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Tom Hanks - Biography

The actor starred in Captain Phillips, Forest Gump and A Man Called Otto...

Tom Hanks attends the "A Man Called Otto" New York Screening© Getty Images
Updated: December 12, 2023
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With a shelf full of Best Actor Oscars, Jimmy Stewart charm, and unparalleled Hollywood clout, Tom Hanks is in a league of his own. "Tom doesn't fit into the moulds of the other American icons," says Steven Spielberg. "It's too easy to find a couple of people that share that same all-Americanness you can compare him to. But Tom Hanks will always be remembered for being Tom Hanks. He is without peer."

A photo of Tom Hanks as Forest Gump
The actor is one of Hollywood's finest


Tom's filmography is decidedly varied, considering his Average Joe reputation. After spending the Eighties playing the lovable everyman in a series of comedies, the actor - who was born on July 9, 1956 - cranked it up a gear in the Nineties and was rewarded with a fistful of gongs. Following a turn as lawyer and AIDS patient Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia with an entirely different role as the mentally challenged Forrest Gump, Tom won two Best Actor Oscars two years in a row. He made women swoon in Nora Ephron's Sleepless In Seattle alongside America's sweetheart Meg Ryan, inspired men with roles in Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan (for which he received a fourth Best Actor nomination, losing out to Life Is Beautiful's Roberto Benigni), and amused kids of all ages with Disney's Toy Story series. He added director to his list of accomplishments with 1996's underappreciated That Thing You Do!, and produced the Emmy award winning documentary From The Earth To The Moon.

Tom Hanks with wife Rita Wilson at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards© Getty Images
Tom Hanks with wife Rita Wilson

Personal life

California-born Tom received his fourth Golden Globe award for Cast Away, which also earned him an Oscar nomination. On the set of the 1985 comedy Volunteers, starring the late John Candy, Hanks met his future wife, actress Rita Wilson. At the time, he was married to college sweetheart Samantha Lewes and Wilson was engaged, but a strong friendship developed between the two. This solid foundation appealed to Hanks, the son of divorced parents who had spent much of his troubled youth on the move. The film star divorced in 1985 and married Rita three years later. Hanks has two children from his first marriage, son Colin (an actor on the cult American TV series Roswell) and daughter Elizabeth. Wilson and Hanks have two children together, Chester and Truman.

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