US film star, the first for half a century to win Oscars in two successive years.
Born in Concord, California, Tom Hanks dropped out of college to take up acting. After appearing in ten undistinguished films, he attracted attention in the fantasy Splash (1984), while for the role-reversal comedy Big (1988) he received an Oscar nomination. The film version of Tom Wolfe's best-selling novel Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) proved less successful, but the sentimental romance Sleepless in Seattle (1993) was well received. Hanks then portrayed a gay lawyer who develops AIDS in Philadelphia (1993), and the simple-minded title character in Forrest Gump (1994), a potted history of the USA from the Vietnam War to the present. These performances won Hanks the Academy Award for best actor in two successive years, making him the first performer to achieve this distinction since Spencer Tracy in 1937–38. Subsequently he appeared in Apollo 13 (1995) and starred in Saving Private Ryan (1998), Spielberg's epic treatment of the D-Day Normandy landings.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).