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Thomas J. Hanks was born on July 9, 1956, in Concord, California. Tom was raised by Amos Mefford Hanks, a cook and restaurant manager, and Janet (Turner) Hanks, a hospital worker.

Tom went to California State University in Sacramento as a theater major, but quit his studies to intern, in 1977, with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Lakewood, Ohio, where he earned acclaim for his performance in “The Taming of the Shrew” and earned, in 1978, a Cleveland Critics Circle for Best Actor for his brilliant performance of Proteus in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”. Over the next three years, he spent summers acting in numerous productions of Shakespeare’s plays and his winters participating backstage in a community theater company in Sacramento. Three years later, he relocated to New York to pursue acting and later headed for Los Angeles in hopes of reading more roles in TV and film.

In 1980, Tom Hanks married Samantha Lewes (her birth name was Susan Jane Dillingham), an actress and producer he met in College and with whom he shared two children, a son named Colin (born on November 24, 1977), and a daughter named Elizabeth (born on May17, 1982). Still in 1980, he managed to break into features with a small role in the low-budget horror movie, “He Knows You’re Alone” (1980) and then gained widespread exposure with a starring role in the short-lived cult sitcom, “Bosom Buddies,” playing an advertising executive who moves into a low-rent female-only hotel with his ad exec buddy (Peter Scolari) on the condition that they both dress like women. Though the show was cancelled after two seasons, it gave Tom some exposure and led to his guest performances in such popular series as “The Love Boat”, “Taxi”, “Happy Days” and “Family Ties”. Tom’s performance on “Happy Days” impressed one of the cast member who turned out to be Ron Howard. He cast Tom for the leading role in his next movie, “Splash” (1984), a comic fantasy named about a man who falls in love with an actual mermaid. Proving a likable and engaging screen presence, Tom Hanks seemed assured of becoming successful in romantic comedies. More performances in films quickly ensued, including a role in “Bachelor Party” (1984), “The Man with One Red Shoe” (1985), “Volunteers” (1985), “The Money Pit” (1986), “Nothing in Common” (1986) and “Dragnet” (1987). On a personal level, after a five-year marriage, the couple divorced in 1987 and in 1988, Tom married actress Rita Wilson, with whom he shares two sons, Chester (born on August 4, 1990) and Truman Theodore (born on December 26, 1995).

It was Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a 13-year-old boy trapped in the body of a 35-year-old man, Josh, in Penny Marshall‘s “Big” (1988), which really established his reputation as a box-office success and a gifted actor. His brilliant acting earned him a Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a Golden Globe for Best Actor, as well as his first nomination at the Oscars. He combined the huge victory with another, when Tom was cast as harsh stand-up comic Steven Gold in “Punchline” (1988). His strong performance won him a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award that same year. Tom’s next projects, “Turner & Hooch” (1989), “Joe Versus the Volcano” (1990, opposite Meg Ryan) and “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), met with failure. In 1992, Tom moved to a more serious part when he rejoined director Penny Marshall for “A League of Their Own” (1992) in which he portrayed a washed up drunk and former player who rediscovers his joy of the game through managing a winning team of female players. The next year, Tom reunited with Meg Ryan in Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle” which received even more recognition and became one of biggest hits in 1993.

Tom’s big break also arrived in 1993 when director Jonathan Demme cast him for “Philadelphia” in the starring role of Andrew Beckett, an attorney with AIDS who bring suit against his former employee for discrimination after getting fired. Delivering a spectacular acting performance (one example is the weight loss needed for the role: 37 pounds), Tom was honored with a prestigious Oscar for Best Actor, as well as took home several awards like a Golden Globe, a Berlin Film Festival and a MTV Movie Award. The phenomenal triumph subsequently launched Tom Hanks as a Hollywood’s A-List actor and cemented his standing as a leading dramatic actor. With Robert Zemeckis at the helm, Hanks’ dazzling performance in one of the most famous movies of all time “Forrest Gump”, won him countless awards, including an Actor, a National Board of Review, a Golden Globe, a Chicago Film Critics Association and an American Comedy for Best Actor as well as a second Academy Award : Tom Hanks becomes the only actor ever, along with Spencer Tracy in 1937, to win two consecutive Oscars. The film itself received enormous success at the box office and won another Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director.

For the first time in his career Tom Hanks portrayed a real-life person, the astronaut Jim Lovell, in his next hit “Apollo 13″ where he reunited with “Splash” director Ron Howard. Due to his powerful performance, Tom nabbed an Actor for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and a People’s Choice for Favorite Actor in a Dramatic Motion Picture. Also in 1995, Tom provided his voice for the cowboy Woody in the first full-length computer-animated film ever “Toy Story”. The next year, needing to get away from all the attention he got after the success of his latest movies, Tom Hanks made his directorial debut with “That Thing You Do!” (1996), a sixties-era comedy/drama about a band that hits Beatles-like success off of one single. While not a blockbuster, the film demonstrated Tom’s flair for eliciting strong performances from a cast of relative unknowns. Two years later, in 1998, Tom went back to one his passions by creating a miniseries for the HBO channel about the history of the U.S. space program, “From the Earth to the Moon”. In addition to serving as executive producer on the series, Tom directed the first segment, played in the twelveth episode and wrote four subsequent episodes, sharing the 1998 Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries with co-producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

After nearly two years of being absent from the big screen, Tom Hanks teamed up for the first time with Steven Spielberg for his highly-praised WWII drama “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) in which Tom was given a complex role and offered one of his finest screen performances, earning his fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Later that same year, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan co-starred for the third time in Nora Ephron’s romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail” (1998), an updating of the 1940 Stewart-Margaret Sullavan classic “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940). Tom next reprised his role of Woody for the sequel “Toy Story 2″ (1999) and reunited with “Private Ryan” co-star Barry Pepper to play prison guards in “The Green Mile” (1999), an adaptation of the Stephen King novel. “Toy Story 2″ skyrocketed to No. 1 at the box office, and “The Green Mile” became the runner up in its opening weekend. At the end of the 90s, Tom experienced a colossal success at the box office because of his involvement in several big hits and was named Box-office Star of the Decade by ShoWest Convention Award.

Entering the new millennium, Tom Hanks collaborated with “Forrest Gump” director Robert Zemeckis for “Cast Away” (2000). Tom took the unusual step of interrupting filming to drop the large amount of weight he gained (he lost 52 pounds) to play a Federal Express employee who gets trapped on a deserted island after a plane crash. His exeptionnal performance – for nearly two-thirds of the film Tom was onscreen alone – brought him renewed critical acclaim and his fifth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. As a result, he was handed an Online Film Critics Society Award, a New York Film Critics Award, a Golden Globe and a Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, and the film itself topped the holiday box office. After his experience portraying a veteran in “Saving Private Ryan,” Tom Hanks became active in the creation of a memorial to the men and women who fought during WWII. Both he and Spielberg joined forces to executive produce the HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers” (2001), adapted from historian Stephen Ambrose’s book, which followed the soldiers in the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their training in Georgia in 1942 through their participation in the invasion of Normandy. Their efforts again gathered praise and several awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, an American Film Institute for Movie or Mini-Series of the Year, a PGA Golden Laurel for Television Producer of the Year and an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special.

Tom returned to film with an atypical role in 2002 in “Road to Perdition”, where he was cast as Michael Sullivan, a 1930s Chicago gangster seeking revenge for the death of family members, and co-starred with legend Paul Newman and gave one of the best performances of his career. The next year, Tom reunited Steven Spielberg for “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) opposite Leornado DiCaprio. Equal parts downtrodden and dogged, Hanratty was one of Tom Hanks’ most distinctive onscreen creations and stood in perfect contrast to DiCaprio’s glamorous, happy-go-lucky Abagnale. Meanwhile, Tom the movie producer met mega-success with the unexpectedly popular comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002), which Tom’s part-Greek wife Rita Wilson had discovered when it was a one-woman show created by Nia Vardalos. The same year, in 2002, Tom Hanks becomes the youngest actor ever to be honored by the American Film Institute with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tom’s next projetct was a return to his wacky comedic roots in the Coen Brothers’ remake of the cult classic British film, “The Ladykillers” (2004) and teamed up with Steven Spielberg again for “The Terminal” (2004), playing an Eastern European immigrant Viktor Navorski, who becomes stranded in a New York City airport terminal because of a quirk in international politics and passport law. You don’t change a winning team : Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks worked together again for the ambitious CGI-animated adaptation of the popular children’s story, “The Polar Express” (2004) using groundbreaking performance capture technology which allowed Tom to play five characters.

The next year, Tom returned to his love of outer space to narrate the short IMAX film, “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D” (2005), a stunning journey into mankind’s most incredible adventure. The film showcased past, present and future space explorations, as audiences experienced the moon’s surface as if they were Apollo astronauts. Meanwhile Tom was chosen Vice-President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Returning to more dramatic parts, he starred in the controversial movie “The Da Vinci Code” (2006), the long-anticipated adaptation of Dan Brown’s monumental bestseller about a murder at the Louvre investigated by a famed symbologist, who unravels a sinister plot to keep a secret that has been protected since the time of Christ. Though on paper a huge success – it took in over $200 million in domestic box office – “The Da Vinci Code” was panned by most critics for failing to live up to expectations. After providing voice cameos for “Cars” (2006) and “The Simpsons Movie” (2007), he helped narrate “The War” (PBS, 2007-08), Ken Burns’ stunning and comprehensive look at ordinary Americans fighting in World War II.

Tom Hanks then starred in the critically-acclaimed political satire, “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007), adapted by Aaron Sorkin from George Crile’s non-fiction novel. Toms played a U.S. congressman, Charlie Wilson, with a taste for women and alcohol whose deep patriotism and frustration with American foreign policy leads him to team up with the wealthiest woman in Texas (Julia Roberts) and a blue-collar CIA operative (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to fund the Mujahideen fighters after the Soviets invade Afghanistan. Once again, Hanks found himself being showered with praise for another strong performance. Tom also worked with his son, Colin, in “The Great Buck Howard” (2008) in which he played his on-screen father in a few scenes and worked as an executive producer on “John Adams” (HBO, 2008) an historical miniseries telling the story of one of the founding fathers of the United States.

In 2008, Tom Hanks took back the role of Robert Langdon in “Angels & Demons”, the second adaption of a Dan Brown’s novel. The movie was better received by the critics and the audience than its prequel, “The Da Vinci Code”. He teamed-up with Steven Spielberg again to create a 10-part miniseries in the same vein as “Band of Brothers” : “The Pacific” follows three Marines as they fight on the Pacific front during World War II. It aired on HBO in March 2010 and received eight Emmys and a TCA Award. Tom Hanks reprised his role of Woody for “Toy Story 3″. The movie was a huge success since it became Pixar’s highest grossing film and the first animated movie ever to gross more than a billion dollar worldwide. His next projects include a movie that he wrote, directed, starred in and produced : “Larry Crowne”.

Tom Hanks has also been in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Toy Story 4″ and ”Saving Mr. Banks.”  All the while, Tom Hanks established himself as one of the finest and most respected actors of his generation as well as “the nicest guy in show business” and “the most trusted celebrity”.

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