5 Things You Didn't Know About Tom Hanks' East Bay Roots

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Tom Hanks attends the European premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4" at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on June 16, 2019 in London, England. A Bay Area native, Hanks has referenced his origins more than once during his latest movie tour. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

It has been so long that people often forget, but Tom Hanks never does. Bay Area is home for the Oscar-winning actor, who has been reppin' hard during his most recent media tour promoting Toy Story 4.

Born in Concord in 1956, Hanks spent his formative years in the region, which he once called "the most beautiful place on earth." Hanks' parents divorced when he was five, and he and his siblings and step-siblings were constantly shuffled around the East Bay, including Fruitvale and Alameda.

Just last week, he proudly flexed some Oakland cred when evoking his childhood playing Spades, and later bid the Oakland Coliseum adieu in this very special way.

Fair enough.


Hanks does have very special memories in the Bay, which he reminds us of every so often:

  1. He grew up here... all over the place

The actor attended the now-closed John Swett Elementary School, Bret Harte Junior High, and Skyline High School, all in Oakland, as well as the now-closed Woodstock Elementary in Alameda.

Last time Hanks was in the area —at least publicly— he was reminded of his time at Woodstock Elementary by one of his classmates, who still keeps their third- and fourth-grade class pictures.

Hanks is in the third row, the fourth from the left, in both pictures.

Later, in the early 1970s, Hanks took a drama class with Rawley Farnsworth at Skyline High School, and life was never the same. The actor thanked Farnsworth in his Oscar acceptance speech for Philadelphia in 1994. Farnsworth returned the honor in 2002, when his pupil received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.

2. He "owes it all" to the local community college

After graduating from Skyline High School in 1974, Hanks attended Chabot College, in Hayward. There, he took classes that still inform his work, such as Oral Interpretation, Drama as Performance, and Studies in Shakespeare. “That place made me what I am today,” he recounted in 2015, in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

After two years at Chabot, he transferred to Cal State Sacramento, where he majored in Theater Arts. He moved to New York City in 1979, and later settled in Southern California.

He never forgot his loyalties, though.

3. He is very sour about the Raiders moving to Las Vegas

Early 2017, the team announced they were leaving Oakland, breaking the hearts of tens of thousands of fans. The actor of Forrest Gump and Big was ready to boycott the league altogether.

“You cannot take the Silver and Black, put them in an air-conditioned dome in the desert, make them play on artificial turf within a stone’s throw of the fountains of Caesar’s Palace, and call them the Raiders,” said the Skyline alum, who is also a fan of the Oakland Athletics.

Growing up, Hanks idolized Raiders' legendary quarterback Ken Stabler, and once recalled using pliers to change the channel on his old TV set, searching for the football game.

Stabler's "throw deep!" became a motto of sorts for Hanks, who referenced it in his acceptance speech at the 2017 People's Choice Awards.

4. He once lived in a houseboat in Alameda

Back in his late teens, Hollywood's favorite everyman lived on a 1,152-square-foot, two-bedroom houseboat docked at Alameda's Barnhill Marina.

The floating home was put up for sale for $600,000 in October 2018, but only sold for $400,000 last April.

5. He is fond of the Oakland Coliseum, but in a different way

As he recalled in his interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Hanks once sold peanuts and soda outside the Oakland Coliseum during A's games. However, he was too young to know you cannot just walk around with wads of cash.

"I was robbed twice," he recalled. Professional vendors did not like to see him around, either.

"That guy yelled at me!" he remembered about a particularly rude one. "So tear that place down!"