Much-beloved Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have been married for over 30 years—a rarity for most married couples, but especially so in Hollywood. Their long-lasting marriage might seem like the happy ending everyone dreams of, but the road to such an enduring partnership wasn’t always so smooth. From the moment they met on the ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies in 1981 to supporting each other in sickness and in health through breast cancer and coronavirus, here is everything you need to know about Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson’s relationship.
- Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson met in 1981 on the set of the ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies while Tom was still married to his college sweetheart, Samantha Lewes.
- Tom’s first marriage had started fizzling out before he met Rita, and in 1987 with him and his first wife formally separated, Tom and Rita went public with their relationship.
- Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were married on April 30, 1988, and had two children together, Chet and Truman Hanks.
- Their 32-year marriage has stood strong in the face of health challenges, like Rita’s diagnosis of breast cancer in 2015, and most recently, the couple’s battle against coronavirus in March 2020.
1981: First Meeting
Tom and Rita first met on the set of the ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies, where Tom was a regular for two seasons and Rita guest-starred for an episode. Their connection was instant—even though at the time, Tom was still married to his first wife and college sweetheart, Samantha Lewes.
“Rita and I just looked at each other and—kaboing—that was that," Tom told GQ. "I asked Rita if it was the real thing for her, and it just couldn't be denied."
Even with sparks flying, good-guy Tom tried to make his first marriage work for the sake of the two kids he shared with Samantha, but by the time Tom and Rita reconnected again for the second time on the set of the 1985 movie Volunteers, there was no denying their chemistry.
December 1986: Going Public With Their Relationship
The couple made their red carpet debut at the premiere of Three Amigos in December 1986 while Tom and his first wife were separated but before the divorce was finalized in 1987.
April 30, 1988: Wedding in Hollywood
After less than two years of dating, and a year after his divorce was finalized, Tom married Rita at Rex's in Los Angeles, California. While the marriage may seem rushed, Tom believes the success of their relationship is a matter of “timing, maturity, and our willingness to have an intimate connection," he told Oprah in 2001.
"When I married Rita, I thought, 'This is going to require some change on my part,’” Tom said. “I won't deny that [fate] was part of us finding each other, but our relationship isn't magic the way it’s shown in movies. In real life, our connection is as concrete as me sitting here. Not that marriage doesn’t come close to being Hell in a handbasket sometimes. But we both know that no matter what, we’ll be with each other—and we’ll get through it."
August 4, 1990: Chet Hanks Is Born
Tom came into the relationship with two children from his first marriage, Colin and Elizabeth, but on August 4, 1990, Tom and Rita welcomed their first child together, Chester “Chet” Hanks. Today, Chet is a 30-year-old actor and rapper who has appeared in movies and TV shows including Empire, Shameless, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
June 1993: Rom-Com Co-Stars
Tom and Rita make their first on-screen appearance as a married couple in Sleepless in Seattle, where Rita plays the role of Sam Baldwin’s (Tom Hanks) sister.
March 1995: Tom Makes History and Thanks His Wife
On March 27, 1995, Tom became the second actor ever in history to win back-to-back Oscars for his lead roles in Philadelphia (1994) and Forrest Gump (1995). In both of his acceptance speeches, Tom thanked his wife for her unending support and encouragement.
"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," Tom said in his speech.
December 26, 1995: Truman Hanks Is Born
Tom and Rita completed their blended family with the birth of their second child together and Tom’s fourth, Truman Theodore Hanks. 25-year-old Truman isn’t a leading man like his famous father, and instead works behind the scenes and has held production roles on projects like West Side Story, Black Widow, and Charlie's Angels.
August 2002: Husband-and-Wife Producing Team
After two decades of acting, Tom and Rita go behind the camera for the time to produce “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
"My wife saw an ad back in the day in the LA Times calendar section for a one-woman show called 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and she laughed and said 'I'm going to go see the show,' and she did," he told reporters at the premiere of the 2016 sequel My Life In Ruins. "She came home and said 'I think that's a movie,' and it was."
My Big Fat Greek Wedding wasn’t the only Greek-inspired movie Tom and Rita produced together. In 2008, the couple brought the ABBA-themed movie musical, Mamma Mia! to the big screen, as well as its follow-up Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in 2018.
March 2015: Rita’s Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
After taking a medical leave of absence from her Broadway run of Fish in the Dark, Rita revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and spoke about Tom supporting her through her treatment.
"You never know how your spouse is going to react in a situation like this,” she told the New York Times in 2015. I was so amazed, so blown away by the care my husband gave me. It was such a normal, intimate time."
April 2018: 30th Wedding Anniversary
Tom and Rita celebrate 30 years of marriage and seem as smitten with each other as they were three decades ago.
"30 years on April 30. '88 To '18. Magic numbers," Tom wrote of the occasion on Twitter.
March 11, 2020: Tom and Rita Contract Coronavirus
While the two were in Australia for pre-production of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley film, Tom and Rita announced they had tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first major celebrities to do so. Both suffered from high fevers and body aches severe enough for them to be hospitalized, but Rita says the virus hit her harder than it did Tom.
“I lost my sense of taste and smell, had stomach issues, and shivering like you wouldn’t believe. Yeah, I was scared,” she told The Guardian. “I think that having the virus at the same time made it that little bit easier,” she added. “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.”