Talk about your celebrity history! On Jan. 25, Vulture movie magazine shared that Tom Hanks, the world-famous star of movies like the “DaVinci Code”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and “Big” will be partnering up with historical film maker Ken Burns to make what will surely be an epic movie. Teaming up to make biopic miniseries about legendary boxer Jack Johnson, the first black man to be the world heavyweight champion, the green celebrities are poised to make a film set powerful enough to become an instant classic while Burns, once again, makes cinematic history. But what’s driving him to do it? His personal history, most likely. He and Ken Burns are both good sports and Jack Johnson was a legendary athlete who is not famous enough. The men are hoping to educate the general public about the mystery. It’s that simple, really.
Everyone who follows movie news knows that documentary movie producer Ken Burns is a man with a passion for presenting history with a respect for period accuracy and dramatic realism. But why would Hanks be driven to make a movie with historical import? Aside from a dedication to honing his acting skills by spending time with top-notch producers and directors, Hanks has a history himself. One that started out difficult but allowed him to achieve accolades as a world-class thespian. In Hollywood social circles, he too was an at risk kid who had to fight an uphill battle.
Tom Hanks was born in the San Francisco suburb of Concord, California on July 9, 1956. His father was a chef and he has an older brother and sister.
He called his family “fractured due to a series of groundbreaking divorce proceedings when he was five years old. After a string of moves from one household to another, the family settled in Oakland where Hanks graduated from Oakland High School. He later attended Hayward Community College and California State University, Sacramento.
He was not particularly suited for acting until he auditioned for a community theater and started at the Connecticut Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in 1977. He moved to New York and landed a role in the TV series “Bosom Buddies”. From there, he became one of the most lasting and powerful actors in Hollywood history.
He and his first wife, Samantha Lewes, have a son, Colin and daughter, Elizabeth. He has and two children with his current wife, actress, producer and director Rita Wilson.
Hanks has won consecutive Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump”. He received the Navy’s highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Public Service Award, for his work on “Saving Private Ryan”.
When Hanks is not at benefit concerts or selling cars for charity, he is into developing alternative fuels as part of his support for environmental protection. He supports so many charities that he has multiple honors. He was he guest of honor at an event hosted by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity at the New York Public Library in Manhattan.
He supports vulnerable and refugee populations through Lifeline Energy, an organization that designs and distributes solar and wind-up powered MP3 players and radios for distance education programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The organization also provides clean energy LED lights to improve life and livelihoods after dark for vulnerable women, children and refugees.
Taking on working with Ken Burns is effectively the culmination of all his personal and professional aspirations. While some folks will not remember him promoting Fed Ex in “Castaway” or selling AOL services in “You’ve Got Mail”, anyone who is a history buff or wants to learn more about the culture of America is likely to watch the HBO mini-series about Jack Johnson (the boxer). For that reason, the two socially conscious men are really expected to knock it out.