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Gene Hackman
Hackman at a book signing in June 2008
Born Eugene Allen Hackman
January 30, 1930(1930-01-30) (age 94)
San Bernardino, California, U.S.
Residence Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Pasadena Playhouse
Occupation Actor and novelist
Years active 1956–2004 (actor)
1999–2013 (novelist)
Spouse(s) Faye Maltese (m. 1956; div. 1986)
Betsy Arakawa (m. 1991)
Children 3
Awards 2 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 2 BAFTA Awards

Eugene Allen "Gene" Hackman[1][2][3] (born January 30, 1930) is a retired American actor and novelist. In a career that spanned nearly five decades, Hackman was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning Best Actor in The French Connection and Best Supporting Actor in Unforgiven. He won three e Award and two BAFTAs.

He first came to fame in 1967 with his performance as Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde, in which he gained his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His major subsequent films include: I Never Sang for My Father (1970), in which he gained his second Best Supporting Actor nomination; The French Connection (1971) and French Connection II (1975), in which he played Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle; The Poseidon Adventure (1972); The Conversation (1974); Superman: The Movie (1978), in which he played arch-villain Lex Luthor; Hoosiers (1986); and Mississippi Burning (1988), in which he gained his second Best Actor nomination.

His film roles during the 1990s featured: Unforgiven (1992); The Firm (1993); Crimson Tide (1995); Get Shorty (1995); The Birdcage (1996); and Enemy of the State (1998) Later roles included: Behind Enemy Lines (2001); and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). Hackman's final film appearance to date was the romantic comedy Welcome to Mooseport in 2004, co-starring comedian Ray Romano.

Early life and education[]

Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Eugene Ezra Hackman and Anna Lyda Elizabeth (née Gray).[4][5] He has one brother, Richard. He has Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry; his mother was born in Lambton, Ontario.[6][7][8] According to a plaque in a city park, he worked for a time as a dog catcher for the local animal shelter.[citation needed] His family moved frequently, finally settling in Danville, Illinois, where they lived in the house of his English-born maternal grandmother, Beatrice.[6][9] Hackman's father operated the printing press for the Commercial-News, a local paper.[10] As a teenager, Hackman knew Dick Van Dyke, who was friends with his older brother Richard. His parents divorced in 1943 and his father subsequently left the family.[9][10]

Hackman lived briefly in Storm Lake, Iowa and spent his sophomore year at Storm Lake High School.[11] However, he left home at age 16 and lied about his age to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He served four and a half years as a field radio operator.[12] He was stationed in China (Qingdao, and later in Shanghai). When the Communist Revolution conquered the mainland in 1949, Hackman was assigned to Hawaii and Japan. Following his discharge, he moved to New York and worked in several jobs.[12] His mother died in 1962 as a result of a fire she accidentally set while smoking.[13]



In 1956, he began pursuing an acting career; he joined the Pasadena Playhouse in California.[12] It was there that he forged a friendship with another aspiring actor, Dustin Hoffman.[12] Already seen as outsiders by their classmates, they were later voted "The Least Likely To Succeed."[12] Determined to prove them wrong, Hackman moved to New York City. A 2004 article in Vanity Fair magazine described how Hackman, Hoffman and Robert Duvall were all struggling California born actors and close friends, sharing apartments in various two-person combinations while living in New York City in the 1960s.[14][15] To support himself between acting jobs, he was working as a uniformed doorman at a Howard Johnson restaurant in New York when, as bad luck would have it, he ran into a despised Pasadena Playhouse instructor who once told him he was not good enough to be an actor. Reinforcing "The Least Likely To Succeed" vote, the man said to him, "See, Hackman, I told you you wouldn't amount to anything." From then on, Hackman was determined to become the finest actor he possibly could. The three former roommates have since earned 19 Academy Award nominations for acting, with five wins.

Hackman got various bit roles, for example on the TV series Route 66 in 1963, and began performing in several Off-Broadway plays. In 1964, he had an offer to co-star in the play[16] Any Wednesday with actress Sandy Dennis. This opened the door to film work. His first role was in Lilith, with Warren Beatty in the leading role. In 1967, he appeared in an episode of the television series The Invaders entitled The Spores. Another supporting role, Buck Barrow in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde,[12] earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. In 1968, he appeared in an episode of I Spy, in the role of "Hunter", in the episode "Happy Birthday... Everybody".[16] In 1968, he starred in the CBS Playhouse episode "My Father and My Mother" and the dystopian television film Shadow on the Land.[17] In 1969, he played a ski coach in Downhill Racer and an astronaut in Marooned. Also that year, he played a member of a barnstorming skydiving team that entertained mostly at county fairs: The Gypsy Moths. He nearly accepted the role of Mike Brady for the upcoming TV series, The Brady Bunch, but was advised by his agent to decline in exchange for a more promising role, which he did.


Gene Hackman - 1972

Hackman in 1972

In 1971, he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award again, this time for 1970's I Never Sang for My Father, working alongside Melvyn Douglas and Estelle Parsons. The next year, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as New York City Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection, marking his graduation to leading man status.[12]

He followed this with leading roles in the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974), which was nominated for several Oscars.[12] That same year, Hackman appeared in what became one of his most famous comedic roles as the blind hermit in Young Frankenstein.

He later appeared as one of Teddy Roosevelt's former Rough Riders in the Western horse-race saga Bite the Bullet (1975), as well as in that year's sequel French Connection II. In 1975 he also appeared in the highly regarded—but little viewed—film Night Moves, receiving a BAFTA nomination for lead actor. He appeared in the star-studded war film A Bridge Too Far (1977), as Polish General Stanisław Sosabowski. Hackman showed a talent for both comedy and the "slow burn" as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor in Superman: The Movie (1978), as he would in its 1980 and 1987 sequels.


Gene is someone who is a very intuitive and instinctive actor...The brilliance of Gene Hackman is that he can look at a scene and he can cut through to what is necessary, and he does it with extraordinary economy—he's the quintessential movie actor. He's never showy ever, but he's always right on.

Alan Parker
director of Mississippi Burning (1988)[18]

By the end of the 1980s, he alternated between leading and supporting roles, earning another Best Actor nomination for Mississippi Burning. He had a memorable part as a Secretary of Defense trying to cover up a homicide in 1987's No Way Out opposite Kevin Costner.

During this decade, he also was in Reds, Under Fire, Hoosiers, Power, Uncommon Valor and Bat*21. A 2008 American Film Institute poll voted Hoosiers the fourth-greatest film of all time in the sports genre.


In 1990, the actor underwent an angioplasty, which kept him from work for a while, although he found time for Narrow Margin—a remake of The Narrow Margin (1952). In 1992, he played the sadistic sheriff "Little" Bill Daggett in the western Unforgiven directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples which earned him a second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The film won Best Picture.[12] In 1993 he appeared in Geronimo: An American Legend as Brigadier General George Crook. He co-starred with Tom Cruise as a corrupt lawyer in The Firm (1993) and appeared in a second John Grisham story in 1996, playing a convict on death row in The Chamber.

In 1995, he played an inept Hollywood producer-director named Harry Zimm in Get Shorty and the villainous fast-draw champion John Herrod in The Quick and the Dead opposite Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, as well as submarine Captain Frank Ramsey in the film Crimson Tide with Denzel Washington.

In 1996, he took a comedic turn as conservative Senator Kevin Keeley in The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. He also co-starred with Will Smith in the 1998 film Enemy of the State, where his character was reminiscent of the one from The Conversation.

He played a U.S. president who is responsible for a killing in 1997's Absolute Power, re-teaming with director-star Clint Eastwood.


Hackman starred in the David Mamet crime film Heist, as an aging professional thief of considerable skill who is forced into one final job and the comedy Heartbreakers alongside Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta and Jennifer Love Hewitt. He had a small part as Arnold Margolese in Gore Verbinski's The Mexican. He also had a leading role as the head of an eccentric family in the ensemble cast film The Royal Tenenbaums and in yet another Grisham legal drama, Runaway Jury, at long last getting to make a picture with his longtime friend Dustin Hoffman. Hackman's final film to date was Welcome to Mooseport (2004), a comedy with Ray Romano, in which he portrayed a former President of the United States.

In 2003 at the Golden Globes, Hackman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."[19]

Retirement from acting[]

On July 7, 2004, Hackman gave a rare interview to Larry King, in which he announced that he had no future film projects lined up and believed his acting career was over. In 2008, while promoting his third novel, he confirmed that he had retired from acting.[20] When asked during a GQ interview in 2011 if he would ever come out of retirement to do one more film, he said he might consider it "if I could do it in my own house, maybe, without them disturbing anything and just one or two people."[21] In 2016 he narrated the Smithsonian Channel documentary The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima.[22]

Career as a novelist[]


Hackman at a book signing in 2008

Together with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan, Hackman has written three historical fiction novels: Wake of the Perdido Star (1999), a sea adventure of the 19th century; Justice for None (2004), a Depression-era tale of murder; and Escape from Andersonville (2008) about a prison escape during the Civil War. His first solo effort, a story of love and revenge set in the Old West titled Payback at Morning Peak, was released in 2011. A police thriller, Pursuit, followed in 2013.

In 2011, he appeared on the Fox Sports Radio show, The Loose Cannons, where he discussed his career and novels with Pat O'Brien, Steve Hartman, and Vic "The Brick" Jacobs.

Personal life[]

Hackman's first marriage was to Faye Maltese. They had three children: Christopher Allen, Elizabeth Jean, and Leslie Anne Hackman.[23] The couple divorced in 1986 after three decades of marriage. In 1991, he married Betsy Arakawa. They have a home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[24]

Hackman competed in Sports Car Club of America races driving an open wheeled Formula Ford in the late seventies. In 1983, he drove a Dan Gurney Team Toyota in the 24 Hours of Daytona Endurance Race. He also won the Long Beach Grand Prix Celebrity Race.[25]

Hackman is an avid fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and regularly attended Jaguars games as a guest of then-head coach Jack Del Rio. He is friends with Del Rio from Del Rio's playing days at the University of Southern California.[26]

In January 2012, the then-81 year old actor was riding a bicycle in the Florida Keys when he was struck by a car. Although it was at first reported that he had suffered head trauma, he sustained only minor injuries.[27]

Theatre credits[]

  • Children From Their Games by Irwin Shaw at the Morosco Theatre (April 1963)
  • A Rainy Day in Newark by Howard Teichmann at the Belasco Theatre (October 1963)
  • Come to the Palace of Sin by Michael Shurtleff at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (1963)
  • Any Wednesday by Muriel Resnik at the Music Box Theatre and the George Abbott Theatre (1964–1966)
  • Poor Richard by Jean Kerr with Alan Bates and Shirley Knight at the Helen Hayes Theatre (1964–1965)[28]
  • The Natural Look by Leonora Thuna at the Longacre Theatre (1967)
  • Fragments and The Basement by Murray Schisgal at the Cherry Lane Theatre (1967)
  • Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman with Glenn Close and Richard Dreyfuss, directed by Mike Nichols, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (1992)


Year Title Role Notes
1961 Mad Dog Coll Policeman Cop
1961 Tallahassee 7000 Joe Lawson Television series, episode The Fugitive
1963 Route 66 Motorist Television series, episode Who Will Cheer My Bonny Bride?[29]
1964 Lilith Norman
1966 Hawaii Dr. John Whipple
1967 Banning Tommy Del Gaddo
1967 Community Shelter Planning Donald Ross—Regional Civil Defense Officer
1967 Covenant with Death, AA Covenant with Death Harmsworth
1967 First to Fight Sgt. Tweed
1967 Bonnie & Clyde Buck Barrow Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1968 Shadow on the Land Reverend Thomas Davis
1968 Split, TheThe Split Detective Lt. Walter Brill
1969 Riot Red Fraker
1969 Gypsy Moths, TheThe Gypsy Moths Joe Browdy
1969 Downhill Racer Eugene Claire
1969 Marooned Buzz Lloyd
1970 I Never Sang for My Father Gene Garrison Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1971 Doctors' Wives Dr. Dave Randolph
1971 Hunting Party, TheThe Hunting Party Brandt Ruger
1971 French Connection, TheThe French Connection NYPD Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1972 Prime Cut Mary Ann
1972 Poseidon Adventure, TheThe Poseidon Adventure Reverend Frank Scott
1972 Cisco Pike Sergeant Leo Holland
1973 Scarecrow Max Millan
1974 Conversation, TheThe Conversation Harry Caul National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
2nd Place – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1974 Young Frankenstein Harold, The Blind Man
1974 Zandy's Bride Zandy Allan
1975 French Connection II NYPD Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle
1975 Lucky Lady Kibby Womack
1975 Night Moves Harry Moseby
1975 Bite the Bullet Sam Clayton
1977 Domino Principle, TheThe Domino Principle Roy Tucker
1977 Bridge Too Far, AA Bridge Too Far Maj Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski
1977 March or Die Maj. William Sherman Foster
1978 Superman: The Movie Lex Luthor
1980 Superman II
1981 All Night Long George Dupler 2nd Place – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
1981 Reds Pete Van Wherry
1983 Under Fire Alex Grazier
1983 Two of a Kind God uncredited voice role
1983 Uncommon Valor Col. Jason Rhodes, USMC (ret)
1983 Eureka Jack McCann
1984 Misunderstood Ned Rawley
1985 Twice in a Lifetime Harry MacKenzie
1985 Target Walter Lloyd/Duncan (Duke) Potter
1986 Power Wilfred Buckley
1986 Hoosiers Coach Norman Dale
1987 No Way Out Defense Secretary David Brice
1987 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Lex Luthor / voice of Nuclear Man
1988 Bat*21 Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton, USAF
1988 Split Decisions Dan McGuinn
1988 Another Woman Larry Lewis
1988 Full Moon in Blue Water Floyd
1988 Mississippi Burning FBI Special Agent Rupert Anderson National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1989 Package, TheThe Package Sgt. Johnny Gallagher
1990 Loose Cannons MacArthur Stern
1990 Postcards from the Edge Lowell Kolchek
1990 Narrow Margin Robert Caulfield
1991 Class Action Jedediah Tucker Ward
1991 Company Business Sam Boyd
1992 Unforgiven Little Bill Daggett Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
1993 Firm, TheThe Firm Avery Tolar
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend Brig. Gen. George Crook
1994 Wyatt Earp Nicholas Earp
1995 Quick and the Dead, TheThe Quick and the Dead John Herod
1995 Crimson Tide Capt. Frank Ramsey
1995 Get Shorty Harry Zimm
1996 Birdcage, TheThe Birdcage Senator Kevin Keeley
1996 Extreme Measures Dr. Lawrence Myrick
1996 Chamber, TheThe Chamber Sam Cayhall
1997 Absolute Power President Allen Richmond
1998 Twilight Jack Ames
1998 Antz General Mandible Voice only
1998 Enemy of the State Edward 'Brill' Lyle
2000 Under Suspicion Henry Hearst Also executive producer
2000 Replacements, TheThe Replacements Jimmy McGinty
2001 Mexican, TheThe Mexican Arnold Margolese
2001 Heartbreakers William B. Tensy
2001 Heist Joe Moore
2001 Behind Enemy Lines Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart
2001 Royal Tenenbaums, TheThe Royal Tenenbaums Royal Tenenbaum Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
3rd Place – Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
2003 Runaway Jury Rankin Fitch
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Monroe "Eagle" Cole
2016 The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima Narrator TV documentary


Works or publications[]


  1. His middle name is "Allen", according to the California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (30 January 1930). "Eugene Allen Hackman - California, Birth Index". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  3. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Allen Hackman - United States Census, 1940". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  4. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Eugene A Hackman - United States Census, 1930". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  5. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Hackman Biography (1930–)". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (13 May 1904). "Anna Lyda Elizabeth Gray - Canada, Births and Baptisms". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  7. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Hackman from Danville in 1940 Census District 92-22". 
  8. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Hackman". 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Norman, Michael (1989-03-19). "HOLLYWOOD'S UNCOMMON EVERYMAN". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Leman, Kevin (2007). What Your Childhood Memories Say about You: And What You Can Do about It. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. p. 154. ISBN 1-4143-1186-9. 
  11. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "1945 Storm Lake High Yearbook". Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2001
  13. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Hackman profile". Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  14. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Celebrity Roommates". Xfinity Entertainment. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  15. Stevenson, Laura. "Robert Duvall, Hollywood's No. 1 Second Lead, Breaks for Starlight". People. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. ""I Spy" Happy Birthday Everybody (TV Episode 1968)". IMDb. 
  17. Roberts, Jerry (June 5, 2009). Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press. p. 500. ISBN 9780810863781. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  18. Gonthier, David F. and O'Brien, Timothy M. The Films of Alan Parker, 1976-2003, McFarland (2015) p. 167
  19. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2002-11-14). "Business Wire, November 14, 2002. Hollywood. 'Gene Hackman to Receive HFPA'S Cecil B. DeMille Award At 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards to be Telecast Live on NBC on Sunday, January 19, 2003'". Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  20. Blair, Iain Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2008-06-05). "Just a Minute With: Gene Hackman on his retirement". Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  21. Michael Hainey Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2011-06-01). "Eighty-one Years. Seventy-nine Movies. Two Oscars. Not One Bad Performance.". Retrieved 2017-02-25. 
  22. Smithsonian Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Sneak Peek: The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima" (in en). Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  23. Brady, James (December 30, 2001). "In Step with Gene Hackman". Parade. The Blade.,4869880. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  24. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2012 Nov 1). "Police: Hackman knew homeless man he slapped in NM". 
  25. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Grand Prix of Long Beach 2016 Fan Guide". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  26. BART HUBBUCHThe Times-Union Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2005-11-29). "JAGUARS NOTEBOOK: Chatter angers Cardinals". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  27. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Gene Hackman, 81, flown to hospital with body and leg injuries after being hit by car while cycling". 
  28. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (31 August 1964). "Star Rote for Gene Hackman". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  29. telegonus Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (11 November 2012). ""Route 66" Who Will Cheer My Bonnie Bride (TV Episode 1963)". IMDb. 

External links[]

Preceded by
George C. Scott
Declined Oscar
Academy Award for Best Actor
Succeeded by
Marlon Brando
Declined Oscar
Preceded by
Lyle Talbot
for Atom Man vs. Superman
Actors portraying Lex Luthor
for Superman, Superman II and Superman IV
Succeeded by
Scott James Wells
for Superboy (TV series)
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The original article can be found at Gene Hackman and the edit history here.