jobs.

Career

1960s

In 1956, Hackman decided to become an actor; he joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California. It was there that he forged a friendship with another aspiring actor, Dustin Hoffman. Already seen as outsiders by their classmates, Hackman and Hoffman were later voted "The Least Likely To Succeed." Determined to prove them wrong, Hackman hopped on a bus bound for New York City. A 2004 article in Vanity Fair described how Hackman, Hoffman and Robert Duvall were all struggling actors and close friends while living in New York City in the 1960s. Hackman was working as a doorman when he ran into an instructor whom he had despised at the Pasadena Playhouse. Reinforcing "The Least Likely To Succeed" vote, the man had said, "See, Hackman, I told you you wouldn't amount to anything."

Hackman began performing in several off-Broadway plays. In 1964, he had an offer to co-star in the play Any Wednesday with actress Sandy Dennis. This opened the door to film work. His first role was in Lilith, with Warren Beatty in the leading role. Another supporting role, Buck Barrow in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. In 1969, he played a ski coach in Downhill Racer and an astronaut in Marooned. Also in 1969, he played the role of a member of a barnstorming skydiving team that entertained mostly at county fairs: The Gypsy Moths.

1970s

In 1970, he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award again, this time for I Never Sang for My Father, working alongside Melvyn Douglas and Estelle Parsons. The next year he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his memorable performance as New York City police officer Popeye Doyle in The French Connection, marking his graduation to leading man status.

He followed this with leading roles in the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974) which was nominated for several Oscars. That same year Hackman appeared in what became one of his most famous comedic roles as the blind hermit in Young Frankenstein.

He later appeared as one of Teddy Roosevelt's former Rough Riders in the Western horse-race saga Bite the Bullet (1975) and in the star-studded war film A Bridge Too Far (1977) as Polish General Sosabowski. Hackman showed a talent for both comedy and the "slow burn" as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie (1978), as he would in its 1980 and 1987 sequels.

1980s

By the end of the 1980s, Hackman alternated between leading and supporting roles, earning another Best Actor nomination for Mississippi Burning. He had a memorable part as a Secretary of Defense trying to cover up a homicide in 1987's No Way Out opposite Kevin Costner.

During this decade Hackman also could be seen in Reds, Under Fire, Hoosiers, Power, Uncommon Valor and Bat*21. A 2008 American Film Institute poll voted Hoosiers the fourth-greatest film of all time in the sports genre.

1990s

In 1990, the actor underwent heart surgery, which kept him from work for a while, although he found time for Narrow Margin – a remake of The Narrow Margin (1952). In 1992, he played the sadistic sheriff "Little" Bill Daggett in the western Unforgiven directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples which earned him a second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The film won Best Picture.

Hackman co-starred with Tom Cruise as a corrupt lawyer in The Firm (1993) and appeared in a second John Grisham story in 1996, playing a convict on death row in The Chamber.

In 1995, Hackman played an inept Hollywood producer in Get Shorty and the villainous fast-draw champion John Herrod in The Quick and the Dead opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, as well as submarine Captain Frank Ramsey in the film Crimson Tide with Denzel Washington.

In 1996, he took a comedic turn as ultra-conservative Senator Kevin Keeley in The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. He also co-starred with Will Smith in the 1998 film Enemy of the State, where his character was reminiscent of the one from The Conversation.

He played a President of the United States who commits a murder in 1997's Absolute Power, re-teaming with director-star Clint Eastwood.

2000s

Hackman starred in the David Mamet crime film Heist as an aging professional thief of considerable skill who is forced into one final job. He also had a leading role as the head of an eccentric family in the ensemble cast film The Royal Tenenbaums and in yet another Grisham legal drama, Runaway Jury, at long last getting to make a picture with his longtime friend Dustin Hoffman.

In 2003 at the Golden Globes, Hackman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."

Present

Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman has written three novels: Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), Justice for None (2004), and Escape from Andersonville (2008).

On July 7, 2004, Hackman gave a rare interview to Larry King, in which Hackman announced that he had no future film projects lined up, and believes his acting career is over. In 2008, while promoting his third novel, Hackman confirmed that he had retired from acting. His final film to date was Welcome to Mooseport (2004), a comedy with Ray Romano in which Hackman portrayed a former President of the United States.

Personal life

Hackman's first wife was Faye Maltese. They had three children, Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean and Leslie Anne. The couple divorced in 1986 after 30 years of marriage. In 1991 Hackman married Betsy Arakawa. They live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Betsy is co-owner of an upscale retail home-furnishing store in Santa Fe called Pandora's, Inc.

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