11 Surprising Things Most Fans Don’t Know About Tom Hanks

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

Ever since Tom Hanks came bouncing onto our TV screens on Bosom Buddies, he has been one of the world’s most beloved actors.

The California native just has an undeniable charm and likability factor to go with all of his impressive talent.

I know I count myself among the many Tom Hanks fans. In fact, I once spent an entire month watching his 1996 writer-director debut That Thing You Do! every single day — and I’m talking the director’s edition, not the cut-down theater version!

That said, I can’t believe how much I never knew about his life behind the scenes. For instance, I had no clue Tom Hanks had any health issues so recently, or that his ancestors include one of our most legendary presidents from the past.

Take a look below at our Tom Hanks biography to learn even more about his life and career in the entertainment industry.

Let us know in the comments at the bottom if we missed your favorite fact about Tom Hanks and be sure to SHARE with your friends!

Thumbnail source: Wikimedia Commons / ABC Television

1. "Happy Days" Helped Him Break Into Movies

Young Tom Hanks

Though he only appeared in one brief shot on the nostalgic TV series, Ron Howard remembered him and requested Tom audition for a secondary role in his 1984 film Splash, but was so impressed that he gave the actor the lead instead.

2. His Directorial Debut Film Was A Family Affair

Tom Hanks in That Thing You Do

As writer and director of the 1996 That Thing You Do!, Tom was able to include his wife, Rita Wilson, as a waitress in the film and you can also spot his two eldest children, Colin and Elizabeth Hanks, in cameos as well.

To date, it is the only film to include all four in one movie.

3. He Followed In Spencer Tracy's Footsteps

Tom Hanks winning second Oscar

Tom was the second actor in history to earn back-to-back Best Actor Oscars for his roles in the 1993 Philadelphia and then in 1994 for Forrest Gump.

Spencer previously earned consecutive Oscars for the 1937 Captains Courageous and 1938 Boys Town.

They remain the only two actors to achieve such an impressive feat.

4. He Sold Peanuts And Popcorn As A Teen

4. He Sold Peanuts And Popcorn As A Teen

One of his first jobs was working as a vendor at Oakland Coliseum, and he remains an avid fan of his hometown football team, the Oakland Raiders.

5. There Is An Astroid Named After Him

Tom Hanks in Apollo 13

After his memorable work in the 1995 Apollo 13, NASA named an asteroid they discovered in 1996 “12818 tomhanks” in his honor.

6. He And Bruce Springsteen Have Been Friends Since Childhood

Bruce Springsteen

Their friendship would help Bruce win an Academy Award for his song, “The Streets of Philadelphia,” from the film Philadelphia.

7. He Was The Youngest Actor To Earn AFI's Highest Honor

Tom Hanks winning AFI's Life Achievement

Thanks to his already impressive list of roles, Tom was given the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award back in 2002 at just 46 years old.

8. He Was Diagnosed With Type II Diabetes Later In Life

Tom Hanks

Tom revealed to David Letterman in 2013 that he had been battling high blood sugar levels since he was 36 years old, ultimately being diagnosed at 57.

9. He Has Presidential Family Ties

Abraham Lincoln

Tracing back on his mother’s side, Tom discovered he is the third cousin, four generations removed, of Abraham Lincoln.

10. He Collects Vintage Typewriters

Vintage typewriter

While traveling around the world for his job, Tom takes time to scope out finds for his collection, currently owning over 80 of the old-school writing machines.

11. He Was Given The Highest Civilian Award From The US Navy

Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump

The military men bestowed the Distinguished Public Service Award to Tom on Veteran’s Day in 1999 alongside Steven Spielberg for their work on Saving Private Ryan.

Did we miss your favorite thing about the talented actor? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!