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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks  Biography

Perhaps the most likeable star of his generation, Tom Hanks is a throwback to the days when James Stewart and Gary Cooper were the toast of Hollywood. Whether he's playing a 35-year-old kid, a simpleton from Alabama, a sullen soldier, a mobster hitman, a dissolute politician or even a lawyer suffering from AIDS, people react well to him - he possesses an all-too-rare nice-guy charm. He's willing to put that charm to the test, too. In Cast Away, for well over an hour, we saw nothing but Hanks - no pretty love interest, no wisecracking sidekick, not even a comedy dog. And, such is the weight Hanks carries with a worldwide audience, such is the skill he has developed over two decades plying his trade, he pulled it off. Cast Away was a huge hit. And, of course, much more was to come. Only Tom Cruise could match him as the biggest box-office draw of them all.

Thomas J. Hanks was born on July 9th, 1956, in Concord, California, a direct descendant of an uncle of Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. His parents split when he was young, the details of their divorce making them "pioneers in the development of marriage dissolution in California". Tom and his two older siblings, Sandra and Larry, went with their father, Amos, a chef. often employed as a supervisor in big hospital kitchens. A younger brother, Jim, stayed with mother Janet, a Portuguese-American who'd also work in hospitals (Jim would later appear in several of Tom's productions, including acting as his running double in Forrest Gump). Dad's work enforced a nomadic existence upon them, with the kids shifted from school to school, never able to form lasting friendships, making Hanks painfully shy. It didn't help that Amos was married twice after Janet, the second marriage bringing five stepbrothers and sisters. To escape this one, Amos would pack Tom, Larry and Sandra into a car in the dead of night and take off. Tom would later reveal that, by the age of 10, he'd had "three mothers, five grammar schools and ten houses".

Eventually, in 1966, Amos settled in Oakland, where Tom had to get used to a new mother and three more stepsisters. Sandra would return to her mother, leaving Tom and Larry to live in the basement. In Oakland, Tom attended both junior high and Skyline High School, where he indulged his early interests in space and baseball, excelled at soccer and on the track and "became the loud one" - a trick he'd learned when trying to get attention in a succession of new schools. As a teen he also spent four years with a congregation of born-again Christians, leading Bible readings with the First Covenant Church. Again, this was an attempt to fit in, to find a steady family and combat his loneliness.

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