35 Facts That Reveal a Side of Tom Hanks Many Don’t KnowBy John P.
Tom Hanks came onto the Hollywood scene as a sweet and affable boy next door, slowly rising to fame with romantic comedy movies like Splash. He dabbled in a touch of the fantastical in Big and eventually evolved into a versatile actor. As he did, he learned more about the world and himself, allowing him to project a wide variety of character traits realistically in his films.
His personality was easy to love. Indeed, Hanks was the ideal best friend parents wish their children had by their side. Now that he’s in his sixties, many wish their father was like Tom. He truly is the quintessential American dad figure. Of course, everyone has their secrets and lesser-known facts. Here are 40 of the most interesting tidbits about Tom Hanks:
Hanks Wasn’t Born Into Stardom
With so many achievements under his belt, including two Academy Awards, it is easy to assume that Tom Hanks was born to rich parents, part of a proud and affluent lineage. The truth is that he was just an average guy from Concord, California, whose parents were just like yours.
Tom’s mom worked in a hospital for years, while his dad, who had artistic inclinations and an ambition to be a writer, had to settle for life as a cook without a permanent assignment. The family did their best to make ends meet.
Tom’s Absentee Father
Amos Mefford Hanks must have been brimming with creative ideas when he was younger, but those latent thoughts were mellowed by the practical demands of leading a family. With his wife and four kids in tow during the 1950s, Amos had to grab every opportunity he could get to work as a cook.
Tom and his family had to bear with the absence of his father, who was always out, catering to the shifty demands of diners, traveling from one state to another, working overtime, and coming home dead tired. There was rarely time for a chat, let alone a regular game of catch with his kids.
Growing Up in a Broken Family
Whatever Tom’s father was busy cooking back in the day, in different restaurants and diners, it was easy to smell that it was a recipe for the Hanks family’s disaster. In spite of his honorable intentions, sacrificing for the family took its toll as it meant being constantly absent from family affairs.
Tom’s parents split up when he was too young to understand the many whys behind it. He had no idea about the financial challenges their family had to deal with on a daily basis. He, along with his elder siblings, lived with his father, which meant they were mostly left alone to fend for themselves. The youngest of the four remained under their mother’s care.
Tom’s Dad Was a Witness to His Own Father’s Killing
Amos Hanks was just a kid when it all happened, not fully grasping at that moment what he saw with his own eyes. Sadly, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnessing his father get into a fight with another man who took his life.
As the man’s soul gradually slipped out from his body, so did Amos Hanks’ childhood innocence. This moment was a rude awakening, dunking the lad into a world that no longer made sense, where justice was an abstract concept that didn’t apply in his life. Amos testified in court, but the perpetrator was acquitted, further prompting a disenchantment that would haunt the Hanks household for years to come.
Learning Without Proper Supervision
After Tom’s parents divorced, Amos was granted custody of Sandra, Larry, and Tom. But his supervision over them was only on paper as he was often away for work. Whenever he was around the house, an occurrence that was few and far between, he remained aloof from his children.
He rarely mingled with them, simply content to remain in silence, retreating even farther away in his mind where he must have been wrangling with his demons. This left Tom and his siblings to learn basic things for themselves. Tom Hanks didn’t know how to brush his teeth as a child, and he only learned about flossing when he reached high school. He was left to pick things up vicariously from films and friends.
Unpopular at School
Hanks didn’t grow up in a structured environment, which made him an oddball in many ways at school. This put him in his classmate’s bad books, and the rest of the kids generally veered away from his nerdiness and eccentricity.
What made things worse for young Tom was that his teachers felt the same way about him too. They wanted very little to do with this strange boy who, as a result, became increasingly shy and unsure of how to behave in a crowd.
He Enrolled in and Dropped Out of College
After an unsavory tale of hardships as a child, being ostracized in grade school and high school by students and teachers alike, Hanks desperately needed some guidance. He was looking for something that could help him turn his life around.
But Tom’s sunny disposition kept him from being dragged down by his troubled childhood. He went to college, moving from Chabot College to California State University while becoming an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival. Banking on his experiences there, he decided to drop out of school.
The lessons he learned as an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival covered every corner there is to master in the field, including set design, lighting, theater production, and stage management. Hanks felt that this experience had prepared him enough to quit his theater degree. His study of its principles and theories were converted into realistic applications and actual practice, which he became good at.
He married Samantha Lewes, an acting student whom he met in college, and they welcomed their first child in 1977. The budding actor was only 23 years old when they tied the knot. Looking back on that decision, he believes he was not ready and too insecure to be in such a committed relationship. The couple divorced in 1987.
Getting Acquainted and Falling for Rita Wilson
Tom Hanks moved to New York and had finished three projects by 1980. He also worked with actress Rita Wilson in the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies, which lasted for two seasons. He describes their meeting as one of mutual attraction, but no fruit ever came out of it as Hanks was still legally married to Lewes.
Tom and Rita were re-acquainted four years later to work on the movie Volunteers, a comedy that typified the style of his early days in Hollywood. His relationship with his first wife had soured, but Hanks wanted closure before jumping into another relationship.
Tom Hanks Finally Divorces Samantha Lewes
Despite the actor’s efforts to find personal peace and closure, his divorce from Samantha Lewes turned out to be a knotty, convoluted process down to the rendering of its final judgment. The seemingly endless arguments and sleepless nights put a dent in his generally non-belligerent nature.
To make things worse, post-separation, stories of his supposed infidelity made the rounds in Hollywood. People claimed that his relationship with Wilson had overlapped with his marriage. Hanks’ marriage to Rita Wilson a year after his divorce from Lewes added more fuel to the fire.
Hanks Supported Samantha Lewes When She Needed It Most
While the divorce did not put an end to their differences, a supervening event less than five years afterward brought their bond back for the sake of their children. Hanks made himself available to Lewes by providing moral and financial support after he learned that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer.
Tom was reportedly heartbroken for his ex-wife, especially when the specialist he hired told him the disease had spread to her lungs. Despite Tom’s effort and support and the tireless work of her medical team, Samantha passed away in 2002.
Hanks Wasn’t Consistent with Alimony
Colin Hanks was unable to divulge the numbers, but he did claim, in a podcast interview with Dax Shepard, that his mother often griped about his father not giving them enough financial support. This was just before Tom’s recognition as a major force in Hollywood, so Colin understood why cash wasn’t flowing all that freely.
Whatever Tom might have allegedly lacked, if he had indeed shorty-changed them on alimony, he made up for it once he had fame and fortune. Among other things, he paid for Lewes’ hospital bills and doctor’s fees. Whether that was done out of guilt for past wrongs is a debatable point.
Hanks Is a Diabetic
Tom’s meteoric rise to fame as an actor came with the usual trappings of stardom – invitations to the best parties in town, having the best seats at restaurants, and being served the best cuisine one can afford. In hindsight, he says he should have watched his diet more. He admitted this after learning he had type 2 diabetes.
It’s an incurable disease he will have to manage for the rest of his life. With regular medication, Hanks now maintains a healthy lifestyle, going out for solo runs or long walks with his dog on a daily basis.
Hanks Takes Responsibility for His Diabetes
The actor’s family has had a long history of diabetes, and he could have easily pointed to genetics in defense of his illness. However, he veers away from the easy route and takes responsibility for this diagnosis, calling himself a willing member of this “lazy generation of Americans that kept dancing through the party.”
He’s been like that since he was a kid, Hanks admits, citing his being overweight even in high school. How foolish it was for him to eat all those fried foods and sweets. In retrospect, he says he would handle his diet differently if he knew what he knows now.
Weight Fluctuations for Various Movie Roles
Certain movie roles require actors to dramatically gain or lose weight, and the first of that type for Tom Hanks was A League of Their Own. In this movie, he plays the role of baseball coach Jimmy Dugan. Hanks had to fill out thirty pounds to appear like his character, and then he had to lose all that when filming was done.
Conversely, he had to go to great lengths to appear as a famished and isolated plane crash survivor in the middle of nowhere in Cast Away. These extreme weight fluctuations are just as bad for you as following a bad diet.
Second Cancer Diagnosis
After Samantha’s ordeal and eventual death from bone cancer came another threat of the big C. This time, it was more than a decade later, and the patient was Tom’s second wife, Rita Wilson. He was shocked by her doctor’s revelation that she had breast cancer, and the couple had to dig deep to weather this crisis.
The uncertainty of Rita’s health scared him. He was afraid of losing somebody he loved yet again. This was something no one could ever prepare for, but fortunately, Rita Wilson got a clean bill of health from her specialists and has been cancer-free since.
Rita Wilson’s Anchor
Things could have gotten worse had she not sought a second opinion about her condition, which uncovered a stage zero breast cancer. For five years, Rita Wilson had to undergo medical treatment, under the close supervision of her specialists, with Tom Hanks providing her unwavering support system.
He was her anchor during those times, so she never felt alone in facing the physical and emotional challenges cancer posed. Despite its impending threat of separation and death, Tom Hanks was her compass back to normalcy.
Hanks and Wilson Tested Positive for COVID
After undergoing cancer treatments that spanned five years, Rita Wilson finally made her way out of the woods. What happened to her was life-changing, and she was thankful to have Tom by her side to keep her optimistic. In 2020, the couple face yet another health crisis – they tested positive for COVID-19.
With both actors in their sixties, there was a lingering fear that they may succumb to the virus, especially due to Rita’s cancer scare and Tom’s diabetes. Thankfully, they were both able to recover from it. To do so, they maintained a disciplined and healthy lifestyle, never taking life for granted.
Fake News About Tom’s Health
There are still many aspects of the coronavirus that need to be understood, and specialists say it’s possible that some of its aftereffects may stick around longer than expected. While there was a great sigh of relief that Tom and Rita were finally cleared of COVID, fake news circulated about Tom’s health.
It was reported that Tom Hanks’ real health condition was being covered up. The above photo of him in the hospital made rounds alongside claims that the actor wasn’t well. The reality was that this picture was actually taken from his movie Philadelphia.
Hanks Offered Support to Fight the Pandemic
Hanks and Wilson have now recovered from COVID, but the lessons learned from that experience are not likely to be forgotten. It made them realize that nobody is totally safe from catching the virus – not even celebrities who live in their mansions, far away from large crowds.
They decided to join the fight against the coronavirus by making donations. Having learned that they carry the antibodies, both pledged to donate their plasma and blood to develop what Tom facetiously refers to as the Hank-ccine.
Tom and Rita Often Argue on the Road
While Tom isn’t the type to ever take part in any road rage incident, he doesn’t like to share the command when he’s behind the wheel. He truly is the Captain Phillips of his ship. Rita intrudes sometimes, and it annoys him as he’s not appreciative of being told when and where to turn.
This is not something out of the ordinary. Indeed, most other couples can probably relate. Apart from their vehicular squabbles, they are the perfect Hollywood pair. It’s hard not to love them when you learn about the many ups and downs they’ve gone through together.
Rumors of Their Break Up
No couple in Hollywood will ever be immune to scandals and accusations. The tabloids will print stories whether they’re true or not, and minor occurrences are often highly sensationalized by the yellow press. Hanks and Wilson are targeted from time to time.
Every now and then, Tom and Rita have complained about break-up rumors that make it into the media. They’ve even demanded a formal apology from The National Enquirer and Star for publishing such baseless stories. After all they have gone through, it seems unlikely that the Hanks are going to call it quits at this point in their relationship.
The Problematic Chester Hanks
The third child of Tom and Rita Hanks has every reason to be thankful for his blessed existence, leading a luxurious lifestyle as the son of acclaimed artists who love him. They also have the pull in Hollywood to make him a star just like them, with the affluence to support his endeavors no matter what his heart desires.
Sadly, all the public has ever heard from him are complaints about how he’ll never be as popular as his dad and will always live in his shadow. Chet went through rehabilitation for drug addiction in 2015.
Chet’s Legal Battles and Controversies
Chester has said in interviews that he is the complete opposite of his parents, referring to himself as the dark side of the moon where monsters lurk. This dark side has been attested by his ex-girlfriend, Kiana Parker, who claims she was physically and verbally abused by Chet for months.
Kiana sought legal action against Chet in 2021 for theft, coercion, and assault. Images and footage taken after a supposed altercation supported Kiana’s accusations. This does seem to fit with his self-described darkness.
Chet’s Controversial Hip Hop Release
Chet Hanks’ career as a musician has also been controversial, culminating in the release of “White Boy Summer.” He posted a video of the song on IG. It all seemed alright at first until he released his merchandise, which people found racially charged because of the typeface he used.
Chet also released the single earlier than previously announced, a day after his ex-girlfriend Kiana Parker filed a number of lawsuits against him. It was as if he were mocking her. His actions sparked an online debate, much to the chagrin of his parents.
Tom Hanks Wrote a Guest Essay for the NY Times
The actor wrote a piece for the New York Times dwelling on the importance of teaching history, and how it cannot be told only from a white man’s perspective. It should also touch on Black history and much more, as America is a voluminous collection of many different cultures in one place.
History should be told even if the subject makes us uncomfortable, he believes. Hanks referenced the Tulsa Race Massacre, where a Black community was burned down by whites. NPR’s Eric Deggans picked up this issue and openly criticized Hanks, which turned his opinion into a point of debate.
Greek Citizenship and Crazy Conspiracy Theories
Rita Wilson has Greek heritage, but that isn’t the reason she and her husband were given Greek citizenship in 2020. In fact, they were honored by Greece’s PM, Kyriakos Mitsotaki, on the island of Antiparos. Both were awarded honorary citizenship for their efforts to highlight the need to help the community in Mati that had been affected by a wildfire in 2018.
Outlandish conspiracy theorists concocted the idea that Tom Hanks was linked to child sex trafficking, and since pedophilia is deemed a disability in Greece, thus not punishable, Hanks was planning to take advantage of this loophole by earning citizenship status. Other personalities similarly accused are the Clintons, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah Winfrey.
If the far-right trolls are to be believed, Tom Hanks never caught the coronavirus when he and his wife Rita claimed they did in 2020. They say America’s father figure used this contamination narrative to cover up his arrest for inappropriate behavior.
A photo of Hanks in an electronic bracelet – so his whereabouts could be monitored by authorities – was even shared on social media. The rumors have no basis, of course, and the actor says he’s not surprised by anything anymore. A lot of people actually do this to celebrities for a living.
Tom’s Opinion About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
During an interview with Time magazine, Tom Hanks, who played the role of Captain Miller in the war film Saving Private Ryan, went on the offensive. He claimed there was little difference between World War 2 and the modern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He described the conflicts as fueled by racial differences and terror, proving that we never learn from our mistakes, which is why history keeps repeating itself.
Hanks’ critics were quick to point out that the conflicts in the Middle East started for reasons other than cultural or racial differences. Further, WW2 was an act of self-defense against the Germans, who couldn’t be reasoned with at the time. Conservatives say Hanks should just stay in his lane.
Hanks’ Directorial Debut
In 1996, Tom Hanks took a supporting role as Mr. Amos White, the manager of the one-hit-wonder ‘60s band called the Wonder. But this wasn’t his most important role in the film. The truth was, That Thing You Do was Tom’s directorial debut.
But the film didn’t turn out to be as stellar as he’d hoped, at least not commercially, although movie critics acknowledged its charm and gave it favorable reviews. The movie’s soundtrack was something else entirely, hitting number 21 on the Billboard Top 200.
Hanks Misfires Again in Larry Crowne
As a young actor, Tom Hanks started to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry with films such as Splash, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. It’s safe to say that the romantic comedy genre is one of his strengths as an artist.
This time around, as both director and actor, alongside fellow screen darling Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks underachieved in the rom-com film Larry Crowne. It was criticized for its bland storyline with not much happening to make it worthwhile to watch.
Hanks Takes Constructive Criticism from Fans
The actor stopped at a gas station one day, where he inadvertently met two of his fans who were also there to refuel. They approached the actor for a quick meet-and-greet, knowing Hanks is such a good sport, and eventually talked about his movie, Larry Crowne.
It turned out that they weren’t that into the story. Instead of taking umbrage, Hanks realized that their criticisms were honest and constructive, so he decided to refund their movie tickets on the spot. How sweet is that?
Cloud Atlas Was a Flop
We are, of course, happy to grant Tom Hanks time for his directorial learning curve, but more than a decade after his That Thing You Do debut, Cloud Atlas tanked. Hanks directed and starred in the film, playing six different roles across the narrative’s time shifts.
Critics questioned the film’s length (a hefty three hours) and the way it confused audiences with its overreaching scope and ambitiousness. The movie was quite expensive to make but delivered a minimal return on investment.
Tom Was Difficult on the Set of Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle was of vital significance to Tom Hanks’ career – the first film in a phase he described as the modern era of his acting. From this film on, he was recognized as a major player, both commercially and as an actor.
However, during filming, he was often cranky on set for reasons that his co-actors could only guess. In retrospect, Hanks admits that fame had gotten into his head. He imposed himself, wanting to be heard, often by intervening and questioning other people’s lines, injecting his own unsolicited ideas into the story.
Tom Hanks Ultimately Proves His Worth
Tom Hanks reached for the sky with Cloud Atlas but tumbled down to the mundane, as he did in Larry Crowne. However, Tom went on to prove that we can all bounce back from failures and find ourselves stronger after conquering difficulties. The trick is to never give up.
Hanks took on the feedback and learned from his failures but paid no heed to unhealthy criticism or outlandish rumors. Instead, he focused on his craft and turned to his faith when it mattered most. He just keeps moving forward, never doubting his purpose, and coming out as one of America’s finest actors of all time.
Tom Found Out He’s Related to Abe Lincoln
In 2013, National Geographic chose Tom Hanks to narrate a documentary film on President Abraham Lincoln’s final days. The documentary covered the final moments leading up to Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865. The film earned extra attention after Hanks announced that his family had ties to the late president of the United States.
As it turns out, the actor is related to Abe Lincoln by way of Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks. Tom also revealed that he used to write a lot of essays about Lincoln back in his high school days.
Life Before Hollywood
Tom Hanks had to go through a lot of challenges before getting his early roles in Hollywood. When he was still studying theater, he had to work part-time to support himself, and he did so as a bellman for Hilton Hotels.
Tom actually liked his job there, mundane as it may seem to be carrying luggage for people. There, he got to meet Cher and brought up her bags. He also sold soda, peanuts, and other snacks at baseball games.
Tom Spent His Own Money on a Forrest Gump Scene
Forrest Gump was not a cheap film to make, so to cut down on the expenses, Paramount Pictures decided not to fund a scene where Tom’s character runs cross country. Feeling that the part was vital to the film’s success, Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis, the director, mutually decided to pay for it themselves.
The deal was for Paramount Pictures to give them a bigger share of the sales profits than what was stipulated in their contracts. In retrospect, it turned out to be a worthy investment.
Tom Hanks Is a Passionate Typewriter Collector
Tom Hanks was gifted his first typewriter by a friend, and it started a one-of-a-kind collection when he was 19. He now owns just about all brands and types of the writing apparatus. In an interview with Insider, he recalled how it made him feel grounded.
At one point, his collection peaked at 250 typewriters, of which 90% were perfectly serviceable. Using his manual typewriters daily, he developed a habit of writing that led to him publishing a book of short stories in 2017 titled Uncommon Type.
An Asteroid Was Named After Him
The subject of space travel is one of the actor’s great fascinations. In his childhood days, he daydreamed about one day becoming an astronaut. Although he never became one, nor did he take the basic steps to pursue it, he’s made sure to make vast contributions to the space program.
Hanks co-directed From the Earth to the Moon and publicly supported many of NASA’s projects. Due to his regular involvement and contributions, an asteroid was named after him: 12818 Tomhanks.