Tom Hanks is one of the world’s most beloved actors. From his early days on TV (remember the show Bosom Buddies?) and roles in hilarious comedies such as Splash and Big, to Oscar-winning performances in dramas like Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, the 64-year-old megastar has been delighting audiences for decades. Fans also admire his kind demeanor, his sharp sense of humor, and his 30-plus year marriage to actress Rita Wilson. But did you know that the Cast Away star was married to another woman before Rita came into his life? Here’s a close look at Samantha Lewes, Tom Hanks’s first wife.
Who Was Samantha Lewes?
Born on November 29, 1952, Samantha Lewes was an actress who appeared in a number of early ‘80s TV shows, including Bosom Buddies and Mr. Success. She met Tom Hanks as an acting student at Sacramento University and the two began dating. In 1977, the couple had a son, Colin Hanks, and married soon after in 1978. Four years later, the college sweethearts had a daughter named Elizabeth.
“I had kids very young,” Hanks admitted in a 2016 interview with BBC Radio 4. “My son Colin was born when I was 21 and my daughter Elizabeth was born four and a half years later. By then I thought I was rolling along with the natural order of things.”
The You’ve Got Mail actor added that being a family man at such a young age came easy to him, as he was fairly straight-laced. “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. The rules were in place. I’m not a cheater. I like to play by the rules.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out as Hanks and Lewes had hoped, and the pair divorced in 1987 after nine years of marriage. In 2013, the actor told Daily Express.”I was just too young and insecure for marriage….I was not really ready to take on those responsibilities… My own life has not been as smooth as my career.”
In 2019, Hanks told the New York Times that he did feel some regret about the way he handled being a 20-something father. “I start thinking about mistakes I made with my own kids and not explaining things or not being there for them,” the A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood actor said. “Or being so preoccupied with other things that are going on in our adult world. My son Colin was born when I was very young. As well as my daughter, but that means we have this gestalt understanding because they remember when their dad was just a guy trying to, you know, make the rent. My other kids, they were born after I had established a beachhead in every way. And so their lives were just different.”
Despite the breakup of their parents’ marriage, Hanks’s and Lewes’s kids grew up to be well-adjusted and successful adults. Both followed their mother and father’s footsteps and went into the entertainment business, Elizabeth as an actor and writer, and Colin as an actor, producer, and director. In fact, Colin has become a star himself—the 43-year-old has appeared in scores of TV shows and movies, including Roswell, The O.C., Orange County, King Kong, The House Bunny, and Dexter.
Did Samantha Lewes Remarry?
Lewes did not remarry after splitting from the Toy Story star. In a 2018 interview on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Colin Hanks revealed that his mom did not date much, either. Hanks, on the other hand, was able to move on quickly—he married Rita Wilson in 1988, less than one year after his divorce was final. Apparently, it was love at first sight.
“When we first looked at each other there was definitely a kind of like, ‘Hey, this is the place!’ I felt that, anyway,” Hanks said in a 2015 interview with Entertainment Tonight, as reported by Oprah Magazine. “I think the end result is that we got married for all the right reasons.”
What Happened To Samantha Lewes?
Despite their divorce and Hanks’s second marriage to Wilson, Lewes remained on friendly terms with her ex and the father of her two children. In 2001, Lewes (who’s birth name was Susan Dillingham) was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. Reportedly, Hanks was devastated by the news, which he received just days before attending the Academy Awards as a Best Actor nominee for Cast Away. It’s also been reported that Hanks used his clout to get Lewes appointments with the best bone-cancer specialists in the country—and that he paid her costly medical bills.
Tragically, Hanks’s generosity wasn’t enough to save his ex-wife from the deadly disease. After putting up a brave fight, Lewes succumbed to her cancer and passed away on March 12, 2002.
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