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Former sitcom actor Tom Hanks is the much-beloved star of such Hollywood hits as Splash, Big, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Toy Story, and many more.
Tom Hanks - Breakout Roles (1:54)
Tom Hanks - Early Years (1:51)
Robert Redford - Early Life (3:15)
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Actor, director. Born July 9, 1956, in Concord, California. His parents divorced when Hanks was five years old; he was raised, along with his older brother and sister, by their father, Amos, a chef. The family moved frequently, finally settling in Oakland, California, where Hanks attended high school.
After graduating in 1974, Hanks attended junior college in Hayward, California. He decided to pursue acting after reading and watching a performance of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, and transferred into the theater program at California State University in Sacramento.
In 1977, Hanks was recruited to take part in the summer session of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Lakewood Ohio. Over the next three years, Hanks spent his summers acting in various productions of Shakespeare's plays, and his winters working backstage at a community theater company in Sacramento. He won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in 1978, for his portrayal of Proteus in The Two Gentleman of Verona.
By 1980, Hanks had dropped out of college, and after his third season with the Great Lakes festival, he moved to New York City. Many rounds of auditions later, he landed a small part in the 1980 slasher film, He Knows You're Alone. That same year, he was spotted by a talent scout for ABC, and was cast in the television sitcom Bosom Buddies, as one of two advertising executives who dress in drag in order to rent an apartment in an all-female building.
The show was cancelled after two seasons, but it gave Hanks some exposure and led to his casting in guest roles on various episodes of popular shows like Happy Days, Taxi, The Love Boat and Family Ties. In 1982, Ron Howard, co-star of Happy Days, remembered Hanks from his guest stint on the show, and had him read for a supporting part in a movie he was directing. That supporting role eventually went to John Candy, and Hanks instead landed the lead role in Howard's Splash, as a man who falls in love with a mermaid, played by Daryl Hannah. The movie, released in 1984, became a surprise hit, and Hanks was suddenly a recognizable face.
A string of critically panned movies followed, most notably Bachelor Party (1984), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), Volunteers (1985), The Money Pit (1986), and Dragnet (1987). Hanks managed to emerge relatively unscathed from these critical failures, as critics often pointed to his performance as the best thing about each movie.
In 1988, he was finally cast in a star-making role, in director Penny Marshall's Big, as a 13-year-old boy transplanted overnight into the body of a 35-year-old man.
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