Last night, Tom Hanks received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes. He’s obviously no stranger to awards (four wins in ten nominations for the Globes alone), but the majority of those are for his work in motion pictures. What about his work prior to that?
Most people remember that Hanks made his biggest breakthrough on the small screen for two seasons on Bosom Buddies. Hanks and Peter Scolari played “young single ad-men” who must dress as women to live in an apartment that they can afford. It was a flimsy premise, for sure, but it really allowed Hanks to showcase his comedic chops.
Shortly after the show ended, Hollywood came calling. Hanks had his first starring role – in 1984’s Splash – and never looked back. He has appeared in at least one new film almost every year since.
Before he put television behind him, however, he also left his mark on a few other classic series. Let’s take a quick look at a few of them.
His first series appearance was a minor spot on The Love Boat:
On Taxi, he popped up in a small, but vital role. His character, a student at Harvard, introduced his straight-laced, square, & uppity roommate to the joy of pot brownies. Thus began the journey from bookworm to the Reverend Jim Ignatowski we all knew and loved.
His characters were pretty much cut from the same cloth. Wisecracking, insecure guys with tons of energy. On Happy Days, he was seeking revenge on The Fonz for an incident from when they were eight years old.
This is also one of the few times we get to see Hanks as an “action star”:
His first leading role came in the 1982 TV movie Mazes & Monsters. Based loosely on true events, Hanks played a college student wrapped up in game of Dungeons & Dragons that goes too far. He suffers a psychotic break and is unable to separate the real world with that of the game.
His final small screen appearance before becoming a household name was a recurring role on Family Ties. He played Elyse’s brother who initially shows up on the run from the FBI and later struggles with addiction. (Possibly created by running from the FBI.)
I can’t be certain, but I’d bet this was billed as “A Very Special Episode”. Family Ties was always willing to push the boundaries between drama and comedy, but this was heavy even by their standards.
Only six weeks after this episode aired, Splash opened and Hanks was on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world.
If you missed it in the theaters, be sure to check out his most recent, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, coming to DVD & Digital in February.