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Eugene Alden Hackman was born on January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino, California. Although he was born in California, he was sent to Illinois to be raised by his grandmother on his mother’s side of the family. At sixteen years of age, young Hackman dropped out of high school and joined the United States Marines. He worked as a radio operator and disc jockey. After his discharge from the service, Hackman attended the University of Illinois where he studied journalism. After dropping out of college, Hackman went to New York to pursue a radio career.

In 1950, Gene Hackman attended New York’s School of Radio Technique. He worked in radio as a disc jockey in the Midwest for approximately eight to nine years. He left his job working at the radio station and went to California to pursue an acting career. Upon arriving in Pasadena, Hackman took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse.

In 1956, he went to New York and made his acting debut in the stage play "Chaparral" two years later. This was also the same year he married his first wife, Faye Maltese, with whom he had three children. In 1961, he transitioned to working on television in several shows.

In 1964, Hackman appeared in his first acting film role in the movie "Lilith" which starred Warren Beatty.

Hackman has made over seventy films for both television and the movie theaters. The movie that launched his career was "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967. His most popular role was in the movie "French Connection."

In the late 1970s, Hackman took a break from acting as he couldn’t hold up under the rigorous schedule. In 1981, Hackman returned to work. His career made a downward spiral until 1986 when he appeared in the movie "Hoosiers" which co-starred actor Dennis Hopper.

In 1982, Hackman and his wife were divorced. Although his personal life disintegrated, Hackman was still working steadily and worked on two films that were released in 1983 "Under Fire" and "Uncommon Valor." In 1987, Hackman was in four movies but the year that he released the most films was 1988 where he was in five films.

Although Hackman had undergone heart surgery in the early 1990s, he continued working and his film presence increased his popularity.

In 1991, Hackman married musician Betsy Arakawa. The couple reside in their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.