Oscar Actors: Hackman, Gene

Born January 30, 1931, in San Bernardino, California

The son of a journeyman pressman, Hackman was raised in Danville, Illinois. At 16, he dropped out of school to join the Marines. Discharged after three years of service, he moved to New York City and for two years drifted from job to job.

Hackman later used the G.I. Bill to study commercial drawing, then journalism and TV production. For several years, he moved across the country from one small town to another. Finally, in his early 30s, Hackman attended the Pasadena Playhouse School in California. After returning to New York, he began getting small roles in summer stock, off Broadway, and TV.

Hackman's big break came in 1964, when he landed the lead part opposite Sandy Dennis in the Broadway comedy “Any Wednesday.” This led to a brief but memorable scene in the film “Lilith” (1964), which starred Warren Beatty. Beatty remembered Hackman when he was casting “Bonnie and Clyde,” three years later, and hired him to portray Clyde's brother Buck. Hackman's performance brought him his first Academy Award nomination in the supporting league.

He received another Oscar nomination for “I Never Sang for My Father” (1970), and a year later, won the coveted Oscar for his performance in the role with which he has remained most closely identified, Popeye Doyle in “The French Connection”(1971).

A superb, intuitive actor with an uncanny capacity to capture average characters down to their most minute emotional detail, Hackman followed this triumph with several other superlative realistic performances, most memorably in Francis Ford Coppola's “The Conversation (1974).

In the next decade, Hackman demonstrated remarkable versatility, flaunting unexpected comic skills in “Superman” (1978) and its sequels. But his mainstay remained drama. He won the best actor prize at the Berlin Film Festival and a fourth Oscar nomination for “Mississippi Burning” (1988).

In 1992, Hackman received a second Oscar for his best supporting actor performance in “Unforgiven,” as the ruthless sheriff in Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning “Western.” By consistently evoking varieties of everyman in his roles, he is one of the busiest, most soughtafter screen actors in Hollywood.

Oscar Nominations and Awards:

5 Nominations: 2 Best Actor, 3 Supporting
2 Oscars: 1 Best Actor, 1 Supporting Actor

1967: Supporting Actor, Bonnie and Clyde
1970: Supporting Actor, I Never Sang for My father
1971: Best Actor, The French Connection
1988: Best Actor, Mississippi Burning
1992: Supporting Actor, Unforgiven