Beloved actor Tom Hanks has been married to his wife, fellow actor Rita Wilson, for over 30 years — a rarity in Hollywood. The pair met on the set of ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies in 1981 and were friends for several years before they began dating in 1986 and wed two years later.
Many years have since passed — 34, to be exact — and Tom and Rita have two kids together (Chester “Chet” Hanks and Truman Theodore Hanks). In celebration of Hanks’ birthday on July 9 — he’s turning 66 — we’ve put together a list of times this non-problematic, nice-guy star has proven to be the ultimate husband. Rita is a lucky lady.
He loves her exactly as she is.
This couple have consistently expressed their love for one another in interviews throughout the years, but one anecdote stands out. In 2012, Wilson disclosed a particularly sweet moment she shared with her husband during an interview with Piers Morgan.
“I’ll never forget, we were standing on the corner of 57th and 5th in New York, or 58th and 5th,” Wilson said. “We were holding hands, and we were waiting for the traffic light to change. And he looked at me and he said, ‘You know, I just want you to know that you never have to change anything about who you are to be with me.’ Literally, a wave of — if love is a feeling, or a cellular thing that happens to your body — it went through me, and that’s pretty much who he is, and how he’s been.”
He supported her through cancer.
In 2015, Wilson told PEOPLE that she had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstruction following a breast cancer diagnosis. She was nervous about how the disease might impact her relationship — but unsurprisingly, her husband rose to the occasion.
“You never know how your spouse is going to react in a situation like this,” Wilson told the New York Times. “I was so amazed, so blown away by the care my husband gave me … who knew it would make you even closer?”
He took care of her when they both had COVID.
Hanks and Wilson were famously the first American celebrities to contract COVID-19 at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020. While both suffered from high fevers and body aches, the virus hit Rita harder than it did Tom. In an interview with The Guardian, she explained how getting sick at the same time as her partner turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I think that having the virus at the same time made it that little bit easier,” said Wilson. “We were taking care of each other instead of having the pressure of taking care of one person and no one taking care of you or understanding that the person at home needs a break. We were fortunate we were in a place where we understood what the other was going through.”
He promoted her accomplishments on social media.
Wilson has been by Hanks’ side throughout his promotion of Elvis, the new Baz Luhrmann biopic about the rock ‘n’ roll icon (Hanks plays Elvis’ manager). But the support goes both ways: Wilson recently released a single with Josh Groban, and her husband took to Instagram to show love for the music.
In what he called his “triumphant return” to social media, Hanks promoted Wilson’s single, which he described as a “hit record.” The actress — who is also a talented musician — released a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic, “Songbird.” And that’s not the first time Hanks has praised her musical endeavors: In September 2020, Wilson released a song called “What I Would Say,” and Hanks wrote on IG, “A new record! I am a huge fan of this woman.”
He thanked her in his Oscars speech.
Tom Hanks was only the second actor in history to win back-to-back Oscars — first for Philadelphia in 1994, and the next year for Forrest Gump. In his speech for the latter award, he made sure to credit his relationship with Rita. “I am standing here because the woman I share my life with has taught me and demonstrates for me every day just what love is,” he said.
When asked about thanking his wife in his acceptance speech, Hanks told Oprah, “I view my wife as my lover, and we have a bond that goes beyond words like wife or girlfriend or mother … Without my connection with Rita, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to connect with what Forrest [Gump] was going through.”
“I said that I have a woman who teaches me what love is every day,” he continued. “Maybe that sentiment is possible to fake, but for me it’s really true. What makes me different from others is that I verbalize this stuff. A lot of people would flee from what they think is award-show cheesiness, and I don’t. I often joke that my speeches are very personal moments that play themselves out in front of billions of people.”
He protected her when fans got too close.
Everyone loses their temper sometimes, especially when a loved one is threatened. The typically mild-mannered Hanks is no different; when the couple was leaving a New York restaurant earlier this month, a group of overeager fans nearly knocked Wilson over.
Tom and Rita got separated by the crowd and two people pushed Wilson and stepped on her heels. The force almost caused her to lose her balance — and that’s when Tom stepped in. He shouted at the swarm of fans to back off, holding out his hands to block his wife. Since situations like this can escalate quickly, Rita was no doubt reassured by her husband’s protective presence.
So there you have it! Despite high divorce rates and celebs falling in and out of love, Tom and Rita’s relationship proves that long-term commitment isn’t just possible — it’s pleasurable. “Not only do we love each other, we really like each other,” Wilson told Us Weekly in 2019. “We like being together.”