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GI Bill Famous: Gene Hackman

August 8, 2012

The famous actor, nominated for five Academy Awards and three-time Golden Globe winner was once enlisted as a Marine, even when he wasn't of age. Gene Hackman, known for playing Lex Luthor in 1978 Superman, as well as famous roles in Get Shorty and The Royal Tenenbaums, was born in 1930 in San Bernardino, California. At the age of 16, he left home to join the Marine Corps, serving four and a half years as a field radio operator. In fact, he had to lie in order to be accepted into the Marines.

After his service in the Marine Corps, Hackman was discharged and received the GI Bill, which he used to go to New York and work minor jobs. He would also study at the University of Illinois in journalism and television production. Moving to California, he joined Pasadena Playhouse where he met Dustin Hoffman. He was voted "Least Likely to Succeed" along with Hoffman. However, the two remained close friends and acting partners. Hackman would eventually return to New York City, performing in off-broadway plays like "Lilith" and "Any Wednesday." However, his big break would come later when he finally landed some supporting roles in late 1960s films like Bonnie and Clyde. He would continue to be nominated for "Best Supporting Actor" through the 1970s, receiving another nomination for I Never Sang for My Father. However, his performance as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection would earn him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. Hackman, who is also well known for his more recent films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Runaway Jury, is also an author. Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman wrote three historican fiction novels, including Wake of the Perdido Star. He would announce his retirement on Larry King in 2004, stating that he had no further acting roles. Hackman's performances have always shown a bit of seriousness mixed with comedy, even as the villain. He has played some of Hollywood's best roles, but he has also proven that he is committed to a literary career and using his education for more than acting. While his final film was in 2004, there are hopes that Hackman will return to the big screen. He is currently still in retirement.

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