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Thomas Jeffrey "Tom" Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor, producer, writer and director. Hanks worked in television and family-friendly comedies before achieving success as a dramatic actor in several notable roles, including Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia, the title role in Forrest Gump, Commander James A. Lovell in Apollo 13, Captain John H. Miller in Saving Private Ryan, Sheriff Woody in Pixar's Toy Story, and Chuck Noland in Cast Away. Hanks won consecutive Best Actor Academy Awards, in 1993 for Philadelphia and in 1994 for Forrest Gump. Domestic box office totals for his films exceed $3.3 billion. He is the father of actor Colin Hanks.

Hanks was born in Concord, California. His father, Amos Mefford Hanks (born in Glenn County, California on March 9, 1924 – died in Alameda, California on January 31, 1992), was a distant relative of President Abraham Lincoln, through Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. His mother, Portuguese-American Janet Marylyn Frager (born in Alameda County, California on January 18, 1932), was a hospital worker; the two divorced in 1960. The family's three oldest children, Sandra, (now Sandra Hanks Benoiton, a writer), Larry (now Lawrence M. Hanks, Ph.D., an entomology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Tom went with their father, while the youngest, Jim, now an actor and film maker, remained with his mother in Red Bluff, California. Afterwards, both parents remarried. The first stepmother for Sandra, Larry, and Tom came to the marriage with five children of her own. Hanks once told Rolling Stone: "Everybody in my family likes each other. But there were always about 50 people at the house. I didn't exactly feel like an outsider, but I was sort of outside it." That marriage ended in divorce after just two years.

Amos Hanks became a single parent, working long hours and relying on the children to fend for themselves often, an exercise in self-reliance that served the siblings well. In school, Hanks was unpopular with students and teachers alike, telling Rolling Stone magazine: "I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who'd yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn't get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible." In 1965, Amos Hanks married Frances Wong, a San Francisco native of Chinese descent. Frances had three children, two of whom lived with Tom during his high school years. Tom acted in school plays, including South Pacific, while attending Skyline High School in Oakland, California.

Hanks studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward, California, and after two years, transferred to California State University, Sacramento. Hanks told The New York Times: "Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant. I spent a lot of time going to plays. I wouldn't take dates with me. I'd just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat, and read the program, and then get into the play completely. I spent a lot of time like that, seeing Bertolt Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, and all that, and now look at me, acting is my job. I wouldn't have it any other way."

It was during his years' studying theater that Hanks met Vincent Dowling, head of the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. At Dowling's suggestion, Hanks became an intern at the Festival, which stretched into a three-year experience that covered everything from lighting to set design to stage management. Such a commitment required that Hanks drop out of college, but with this under his belt, a future in acting was in the cards. Hanks won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his performance as Proteus in Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the few times he played a villain.

In 1979, Hanks packed his bags for New York City, where he made his film debut in the low-budget slasher film He Knows You're Alone and got a part in the television movie Mazes and Monsters. Early in 1979, Hanks was cast in the lead role of Callimaco in the Riverside Shakespeare Company's production of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Mandrake, directed by Daniel Southern. This remains Hanks' only New York stage performance to date; as a high profile Off Off Broadway showcase, the production helped Tom land an agent, Joe Ohla with the J. Michael Bloom Agency. The next year Hanks landed a lead role on the ABC television pilot of Bosom Buddies, playing the role of Kip Wilson. Hanks moved to Los Angeles, where he and Peter Scolari played a pair of young advertising men forced to dress as women so they could live in an inexpensive all-female hotel. Hanks had previously partnered with Scolari in the 1970s game show Make Me Laugh. Bosom Buddies ran for two seasons, and, although the ratings were never strong, television critics gave the program high marks. "The first day I saw him on the set," co-producer Ian Praiser told Rolling Stone, "I thought, 'Too bad he won't be in television for long.' I knew he'd be a movie star in two years." But if Praiser knew it, he was not able to convince Hanks. "The television show had come out of nowhere," best friend Tom Lizzio told Rolling Stone. "Then out of nowhere it got canceled. He figured he'd be back to pulling ropes and hanging lights in a theater."

Bosom Buddies and a guest appearance on a 1982 episode of Happy Days ("A Case of Revenge," where he played a disgruntled former classmate of The Fonz) prompted director Ron Howard to contact Hanks. Howard was working on Splash (1984), a romantic comedy fantasy about a mermaid who falls in love with a human. At first, Howard considered Hanks for the role of the main character's wisecracking brother, a role that eventually went to John Candy. Instead, Hanks got the lead role and a career boost from Splash, which went on to become a box office hit, grossing more than US$69 million. He also had a sizable hit with the sex comedy Bachelor Party, also in 1984.

In 1983-84, Hanks made three guest appearances on Family Ties as Elyse Keaton's alcoholic brother, Ned Donnelly. Hanks also appears for a moment as an uncredited extra in the movie Real Genius (1985), when the lead character, Mitch, bumps into him in a crowd.
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