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Hackman at a book signing in 2008
|Born||Eugene Allen Hackman|
January 30, 1930
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
|Residence||Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Pasadena Playhouse|
|Occupation||Actor and author|
|Home town||Danville, Illinois, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Faye Maltese (m. 1956; div.1986)|
Betsy Arakawa (m. 1991)
|Awards||Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award|
In a career spanning five decades, Hackman has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning two, including best actor in The French Connection. In addition, Hackman has won three Golden Globes and two BAFTAs. He first came to fame in 1967 with his performance as Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde. His major subsequent films include The French Connection (1971), in which he played Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle; The Poseidon Adventure (1972); The Conversation (1974); Superman (1978), in which he played arch-villain Lex Luthor; Hoosiers (1986); Mississippi Burning (1988); Unforgiven (1992); The Firm (1993); Crimson Tide (1995); Get Shorty (1995); The Birdcage (1996); Enemy of the State (1998); and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001).
Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Lyda Hackman (née Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman. He has a brother, Richard. He has Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, and his mother was born in Lambton, Ontario. According to a plaque in a city park, he worked for a time as a dog catcher for the local animal shelter. His family moved frequently, finally settling in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in the house of his English-born maternal grandmother, Beatrice. Hackman's father operated the printing press for the Commercial-News, a local paper. As a young teenager Hackman was in some of the same social circles as the older Dick Van Dyke at that time. Van Dyke was friends with his older brother Richard. Hackman's parents divorced in 1943 and his father subsequently left the family.
Gene lived briefly in Storm Lake, Iowa and spent his sophomore year at Storm Lake High School. At the age of sixteen, Hackman left home to join the United States Marine Corps, where he served four-and-a-half years as a field radio operator. After his discharge, he moved to New York, working in several minor jobs. His mother died in 1962 as a result of a fire she accidentally set while smoking.
In 1956, Hackman began pursuing an acting career; he joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California. It was there that he forged a friendship with another aspiring actor, Dustin Hoffman.Already seen as outsiders by their classmates, Hackman and Hoffman were later voted "The Least Likely To Succeed." Determined to prove them wrong, Hackman moved to New York City. A 2004 article in Vanity Fair described how Hackman, Hoffman and Robert Duvall were all struggling California born actors and close friends, sharing apartments in various two-person combinations while living in New York City in the 1960s. Hackman was working as a doorman when he ran into an instructor whom he had despised at the Pasadena Playhouse. Reinforcing "The Least Likely To Succeed" vote, the man had said, "See, Hackman, I told you you wouldn't amount to anything." The three former roommates have since earned 19 Academy Award nominations, with five wins.
Hackman began performing in several Off-Broadway plays. In 1964, he had an offer to co-star in the play Any Wednesday with actress Sandy Dennis. This opened the door to film work. His first role was in Lilith, with Warren Beatty in the leading role. In 1967, Hackman appeared in an episode of the television series The Invaders entitled The Spores. Another supporting role, Buck Barrow in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. In 1968, he appeared in an episode of "I Spy", in the role of "Hunter", in the episode "Happy Birthday...Everybody". In 1968, he starred in the CBS Playhouse episode "My Father and My Mother". In 1969, he played a ski coach in Downhill Racer and an astronaut in Marooned. Also that year, he played a member of a barnstorming skydiving team that entertained mostly at county fairs: The Gypsy Moths. He nearly accepted the role of Mike Brady for the upcoming TV series, The Brady Bunch, but was advised by his agent to decline in exchange for a more promising role, which he did.
In 1971, he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award again, this time for 1970's I Never Sang for My Father, working alongside Melvyn Douglas and Estelle Parsons. The next year, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as New York City Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection, marking his graduation to leading man status.
He followed this with leading roles in the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974), which was nominated for several Oscars. That same year, Hackman appeared in what became one of his most famous comedic roles as the blind hermit in Young Frankenstein.
He later appeared as one of Teddy Roosevelt's former Rough Riders in the Western horse-race saga Bite the Bullet (1975), as well as in that year's sequel French Connection II. In 1975 he also appeared in the highly regarded—but little viewed—film Night Moves, receiving a BAFTA nomination for lead actor. He appeared in the star-studded war film A Bridge Too Far (1977), as Polish General Stanislaw Sosabowski. Hackman showed a talent for both comedy and the "slow burn" as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie (1978), as he would in its 1980 and 1987 sequels.
By the end of the 1980s, Hackman alternated between leading and supporting roles, earning another Best Actor nomination for Mississippi Burning. He had a memorable part as a Secretary of Defense trying to cover up a homicide in 1987's No Way Out opposite Kevin Costner.
During this decade, Hackman also was in Reds, Under Fire, Hoosiers, Power, Uncommon Valor and Bat*21. A 2008 American Film Institute poll voted Hoosiers the fourth-greatest film of all time in the sports genre.
In 1990, the actor underwent an angioplasty, which kept him from work for a while, although he found time for Narrow Margin—a remake of The Narrow Margin (1952). In 1992, he played the sadistic sheriff "Little" Bill Daggett in the western Unforgiven directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples which earned him a second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The film won Best Picture. In 1993 he appeared in Geronimo: An American Legend as Brigadier General George Crook. Hackman co-starred with Tom Cruise as a corrupt lawyer in The Firm(1993) and appeared in a second John Grisham story in 1996, playing a convict on death row in The Chamber.
In 1995, Hackman played an inept Hollywood producer in Get Shorty and the villainous fast-draw champion John Herrod in The Quick and the Dead opposite Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprioand Russell Crowe, as well as submarine Captain Frank Ramsey in the film Crimson Tide with Denzel Washington.
In 1996, he took a comedic turn as ultra-conservative Senator Kevin Keeley in The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. He also co-starred with Will Smith in the 1998 film Enemy of the State, where his character was reminiscent of the one from The Conversation.
He played a President of the United States who is responsible for a killing in 1997's Absolute Power, re-teaming with director-star Clint Eastwood.
Hackman starred in the David Mamet crime film Heist, as an aging professional thief of considerable skill who is forced into one final job and the comedy Heartbreakers alongside Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta and Jennifer Love Hewitt. He had a small part as Arnold Margolese in Gore Verbinski's The Mexican. He also had a leading role as the head of an eccentric family in the ensemble cast film The Royal Tenenbaums and in yet another Grisham legal drama, Runaway Jury, at long last getting to make a picture with his longtime friend Dustin Hoffman. Hackman's final film to date was Welcome to Mooseport (2004), a comedy with Ray Romano, in which Hackman portrayed a former President of the United States.
In 2003 at the Golden Globes, Hackman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."
Retirement from acting
On July 7, 2004, Hackman gave a rare interview to Larry King, in which Hackman announced that he had no future film projects lined up and believed his acting career was over. In 2008, while promoting his third novel, Hackman confirmed that he had retired from acting. When asked during a GQ interview in 2011 if he would ever come out of retirement to do one more film, Hackman said he might consider it "...if I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people".
Career as a novelist
Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman has written three historical fiction novels: Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), a sea adventure of the 19th century, Justice for None (2004), a Depression-era tale of murder, Escape from Andersonville (2008) about a prison escape during the Civil War, Payback at Morning Peak (2011), his first solo effort, a story of love and revenge set in the Old West, and Pursuit (2013), a police thriller.
In 2011, Hackman appeared on the Fox Sports Radio show, The Loose Cannons, where he discussed his career and novels with Pat O'Brien, Steve Hartman and Vic "The Brick" Jacobs.
Hackman's first wife was Faye Maltese. They had three children, Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean and Leslie Anne. The couple divorced in 1986 after three decades of marriage. In 1991, Hackman married Betsy Arakawa. They live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Hackman competed in Sports Car Club of America races driving an open wheeled Formula Ford in the late seventies. In 1983, Hackman drove a Dan Gurney Team Toyota in the 24 Hours of Daytona Endurance Race. He also won the Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race.
Hackman is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and regularly attended Jaguars games as a guest of then-head coach Jack Del Rio. He is friends with Del Rio from Del Rio's playing days at the University of Southern California.
On January 13, 2012, Hackman was struck by a car while riding a bicycle in Islamorada, Florida. He sustained minor injuries and was transported to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, Florida.
On October 30, 2012, Hackman slapped a homeless man he knew in downtown Santa Fe. Hackman told the police that the homeless man became angry when he was refused money, called him a name and moved in close in a "threatening manner". Hackman also told the police that he was then forced to slap the man to fend him off. No charges were filed, as it was determined by police that Hackman acted in self-defense.
On January 28, 2015, after a Grantland article ran with the headline "The Greatest Living American Actor at 85: Gene Hackman Is Gone But Still in Charge," there was concern that the 84-year-old had died.
- Children From Their Games by Irwin Shaw at the Morosco Theatre (April 1963)
- A Rainy Day in Newark by Howard Teichmann at the Belasco Theatre (October 1963)
- Come to the Palace of Sin by Michael Shurtleff at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (1963)
- Any Wednesday by Muriel Resnik at the Music Box Theatre and the George Abbott Theatre (1964-1966)
- Poor Richard by Jean Kerr with Alan Bates and Shirley Knight at the Helen Hayes Theater (1964-1965)
- The Natural Look by Leonora Thuna at the Longacre Theatre (1967)
- Fragments and The Basement by Murray Schisgal at the Cherry Lane Theatre (1967)
- Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman with Glenn Close and Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Mike Nichols, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (1992)
|1961||Mad Dog Coll||Policeman||uncredited|
|1966||Hawaii||Dr. John Whipple|
|1967||Banning||Tommy Del Gaddo|
|1967||Community Shelter Planning||Donald Ross—Regional Civil Defense Officer|
|1967||A Covenant with Death||Harmsworth|
|1967||First to Fight||Sgt. Tweed|
|1967||Bonnie & Clyde||Buck Barrow|
|1968||The Split||Detective Lt. Walter Brill|
|1969||The Gypsy Moths||Joe Browdy|
|1969||Downhill Racer||Eugene Claire|
|1970||I Never Sang for My Father||Gene Garrison|
|1971||Doctors' Wives||Dr. Dave Randolph|
|1971||The Hunting Party||Brandt Ruger|
|1971||The French Connection||NYPD Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle|
|1972||Prime Cut||Mary Ann|
|1972||The Poseidon Adventure||Reverend Frank Scott|
|1972||Cisco Pike||Sergeant Leo Holland|
|1974||The Conversation||Harry Caul|
|1974||Young Frankenstein||The Blindman (Harold)|
|1974||Zandy's Bride||Zandy Allan|
|1975||French Connection II||NYPD Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle|
|1975||Lucky Lady||Kibby Womack|
|1975||Night Moves||Harry Moseby|
|1975||Bite the Bullet||Sam Clayton|
|1977||The Domino Principle||Roy Tucker|
|1977||A Bridge Too Far||Maj Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski|
|1977||March or Die||Maj. William Sherman Foster|
|1980||Superman II||Lex Luthor||The Richard Donner Cut released in 2006|
|1981||All Night Long||George Dupler|
|1981||Reds||Pete Van Wherry|
|1983||Under Fire||Alex Grazier|
|1983||Two of a Kind||God||Uncredited voice role|
|1983||Uncommon Valor||Col. Jason Rhodes, USMC (ret)|
|1985||Twice in a Lifetime||Harry MacKenzie|
|1985||Target||Walter Lloyd/Duncan (Duke) Potter|
|1986||Hoosiers||Coach Norman Dale|
|1987||No Way Out||Defense Secretary David Brice|
|1987||Superman IV: The Quest for Peace||Lex Luthor / voice of Nuclear Man|
|1988||Bat*21||Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton, USAF|
|1988||Mississippi Burning||FBI Special Agent Rupert Anderson|
|1988||Another Woman||Larry Lewis|
|1988||Full Moon in Blue Water||Floyd|
|1988||Split Decisions||Dan McGuinn|
|1989||The Package||Sgt. Johnny Gallagher|
|1990||Loose Cannons||MacArthur Stern|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||Lowell Kolchek|
|1990||Narrow Margin||Robert Caulfield|
|1991||Class Action||Jedediah Tucker Ward|
|1991||Company Business||Sam Boyd|
|1992||Unforgiven||Little Bill Daggett|
|1993||The Firm||Avery Tolar|
|1993||Geronimo: An American Legend||Brig. Gen. George Crook|
|1994||Wyatt Earp||Nicholas Earp|
|1995||The Quick and the Dead||John Herod|
|1995||Crimson Tide||Capt. Frank Ramsey|
|1995||Get Shorty||Harry Zimm|
|1996||The Birdcage||Senator Kevin Keeley|
|1996||Extreme Measures||Dr. Lawrence Myrick|
|1996||The Chamber||Sam Cayhall|
|1997||Absolute Power||President Allen Richmond|
|1998||Enemy of the State||Edward 'Brill' Lyle|
|1998||Antz||General Mandible||Voice only|
|1999||The Black and the White||Grant Ritchie|
|2000||Under Suspicion||Henry Hearst||Also executive producer|
|2000||The Replacements||Jimmy McGinty|
|2001||Heartbreakers||William B. Tensy|
|2001||The Mexican||Arnold Margolese||Uncredited|
|2001||The Royal Tenenbaums||Royal Tenenbaum|
|2001||Behind Enemy Lines||Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart|
|2003||Runaway Jury||Rankin Fitch|
|2004||Welcome to Mooseport||Monroe "Eagle" Cole|
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Gene Hackman
Works or publications
- Hackman, Gene, and Daniel Lenihan. Wake of the Perdido Star. New York: Newmarket Press, 1999. ISBN 978-1-557-04398-6
- Hackman, Gene, and Daniel Lenihan. Justice for None. New York: St. Martins Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-312-32425-4
- Hackman, Gene, and Daniel Lenihan. Vermilion. New York: St. Martins Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-312-32425-4
- Hackman, Gene, and Daniel Lenihan. Escape from Andersonville: A Novel of the Civil War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-312-36373-4
- Hackman, Gene. Payback at Morning Peak: A Novel of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc, 2011. ISBN 978-1-451-62356-7
- Hackman, Gene. Pursuit. New York: Pocket Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1-451-62357-4