Hard to believe the goofy kid from "Splash" is turning 61. Here are 25 cool facts about one of the biggest and most beloved stars of our time.
He's a Former Bellhop
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, young Tom Hanks worked as a bellboy at the Oakland Airport Hilton. He once carried luggage for Cher.
He's Related to Three Presidents
Hanks is Abraham Lincoln's third cousin, four times removed. (Lincoln's mother's maiden name was Nancy Hanks.) According to FamousKin.com, the actor is also Herbert Hoover's 19th cousin, once removed—and Franklin D. Roosevelt's 15th cousin, thrice removed.
He Remembers Himself as a 'Spaz'
"I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy," says Hanks. "At the same time, I was the guy who'd yell out funny captions during filmstrips."
'Bosom Buddies' Was a Fluke
The early-'80s sitcom was intended to be a male "Laverne & Shirley." But when its producers pitched the idea, they mentioned the humor of Billy Wilder. ABC executives agreed to greenlight the series on the condition that the male stars dress as women, a la "Some Like It Hot." That's how Hanks wound up kicking off his career in drag.
He Had Small Parts in Classic Sitcoms
Before becoming a movie star, Hanks appeared as Reverend Jim's college roommate on "Taxi," Fonzie's former classmate on "Happy Days" and Elyse Keaton's alcoholic brother on "Family Days."
He Wasn't the First Choice for 'Splash'
Not even close. Hanks landed his breakout role—the part of a young man who falls for a mermaid in 1984's "Splash"—only after Chevy Chase, Michael Keaton, Dudley Moore, Bill Murray and John Travolta turned it down.
He Based His 'Big' Performance on One of His Co-stars
To help him nail the part of Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old who wakes up in the body of a grown man, director Penny Marshall filmed David Moscow—the boy who played Josh before his transformation—in Hanks' role. Hanks then studied that footage and took cues from David's performance.
He Married Another of His Co-stars
In April 2018, Hanks and Rita Wilson, his co-star in the 1985 comedy "Volunteers," celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. After they tied the knot in 1988, Hanks said, "When I met Rita, I thought, 'Oh, this is what it's supposed to be like when you are married to someone.' It's supposed to be this carefree and easy and, you know, oddly enough, weighty."
He's a Charter Member of the Five-Timer Club
The fifth time he hosted "Saturday Night Live" inspired the Five-Timer Club sketch. All told, Hanks has been an SNL host eight times.
He Prepared for This Role With Frequent Visits to Dairy Queen
Hanks became a Dairy Queen regular to put on weight—about 30 pounds—for his part as the crusty manager of a women's baseball team in 1992's "A League of their Own." During the filming, director Penny Marshall pressed him to keep on eating.
He Turned Down 'Sleepless in Seattle'
But Hanks changed his mind after director Nora Ephron rewrote the screenplay.
He Loves the Boss
He and Bruce Springsteen aren't just peers (both won Oscars for their work on 1993's "Philadelphia," and in 2016 both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom), they're also longtime friends. In April, the two vacationed together in the South Seas—at the invitation of Barack Obama—and then Hanks interviewed Springsteen at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
He Shed 35 Pounds for "Philadelphia"
To play a gay lawyer with AIDS in the 1993 drama, Hanks went on a crash diet. Two decades later, while preparing for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club," Matthew McConaughey consulted with two people: a nutritionist and Tom Hanks.
His Oscar Speech Inspired a Movie
Hanks' moving tribute to Rawley Farnsworth, his gay high school drama teacher, at the 1994 Academy Awards sparked the idea for "In & Out," a 1997 comedy about a closeted teacher who is inadvertently outed at the Oscars. (In real life, it wasn't like that: Hanks called Farnsworth in advance to make sure the retired teacher wouldn't mind the attention.)
He Won Back-to-Back Oscars
A year after winning the Best Actor Oscar for "Philadelphia," Hanks won again, for the title role in "Forrest Gump." The only other actor ever to manage that achievement was Spencer Tracy.
An Asteroid Was Named After Him
Before he took up acting, Hanks dreamed of being an astronaut ("I always wanted to become one but didn't have the math"). In 1996, a newly discovered asteroid was christened "12818 tomhanks" in recognition of his performance in "Apollo 13,"
He's in the Ranger Hall of Fame
After starring in 1998's "Saving Private Ryan," Hanks received the U.S. Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award and was inducted as an honorary member of Army's Ranger Hall of Fame—the first actor ever to receive that honor.
He's a Devoted Son
Janet Marylyn Hanks—seen here at a 1999 movie premiere—was a hospital worker who had four children. When she died in 2016 at the age of 84, Hanks posted a vintage photo of her on Instagram with the caption: "This beauty? My mom. She was the difference in many lives. Many lives. We say goodbye to her today. Safe crossing, mom! Hanx."
He Sounds a Lot Like His Brother
While Hanks is the voice of Woody in the "Toy Story" movies, the talking Woody action figure found in toy stores is voiced by Hanks' brother Jim.
He's Done With Yo-Yo Diets
To play a man before and after he's stranded on a deserted island, Hanks packed on 50 pounds—and then lost 55 pounds through a strict diet and two hours of cardio training, six days a week. He won't do that again. In 2013, the actor revealed that he'd been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Gaining and losing weight for a role, he said, is "a young man's game."
He Appreciates the Press
Hanks, who played a tabloid columnist in the 2013 play "Lucky Guy," isn't one to complain about the media. He has donated three espresso machines to the White House press corp. The most recent one came with a note: "Keep up the good fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Especially the Truth part."
You'll Never See a Photo of Him at Home
Hanks has four grown children—two with Rita Wilson and two from a previous marriage—but keeps his home life private. "No journalist has ever been in my house," he says, "and no photographs have ever been taken of where I live."
He May Be Nice, but He's Far From Happy-Go-Lucky
"Some people go to bed at night thinking, 'That was a good day,'" says Hanks. "I am one of those who worries and asks, 'How did I screw up today?'"
He Collects Typewriters
His collection of 250-plus vintage typewriters represents more than just an offbeat hobby. Hanks writes letters or thank-you notes on an old-school typewriter just about every day. He's featured in the 2017 documentary "California Typewriter" (named after a repair shop in Berkeley).
Photo courtesy of California Typewriter
He's Damn Proud to Be a Baby Boomer
"The year I was born, 1956, was the peak year for babies being born, and there are more people essentially our age than anybody else," Hanks once noted. "We could crush these new generations if we decided to."
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