Gene Hackman (born January 30, 1930) is an American actor. He was born in San Bernardino, California. His parents divorced while he was a child and he therefore moved from one place to another until he settled finally in Illinois, where he lived with his grandmother. At 16 he left home to join the Marines, where he served 3 years as a radio operator. Having finished his service, he moved to New York, where he worked in several minor jobs He than studied television production and journalism at the University of Illinois, taking advantage of the "G.I. Bill".
Being already over 30 years, Hackman decided to become actor and joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California. Some times later, he moved back to New York, where he started to perform in several off-Broadway plays. Finally, in 1964 he had the offer to play on Broadway, which opened him the doors to the movies. His first role was in Lilith, with Warren Beatty in the leading role. Another minor role in a 1967 Warren Beatty movie, Bonnie and Clyde, earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. In 1970 he was again nominated for the same award, and in 1972 he won the Oscar for his splendid performance in French Connection.
At the end of the 80's, when Hackman had become a deeply respected actor, he alternated roles between leads and minor appearances. In 1990 he underwent surgery because of heart malfunction, of which he recovered satisfactorily, although this kept him away from work for a while. In 1992 he played the sadistic sheriff in Unforgiven, for which role he earned a second Oscar, this time as Best Supporting Actor. After so many years of acting, Hackman wanted to try another field of creativity and wrote his first novel, which was published in 1999, a year in which he exceptionally did not appear in any film.
Hackman is one of the outstanding actors of our time. In over 40 years he has played most convincingly all kind of characters, not only in cinema, but also in TV films and on stage. Hackman's first wife was Fay Maltese. They had 3 children, but divorced in 1986, after 30 years of marriage. In 1991, Hackman married Betsy Arawaka. They live in Beverly Hills.