Gene Hackman is an American retired actor and novelist. In his acting career, that spanned 49 years, Gene was nominated for five ‘Academy Awards,’ winning two of them. He has also won four ‘Golden Globes’ and two ‘BAFTAs.’ He came into prominence in 1967 when he played ‘Buck Barrow’ in ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’ He started landing film roles after his debut in ‘Lilith.’ His supporting role in ‘I Never Sang for My Father’ won him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ He appeared in ‘A Bridge Too Far’ where he played ‘Polish General Stanislaw Sosabowski.’ He has also appeared in films like ‘Superman: The Movie’ and ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ where he portrayed criminal mastermind ‘Lex Luthor’ and head of the family ‘Royal Tenenbaum’ respectively. He earned a ‘Best Actor’ nomination for his performance in ‘Mississippi Burning.’ He won the ‘Academy Award’ for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in ‘The French Connection.’ He played the sadistic sheriff ‘Bill Daggett’ in the western film ‘Unforgiven,’ which earned him an ‘Oscar’ for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ He was honored with the prestigious ‘Cecil B. DeMille Award’ for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment Field.’
Childhood & Early Life
Gene Hackman was born Eugene Allen Hackman on January 30, 1930, in San Bernardino, California, USA, to Anna Lyda Elizabeth and Eugene Ezra Hackman. He has a brother named Richard.
His family moved frequently and finally settled in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in his English-born maternal grandmother Beatrice’s house. Hackman’s father operated the printing press for a local paper called the ‘Commercial News.’
Hackman’s parents divorced in 1943, and his father left the family. Gene lived in Storm Lake, Iowa, and studied at the ‘Storm Lake High School.’
When he was 16-years-old, he left home to join the ‘United States Marine Corps.’ He served for four-and-a-half years as a field radio operator. After his discharge, he moved to New York, and took up several minor jobs.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Career and Later Life
Hackman began pursuing an acting career in 1956. He joined the ‘Pasadena Playhouse’ in California where he forged a friendship with aspiring actor Dustin Hoffman. They were later voted ‘The Least Likely To Succeed.’
He moved to New York City, and began performing in Off-Broadway plays. In 1964, he landed a role in ‘Any Wednesday’ alongside actress Sandy Dennis. Film roles followed, and he debuted in ‘Lilith.’
In 1967, Hackman appeared in the television series ‘The Invaders’ where he played a role in an episode called ‘The Spores.’ He appeared in an episode titled ‘Happy Birthday...Everybody’ in the series ‘I Spy,’ playing the role of ‘Hunter.’
In 1969, he played a ski coach in ‘Downhill Racer’ and an astronaut in ‘Marooned.’ The same year, he played the role of ‘Joe Browdy,’ a member of a barnstorming skydiving team, in the film ‘The Gypsy Moths.’
In 1970, his supporting role in ‘I Never Sang for My Father’ won him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’ He then began landing leading roles in movies like ‘The Poseidon Adventure.’
He appeared in the war film ‘A Bridge Too Far’ in 1977 as ‘Polish General Stanislaw Sosabowski.’ He then played the role of a criminal mastermind named ‘Lex Luthor’ in ‘Superman: The Movie.’ He reprised his role as ‘Lex Luthor’ in the film’s sequels.
He earned a ‘Best Actor’ nomination for ‘Mississippi Burning.’ He played the role of ‘Defense Secretary David Brice’ who tries to cover up a homicide in the 1987 film ‘No Way Out.’
In the 1980s, Hackman appeared in movies, such as ‘Reds,’ ‘Under Fire,’ ‘Hoosiers,’ and ‘Uncommon Valor.’ ‘Hoosiers’ was voted the fourth-greatest film of all time in the sports genre by an ‘American Film Institute’ poll.
In 1990, the actor underwent an angioplasty, which kept him from working for a while.
Continue Reading Below
In 1993, he appeared in ‘Geronimo: An American Legend’ where he played ‘Brigadier General George Crook.’ He co-starred with Tom Cruise in ‘The Firm.’
In 1995, Hackman played an inept Hollywood producer in ‘Get Shorty.’ He then appeared in films like ‘The Quick and the Dead’ and ‘Crimson Tide,’ playing ‘John Herod’ and ‘Captain Frank Ramsey’ respectively.
He appeared in ‘The Chamber’ in 1996, playing a convict on death row. He then played the comical role of ultra-conservative Senator ‘Kevin Keeley’ in ‘The Birdcage.’
He teamed up again with actor-director Clint Eastwood for ‘Absolute Power,’ in which he played the ‘President of the United States.’ He co-starred with Will Smith in ‘Enemy of the State.
Hackman portrayed an aging professional thief in David Mamet’s crime film ‘Heist.’ He was then seen in the comedy ‘Heartbreakers’ alongside Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
He played the head of an eccentric family in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums.’ He acted in the legal thriller film ‘Runaway Jury,’ where he got a chance to act with his longtime friend Dustin Hoffman. ‘Runaway Jury’ was based on John Grisham's novel of the same name.
In 2004, Hackman appeared in ‘Welcome to Mooseport,’ a comedy film, in which he portrayed former president of the United States.
In 2016 and 2017, he narrated TV documentary films, namely ‘The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima’ and ‘We, the Marines.’
Continue Reading Below
Hackman played the supporting role of ‘Buck Barrow’ in the movie ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ in 1967. It earned him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’
In 1974, he landed the lead role in Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Conversation,’ which was nominated for several ‘Oscars.’ He also played the comic role of ‘Harold, The Blind Man’ in ‘Young Frankenstein.’
In 1975, he appeared in the Western horse-race saga ‘Bite the Bullet’ and the action thriller film ‘French Connection II.’ He also appeared in the highly acclaimed film ‘Night Moves,’ receiving a BAFTA nomination for his role.
Awards & Achievements
In 1972, Gene Hackman won the ‘Academy Award’ for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance as ‘New York City Detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle’ in ‘The French Connection.’
In 1992, he played the sadistic sheriff ‘Bill Daggett’ in the western film ‘Unforgiven,’ which was directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples. It earned him an ‘Oscar’ for ‘Best Supporting Actor.’
Gene Hackman was honored with the ‘Cecil B. DeMille Award’ for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment Field’ at the 2003 ‘Golden Globes Awards.’
Personal Life & Legacy
Hackman married Faye Maltese in 1956. They were blessed with three children: Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean, and Leslie Anne. The couple divorced in 1986 after three decades of marriage.
In 1991, he married Betsy Arakawa. They live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Betsy is the co-owner of an upscale retail home furnishings store called ‘Pandora’s, Inc.’ in Santa Fe.
This actor is known to have turned down lead roles in movies, such as ‘Jaws,’ ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’