Born: 9 July 1956
Birthplace: Concord, California
Best known as: The Oscar-winning star of Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks won back-to-back acting Oscars for the films Philadelphia (1993) and Forrest Gump (1994), confirming his place as one of the busiest and best actors of the era. Hanks proved his comedic skills in the 1980s crossdressing sitcom Bosom Buddies, then starred with Daryl Hannah and John Candy in the mermaid comedy Splash (1984). His film career didn't really take hold until Big (1988), for which he earned an Oscar nomination. After several more light comedies, he appeared as an AIDS victim in Philadelphia (with Denzel Washington) and won his first Academy Award for best actor. The next year he won again as the charming simpleton Forrest Gump, whose statement "Life is like a box of chocolates" became a pop-culture catch phrase. Hanks also was Oscar-nominated for Steven Spielberg's WWII epic Saving Private Ryan (1998) and for the 2000 film Cast Away. Hanks's dramatic roles get him the Oscar nods, but audiences also love his comedies, which include Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail (1993 and 1998, both with Meg Ryan), and Toy Story and Toy Story II (1995 and 1999; Hanks is the voice of Woody). His other films include The Green Mile (1999, based on a Stephen King novel), The Ladykillers (2004, directed by the Coen brothers) and the animated feature The Polar Express (2004, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg). He starred as globetrotting professor Robert Langdon in the films The DaVinci Code (2006) and Angels and Demons (2009). He also had the title role in 2007's Charlie Wilson's War (co-starring Amy Adams).
Extra credit: Hanks married actress Rita Wilson in 1988. Previously he was married to actress Samantha Lewes... The only other star to win back-to-back best actor Oscars was Spencer Tracy (for movies in 1937 and '38); Luise Rainer (1936-37) and Katharine Hepburn (1967-68) both won consecutive Oscars as best actress... Hanks played real-life astronaut Jim Lovell in the 1995 movie Apollo 13.
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