Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After several moves, his family settled in Danville, Illinois. Gene grew up in a broken home, which he left at the age of sixteen for a hitch with the US Marines. Moving to New York after being discharged, he worked in a number of menial jobs before studying journalism and television production on the G.I. Bill at the University of Illinois. Hackman would be over 30 years old when he finally decided to take his chance at acting by enrolling at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. Legend says that Hackman and friend Dustin Hoffman were voted "least likely to succeed."
Hackman next moved back to New York, where he worked in summer stock and off-Broadway. In 1964 he was cast as the young suitor in the Bro