Gene Hackman (Actor) - The French Connection
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Updated: 4/04/22

Name: Gene Hackman

Birth Name: Eugene Allen Hackman

Born: January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino, California, USA

Claim To Fame: Gene Hackman is an American retired actor and novelist. In a career that has spanned more than six decades he is best know for roles in The French Connection, Superman: The Movie, and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Family Life: Hackman married Faye Maltese in 1956. They had three children: Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean, and Leslie Anne Hackman. The couple later divorced in 1986, after 30 years of marriage. In 1991, he married classical pianist Betsy Arakawa.

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Info: The son of Eugene Ezra Hackman and Anna Lyda Elizabeth.

He has one brother, Richard.

He has Pennsylvania Dutch, English, and Scottish ancestry.

Hackman decided that he wanted to become an actor when he was ten years old; he was influenced by the acting of James Cagney.

Left home at age 16 and lied about his age to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He served four and a half years as a field radio operator.

He began a study of journalism and television production at the University of Illinois under the G.I. Bill, but left and moved back to California.

Hackman is a supporter of the Democratic Party, and was proud to be included on Nixon's Enemies List. However, he has spoken fondly of Republican president Ronald Reagan.

In the late 1970s, Hackman competed in Sports Car Club of America races, driving an open-wheeled Formula Ford.

In 1983, he drove a Dan Gurney Team Toyota in the 24 Hours of Daytona Endurance Race. He also won the Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, Hackman won Best Actor for his role as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in the critically acclaimed thriller The French Connection (1971) and Best Supporting Actor as "Little" Bill Daggett in Clint Eastwood's Western film Unforgiven (1992). His other nominations for Best Supporting Actor came with the films Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and I Never Sang for My Father (1970), with a second Best Actor nomination for Mississippi Burning (1988).

He is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and regularly attended games.

In 2012, at 81-year-old, Hackman was riding a bicycle in the Florida Keys when he was struck by a pickup truck. He made a full recovery, and still remains an active bicyclist.

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Trivia: Joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California, where he befriended another aspiring actor, Dustin Hoffman; They were voted "The Least Likely To Succeed".

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.

The supporting role, of Buck Barrow in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.

He nearly accepted the role of Mike Brady for the TV series The Brady Bunch, but his agent advised that he should decline, which he did.

Hackman was nominated for a second Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in I Never Sang for My Father (1970).

In 1971, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as New York City Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1971).

He followed The French Connection (1971) 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 would become one of his most famous comedic roles, as Harold the Blind Man in Young Frankenstein.

Has stated that his performance in Scarecrow (1973) is his personal favorite.

Hackman showed a talent for both comedy and the as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie (1978), a role he would reprise in its 1980 and 1987 sequels.

Hackman alternated between leading and supporting roles during the 1980s, with prominent roles in Reds (1981), Under Fire (1983), Hoosiers (1986) (which an AFI poll in 2008 voted the fourth-greatest film of all time in the sports genre), No Way Out (1987) and Mississippi Burning (1988), where he was nominated for a second Best Actor Oscar.

Turned down the role of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

In 1992, he played the sadistic sheriff "Little" Bill Daggett in the Western Unforgiven directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples. Hackman had pledged to avoid violent roles, but Eastwood convinced him to take the part, which earned him a second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The film also won Best Picture.

He also gained much critical acclaim playing against type as the head of an eccentric family in Wes Anderson's comedy film The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), for which he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

In 2003, Hackman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globe Awards for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field".

In 2008, while promoting his third novel, he confirmed that he had retired from acting.

He briefly came out of retirement to narrate two documentaries related to the Marine Corps: The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima (2016) and We, The Marines (2017).

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; and Escape from Andersonville (2008) about a prison escape during the American Civil War. His first solo effort, a story of love and revenge set in the Old West titled Payback at Morning Peak, was released in 2011. A police thriller, Pursuit, followed in 2013.

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Where Are They Now: 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 2008, he confirmed he had retired from acting. And by all accounts, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Would it be amazing to see Gene Hackman back on the big screen? SURE! But at age 92, I think he's just going to continue enjoying his retirement to the fullest. And who can blame him?


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