Tom Hanks is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood, known for his roles in films like Forrest Gump, Big, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away. He has over 90 acting credits and won two Oscars. He has gained the reputation of being kind and down-to-earth, never creating drama on sets or getting involved with tabloid scandals. But he hasn’t always been so successful and beloved. In fact, he had a difficult childhood filled with neglect and loneliness.
“Fallen Through the Cracks…”
Hanks was born in 1956 in California. When he was five years old, his parents got a divorce; Hanks and his two older siblings lived with the father while the youngest went with the mother. “I was the third kid,” he said in an interview with the Atlantic. “I was just like a leaf blowing in the wind. No one did anything because I wanted it. I wasn’t in control of nothing. Somebody else was always telling us what to do.” 
But his home life became even more complicated. When he was ten, he had moved to ten different homes, attended five different schools, and had two more mothers. His family expanded with so many step-siblings, he became known as just “Number Eight.”
Tom Hanks described feeling like he had “fallen through the cracks” as a child growing up with little adult guidance. He was very lonely, and he and his siblings had to take care of themselves. For example, they often had to cook their own lunch and dinners, which often involved heating a can of Campbell soup. But the children often over-boiled the pot, leaving smelly “burnt tomato soup” stuck on the stovetop. The actor cannot stand tomato soup even today. Hanks also explained that “no one told me how to brush my teeth.” He only knew about dental hygiene from a video he watched in second grade, and he didn’t floss until after high school. Despite the neglect, Hanks used optimism to cope, always looking for the silver lining in any situation.
Read: Richard Gere first refused to do ‘Pretty Woman’ but Julia Roberts used three words to win him over
Becoming Tom Hanks
Although he had always loved cinema, in high school, Tom Hanks began to pursue acting. He began drama classes and auditioned for school plays, and continued to study acting in community college then at California State University. When he was 20, he got his first professional role in a theater company, playing a servant in Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. He went on to play Grumio in Taming of the Shrew.
Young Tom Hanks. pic.twitter.com/XZ5H2k2esq— History Photographed (@HistoryInPics) October 22, 2015
Hanks maintained his optimism and nice demeanor throughout his professional career, but this all began when he was in theater. “You had to show up on time, you had to know what you were going to say and even if you did not like the people personally you were working with, you had to respect their process,” he said. “If anyone becomes a squeaky wheel, that means the show doesn’t go on and, guess what, they could be fired.” He learned that being friendly and agreeable is the best way to succeed in his business. 
When he was 21, Tom Hanks married Samantha Lewes and they had a daughter and son together. Hanks appreciates becoming a father at a young age because the responsibility saved him from many issues that tend to befall other Hollywood actors. “Having a kid at 21 was the greatest thing that ever happened to me because I didn’t smoke pot,” he said. “I didn’t go into drugs, I was not a party boy, I didn’t drink too much.” At the same time, he was acting in mostly comedies, which were popular at the time. In the ’90s, Hanks began to pursue dramatic roles, which led to him winning Oscars for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump respectively. 
Big Day for Skyline High School in Oakland, CA! Glad to be a part of it! Hanx, ‘74. pic.twitter.com/XWna7mdiYa— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) May 22, 2020
But when the Hanks and Lewes divorced in 1987, he felt like a failure after experiencing the same thing in his own childhood. He struggled to overcome his feelings of pain and guilt in order to rebuild his life. In 1988, Hanks married Rita Wilson and he described her as having saved him from loneliness. The couple has recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.
Today, Tom Hanks is 67 years old and has expanded his career into book publishing. He has released a series of short stories called Uncommon Type, as well as a novel called The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece. 
Keep Reading: Tom Hanks Angrily Rushes To Protect Wife After Fans Knock Her Over
- “How Tom Hanks Became Tom Hanks.” The Atlantic. Chris Heath. May 3, 2023
- “The Stunning Transformation Of Tom Hanks.” The List. Meg Walters. January 31, 2023
- “Tom Hanks.” Biography. April 20, 2021
- “Tom Hanks’ debut novel lifts lid on movie industry, and his on-set behaviour.” BBC. Rebecca Jones. May 9, 2023