It’s hard to imagine Tom Hanks with anyone other than Rita Wilson. This beautiful couple has definitely set a standard for relationship goals. I mean they have been together for more than three decades. Just Wow! It’s like a lifetime for some of us.
But before reciting the vows with Rita, Hanks was in a dark time of his life. And the woman who held his hand was “Samantha Lewes.” She is also the biological mother of actor Colin Lewes Hanks and Elizabeth Ann Hanks. But more importantly, she is the first love and ex-wife of the Hollywood veteran Tom Hanks.
While the news circles around the Hanks family a lot, little to no coverage is given to Samantha. Why’s that? And, where is she at the moment? Is she even alive? Here, we dig deep into the story of Samantha Lewes!
From High School Sweethearts to Marriage
Although the exact date of Samantha’s and Tom’s relationship is unknown, it’s believed that they started seeing each other around the early 70s. They first met each other during their stay at Sacramento State University. Both of them were taking acting classes at the University. Rehearsals turned into friendship which then blossomed into a romantic relationship. After dating each other for a while, they tied the knot in a private ceremony on January 24, 1978.
The high school sweethearts even have two kids together. Born in 1977, Colin Hanks is no stranger to big movies. Known for his performance in movies like Orange County and King Kong, Colin was the first stroke of love Hanks and Samantha shared. He was born before they even tied the knot!
Elizabeth Ann Hanks (born in 1982) is the second child of the couple. Although she has appeared in movies like Forrest Gump and That Thing You Do, she hasn’t been able to embrace Hollywood like her father and brother.
Samantha Always Wanted to be an Actress
Samantha was born on November 29, 1952, in San Diego, California to parents John Raymond Dillingham and Harriet Hall Dillingham. Although her life’s highlight reel is being the ex-wife of Tom Hanks, Susan herself started her career with acting. Samantha Lewes isn’t even her real name. It’s Susan Jane Dillingham but she adapted her name as Samantha Lewes from her character in Theaters. And, that name has stuck with her since then.
Although she did her best she couldn’t make it big in Hollywood. Unlike her husband, she could only land small roles and was limited to just theatres.
However, she did have a brief cameo appearance in movies like Bosom Buddies (1981) and Mr. Success. Nevertheless, her career has been a bit of a disappointment!
Samantha Helped Tom Hanks Fight his Loneliness
Depression can strike at any time even to the best of people. When we think about the senior Hanks, we see him as a man of willpower and courage. But things weren’t bloomy from the start.
During an interview with Desert Island Discs, Hanks openly admitted that he was suffering from serious loneliness from his early teenage days. As a part of a solution to kill his obscure isolation, he married Susan Dillingham. He was just 21 at the time of marriage and had barely pressed a foot in the theatres. He stated:
I was too young and insecure. I was 23 and my son Colin was already two when I married for the first time.
Further, he added,
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.
Samantha’s Marriage with Tom Hanks: Why Did It Fail?
The bridge of marriage is never built on the ray of hope. Period.
He was just a 21-year-old kid with no job or career prospects. And when you marry someone to fulfil your anguish of loneliness, that marriage has a death penalty attached to it.
As the responsibility of a child and wife was bestowed upon him at an early age, he grew a better version of himself. This eluded him from drugs or consumption of pots. He took a great deal of focus to make it an addiction to reach a better height of success.
As it was expected, Samantha’s marriage with Hanks came to a climax when the duo called it quits. The duo filed for divorce in 1985 which was only finalized on March 19, 1987. After ending nine years of marriage, Hanks went on to marry Rita Wilson in 1988.
Hanks only had good things to say about his wife Rita:
“She just gets it. I don’t think I will ever be lonely anymore, that’s how i felt when I met my wife.”
Perhaps, Samantha was never a cure for his loneliness!
Samantha Bashed Tom for Harassment
Tom Hanks is recognized as one of the most disciplined and well-mannered guys in Hollywood. But, the two-time Oscar winner’s late wife strongly denied that thinking. The college sweethearts broke up their relationship after nine years of marriage.
Following the divorce, Hank married his girlfriend Rita Wilson in 1988. As this news was being circulated in the media, another shocking news came into flash. Samantha Lewes bashed her former husband filing a case in a Los Angeles court asking for a restraining order against him. She made allegations that Hanks harassed her and attempted to kill her career. The New York Post reported her statement that stated:
My husband has repeatedly verbally abused and humiliated me during the past 90 days in my home. This caused me to suffer great emotional distress.
While Tom was asked to comment on the matter, he replied:
Lewes hoped to squeeze an unfair settlement out of me.
No one has ever imagined, once given an example of an ideal couple would turn down their relationship to that level.
Hanks Was Fearful of Divorce’s Effect on his Children
Tom was familiar with the pain a child had to go through when they had to choose between mom and dad as he himself was the victim of a broken home. So, he tried to save his relationship but failed. Unfortunately, the kids had to spend their time travelling from their mom’s place to their dad’s house during their summer holidays.
Though Tom was happy with the decision he took, he always had a fear of resentment looming on his head. He always wanted a normal childhood for his kids which he thought was not possible after the doomed marriage. Speaking on the In Depth with Graham Bensinger Podcast, Tom revealed how he felt :
I was sad, confuse, emotionally crippled. I guess the house of cards has to fall in before you start to figure things out. Well, I felt like I was a complete, abject, total failure and everything I thought was working was actually not working.
Her Son Colin Hanks Talked About her Post-Life Divorce
Colin Hanks spilt the beans on his childhood and Samantha’s life after divorce when he appeared in the Armchair Expert podcast in 2018. During the chat session, he revealed that he moved to Sacramento, California with Samantha post-divorce. He spent his summer days traveling from California to Los Angeles where Tom was living.
When asked about whether his late mother Lewes remarried or not, he answered Lewes ‘remained single’. She never looked at any other guy in her entire life. He also revealed how she would not let them take money for granted. He remembered:
I don’t know how much money that my mom was getting in alimony, but what I heard all the time was, ‘We don’t have the money. Your Dad has that. We don’t have that.
Samantha Lewes Died Suffering From Cancer
After Samantha split up with Hanks, she rarely got any media coverage. Hanks got custody of his two kids. And the kids were hardly captured sharing any cozy moments with their mother!
However, on March 12, 2002, news broke of the demise of Hanks’s ex-wife. Samantha was no more with us!
The cause of death was revealed as bone cancer. Tom did his best to cure his ex-wife. He took care of her medical bills and also brought specialists for her case. But the efforts were to no avail as destiny had already been written.
Who can win against fate? She passed away in the same year when her son received his first award nomination for his role in Orange County.
Samantha Lewes Would have been Proud of her Kids Colin and Elizabeth Hanks
Samantha would have felt proud of calling herself the mother of Colin and Elizabeth if she had been alive. But, before witnessing her beloved children climbing the stairs of stardom, she, unfortunately, died battling cancer.
Her eldest son Colin Hanks was born on November 24, 1977, before the couple tied the knot. Colin following his dad has launched his career in the field of acting. He has left his remark in the movies like King Kong and Orange County. These movies have brought him much-deserved fame. Colin was even nominated by MTV for the movie Orange County. His other starrer movies include The Good Guys (2010), Roswell (1999), The House Bunny (2008), My Mom’s New Boyfriend (2008), Lucky (2011), The Guilt Trip (2013), No Stranger Than Love ( 2015), Elvis and Nixon (2016), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(2017), and many more.
Apart from acting, he has also moved towards filmmaking. He directed his first documentary “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records” back in 2015. The documentary was critically acclaimed.
He won Young Hollywood Actor in 2002, just a couple of months after Samantha passed away. Recently, for his work in the Fargo TV series, he was nominated for the Golden Globes Award. Colin has established himself as one of the most promising actors in Hollywood. Whether it was destiny or coincidence, he fell in love with the girl Samantha once again in his life. But, this time she wasn’t his mother. He fell in love with Samantha Bryant and exchanged vows accordingly.
Likewise, Elizabeth (born on May 17, 1982) has also tried her charm in the movie industry. She has starred in a few movies and TV series that didn’t create any buzz in the industry. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t established herself like her brother and father. She has established her career as a writer and editor in the Huffington Post.
Though Samantha is not anymore, she is always remembered through her children and their works.