Tom Hanks married his college sweetheart at a very young age. They started a family when they were young but the love didn't last.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 1, 2021. It has since been updated.
Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find the love of our lives. That could mean that we leave someone, who was important to us, behind. It can be a heartbreaking process for both people involved because who likes to be told that their partner no longer loves them? Who likes to know that even though you have kids with your partner, they would rather be with someone else?
Tom Hanks is known for his long-lasting marriage to Rita Wilson. They have been married 34 years but it's not known that he left his first wife, his college sweetheart, for Wilson. Samantha Lewes and the Forrest Gump actor got married in 1978 when Hanks was only 21. He was an aspiring actor and they were not financially stable. They were getting by "piecemeal" at times. The couple had their first child Colin the year before they got married and their second child, Elizabeth, in 1982.
"I had kids very young. My son Colin was born when I was 21 and my daughter Elizabeth was born four and a half years later," he told BBC host Kirsty Young. "By then I thought I was rolling along with the natural order of things."
But, all was not right in their marriage. Hanks believes that he married so early because he was motivated by loneliness. Growing up, he couldn't call a family his own as his father frequently uprooted his clan, as per PEOPLE. But, he thinks that fatherhood at 21 turned out to be the "greatest thing that ever happened" to him, though it took him a while to get there.
"I was 23 and my son Colin was already two when I married for the first time, I was not really ready to take on those responsibilities," he said, as per Brain-Sharper. But, being a dad early in life taught him to be on the straight and narrow.
"I didn't smoke pot. I didn't do drugs, I was not a party boy. I didn't drink too much, I went to bed at 10 minutes after 10 p.m.," he told BBC. "The rules were in place. I'm not a cheater. I like to play by the rules. But later on, you're 27, 28, you've learned what to say 'yes' to with more judiciousness."
The Green Mile actor met Wilson in 1984 on the set of the Peace Corps comedy Volunteers. He was instantly drawn to her personality. "Rita glowed with niceness," said their costar Xander Berkeley to PEOPLE. "You could tell they were fond of each other."
While Hanks was married, Wilson was engaged but not in love, she claims. "I didn’t know what being in love was until I met Tom," she said.
Their chemistry wasn't something they were able to say no to. "Rita and I just looked at each other and—kaboing—that was that, I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her, and it just couldn’t be denied," he said, as per Brain-Sharper.
Hanks and Lewes divorced in 1987, and he went ahead full throttle with Wilson. "It was a complete and utter kind of acceptance of me on her part," Hanks has said, as per PEOPLE. "It was a love that was unconditional," he said, adding that he felt the same about her. Wilson revealed in 1994, that Hanks said, "You know, you never have to change anything about who you are or what you do to be with me."
The Philadelphia actor and Wilson waited barely a year after he split from his wife, Lewes, before getting married on April 30th, 1988. They have been together ever since. As per Brain-Sharper, the Cast Away actor admitted, "The success of our relationship was a matter of timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection, When I married Rita, I thought, this is going to require some change on my part. I won’t deny that providence was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn’t magic—the way it’s shown in movies."
They went on to have two sons together. "When we first looked at each other there was definitely a kind of, ‘Hey, this is the place!’ I felt that anyway. I think the end result is that we got married for all the right reasons," said Hanks of his true love.
Lewes succumbed to bone cancer in 2002.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Brenda Chase; (R) Amy Sussman