The curly-haired toddler in the back-and-white photograph about to blow out a single candle on a birthday cake in the late ’50s was oblivious to the fact that it would likely be one of the few birthdays with both his parents.
By the time he turned ten, he had three maternal figures in his life, his biological mother and two stepmothers, and lived in nearly a dozen different houses in five cities.His parents fell in love at work. After his dad exited the Navy, he worked at a coffee shop in Berkley, California, where he met a “cute waitress.” They had four children in their union of 11–odd years. The curly-haired toddler was the second youngest.
By the time they had their youngest son, the pair realized they did not share much in common. The couple “pioneered the marriage dissolution laws” for California when this boy was five.The toddler went with his dad, older brother, and sister, while his newly born youngest sibling remained with his mother, who could not afford to take all the children.
During his parents’ breakup, no one explained what happened to him or his siblings and that it was not their fault. With his dad in the restaurant industry, they would move homes and cities within a few hour’s notice of a new job.
He had very little adult supervision in his youth, though he always had a key to their home and the freedom to drink all the milk he wanted from the fridge.
The actor and his elder brother and sister would tell time from what was playing on television. He explained in September 2020 on the “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” podcast:
“Maybe there was a degree of loneliness […] I kind of fell through the cracks and didn’t really have adults per se that were taking care of me.”
To this day, the actor cannot stand tomato soup. He and his siblings were tasked with making their own lunch and dinner. Heating a can of Campbell’s soup often led to the pot boiling over, and the smell of “burnt tomato soup” lingered.
He would have to scrub the stovetop with steel wool to clean the mess before his dad got home. The star quipped that it was good that there were no smoke alarms in apartment buildings in those days, as they would have set it off every third day.
Who is this Curly-Haired Toddler Who Became the Most Influential Man in Hollywood?
The toddler in the picture is none other than Tom Hanks. In October 2002, an Entertainment Weekly poll found Hanks to be the most powerful person in Hollywood. On the list, he was followed by Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, and Julia Roberts.
Hanks’ love for movies started at a young age when he would go to the cinema. He considers the education he got by going alone “priceless,” as he took it all in with no one else to engage with.
Through his quest to join activities to get out of the house, from track and soccer to a church youth group, he would discover the theater program at Skyline High School in Oakland, California. His drama teacher Rawley Farnsworth greatly impacted his development as an actor.
When he won his first Academy Award for “Philadelphia,” he thanked Farnsworth in a now iconic speech in 1994. He returned the next year to collect the Best Actor Oscar for “Forrest Gump.”
Being a latchkey kid taught Hanks independence from a young age, and he was tested at 21 when he became a husband and a father. He considers having his son, Colin Hanks, with his first wife, Samantha Lewes, as “the greatest thing that ever happened.”
Though he contends that he did some “idiotic stuff,” he did not do drugs, hardly drank, and was in bed by 10:10 pm. He was never a party boy.
Just as the actor got New York City figured out, he got the offer to star in the TV show “Bosom Buddies” at the dawn of the ’80s in Los Angeles and his first feature, “He Knows You’re Alone.”
The series only ran two seasons, but he was making a name for himself, landing his breakout role as an everyman in the magic realism romantic comedy “Splash.”
He and Lewes had another child, Elizabeth Hanks, but their marriage ended in divorce court in 1987. Hanks felt great remorse about the divorce and attended multiple therapy sessions weekly for some time to work through it.
1988 was an outstanding year for the actor as he married his current wife, Rita Wilson, whom he had met a few years prior, and he was nominated for his first Academy Award for “Big.” With Wilson, he felt:
“Oh, she gets it. Oh, guess what, I don’t think that I’ll ever be lonely anymore.”
Hanks and Wilson completed their blended family by having two more children, Chet Hanks and Truman Hanks. One of his elder siblings, Jim Hanks, also went into the entertainment industry as an actor and comedian.
67-Year-Old Tom Hanks Is an Active Grandfather of Three
“All you gotta do is love those little brats, and they’re better than TV,” Hanks said in 2023 on his three granddaughters before correcting himself, “They’re not little brats; they’re extraordinary young women. They are extraordinary young women.”
Hanks’s son, Colin, and his wife, Samantha Bryan, welcomed the first grandchild into the family with Olivia Hanks, followed by Charlotte Hanks. Chet is father to Michaiah with a former partner.
“You just got to hang out” is Wilson’s philosophy towards parenting which encapsulates all the sports the youngsters partake in, such as tennis and swimming.
Meanwhile, Hanks has found that to be the perfect grandparent, you need to sharpen your skills in the kitchen. “You have [to] make their macaroni and cheese just perfectly,” he shared.