The request came from Chicago to celebrate the birthday today of a screen icon, Tom Hanks. I'm happy to allow Spencer Blohm to contribute in this way below as I have always had a particular soft spot for Tom Hanks. Not only has he played iconic roles in films that spanned my childhood and adolescence, but he also, quite marvelously...an Aston Villa fan!!
So, take it away Spencer...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When Tom Hanks comes to mind so do the many iconic characters he has portrayed over his more than 30 year long career. The man has proven to be talented and versatile with roles as legendary as Forrest Gump to voice work as clever as Woody the Cowboy from Toy Story.
Hanks’ film career started in 1980 with a low-budget movie called He Knows You're Alone. Hanks moved to New York City to be a part of the film. Not long after this Hanks was able to get his first leading role on a television show called Bosom Buddies. Unfortunately his first big show was cancelled after only two seasons in 1982. Tom's first big breakthrough in movies took place two years later in Splash, a box office smash directed by Ron Howard. This success led to more offers for bigger roles and Hanks’ career started into its upward trajectory.
On December 14, 1985 Hanks was honored to host Saturday Night Live for the first time (he would eventually go on to host the show seven more times and make two surprise guest appearances). Continuing on with the comedy gold, Hanks landed the lead role in the smash hit Big in 1988. The film, which established Hanks as a major talent in Hollywood, remains a favorite of many fans to this day. Hanks won a number of awards for his role in Big, including the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Hanks began to step into more serious roles as time went on, and he was very successful in them, eventually shedding his comedic image and becoming known instead as a “serious” actor. The 90s were some of Hanks's best years, and this is when he began to collect a string of awards for films A League of Their Own, Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, and Apollo 13. Possibly his most well-known film, Forrest Gump and its titular character are both major pop culture icons to this day. The film even spawned the restaurant chain “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company”, named after a fictional business. Hanks wasn’t the initial choice for the role. Actors Bill Murray, John Travolta, and Chevy Chase all passed on the role. Travolta even admits passing on the role was a mistake.
After the huge success of Forrest Gump, Hanks was reunited with the director that gave him his big break. Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 was another box office winner. In addition to being a critical success, the film also allowed Hanks to explore his childhood dream of being an astronaut. Hanks claims he gave up the dream because he “didn’t have the math,” but the truth is that Hanks is simply too tall to be an astronaut (he’s 6’1” and the cut off is 6’). Following his major dramatic successes, Tom made the unlikely move to children’s animated films in 1995. He has provided the voice for Woody in the Toy Story franchise for 18 years, helping to establish a whole new fan base with the younger generations.
More recently Hanks was in Cloud Atlas, which came out in late October of last year. Hanks also portrays Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, which is scheduled to come out later this year right around Walt Disney’s birthday and the anniversary of his death in December. Continuing with his past successes, Hanks will once again play the lead in a true story that was a front-page news item at the time when he plays Captain Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips. The film is about the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. The film will also come out later this year in October. There have also been rumors of a Toy Story 4 although little has been confirmed.
Hanks has grown from a small-time comedic actor into an Oscar-winning leading man right in front of America’s eyes. His talent has entertained viewers and inspired up and coming actors for the past three decades and it doesn’t look like he is going anywhere anytime soon. Happy Birthday, Tom Hanks!