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Gene Hackman

Eugene Allen "Gene" Hackman (born January 30, 1930) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actor and author. He came to fame during the 1970s, after his role in The French Connection, and continued to appear in major roles in Hollywood films, including Harry Caul in The Conversation, Norman Dale in Hoosiers, Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven, Lex Luthor in Superman (and two of its sequels), Joe Moore in Heist and more recently, Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart in Behind Enemy Lines.


Early life

Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Lyda (née Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman. He has a brother, Richard. Hackman's family moved from one place to another until finally settling in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in the house of his maternal grandmother, Beatrice, and where Hackman's father operated the printing press for the Commercial-News, a local paper. Hackman's parents divorced in 1943. His mother died in 1962, as a result of a fire she accidentally set while smoking. At sixteen, Hackman left home to join the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served 3 years as a field radio operator. Having finished his service, he moved to New York, working in several minor jobs before moving to study television production and journalism at the University of Illinois under the G.I. Bill.

In an in-studio interview on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, with McGraw Milhaven on KTRS 550-AM in St. Louis, Missouri, Gene clarified the following - although some biographies claim he studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he never did and has yet to even visit the campus.



At 26 years old, Hackman decided to become an actor, and 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 hopped on a bus bound for New York City. A 2004 article in Vanity Fair described how Hackman, Hoffman and Robert Duvall were all struggling actors and close friends 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." (Some reports allege that it was one of his former drill instructors from the Marines who saw him there and told him this.)

Hackman began performing in several off-Broadway plays. Finally, 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. Another supporting role, Buck Barrow in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. In 1969 he played a ski coach in Downhill Racer, and an astronaut in Marooned.


In 1970, he was again nominated for the same award, this time for I Never Sang for My Father, working alongside Melvyn Douglas and Estelle Parsons. The next year he won the Best Actor award for his memorable performance as 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 one of his most famous comedic roles as the blind hermit in Young Frankenstein. He later appeared in the star-studded war film A Bridge Too Far (1977), and showed a talent for both comedy and the "slow burn" as Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie (1978) and Superman II (1980).


By the end of the 1980s, Hackman was a well respected actor and alternated between leading and supporting roles, earning another Best Actor nomination for Mississippi Burning, and appearing in such films as Reds, Under Fire, Hoosiers, Power and Bat*21.


In 1990, he underwent heart surgery, which kept him away from work for a while, although he still found time for a remake of The Narrow Margin. In 1992, he played the violent 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 itself won Best Picture. In 1995, he played John Herod in The Quick and the Dead, as well as Captain Frank Ramsey in the film Crimson Tide. In 1996, he took a comedic turn as ultra-conservative Senator Kevin Keeley in The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. He also starred in the 1998 film Enemy of the State, where his character was reminiscent of the one he played in The Conversation.


He starred in Heist as an aging professional thief of considerable skill who is forced into taking one final heist, all the while he has been "burned", his face having been seen on tape during a previous job. He also played in the ensemble cast films The Royal Tenenbaums and Runaway Jury. In 2003, at the Golden Globe Awards, Hackman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field.


Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman has written three novels: Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), Justice for None (2004), and Escape from Andersonville (2008).

On July 7, 2004, Hackman gave a rare interview to Larry King, in which he announced that he had no future film projects lined up, and believes his acting career is over. In 2008, while promoting his third novel, Hackman confirmed that he has retired from acting. His final film to date was the box office bomb Welcome to Mooseport.

Hackman does voice-overs on advertisements for United Airlines, GTE, CNN, and more recently for Oppenheimer Funds and Lowe's Home Improvement.

Hackman also has a non-alcoholic beverage named after him that is gaining popularity in the Midwest. A "Gene Hackman" consists of Diet Coke mixed with Grenadine.

Personal life

Hackman's first wife was Faye Maltese. They had three children, Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean, and Leslie Anne, but the couple divorced in 1986 after 30 years of marriage. In 1991, Hackman married Betsy Arakawa. They live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Betsy is co-owner of an upscale retail home-furnishing store in Santa Fe, called Pandora's, Inc.


Year Film Role Other notes
1961 Mad Dog Coll Cop uncredited
1964 Lilith Norman
1966 Hawaii Dr. John Whipple
1967 Banning Tommy Del Gaddo
Community Shelter Planning Donald Ross - Regional Civil Defense Officer
A Covenant with Death Harmsworth
First to Fight Sgt. Tweed
Bonnie & Clyde Buck Barrow Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1968 The Split Detective Lt. Walter Brill
1969 Riot Red Fraker
The Gypsy Moths Joe Browdy
Downhill Racer Eugene Claire
Marooned Buzz Lloyd
1970 I Never Sang for My Father Gene Garrison Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1971 Doctors' Wives Dr. Dave Randolph
The Hunting Party Brandt Ruger
The French Connection Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle Academy Award for Best Actor; BAFTA Award; Golden Globe
1972 Prime Cut Mary Ann
The Poseidon Adventure Rev. Frank Scott
Cisco Pike Sergeant Leo Holland
1973 Scarecrow Max Millan
1974 The Conversation Harry Caul Nominated - BAFTA Award; Nominated - Golden Globe
Young Frankenstein The Blindman (Harold)
Zandy's Bride Zandy Allan
1975 French Connection II Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle Nominated - BAFTA Award; Nominated - Golden Globe
Lucky Lady Kibby Womack
Night Moves Harry Moseby
Bite the Bullet Sam Clayton
1977 The Domino Principle Roy Tucker
A Bridge Too Far Maj. Gen. Stanislaw F. Sosabowski
March or Die Maj. William Sherman Foster
1978 Superman Lex Luthor Nominated - BAFTA Award
1980 Superman II Lex Luthor
1981 All Night Long George Dupler
Reds Pete Van Wherry
1983 Under Fire Alex Grazier Nominated - Golden Globe
Two of a Kind Voice of God uncredited
Uncommon Valor Col. Cal Rhodes
1984 Eureka Jack McCann
Misunderstood Ned Rawley
1985 Twice in a Lifetime Harry MacKenzie Nominated - Golden Globe
Target Walter Lloyd/Duncan (Duke) Potter
1986 Power Wilfred Buckley
Hoosiers Coach Norman Dale
1987 No Way Out Defense Secretary David Brice
Superman IV (1987) Lex Luthor / Voice of Nuclear Man
1988 Bat*21 Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton
Mississippi Burning Agent Rupert Anderson Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor;
Nominated - Golden Globe
Another Woman Larry Lewis
Full Moon in Blue Water Floyd
Split Decisions Dan McGuinn
1989 The Package Sgt. Johnny Gallagher
1990 Loose Cannons MacArthur Stern
Postcards from the Edge Lowell Kolchek
Narrow Margin Robert Caulfield
1991 Class Action Jedediah Tucker Ward
Company Business Sam Boyd
1992 Unforgiven Little Bill Daggett Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor;
BAFTA Award; Golden Globe
1993 The Firm Avery Tolar
Geronimo: An American Legend Brig. Gen. George Crook
1994 Wyatt Earp Nicholas Earp
1995 The Quick and the Dead John Herod
Crimson Tide Capt. Frank Ramsey
Get Shorty Harry Zimm
1996 The Birdcage Sen. Kevin Keeley
Extreme Measures Dr. Lawrence Myrick
The Chamber Sam Cayhall
1997 Absolute Power President Allen Richmond
1998 Twilight Jack Ames
Enemy of the State Brill
Antz General Mandible
2000 Under Suspicion Henry Hearst
The Replacements Jimmy McGinty
2001 The Mexican
2001 Heartbreakers William B. Tensy
Heist Joe Moore
The Royal Tenenbaums Royal Tenenbaum Golden Globe
Behind Enemy Lines Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart
2003 Runaway Jury Rankin Fitch
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Monroe Cole
2006 ''Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut Lex Luthor

See also


External links

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