Eugene Allen “Gene” Hackman is a retired American actor and novelist. Born on January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino, California, Gene’s family frequently moved, finally settling in Danville, Illinois. In 1946, at the age of 16 he left home and lied about his age to join the Marine Corps. He served as a field radio operator and was stationed in China, first in Qingdao, and later in Shanghai. When the Communist Revolution conquered the mainland in 1949, Gene was assigned to Hawaii and Japan. After his discharge, he moved to New York and worked in several jobs and in 1956 he finally decided to pursue acting. He moved to California and joined the Pasadena Playhouse, where he met and became friends with Dustin Hoffman. After two years learning their craft at the Pasadena Playhouse, Gene followed by Dustin moved to New York to find acting jobs. They somehow met up with Robert Duvall and the three of them shared an apartment. Between acting jobs, Gene worked as a uniformed doorman at a Howard Johnson restaurant in New York when, he ran into a despised Pasadena Playhouse instructor who told him he was not good enough to be an actor; he said, “See, Hackman, I told you you wouldn’t amount to anything.” From then on, Gene was determined to become the finest actor he possibly could.
With an acting career spanning well over fifty years, Gene has been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning Best Actor in The French Connection and Best Supporting Actor in Unforgiven. He won three Golden Globes and two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs).
On July 7, 2004, Gene gave a rare interview to Larry King, and announced that he had no future film projects lined up and believed his acting career was over. In 2008, while promoting his third novel, he confirmed that he had retired from acting.
Since retiring from acting Gene has concentrated on his work as a novelist, working with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan. They have written three historical fiction novels: Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), a sea adventure of the 19th century; Justice for None (2004), a Depression-era tale of murder; and Escape from Andersonville (2008) about a prison escape during the Civil War.
Gene currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Betsy Arakawa.