Tom Hanks’ Marriage to Rita Wilson Saved Him After Tumultuous Childhood (EXCLUSIVE)
The stars came out in force for Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson when the couple celebrated their 30th anniversary in LA on April 28. “It was like an old-school Hollywood party,” an insider tells Closer of the A-list guests, which included Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, and Julia Roberts. “Barack and Michelle Obama were the big surprise,” the insider adds, revealing that the former president and first lady did a karaoke rendition of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” for the lovebirds. “It was an inspiring evening and Tom’s the most generous star around. He’s Mr. Hollywood,” the insider notes of the two-time Oscar-winning actor (Philadelphia and Forrest Gump). “Everyone loves him!”
But no one loves him more than Rita. “I prayed to God every day for years that he’d bring me somebody I loved who loved me in the same way. And He brought me Tom,” Rita, 61, says of the man who’s stuck by her through her darkest times, including her 2015 breast cancer battle. “I was so blown away by the care he gave me,” she raves of her husband. Tom, also 61, was happy to be her support system. “We weather a storm here and there, [but] it’s not a big deal,” he insists. “You can get past it.”
That unflinching positivity is what helped the father-of-four rise above his own lonely and turbulent childhood. “You could easily say, ‘Gosh, what a nightmare that must have been,'” he admits of growing up constantly on the move with his father, Amos, a chef who relocated a lot for work after he divorced his wife, Janet, when Tom was just five years old.
Tom and older siblings Larry and Sandra lived in 10 houses in just five years, while younger brother Jim remained with their mother. “My brother and sister would say it wasn’t that fun — we were miserable. [We] grew up like feral children,” Tom says, noting his dad would often not come home until 11 p.m. “But in some ways it was very cool, because we laughed a lot.”
His mom remarried three times through the years and his dad remarried twice. “That was confusing,” Tom admits. “I often heard, ‘These are your new brothers and sisters.’ They should’ve said, ‘These are some kids your age you’ll be living with for a while.’ Two and a half years after, I’d be saying, ‘What happened to that brother and sister?'”
His saving grace through this disorienting time was his ability to entertain. “I was constantly thrown into a bunch of brand-new situations,” he explains, “but I always had plenty of friends and lots of stuff to do. I aggressively made those things happen. I didn’t want to be lonely.”
Instead, he wanted to have a good time — and to bring everyone else along for the ride, too. “I knew that when I went to a new school, sooner or later someone was going to laugh at something I said, and boom! It would all be fine. Sometimes it took two days, but other times it happened on the first day at lunch.” That survival instinct served him well. “He tells his friends he wouldn’t be as successful as he is artistically if he didn’t have the struggles he did in his childhood,” the insider shares. “His fractured early days made him deeply understand at a young age difficult issues like separation and longing.”
Tom admits his rush into marriage at age 21 was an effort to “quell the loneliness” he’d felt for so long. Though his relationship with first wife Samantha Lewes didn’t last, Tom’s grateful it gave him son Colin, 40, and daughter Elizabeth, 35. “He consciously tried to do the opposite for his kids from what he knew,” the insider says. “He was always there for them. He didn’t work too late, he was home for dinner and he helped them with homework. All of that. He gave them love and was openly demonstrative.”
By the time his and Samantha’s divorce was final in 1987, Tom had fallen in love with Rita, his co-star in 1985’s Volunteers. When the two first connected, she proved to be the answer to his lifetime search for lasting companionship. “I don’t think I’ll ever be lonely anymore: That’s how I felt when I met Rita,” he says of the moment that changed his life forever. “Rita fills the void,” the insider says of the mother of the couple’s sons, Chet, 27, and Truman, 22. “He refers to Rita as his North Star. She’s grounded, funny and devoted. She’s a true soulmate match — and she still makes him laugh!”
Their marriage has been tested, though. In 2015, Chet publicly addressed his battle with drug addiction and entered rehab. Tom stayed supportive, saying, “You got to applaud [Chet’s] bravery and honesty,” but back home, it was torture. “Chet’s problems took a toll on Tom and Rita. It demoralized them because they never spoiled their kids and they both thought they gave him a solid upbringing,” the insider shares. But with their support, and inspired in part by the 2016 birth of his daughter, Michaiah, now 2, Chet’s doing well. “Tom says fatherhood has grown Chet up,” the insider says, “and now that he’s turned a corner, Tom and Rita can exhale a bit.”
Rita’s breast cancer battle was another stressful challenge, as the actress and singer-songwriter, now cancer-free, had a double mastectomy just a month after her diagnosis. “No one should go through this alone,” Tom said of being there for his wife, who calls on her faith in times that she needs strength.
“I pray every day,” Rita shares. “My children pray. I pray with them. We go to church and we try to live a good, clean, healthy life.” Tom, who converted to Rita’s Greek Orthodox religion, feels similarly. “God works every day,” he insists, and the insider says the duo are bonded through their faith, which also helped them cope with Tom’s 2013 type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
The actor refuses to let any of these bumps in the road shake him. “He’s made total peace with his past,” the insider says, “and he’s not one to be a victim of anything.” Therapy, exercise, and transcendental meditation all help to keep him grounded, too. Romantic getaways with Rita also help. “They go to Mykonos often to see her relatives,” the insider shares of one of the actor’s biggest joys. “I married into a classic old-world family structure in which people like to spend time with each other,” he says. “It’s a marvelous fabric to exist in.”
Back home, that means the grandfather-of-three soaks up every minute he can with Michaiah and Colin’s daughters, Olivia, 7, and Charlotte, 4. “I’m a sappy guy,” Tom unabashedly admits. “There’s nothing I’d rather do than have a little kid on my knee or in my arms.” The cherry on top of it all? Babysitting. “It’s parenting fantasy camp,” Tom says with a laugh. “You have all the fun without any of the long nights!”
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