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Tom Hanks gives credit to Great Lakes Theater for 'greatest lesson' during award speech at the Golden Globes

NBC's "77th Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Show
Posted at 9:29 AM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 09:30:07-05

CLEVELAND — During his acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2020 Golden Globes, Tom Hanks was overcome with emotion as he talked about his family and some of the greatest acting lessons he learned early on his career at the Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square District.

During his speech, Tom Hanks told the story of “the greatest lesson” he said he received as a young actor during his first job in 1977 with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival.

"We all got yelled at by Dan Sullivan, the director. We had partied a little bit too much the night before, we were showing up for rehearsals, and he screamed at us," Hanks said. "He said, 'Hey look, you guys, you guys, you actors, you know what your job is? You know what your job is? You have got to show up on time and you have to know the text and you have to have a head full of ideas.'"

"That was the greatest lesson a young actor could possibly ever get," Hanks said. "The head full of ideas -- bring anything. Try anything. They might not use it."

In 1977, Vincent Dowling, who became the third artistic director at the Great Lakes Theater, encouraged Hanks to join the theater as an intern. For three seasons of the festival, Hanks built sets, hung lights and acted on stage. It was at the Great Lakes Theater that he earned his Actors’ Equity card. Since making his mark in Hollywood, Hanks has returned several times to support the theater.

"Wow! So honored to be mentioned by Tom Hanks in his acceptance speech for his incredibly well-deserved Cecil B. DeMille award this evening at Golden Globes! (That is, of course, only after we wiped our tears away after his eloquent and moving speech subsided!)," the Great Lakes Theater said on Facebook.

Past recipients of the award include Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, Sidney Porter, George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.

The Cecil B. DeMille was first awareded to its namesake in 1952