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Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman

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Also Known As: Eugene Allen Hackman, Eugene Alden Hackman Died:
Born: January 30, 1930 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: San Bernardino, California, USA Profession: actor, TV assistant director, novelist, radio announcer, TV studio floor manager, truck driver, soda jerk, shoe salesman, doorman, mover, radio operator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most versatile and well-respected actors in American cinema history, Gene Hackman enjoyed a productive career that spanned over six decades, encompassing exquisite performances on stage and in feature films. Once voted by his acting school classmates as the least likely to succeed, Hackman essayed some of filmdom's most memorable characters, a few of which earned the gruff, but sensitive actor several Academy Award nominations. Beginning as a reliable character player on stage, Hackman emerged as an unlikely hero of the counterculture with a bombastic turn in Arthur Penn's seminal "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967). Just a few years later, he secured himself an Oscar for Best Actor with his tough-guy performance as the unforgettable Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection" (1971). Hackman again delivered the goods in Francis Ford Coppola's paranoid thriller, "The Conversation" (1974) and followed through as the comically maniacal Lex Luther in "Superman: The Movie" (1978). Though he entered a premature retirement brought on by his exhaustive work schedule, Hackman returned to the fore in Warren Beatty's "Reds" (1981) and entered into what proved to be the busiest part of his career, which culminated...

One of the most versatile and well-respected actors in American cinema history, Gene Hackman enjoyed a productive career that spanned over six decades, encompassing exquisite performances on stage and in feature films. Once voted by his acting school classmates as the least likely to succeed, Hackman essayed some of filmdom's most memorable characters, a few of which earned the gruff, but sensitive actor several Academy Award nominations. Beginning as a reliable character player on stage, Hackman emerged as an unlikely hero of the counterculture with a bombastic turn in Arthur Penn's seminal "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967). Just a few years later, he secured himself an Oscar for Best Actor with his tough-guy performance as the unforgettable Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection" (1971). Hackman again delivered the goods in Francis Ford Coppola's paranoid thriller, "The Conversation" (1974) and followed through as the comically maniacal Lex Luther in "Superman: The Movie" (1978). Though he entered a premature retirement brought on by his exhaustive work schedule, Hackman returned to the fore in Warren Beatty's "Reds" (1981) and entered into what proved to be the busiest part of his career, which culminated in an Academy Award nomination for "Mississippi Burning" (1988) and a Best Supporting Actor win for "Unforgiven" (1992). After portraying a sleazy B-movie producer in "Get Shorty" (1995) and the rascally patriarch of a dysfunctional family in "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001), Hackman drifted off into an unofficial retirement that allowed him time to nurture his writing career while leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Welcome to Mooseport (2004) Monroe Cole
2.
 Runaway Jury (2003) Rankin Fitch
3.
 Heist (2001) Joe Moore
4.
 Behind Enemy Lines (2001) Reigart
5.
 Royal Tenenbaums, The (2001) Royal Tenenbaum
6.
 Heartbreakers (2001) William B Tensy
7.
 Replacements, The (2000) Jim Mcginty
8.
 Under Suspicion (2000) Henry Hearst
9.
 Antz (1998) Voice Of Mandible
10.
 Twilight (1998) Jack Ames
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Family moved frequently in his early childhood
:
Settled in Danville, IL; raised by maternal grandmother
1946:
Joined the Marines at age 16 after quitting school
:
While serving in China, worked as a disc jockey for U.S. Armed Forces Radio
1950:
Broke both legs in a motorcycle accident
:
In the 1950s, worked throughout the Midwest as a radio announcer and in NYC at various jobs
:
Moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse acting school; voted "Least Likely to Succeed" along with classmate Dustin Hoffman
1958:
Made stage debut opposite ZaSu Pitts in "The Curious Miss Caraway" at the Pasadena Playhouse
:
Asked to leave Playhouse school; returned to NYC
1958:
New York stage debut in "Chaparral"
1959:
TV acting debut on the episode "Little Tin God" of CBS' "U.S. Steel Hour"; later appeared on several other installments of the show
1961:
Feature film acting debut, small role as a cop in "Mad Dog Coll"
1961:
Appeared with the improvisational troupe The Premise in Greenwich Village
1961:
Made impression with guest appearance on the debut episode of the CBS series "The Defenders"
1963:
Broadway debut, "Children at Their Games"
1964:
Rose to prominence in Broadway production of "Any Wednesday" opposite Sandy Dennis
1964:
First major film role, "Lilith"; also first screen collaboration with Warren Beatty
1967:
Hired by Beatty to play Buck Barrow in "Bonnie and Clyde"; received first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor; also initial collaboration with Arthur Penn
1968:
TV-movie debut, "Shadow on the Land" (ABC)
1969:
Appeared as one of the astronauts trapped in space in "Marooned"
1970:
Earned second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for "I Never Sang for My Father"
1971:
Breakthrough screen role, NYC detective Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection"; reportedly almost quit film over its violent content; earned Best Actor Oscar
1972:
Headed the all-star cast of "The Poseidon Adventure" as a defrocked minister who becomes the de facto leader of those who survived the underwater disaster
1974:
Portrayed a specialist in planting bugging devices in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation"
1974:
Offered hilarious cameo as the blind hermit in Mel Brooks' horror spoof "Young Frankenstein"
1975:
Reprised role of Popeye Doyle in "French Connection II"
1975:
Reteamed with director Arthur Penn for "Night Moves"
1977:
Appeared as part of the all-star cast of Richard Attenborough's WWII epic "A Bridge Too Far"
1977:
"Retired" from acting for four years
1978:
Offered deliciously sly turn as the villainous Lex Luthor in "Superman"; reprised role in 1980's "Superman II" (shot simultaneously with the first)
1981:
Returned to features after "retirement" in supporting role of editor Peter Van Wherry in Beatty's epic "Reds"
1981:
Had misfire as comic lead opposite Barbra Streisand in "All Night Long"
1983:
Delivered fine turn as a news anchorman in "Under Fire"
1985:
Played a middle-aged man going through a midlife crisis resulting in an affair in the underrated "Twice in a Lifetime"
1986:
Played the coach of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team in "Hoosiers"
1987:
Reprised role of Lex Luthor in the disappointing "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace"
1988:
Acted opposite Gena Rowlands in Woody Allen's "Another Woman"
1988:
Earned Best Actor Academy Award nomination as an FBI agent investigating the murders of civil rights workers in "Mississippi Burning"
1989:
Starred opposite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as father-daughter lawyers on opposite sides of a case in "Class Action"
1990:
Played a film director in Mike Nichols' "Postcards From the Edge," adapted from Carrie Fisher's roman-a-clef
1990:
Underwent surgery for angina, provoking a two-year hiatus from acting
1992:
Delivered fine villainous turn as a corrupt sheriff in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"; received Best Supporting Actor Oscar
1992:
Returned to Broadway in "Death and the Maiden" alongside Richard Dreyfuss and Glenn Close
1993:
Portrayed a burnt-out lawyer in "The Firm," based on the John Grisham novel
1994:
Cast as the patriarch of the family in "Wyatt Earp"
1995:
Provided formidable opposition to Denzel Washington as the captain of a submarine in the taut thriller "Crimson Tide"
1995:
Showed comic side as a hack director in "Get Shorty"
1996:
Played the straight man as a conservative U.S .senator in "The Birdcage," directed by Mike Nichols
1996:
Second appearance in a film based on a John Grisham novel, "The Chamber"; played a white supremacist defended by his grandson (Chris O'Donnell)
1997:
Portrayed the U.S. President possibly caught up in murder in "Absolute Power"
1998:
Cast as a dignified movie star married to Susan Sarandon in "Twilight," also starring Paul Newman as a retired detective
1998:
Voiced the character of the fascistic General Mandible in the animated feature "Antz"
1998:
In a nod to "The Conversation," played a surveillance expert who assists Will Smith in "Enemy of the State"
1999:
Published first novel <i>Wake of the Perdido Star</i>, co-written with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan; duo co-authored three more novels: <i>Justice for None</i> (2004), <i>Escape from Andersonville</i> (2008) and <i>Payback at Morning Peak</i> (2011)
2000:
Starred as a football coach in "The Replacements"
2000:
Executive produced and starred in the crime drama "Under Suspicion"
2001:
Appeared in "The Mexican" in an uncredited cameo
2001:
Landed featured role in "Heartbreakers," a comedy about a mother-daughter con artist team
2001:
Appeared opposite Owen Wilson in the war drama "Behind Enemy Lines"
2001:
Played the rascally patriarch of a dysfunctional family of geniuses in "The Royal Tenenbaums"; Owen Wilson co-wrote script with director Wes Anderson
2003:
Played a ruthless jury consultant in the thriller feature "Runaway Jury"
2004:
Played a former president who runs for mayor of a small town against a local candidate in "Welcome to Mooseport"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Illinois: Urbana , Illinois -
University of Illinois: Urbana , Illinois -
Art Students League of New York: New York , New York -
School of Radio Technique: New York , New York - 1952
Pasadena Playhouse: Pasadena , California - 1958

Notes

When he is in New York, Hackman teaches at the New Actors Workshop, a two-year professional actor training program.

In addition to writing novels, Hackman also paints landscapes.

"It becomes tougher and tougher for me to be directed. It isn't that I feel I know everything. I just find myself being frustrated. I'm kind of impossible." --Hackman to The New York Times Magazine, March 19, 1989.

"He is Everyman on the one hand, and yet, he's an Ubermensch. He has a broad spectrum of gifts, a combination of sensitivity and toughness. That's why he's done what he's done." --Warren Beatty to Premiere, February 1991.

Hackman had heart surgery in June 1990 after which he slowed down his work load. "The illness left the actor and sometime sketch artist determined to move to the marble quarries of Carrera, Italy, to become a sculptor. But "Unforgiven" changed things ... " --From "Tough Guys Don't Talk" in Newsday, June 19, 1994.

"Gene is not your run-of-the-mill actor. He's really special, and right now he's at the top of his form--almost a Zen-like place in his acting, where you don't see the effort." --Sydney Pollack to Newsday, June 19, 1994.

"When you start having a little more confidence in what you do as an actor, that starts to show, and then people start giving you more and more confident characters to play, and then you become typed with that. I'm not a tough guy at all--but I'm capable of playing some of those guys." --Gene Hackman quoted in Us, March 1996.

"I like to work. But I don't like the business. All the backstabbing. The uncomfortable atmosphere on some sets. But it's a trade-off." --Hackman quoted in USA Today, October 11, 1996.

"Gene charges a lot of money for what he does. And he gives you your money's worth. And that's the most you can say about anyone, whether they're a waiter or an actor." --Clint Eastwood to USA Today, October 11, 1996.

"I'm not saying he's the only great American actor, but there's no better American actor alive today." --director Robert Benton (who guided Hackman in "Twilight") quoted by Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, March 11, 1998.

On his status as an "Everyman", Hackman told the Associated Press (March 11, 1998): "One would like to think of oneself as being special, as being artistic or romantic. Not common. I mean, Everyman means common in some kind of way. And common doesn't denote any kind of artistic talent or artistic intent. So, in some ways, it sounds to me like a put-down. But I don't think people necessarily mean it that way."

"Things haven't always gone the way I've wanted, but look, I know I've been very lucky. I've had more than my fair share of success, and the audiences are still good to me." --Hackman on being considered a character actor, to The Daily Telegraph, July 20, 2000.

"When I'm acting I really feel that I'm doing what I was set on Earth to do, the only thing that I really know how to do well." --Gene Hackman

Hackman has provided the voice-overs for numerous TV commercials, perhaps most notably for United Airlines.

"The Royal Tenenbaums" director Wes Anderson on Hackman to the Los Angeles Times (December 16, 2001): "There's something very charismatic in him, even when he's being his worst. There is something about him that gives him a kind of gravity that is pretty rare. When they are playing a scene where there is sadness or something gentle, he can be extremely sad and gentle. When they are playing a scene where they need to turn on the rage, he can be scary at the drop of a hat. That is the way he will attack a scene -- with everything he's got." December 16, 2001.

"Three movies is slowing down for me. I have that old thing in me from the early days when you couldn't get a job and you want to take everything that's offered to you. I don't know if I've ever had a moment when I 'made it' in Hollywood. I don't think about that." -- Hackman on "Heist", "Behind Enemy Lines" and "The Royal Tenenbaums", released in quick succession in November and December of 2001, quoted in Boston Herald, December 21, 2001.

"I just knew I could; I really did. Every Saturday if I could get a quarter to go [to the movies], I'd go, and when I'd leave, I'd look in the mirror and be stunned that I didn't look like James Cagney. I'd be so in tune with what he was doing - I'd become that guy - that a real period of depression would follow. [I'd think], 'How am I gonna be that guy if I don't look like that guy?' I finally realized that I could just be me, and if I was good enough, that would work." --Hackman to Premiere magazine on how he always knew he could act

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Faye Maltese. Secretary. Met in 1953; married on January 1, 1956; separated in 1982; divorced; mother of Hackman's three children.
wife:
Betsy Arakawa. Musician. Born c. 1961; Hawaiian; met when she was working at a health club at which Hackman was a member; together since 1984; married in December 1991.

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Beatrice Gray. British; maternal grandmother; raised Hackman.
father:
Eugene Ezra Hackman. Pressman, printer. Walked out on family when Hackman was 13; reunited in 1970.
mother:
Lyda Hackman. Alcoholic; died in bed at age 59 on December 30, 1962 in a fire she accidentally set while smoking.
brother:
Richard Hackman. Born in 1942.
son:
Christopher Hackman. Born c. 1960; mother, Faye Maltese.
daughter:
Elizabeth Hackman. Mother, Faye Maltese.
daughter:
Leslie Hackman. Mother, Faye Maltese.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Wake of the Perdido Star" Newmarket

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