Famous Marines: Gene Hackman


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Gene was born Eugene Alden Hackman in San Bernadino, California on the 30th of January, 1930 to Eugene Ezra (newspaper pressman) and Lyda Hackman. He is 6’2″ and has been married twice. Once to Faye Maltese (1 January 1956 to 1986), whom he had three children (Christopher, Elizabeth and Leslie) with before they divorced, and currently to Betsy Arakawa. Gene and Betsy were married in December of 1991. Faye was a bank Clerk and Betsy, a classical pianist.

When he was 16, Gene joined the Marines for three years and then found himself in New York, working various jobs. Eventually, he studied journalism and Television Production at the University of Illinois. Gene enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse, in California, when he was 30 years old. His acting profession was finally coming into focus.

Moving back to New York found Gene working in summer stock and off Broadway. In 1964, he appeared as the young suitor in the Broadway stage play “Any Wednesday.” This lead to a small role in “Lilith,” which also included Warren Beatty. Warren decided to cast Gene as Buck Barrow in the 1967 movie, Bonnie And Clyde. As a result, Gene was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was again nominated for the award in the 1970 movie, I Never Sang For My Father. In 1972, he won the Oscar for his role as Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle in the movie The French Connection.

Gene can play anyone from a blind man (Young Frankenstein) to the evil villian, Lex Luthor, in Superman. He was also the first choice to play Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 hit, The Silence Of The Lambs, and he was offered the chance to direct it. He was also the first choice to play Mike Brady in the hit Televsion show, “The Brady Bunch“.

He has admitted that the money and the script are the two most important things that persuade him to do roles. While retirement has been mentioned several times in the past. One instance came in 1990, after suffering a near heart attack and undergoing angioplasty surgery.

Of course Gene wasn’t always completely well-behaved. In 1946, during his teenage years, he was arrested for stealing candy and soda from a convenience store. Not to mention he lied about his age when going into the Marines at age 16. And in Hollywood, in 2001, he was involved in a road-rage incident when two young men attacked him for hitting his car.

Gene considers himself an actor, not a star, and he remains one of the greatest actors of our time.