Happy Birthday Gene Hackman: Relive the Actor and Veteran’s Best Moments

by Madison Miller

Actor Gene Hackman has had a career that has extended over six decades in the business.

Currently 91 and retired, Hackman was known for his roles in popular dramas and thrillers. During his career he won two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and one Screen Actors Guild Award.

Besides his massive career as an actor, Hackman was also a United States Marine and a novelist. He has written three historical fiction novels. One of which was “Escape from Andersonville.”

As for films, his two most popular roles are likely as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle in “The French Connection” and as “Little” in Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.”

Some of his other notable films were “Bonnie and Clyde,” “I Never Sang for My Father,” “Mississippi Burning,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” and “The Conversation.”

He retired after filming “Welcome to Mooseport” in 2004. From a conflicted protagonist to a disturbing antagonist to a supporting character, Hackman can play just about any role.

To celebrate Gene Hackman turning 91, lets look at some of his best moments. As he once said, “Seventy-five percent of being successful as an actor is pure luck. The rest is just endurance.”

‘Bonnie and Clyde’

Hackman took to the big screen to help the infamous crime couple, Bonnie and Clyde, come to life in 1967. He played Buck Barrow, who was Clyde’s older brother.

His role in this film would lead him to his very first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

It would then mark him as a part of New Hollywood. One of the best scenes of the movie is the whole Barrow gang driving squeezed into a car together. They had just kidnapped a young couple.

‘The French Connection’

One of Hackman’s most notable roles was in the movie “The French Connection” as Detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. Here is one film in which Hackman plays a fiery protagonist or the “good guy.” Although, Doyle has some issues of his own as well and is willing to play dirty. The movie also has a sequel called, “French Connection II.”

In fact, he earned an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the detective fighting crime and always staying one step ahead.

One of his best quotes from the film was “All right, Popeye’s here! Get you hands on your heads, get off the bar, and get on the wall!”

Hackman in ‘Superman’

Gene Hackman showed off his skills as a villain in his role as criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. He was in Richard Donner’s 1978 “Superman.”

As the villain of the film, he tests Superman in more ways than one. The most prominent is when he launches two nuclear missiles to hit different parts of the country. One of which was aimed at the San Andreas fault.

Doyle plays the wealthy and charismatic villain attempting to take the “crown” as the greatest villain. He is cruel, yet has an interestingly fun-to-watch humor about him.

“Why is the most diabolical leader of our time surrounding himself with total nincompoops?”

Gene Hackman’s Decision to Retire

After his 2004 movie “Welcome to Mooseport,” Hackman stopped his career in filming movies. He didn’t issue a press release or make any kind of announcement, it was just over.

The 2004 comedy did not do well and is not very critically acclaimed. Although it was a less-than-stellar film, it would be the last time fans saw Hackman on screen.

While the movie tanked, this wasn’t the reason he threw in the towel. Instead, at the age of 79, he just couldn’t take the intensity of filmmaking anymore.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was actually a stress test that I took in New York. The doctor advised me that my heart wasn’t in the kind of shape that I should be putting it under any stress,” Hackman said in an interview with Empire.

Career as an Author

While many actors may just live out their retirement doing nothing else, Hackman has done far from that.

Gene Hackman teamed up with Daniel Lenihan to create his series of historical adventure novels. In the process, he gave fans a new look into his creative mind.

“Wake Of The Perdido Star” came out while he was still acting in 1999. However, “Justice For None” came out just as he was finishing up his career in acting in 2004.

His last and most recent is his most popular yet. “Escape From Andersonville: A Novel Of The Civil War,” tells the story of a Confederate officer trying to rescue men from Andersonville prison camp. This camp had taken the lives of over 12,000 men. The book did not win any awards.

“It’s very relaxing for me. I don’t picture myself as a great writer, but I really enjoy the process, especially on this book. We had to do a great deal of research on it to get some of the facts right, and it is stressful to some degree, but it’s a different kind of stress. It’s one you can kind of manage, because you’re sitting there by yourself, as opposed to having ninety people sitting around waiting for you to entertain them!” Hackman said to Empire.