Tom Hanks' Connection To Abraham Lincoln Will Open Some Eyes

Tom Hanks is something of a national treasure. Per Closer, Hanks won his very first Oscar in 1994 for his performance in the dramatic film "Philadelphia," and followed it up the very next year as the titular lead in the dramedy "Forrest Gump." With a string of fine performances since then, including his take on the beloved children's television icon Fred Rogers in the 2019 movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," he's among the world's most prolific and celebrated actors. 

But even more than that, Hanks' fame has seemingly gone hand in hand with a sterling reputation — and by all appearances, has the same love for acting he did while first starting out in the industry. "[When] I was in high school and we would audition, auditions would be done on Friday and the cast list would be put on Monday and I could not sleep for the entire weekend and I still feel that way the weekend before we start shooting," Hanks told People magazine at the 2020 Golden Globes. "It's just the greatest and most exciting and challenging job there is."

Fans have grown up watching Hanks on the big screen. But while he might be a familiar face for many, Hanks hasn't been one to go into great detail about his personal life. Need an example? Here's a fascinating fact many might not know about Hanks and his family: He's distantly related to Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's mother was named Nancy Hanks

There's a big chance you might know the name Abraham Lincoln, who's widely considered another American icon. His leadership as the president of the United States during the Civil War and his famous delivery of speeches like the Gettysburg Address are as memorable as Tom Hanks' standout past performances. One could say that lines by Lincoln like "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" are just as indelible as Hanks' pearl of wisdom from the movie "Forrest Gump" — that "life is like a box of chocolates." (Even though Lincoln wrote his own material, you could argue the delivery is the thing that counts here.)

Perhaps there's a reason for a (possibly perceived) common trait: Hanks is actually related to Lincoln, through none other than Lincoln's mother. According to Britannica, the father of "Honest Abe," Thomas Lincoln, married his mother, Nancy Hanks, three years prior to Lincoln's birth in 1809. As Britannica notes, little is known about Nancy other than accounts of her pious nature and the possibility that she was born to parents out of wedlock. Nevertheless, a Hanks she was — and it seems that Hanks knew about this for a long time before he finally confirmed this bit of family trivia.

Tom Hanks' connection to Abraham Lincoln is a point of pride

According to, Abraham Lincoln no longer has any direct living descendants, with the last having died in 1985. Even so, Tom Hanks is in some way related to the former U.S. president, a fact he supposedly corroborated during the production of the National Geographic Channel docudrama "Killing Lincoln," for which he provided narration. As the Daily Mail reported in 2012, Hanks purportedly verified his familial connection to Lincoln by stating "members of my branch of the family are either cousins or in-laws or poor relations," though the tabloid did not cite where this statement came from. 

Despite this, the Daily Mail noted that experts confirmed Hanks to be Lincoln's third cousin four times removed. It may be a tenuous link, but it's one that Hanks seems to have always taken pride in. He knew of it since his schooldays, he supposedly said, joking: "Guess which president I was always doing essays on." The Daily Mail went on to say that Hanks could have played Lincoln in the 2012 movie of the same name, but director Steven Spielberg ultimately opted to cast Daniel Day-Lewis for the role.