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Gene Hackman

Gene Hackman
Hackman at a book signing in June 2008
Born Eugene Allen Hackman
(1930-01-30) January 30, 1930 (age 86)
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
Residence Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Pasadena Playhouse
Occupation Actor and author
Years active 1956–2004
Home town Danville, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s) Faye Maltese (m. 1956; div. 1986)
Betsy Arakawa (m. 1991)
Children 3
Awards Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award

Eugene "Gene" Allen Hackman[1][2][3] (born January 30, 1930) is an American actor and novelist.

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).

Early life

Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Lyda Hackman (née Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman.[4][5] He has a brother, Richard. He has Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, and his mother was born in Lambton, Ontario.[6][7][8] According to a plaque in a city park, he worked for a time as a dog catcher for the local animal shelter.[citation needed] His family moved frequently, finally settling in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in the house of his English-born maternal grandmother, Beatrice.[6][9] Hackman's father operated the printing press for the Commercial-News, a local paper.[10] 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.[9][10]

Gene lived briefly in Storm Lake, Iowa and spent his sophomore year at Storm Lake High School.[11] 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.[12] After his discharge, he moved to New York, working in several minor jobs.[12] His mother died in 1962 as a result of a fire she accidentally set while smoking.[13]



In 1956, Hackman began pursuing an acting career; he joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California.[12] It was there that he forged a friendship with another aspiring actor, Dustin Hoffman.[12] Already seen as outsiders by their classmates, Hackman and Hoffman were later voted "The Least Likely To Succeed."[12] 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.[14][15] 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[16] 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,[12] 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".[16] 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.[12]

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.[12] 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.[12] 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 DiCaprio and 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 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."[17]

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.[18] 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

Hackman at a book signing in 2008

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.

Personal life

Hackman's first wife was Faye Maltese. They had three children, Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean and Leslie Anne Hackman.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

On October 30, 2012, Hackman slapped[22] a homeless man who recognized him in downtown Santa Fe. Hackman told the police that the homeless man became angry when he was refused money, called his wife an obscene 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.[22]

Theater credits


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Mad Dog Coll Policeman uncredited
1964 Lilith Norman
1966 Hawaii Dr. John Whipple
1967 Banning Tommy Del Gaddo
1967 Community Shelter Planning Donald Ross—Regional Civil Defense Officer
1967 Covenant with Death, AA Covenant with Death Harmsworth
1967 First to Fight Sgt. Tweed
1967 Bonnie & Clyde Buck Barrow
1968 Split, TheThe Split Detective Lt. Walter Brill
1969 Riot Red Fraker
1969 Gypsy Moths, TheThe Gypsy Moths Joe Browdy
1969 Downhill Racer Eugene Claire
1969 Marooned Buzz Lloyd
1970 I Never Sang for My Father Gene Garrison
1971 Doctors' Wives Dr. Dave Randolph
1971 Hunting Party, TheThe Hunting Party Brandt Ruger
1971 French Connection, TheThe French Connection NYPD Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle
1972 Prime Cut Mary Ann
1972 Poseidon Adventure, TheThe Poseidon Adventure Reverend Frank Scott
1972 Cisco Pike Sergeant Leo Holland
1973 Scarecrow Max Millan
1974 Conversation, TheThe 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 Domino Principle, TheThe Domino Principle Roy Tucker
1977 Bridge Too Far, AA Bridge Too Far Maj Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski
1977 March or Die Maj. William Sherman Foster
1978 Superman Lex Luthor
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)
1984 Eureka Jack McCann
1984 Misunderstood Ned Rawley
1985 Twice in a Lifetime Harry MacKenzie
1985 Target Walter Lloyd/Duncan (Duke) Potter
1986 Power Wilfred Buckley
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 Package, TheThe 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 Firm, TheThe Firm Avery Tolar
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend Brig. Gen. George Crook
1994 Wyatt Earp Nicholas Earp
1995 Quick and the Dead, TheThe Quick and the Dead John Herod
1995 Crimson Tide Capt. Frank Ramsey
1995 Get Shorty Harry Zimm
1996 Birdcage, TheThe Birdcage Senator Kevin Keeley
1996 Extreme Measures Dr. Lawrence Myrick
1996 Chamber, TheThe Chamber Sam Cayhall
1997 Absolute Power President Allen Richmond
1998 Twilight Jack Ames
1998 Enemy of the State Edward 'Brill' Lyle
1998 Antz General Mandible Voice only
1999 Black and the White, TheThe Black and the White Grant Ritchie
2000 Under Suspicion Henry Hearst Also executive producer
2000 Replacements, TheThe Replacements Jimmy McGinty
2001 Heartbreakers William B. Tensy
2001 Heist Joe Moore
2001 Mexican, TheThe Mexican Arnold Margolese
2001 Royal Tenenbaums, TheThe Royal Tenenbaums Royal Tenenbaum
2001 Behind Enemy Lines Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart
2003 Runaway Jury Rankin Fitch
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Monroe "Eagle" Cole


Works or publications

See also


  1. ^ His middle name is "Allen", according to the California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. ^ "Eugene Allen Hackman - California, Birth Index". FamilySearch. 30 January 1930. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Gene Allen Hackman - United States Census, 1940". FamilySearch. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Eugene A Hackman - United States Census, 1930". FamilySearch. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Gene Hackman Biography (1930–)". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  6. ^ a b "Anna Lyda Elizabeth Gray - Canada, Births and Baptisms". FamilySearch. 13 May 1904. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Norman, Michael (1989-03-19). "HOLLYWOOD'S UNCOMMON EVERYMAN". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  10. ^ a b Leman, Kevin (2007). What Your Childhood Memories Say about You: And What You Can Do about It. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. p. 154. ISBN 1-4143-1186-9. 
  11. ^ "1945 Storm Lake High Yearbook". Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2001
  13. ^ "Gene Hackman profile". Retrieved 2010-08-11. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Celebrity Roommates". Xfinity Entertainment. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  15. ^ Stevenson, Laura. "Robert Duvall, Hollywood's No. 1 Second Lead, Breaks for Starlight". People. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b "I Spy" Happy Birthday Everybody (1968) - Plot Summary
  17. ^ "Business Wire, November 14, 2002. Hollywood. 'Gene Hackman to Receive HFPA'S Cecil B. DeMille Award At 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards to be Telecast Live on NBC on Sunday, January 19, 2003'". 2002-11-14. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  18. ^ Blair, Iain (2008-06-05). "Just a Minute With: Gene Hackman on his retirement". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  19. ^ Brady, James (December 30, 2001). "In Step with Gene Hackman". Parade (The Blade). Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  20. ^ BART HUBBUCHThe Times-Union (2005-11-29). "JAGUARS NOTEBOOK: Chatter angers Cardinals". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  21. ^ "Will Oscar reward the Golden Globes winners?". CNN. 2003-01-23. 
  22. ^ a b "Unforgiving! Gene Hackman slaps homeless man that verbally accosted wife". NY Daily News. 2012-10-31. 
  23. ^ "Star Rote for Gene Hackman". The New York Times. 31 August 1964. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 

External links

Preceded by
George C. Scott
Declined Oscar
Academy Award for Best Actor
Succeeded by
Marlon Brando
Declined Oscar
Preceded by
Lyle Talbot
for Atom Man vs. Superman
Actors portraying Lex Luthor
for Superman, Superman II and Superman IV
Succeeded by
Scott James Wells
for Superboy (TV series)

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