Profiles in Time: Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks epitomizes the all-American man both on and off-screen. From his box office debut as Allen Bauer in Splash to his more recent portrayal of pilot Chesley Sullenberger in Sully, Hanks’ performances never cease to make us laugh or cry or possibly both in the same film. Though his characters are undeniably diverse, they each share that indescribable quality we can instantly identify with. This is perhaps a reflection of Hanks himself, as his relatable nature translates off camera as well. It comes as no surprise that the quintessential American man would also be a Rolex man.

Tom Hanks: The Road to Fame

Hanks didn’t discover his passion for acting until he was in college. While attending junior college in California, he was inspired by a performance of Eugene O’Neill’s 1946 play The Iceman Cometh. Soon after, he transferred to California State University in Sacramento to study theater.

tom hanks

His career began in the summer of 1977, first as part of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival and later in the fall with a community theater company back in Sacramento. However, by 1980, he had dropped out of college and relocated to New York City. There, he caught his first big break after a talent scout for ABC spotted him. He was cast in the new TV sitcom Bosom Buddies. The show ended after just two seasons but helped Hanks to land guest roles on the hit series like Taxi, Happy Days, and Family Ties. Little did he know that one of those guest appearances would lead him to his box office debut.

By 1984, Ron Howard had begun directing, and he remembered Hanks from his appearance on Happy Days. He cast him in his film Splash, which became a surprise hit. But, Hanks wasn’t a star just yet. His next few films were critical flops. It wasn’t until 1988 that he would land his next major win with the film Big.

Becoming a Film Icon

Still, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that Hanks really became a household name. 1993 was an important year for the young actor. First, with the romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle alongside Meg Ryan. Then, with the film Philadelphia alongside Denzel Washington, which earned Hanks his first Oscar.

tom hanks


He kept his momentum in 1994 with Forest Gump, earning him another Oscar. Hanks became only the second actor in history, along with Tracy Spencer, to receive back to back Academy Awards for Best Actor. Just two years later, he starred in another box office smash, Apollo 13. In the film, he fittingly sported none other than the iconic Moonwatch, the Omega Speedmaster. Now, it was safe to say Hanks was a star.

Over the next decade, Hanks went on to star in some of the most memorable films ever made, like Saving Private Ryan, You’ve Got Mail, The Green Mile, and Cast Away. His performances earned him a coveted American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, making him the youngest actor to do so.

Despite all of Hanks’ successes in film, he continues to explore new and different avenues of acting. In 2013, he made his Broadway debut in a production of Lucky Guy, and the performance garnered him a Tony Award nomination.

The Watch Collection

tom hanks

Throughout his impressive career spanning over 40 years, Tom Hanks has been devoted to one watch brand from a young age: Rolex. The iconic actor’s collection includes equally distinctive pieces, like Sea-Dweller, Explorer, and Milguass.

Check out some of our other Profiles in Time, like Robert Redford.

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