Tom Hanks Project – 10 things we learned from Tom’s A&E Biography

17 Feb

hanksbioWe finish off our break between the ’80s and ’90s with a quick biography. There weren’t any real bombshells in this thing, but we did come away with 10 new Tom facts and observations. In 42 minutes, we’re guided from his wild haired junior high days through his membership in the high school kazoo club, into Bosom Buddies and over two decades of Tom’s brilliant film career, wrapping up with the making of  “Catch Me If You Can.” The doc kind of glosses over the serious stuff like how rough his childhood was and the timeline on when he left his first wife for Rita*, but with a title like “The Luckiest Man in the World,” what do you expect? I’m glad we watched it for these 10 tidbits, but I wouldn’t recommend seeking it out unless you happen to stumble upon it on cable**.

*I think Zack scandalizes this more than it needs to be…or maybe that’s just me needing to see every Hanks move through rose-colored, family-loving glasses. I did learn through this doc that he took care of his ex-wife when she was dying, which I thought was really moving.

**Even then, Peter Scolari…has a flair for the dramatics, let’s say. (In other words – everything is the most life changing moment of Hanks’ life. Sure, Scolari, because you’re the expert.)


  1. Tom had amazing hair in junior high – I wish we could have this version of Tom play young Josh in “Big”. I’m far more impressed with those teeth. So gummy!! So cute.
  2. He got into acting to avoid a difficult home life – His parents divorced when he was young and they moved around a lot. They don’t get into the details much, but it’s clear it wasn’t the best environment for young Tom.
  3. Pre-acting Tom was in a kazoo band, the bowling club and track and was a “class cut-up.” Yeah, that sounds about right. When will kazoos have their deserved time in the limelight, already?!
  4. Tom once worked as a bellhop – I can’t find the pic of him in the red uniform online, but trust me, it’s amazing.
  5. howardsplashRon Howard had a world class mustache while making “Splash” – This isn’t about Tom per se, but the ginger stash on Ron Howard (pictured here with Daryl Hannah) was too great to ignore.
  6. Tom didn’t know you could say no to parts – “If they offered me a script I understood in any way, shape or form, I took it. I didn’t know you could say no.” This explains so much. This was in the 80s, of course.
  7. His father was dying while he filmed “Nothing in Common” – The movie felt especially poignant with Tom’s on-screen father Jackie Gleason dying and and now we know why.
  8. Hanks’ first wife had a rough life – Not only did Tom leave her for Rita after 9 years of marriage (He admits cheating while still married) but she also passed away from bone marrow cancer in 2002. Tom did take care of her medical bills and got her the best care available, but still…I just made a “Tsk tsk” sound at Zack linking to that article and implying that this is definitive proof he cheated on his first wife. B. S. All he said was that he knew he was in love with Rita from right away, and that there was nothing to celebrate about the fact that he was still married at that time, because surely it was hard for everyone. Maybe it did happen, but I’m certainly not calling that link the admission.Tom-in-Big-tom-hanks-9828228-1024-576
  9. “Big” wasn’t acting – Hanks’ friends say the goofy kid in an adult body is basically just Tom being Tom. 
  10. “OK, I’m not gonna play pussies anymore.” – That delightful Tom quote is him talking about his role in “A League of Their Own.” Makes me want to scratch and spit and take a long piss in his honor.

Other than that, we learned we need to watch “From the Earth to the Moon” and though Tom may be our favorite actor, I wouldn’t call him “the luckiest” as the title suggests. He found acting to escape a difficult childhood and has blossomed from a comedy actor to one of the great dramatic actors of our time. He has flaws like we all do, but he’s a good and kind man and someone we love to spend our time watching. I can agree with that.

If you want a good, in-depth Hanks interview, listen to his two Nerdist Podcasts (part 1) (part 2) and watch the Kevin Pollack Chat Show with close to three hours of great Hanks career retrospective. All three are far better than the A&E doc. DEFINITELY listen to the Nerdist podcasts, they are absolutely delightful.


One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – 10 things we learned from Tom’s A&E Biography”


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - February 26, 2014

    […] A&E Biography “Tom Hanks” – Recap […]

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