Samantha Lewes was an actress who appeared in an episode of the ABC sitcom ‘Bosom Buddies’ in 1981 and TV movie ‘Mr. Success’ in 1984. She was Tom Hanks’ first wife and the mother of Colin Hanks and Elizabeth Hanks. A California native, Lewes was Hanks’ college sweetheart. They got married relatively early in their lives. She was 25 years old at the time, and he was 21. The young couple had financial troubles, surviving sometimes on “piecemeal”. Colin was born in late 1977 and was followed by Elizabeth four and a half years later. In 1979, Hanks moved the family to New York City where he gradually established himself as a stand-up comedian and actor. In 1984, the fantasy romantic comedy ‘Splash’ came out, ricocheting him to stardom. While it brought stability to his career, his home life was in complete disarray. He and Lewes divorced in 1987. After that, Lewes led largely a secluded life. She passed away in 2002 due to bone cancer.
Childhood & Early Life
Lewes was born Susan Jane Dillingham on November 29, 1952, in San Diego, California, USA, to John Raymond Dillingham and Harriet Hall Dillingham. Her father was a US marine who served during the World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In his 26-year-long service, he received several military accolades, including a Purple Heart. Lewes’ mother was an English teacher. Besides teaching English to elementary-aged children, she spent a year as an exchange teacher in England.
Dillingham grew up all over US with her three siblings. Their parents separated in 1962, and they were subsequently raised by their mother. Dillingham spent parts of her childhood in California, North and South Carolina, Hawaii, Florida, and Virginia. Her mother eventually decided to move the family to northern California to be close to her brother, David.
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Education & Career
Dillingham’s interest in acting developed when she was quite young. After obtaining a high school degree, she studied acting at California State University, Sacramento. At some point, she started using the professional name, Samantha Lewes.
She made a guest appearance as a waitress in the season-one episode ‘Cahoots’ of the sitcom ‘Bosom Buddies’ in 1981. The show was created by Chris Thompson, Thomas L. Miller, and Robert L. Boyett and ran on ABC for two seasons from November 27, 1980, to March 27, 1982. Tom Hanks starred as Kip Wilson/Buffy opposite Peter Scolari's Henry Desmond/Hildegard. The main cast also included Donna Dixon, Holland Taylor, and Telma Hopkins. Incidentally, Hanks met his second wife, actress Rita Wilson, on the set of the show. She played Cindy in the season-two episode ‘All You Need Is Love’ (1981).
In 1984, Lewes was cast as a customer in Jack Shea’s telefilm ‘Mr. Success’, which revolves around a man who severs all ties with his family to be successful. The TV movie also stars James Coco, Patrick Cochran, and Viveka Davis.
Relationship with Tom Hanks & Children
Dillingham met Hanks while they were both attending California State University, Sacramento. A relationship developed between the two. By early 1977, she had become pregnant with their first child. During this period, the young couple experienced financial issues, and the situation became even more complicated after their children came into their lives. Lewes gave birth to their eldest, Colin Hanks, on November 24, 1977, while they were still living in Sacramento. She and Hanks finally exchanged wedding vows on January 24, 1978.
In 1979, Lewes, Hanks, and Colin relocated to New York City, where Hanks found some recognition as an actor and stand-up comedian. In 1980, after landing the role of one of the main protagonists on ‘Bosom Buddies’, he moved the family to Los Angeles. On May 17, 1982, the couple welcomed their second child, a daughter whom they named Elizabeth. In 1984, he starred in Ron Howard’s directorial venture, ‘Splash’. The film’s success ensured his position in the industry. In the following years, he has come to be widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time. He has received two Oscars and seven Emmys (as a producer), as well as a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and the French Legion of Honor.
In 1984, Lewes and Hanks separated after six years of marriage. Their divorce was finalised on March 19, 1987. Hanks married Rita Wilson on April 30, 1988, and has two sons with her, Chester and Truman.
Later Years & Death
After her divorce from Tom Hanks, Samantha Lewes kept herself out of the spotlight. She spent the rest of her life in Sacramento, where she raised her two children. Both Colin and Elizabeth have followed in their parents’ footsteps into acting. During a routine check-up, Lewes was diagnosed with bone cancer and told that she had a few months to live. After Hanks heard about it, he arranged for her to be seen by top specialists in the field. However, the doctors found that the cancer had already spread to her lungs and likely to her brain and told the family that they could not do anything at that point but manage her pain. Lewes died on March 12, 2002, at the age of 49. She is interred at East Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Sacramento.