In the famous 1993 film, Philadelphia, Tom Hanks plays the role of Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer who is fired from his law firm because he has contracted AIDS. Beckett’s law firm fears others in the firm will get the disease from him, offering a seemingly naïve perspective on a disease about which little was understood at the time. Seeking a solution, Beckett decides to sue his former employer, enlisting the help of a homophobic attorney by the name of Joe Miller, a role masterfully played by Denzel Washington. In battling through the case, Miller starts to gain greater respect for Beckett, acknowledging that Andrew Beckett is just like any other citizen in Philadelphia, despite his sexual preference. Miller sheds his homophobia and works tirelessly to help Beckett seize justice before AIDS can take his life.
Born in 1956, Tom Hanks is the son of a hospital worker and itinerant cook. Divorce had broken his family up at an early age, causing Tom to move around a lot as he grew up, however, the young Tom Hanks managed to stay away from trouble, drugs, and alcohol despite having a rather complicated childhood and teenage life. Having no acting experience at all, Tom Hanks attempted to get roles in his college theatre, often getting turned down. He later went to an audition for a traveling theatre company, and landed a role that sent him to Cleveland, OH, ultimately kicking off what would become an enduring and successful career. By 1980, Hanks had a television show (Bosom Buddies), which is where he met is wife, actress Rita Wilson. Hanks and Wilson are still married and have 2 children.
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Actor Tom Hanks splashed onto the scene in the early 1980’s with the TV series Bosom Buddies. Recognized as a talented actor, despite having virtually no formal training, Hanks earned opportunities to appear in guest roles on other popular shows at the time, including Taxi, Happy Days, and Family Ties. Using television as a springboard, Hanks moved into film and continued to blossom.
The late 1980’s saw some of Hanks’ most popular early works, including The Money Pit, Splash, Turner & Hooch, and the ever popular Big, where Hanks plays the “grown-up” version of a boy who makes a wish that he could be big.
The 1990’s were incredibly successful for Tom Hanks, with roles in films such as A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Apollo 13, Toy Story, and his back to back Oscar wins for Forrest Gump and Philadelphia.
In 1999, Hanks was honored with a Distinguished Public Service Award from the US Navy, for his work in the film, Saving Private Ryan. The project inspired the television series Band of Brothers and The Pacific.