Tom Hanks is well known for his acting ability, and is able to play
characters that range from the vulnerable Forrest Gump, the inspirational lead
in Philadelphia to the never-say-die commander in Apollo 13. Hanks is generally
known for his ability to imbue "nice-guy" roles with warmth, for example in the
romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, but is quite capable of taking the role of
a mob hit man in Road to Perdition.
Born in Concord, California, Hanks later studied theatre at California State University, Sacramento. Hanks is married to actress Rita Wilson. The couple met on the set of the movie Volunteers in 1985.
Though Hanks starred mostly in comedies in the early part of his career—he first came to notice in the 1980-82 situation comedy Bosom Buddies and became a star with Big—he later moved away from comedies and started making mostly more-serious dramas. In recent years, he has alternated between comedic and serious dramatic roles.
Hanks is currently one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood. His salary for two recent movies was USD$20 million each. His portrayal of the likeable lead in Forrest Gump earned him $70 million.
Born in Concord, California, Hanks later studied theatre at California State University, Sacramento. He couldn't get cast in a college play so he auditioned for community theater instead. He was invited by the director of that play to go to Cleveland, and it was there his acting career started.
Tom Hanks is a member of the National Space Society and was the producer of the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon about the Apollo program to send astronauts to the moon. Hanks also provides the voice over for the Hayden planetarium show at American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Tom Hanks is a Democrat and has supported many candidates, including Hilary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, Al Gore, and John Kerry. Hanks is also a noted environmentalist who drives a hybrid car and is a member of the Nature Conservancy. He has appeared in radio and television public service announcements for the organization and even serves on the board of trustees in Idaho, where he has a home.
Hanks has been married to actress Rita Wilson since 1988. They met while working on the movie Volunteers (1985). They have two children together. Hanks was married previously to Samantha Lewes from 1978 to 1987. That union also produced two children (one of whom is actor/son Colin Hanks). Through his contact with Wilson, Hanks joined the Greek Orthodox Church.
Tom Hanks also won back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor for his roles in Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994). He was the youngest ever recipient of the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award on June 12, 2002.
Hanks claims to be a relative of James Hanks, one of several possible fathers of Nancy Hanks, mother of United States president Abraham Lincoln. A map of his family tree showing the purported connection can be found in the External links section.
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