Inside Tom Hanks’ life – tragic cancer death, on-set romance and health battles

Tom Hanks, 65, is best known for starring in Hollywood hit films including Forrest Gump, Big, Apollo 13 and Sleepless in Seattle – but his life away from the screen has seen him deal with plenty of heartache.

The father-of-four has not shied away from big parts and now ranks as the fourth-highest-grossing actor in North America.

He has been married to actress and singer Rita Wilson for 33 years and both seem more in love than ever.

The film and television star has won two Oscars, seven Primetime Emmy Awards and a Tony nomination for his stint on Broadway with Norah Ephron's Lucky Girl.

He has since won the AFI Life Achievement Award and ranked third in Channel 4's countdown of the 100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time.

First Marriage

Tom Hanks' life has not always been smooth-sailing.

After his first marriage to actress Samantha Lewes, Hanks admitted to feeling like a failure and being fraught with pain and burdens.

The pair were married for nine years and had two children together, Colin Hanks and Elizabeth Hanks.

Colin now works as an actor and has appeared in Orange County, Dexter and Fargo.

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In an interview with Graham Bensinger in 2020, Tom spoke out about the difficult time he faced mentally after his divorce.

He said it was a "horribly painful time fraught with emotion and bad feelings".

The You've Got Mail actor added: "I had cursed innocent feelings with my own failings."

He also admitted: "I couldn’t be a worse father and I couldn’t be a worse human being."

Bone Cancer death

Samantha died of Bone Cancer in 2002.

Although the pair had been divorced for more than 10 years, Hanks still came to her aid when she was dying.

When he learned of her diagnosis, Hanks hired a specialist to try and help her.

However, there was no cure, and the cancer had already spread to her lungs and other parts of her body.

Affair with Rita Wilson

Hanks first met his second wife on the set of TV comedy Bosom Buddies, but Hanks was still married to Samantha at the time.

In 1985 the pair reunited on the set of Volunteers and allegedly began an affair.

The couple married in April 1988, only a year after Hanks' divorce was finalised.

Rita and Hanks went on to have two children together, Chester Marlon 'Chet' Hanks and Truman Theodore.

Son's drug addiction

Hanks' son Chet, who also works as an actor and singer, has struggled with drug addiction in his life.

The 31-year-old has been in rehab for cocaine addiction and, in 2015 he was wanted by British Police for destroying a hotel room and incurring damages of $1,800.

He previously described himself as the "black sheep" of his family because of the contrast between his public controversies and his father's clean-cut image as "America's dad".

Taking to Instagram to celebrate his birthday and sobriety, Chet wrote: "Grateful to make it to 31… I’m just grateful to be able to experience this next chapter in this massive beautiful work of art we call Life."

He added: "The only thing that holds us back are the imaginary limits we create in our own minds. If you’re going thru it right now, keep going, don’t run from the pain."

Battle with diabetes

Hanks told David Letterman in 2013 that he had been battling Type 2 diabetes.

The actor has struggled with his blood sugar levels for his whole life. The diagnosis didn't come as a surprise.

Hanks recalled the Doctor's words upon diagnosing him: “You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated. You’ve got type 2 diabetes, young man.”

The Saving Private Ryan actor has gained and lost weight for roles in the past. He's since said fluctuating in weight for roles may have contributed to his diagnosis.

In 1992 Hanks gained nearly two stone (13kg) for A League of Their Own. A few years later, in 2000, Hanks proceeded to lose three and a half stone (25kg) for his role in Castaway.

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Although Hanks' life has been littered with difficulty and struggles, the actor remains an incredible success and has a happy home life.

His wife recently posted to her Instagram page declaring her love for Hanks: "33 years of marriage to my BFF, my lover, my man. Love wins."

In 2016, the actor received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

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