Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy 80th Birthday Gene Hackman

Born Eugene Allen Hackman on January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino, California and is the brother of actor Richard Hackman. Gene was raised in Danville, Illinois but he left home at 16 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. At 26 he decided to become and actor and joined the Pasadena Playhouse but along with classmate Dustin Hoffman was voted least likely to succeed by their classmates. He then took a bus to New York City where he met up with another struggling actor named Robert Duvall. Hackman began appearing off-Broadway plays. In 1964 he was offered a part in the play “Any Wednesday” with actress Sandy Dennis. This opened the doors for him for film work. His first film was “Lillith” with Warren Beatty. He would later become a star in another Beatty film “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967). In 1970 he was nominated for an Academy Award for “I Never Sang for My Father”. The next year he won an Academy Award for Best Actor as Popeye Doyle in “The French Connection” During this time he made his only Euro-westen 1971's “The Hunting Party” as Brandt Ruger opposite Oliver Reed and Candice Bergen. He was now a major star and found plenty of work in the 1980s and 1990s. He received his second Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in Clint Eastwood's “Unforgiven” (1992). In the 2000s he turned to writing novels and by mid-decade had retired from films. Not bad for an actor voted least likely to succeed. Today we wish Gene Hackman a happy 80th birthday.

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