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Samantha Lewes: Tom Hanks' Ex-wife Was an Actress & Suffered from Bone Cancer before Her Death at 50

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
Aug 10, 2022
12:59 P.M.
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Samantha Lewes, Tom Hanks' wife, was a constant presence in Tom's formative days in Hollywood. Before Samantha passed away at 50, the two went through many ups and downs as a married couple and as close friends. Here's what we know about their marriage.

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Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are one of the most well-known and long-lasting power couples in Hollywood. They exemplify what many other notable individuals want to emulate in their relationships.

Samantha Lewes was Tom's first wife before marrying Rita. Given Tom's lengthy marriage to Rita, most people were unaware of the circumstances surrounding the "Forrest Gump" actor's prior marriage with Samantha, who was rarely seen in public.

Tom Hanks poses in a studio in West Hollywood, California on 1986. | Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks poses in a studio in West Hollywood, California on 1986. | Source: Getty Images

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WHO WAS SAMANTHA LEWES?

Samantha was born in San Diego, California, on November 29, 1952, as Susan Jane Dillingham. She sprang to stardom for her appearances in the classic television programs "Bosom Buddies" (1980) and "Mr. Success" (1984).

Samantha eventually married her college sweetheart, Tom, in 1978. At that time, he was still a struggling actor trying to figure out his place in the entertainment industry.

She stuck with Tom despite his challenging quest for success. Unfortunately, Samantha's husband found being a young parent and a struggling actor too much to handle.

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Tom Hanks on June 27, 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks on June 27, 1980. | Source: Getty Images

After nine years together, Tom and his wife's marriage ended in divorce in 1987. He stated that he was unprepared for fatherhood and marriage, citing the effect of his own parents' marriage. He explained:

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"I was looking for something I had not found as a kid. And a broken marriage meant I was sentencing my own kids to the sort of feelings I had at their age. I was just too young and insecure for marriage. I was 23 and my son Colin was already two when I married for the first time. I was not really ready to take on those responsibilities."

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Tom also confessed that his marriage to Samantha was spurred by loneliness. However, he added that having children at a young age was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him.

Shortly after his divorce from Samantha, Tom re-entered the dating pool, and while filming "Volunteers," he met Rita. The pair ended up marrying each other in April 1988.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Rita Wilson's Star Ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 29, 2019. |  Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Rita Wilson's Star Ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 29, 2019. | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT HAPPENED TO SAMANTHA LEWES?

Even though their marriage failed, Tom and Samantha maintained a close connection. According to a source, the former couple went through ups and downs as any divorced couple would, but they remained friends.

Their close bond was tested, however. In 2001, Lewes was diagnosed with bone cancer. On learning of his ex-wife's diagnosis, a source revealed Tom's reaction, saying, "Tom was absolutely devastated by the news."

Tom Hanks attends the "Toy Story 4" movie photocall in Barcelona, Spain, on June 19, 2019. | Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks attends the "Toy Story 4" movie photocall in Barcelona, Spain, on June 19, 2019. | Source: Getty Images

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Friends revealed that Hanks made arrangements to ensure that Lewes was treated by the best bone-cancer specialists at UCLA immediately after hearing the news and even paid their fees. After several efforts, actress Samantha's doctors determined that her cancer had spread to her lungs and brain.

Samantha died on March 12, 2002, in Sacramento, California, after almost a year-long battle with the illness, leaving behind the two kids she had with Tom — Elizabeth and Colin. The couple's divorce had its toll on both of them.

Tom Hanks at the 18th Annual AFI Awards on January 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks at the 18th Annual AFI Awards on January 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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WHERE ARE SAMANTHA LEWES' KIDS?

Elizabeth and Colin have followed in their father's footsteps in the entertainment industry. Born in November 1977, Colin is an actor who appeared in several television shows and movies, such as "Get Over It" (2001), "NCIS" (2003), and "Fargo" (2014).

Both siblings have two stepbrothers, Chet and Truman, who were born in August 1990 and December 1995, respectively.

Samantha Bryant, Colin Hanks, Elizabeth Hanks, and actress Rita Wilson attend the "Lucky Guy" Broadway Opening Night on April 1, 2013, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Samantha Bryant, Colin Hanks, Elizabeth Hanks, and actress Rita Wilson attend the "Lucky Guy" Broadway Opening Night on April 1, 2013, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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Colin, married to Samantha Bryant, gained prominence in the "Roswell" and "Orange County" (2002) series, as well as "Jumanji: Next Level" (2019). In addition to performing, he also works as a producer and director.

He is also a producer and director, besides acting. Meanwhile, Elizabeth, born in May 1982, is an actress who starred with her father in the 1994 film "Forrest Gump" and the 2015 short film "Anchorage."

Tom Hanks  and Rita Wilson's family attend the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California in 2020. | Source: Getty Images

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's family attend the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California in 2020. | Source: Getty Images

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It seemed that Elizabeth left her acting profession in favor of a writing career. She's a known writer for several publications, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Vanity Fair, and Time.

Both siblings have two stepbrothers, Chet and Truman, who were born in August 1990 and December 1995, respectively. Chet Hanks started his career in hip-hop music while Truman worked as a production assistant.

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