Born in Concord, California on July 9, 1956 Thomas J. Hanks was the third of four children of Amos and Janet Hanks. In Oakland, California, Tom attended both junior high and high school. His interests were space and sports, especially baseball. While at Skyline High, he attended his first major league baseball game and discovered drama. Tom joined the Thespian Club, and won Skyline's highest acting award - Best Actor - for his portrayal of Luther Billis in "South Pacific".
Tom attended Cabot College in nearby Hayward, California from 1974 to 1976. Acting had moved from an interest to a professional career choice for Tom Hanks. In late 1979, Tom auditioned for the Riverside Shakespeare Theater production of "The Mandrake" and won the lead role of Callimaco. He also took on a manager, Joe Ohla with the J. Michael Bloom Agency in Los Angeles. The agency got Tom his first film role in HE KNOWS YOU?RE ALONE. In January 1980, ABC Television began a Talent Development Program. Tom attended multiple auditions, surviving cut after cut in the program and wowing Jan McCormack and Joyce Selznick. They gave Tom, now 23 years old, a $50,000 contract and a chance to audition for the pilot of "Bosom Buddies". Tom Hanks won the role of Kip Wilson and began his new television career at ABC in the fall season of 1980. 1982 saw Tom doing guest television roles on "Happy Days", "Family Ties", "The Love Boat" and "Taxi". Ron Howard was developing a new film and was looking to cast the lead role. Howard remembered Tom Hanks from his guest shot on "Happy Days" after having difficulty with casting the male lead for the movie SPLASH. He gave the role in the $9 million dollar production to Tom. His next film was another box office success, BACHELOR PARTY, released in late 1984. In 1985 he filmed THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE, VOLUNTEERS, and THE MONEY PIT. On the set of VOLUNTEERS, he met Rita Wilson.
1986 brought an opportunity for Tom to do a film that hit very close to his roots. NOTHING IN COMMON, a film about a son who deals with the divorce of his parents while caring for an ailing father, had real personal meaning for Tom. That same year Tom earned his first $1 million paycheck for a film role when he went to Israel to make EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE. The following year Tom made DRAGNET, a commercial success but another critical disappointment. With the end of that year, Tom would ask Rita Wilson to marry him and would make a conscious decision to change his life and career. That same year saw him stretch himself in a drama, PUNCHLINE.
His first blockbuster hit came with the release of BIG, a film that grossed over $100 million in American box office. A wonderful, whimsical performance netted Tom his first Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1989. His next three roles would prove to be less successful. That same year, in a departure from comedy, Tom accepted the role of Sherman McCoy in the much anticipated but critically disastrous THE BONFIRE OF VANITIES. Tom won the role of Jimmy Dugan, a drunk and down and out baseball manager, in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN.
What followed would be nothing less than legendary. Tom went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, an attorney suffering from AIDS, in PHILADELPHIA in 1994. That same year he filmed FORREST GUMP, TOY STORY and APOLLO 13. In 1995, Tom became only the second man to win back to back Best Actor Oscars taking home his second gold trophy for FORREST GUMP.
The year of 1996 saw the production of Tom's first feature directorial effort. THAT THING YOU DO! was written and directed by Tom and grew out of his fascination with the one hit wonder groups of the 1960's. In 1997, Tom traveled to Europe to film the war epic SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. His portrayal of Capt. John Miller would earn Hanks his fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1999. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was released in the summer of 1998 and became a worldwide phenomenon.
In 1998, Tom reteamed with Meg Ryan for YOU?VE GOT MAIL. 1999 has seen Tom make two more films. He plays the role of a prison guard in THE GREEN MILE and reprised his role as the voice of Woody in TOY STORY 2. Whatever he is doing, we can all be assured that great films and projects will be the result. And the best thing about that is that they will be available for all of us to enjoy.