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Life Arts    H4'ed 3/6/10

The Problem with Having a Light Comedian as Our Historian in Chief

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Tom Hanks, who began his career as a light comedian on the TV show, "Bosom Buddies," is featured on the cover of the latest Time magazine, where he is pictured looking seriously off to the side next to the headline, "History Maker." The smaller print says, "How Tom Hanks is redefining America's past." Well-known historian Douglas Brinkley writes the article.

Hanks is among the most successful performers in American film history. He has been ranked by Harris Polls as America's Favorite Movie Star three times, tied for the most such listings with Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood. He is tied with Tom Cruise (at 7) for the second most consecutive movies grossing over $100 million (Will Smith leads with 8).

Hanks' films generally have a light touch, but often with significant underlying meaning (think of his 1988 film, "Big," which was directed by Penny Marshall). He follows Sidney Poitier and Gary Cooper for most listings, with four, on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies. Hanks received the AFI's Lifetime Achievement Award (the 30th one awarded) in 2002, when he was 45.

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