Tom Hanks Biography

Tom Hanks Biography

Tom Hanks, a multi-talented American entertainer, has established a remarkable career in cinema, television, and theater. With his amiable “everyman” demeanor, he has been a natural fit for leading roles in numerous successful films. Having transitioned from a former sitcom actor, Hanks is now a beloved Hollywood icon, having starred in some of the industry’s most lucrative productions. His films have grossed over $4.5 billion in the U.S. and Canada alone, and over $9.0 billion globally, making him the third highest-grossing actor in North America. Over the years, Hanks has also showcased his dramatic acting abilities in some of the greatest cinematic works of all time. Since the 1980s, Tom Hanks has consistently delivered unforgettable performances on the big screen.

Tom Hanks is undoubtedly most famous for his portrayal of the character Forrest Gump, which left an indelible mark on audiences worldwide. He has also given remarkable performances in “Cast Away” and “Forrest Gump,” both of which required him to play a character with intellectual disabilities. In “Philadelphia,” Hanks took on the challenging role of a gay lawyer and won an Oscar for his performance. He also demonstrated his acting prowess in the war epic “Saving Private Ryan,” and even acted alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch me if you can.” Additionally, Hanks lent his voice to the beloved character Woody in the “Toy Story” franchise, which has been a fan favorite since its inception. His films have consistently performed well at the box office, and he has won a total of 38 awards throughout his career. Tom Hanks is a versatile and talented actor, who has proven his ability to excel in a wide range of roles.

Early Life of Tom Hanks

Born on July 9, 1956, in Concord, California, Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was the son of Janet Marylyn (née Frager) and Amos Mefford Hanks, who worked as a hospital worker and itinerant cook, respectively. Hanks’ mother was of Portuguese heritage, while his father had English roots. Interestingly, Hanks is a distant relative of President Abraham Lincoln – specifically, a third cousin four times removed through Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. After Hanks’ parents separated in 1960, his father took Sandra, Larry, and Tom with him as they moved around frequently. Meanwhile, Jim, the youngest of the siblings, stayed with their mother in Red Bluff, California. Throughout his childhood, Hanks and his family moved frequently, and by the time he turned ten, he had already lived in ten different homes.

Tom Hanks had a tumultuous upbringing, characterized by what he has referred to as a “fractured” family. Following his parents’ divorce, he bounced around from one step-family to another, leading to a confused childhood. While in college, Hanks did not have any prior acting experience and was unable to secure a role in a school production. However, this setback turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it prompted him to audition for a community theater play. His performance was impressive, and he was soon invited by the director to participate in a play in Cleveland. This was the start of Hanks’ illustrious acting career.

Following his peripatetic childhood, Hanks pursued a degree in drama at California State University, honing his skills by performing in summer stock theater in Cleveland, Ohio, where he took on a range of classical roles. In 1979, Hanks relocated to New York City, where he made his first foray into film acting by starring in the low-budget horror movie He Knows You’re Alone (1980). Soon after, he secured a leading role in the made-for-television movie Mazes and Monsters.


Hanks kickstarted his acting career by making his professional stage debut in 1977, portraying Grumio in the Great Lakes Theater production of The Taming of the Shrew. He later made his way to the big screen, landing a small role in the horror flick He Knows You’re Alone (1980). Hanks’ versatility also extended to behind the camera, as he made his directorial and screenwriting debut in 1996 with the musical comedy That Thing You Do!

Hanks’ comedic talents were first brought to light in his role as a co-star in the TV series Bosom Buddies (1980-82). His performance in the successful movie Splash (1984) opened doors for him to lead other comedies such as Bachelor Party (1984), Volunteers (1985), and The Money Pit (1986). Hanks also proved his dramatic range in films like Nothing in Common (1986) and Punchline (1988), but it was his portrayal of a child trapped in an adult’s body in Big (1988) that earned him an Academy Award nomination and cemented his status as one of the most beloved stars of his time.

Tom Hanks’ voice was behind the character of Woody, the cowboy in the hugely popular “Toy Story” (1995) franchise, which he reprised in two successful sequels. He also earned an Oscar nomination for his role in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).

Hanks teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio in Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002) and played the role of Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology, in the 2006 film adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code. He reprised his role as Langdon in Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016). In Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Hanks portrayed the real-life senator Charlie Wilson, who aided the Afghan resistance to the Soviets in the 1980s. He also played the role of a father killed in the September 11 attacks in the drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011). For the epic Cloud Atlas (2012), which intertwined multiple narratives, he took on six characters, ranging from a 19th-century surgeon to a tribesman in a post-apocalyptic world.

Oscar Wins

Hanks earned critical acclaim and an Academy Award for best actor for his role as a lawyer with AIDS in the film Philadelphia, where he portrayed a courageous character fired from his high-paying job.

Later on, Hanks achieved the rare feat of winning consecutive Best Actor Oscars, as he won his second award for his portrayal of the lovable and simple-minded protagonist in Forrest Gump.

Personal Life of Tom Hanks

Hanks tied the knot with American actress/producer Samantha Lewes (real name: Susan Dillingham) in 1978, but the couple divorced in 1987. During their marriage, they welcomed a son, actor Colin Hanks (born 1977), and a daughter, Elizabeth Hanks (born 1982). The couple met while attending college.

In 1988, Hanks married actress Rita Wilson, whom he co-starred with in the film Volunteers. The couple has two sons, Chester Marlon “Chet” Hanks and Truman Theodore. Chet appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and released a rap song in 2011. Their youngest son, Truman Theodore, was born in 1995.

Hanks disclosed that he has been dealing with a health issue in recent years. He revealed on the late-night talk show with David Letterman in October 2013 that he has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.


  • Full Name: Thomas Jeffrey Hanks
  • Birth Date: July 9, 1956
  • Birth Place: Concord, California, U.S.
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Profession: Director, Actor, Television Actor, Film Actor
  • Years active: 1977–present
  • Net worth: $390 million (May 2014)
  • Books: Uncommon Type: Some Stories (2017), Subversive Gospel: A New Testament Commentary of Liberation (2000), You’ve Got Mail (1998), God So Loved the Third World: The Biblical Vocabulary of Oppression (1983)


  • Spouse(s): Rita Wilson (m. 1988), Samantha Lewes (m. 1978–1987)
  • Children: Chet Hanks, Colin Hanks, Elizabeth Hanks, Truman Theodore Hanks
  • Relatives: Jim Hanks, Larry Hanks, Sandra Hanks

Notable Films:

  • Cast Away
  • Forrest Gump
  • Toy Story Franchise
  • Angels and Demons
  • Da Vinci Code
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Philadelphia
  • The Terminal
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Captain Phillips
  • The Green Mile.

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