His career track is the stuff of showbiz legend. After two seasons on the silly sitcom Bosom Buddies (in drag, no less), the affable actor came to prominence in the 1984 romantic comedy Splash. Then a string of big-screen flops (Turner & Hooch, The Money Pit, the embarrassing Bonfire of the Vanities, to name just a few) tarnished his reputation. Aside from his Oscar-nominated turn as an overgrown kid in 1988's Big, as well as an underrated performance in the stand-up comedy drama Punchline that same year, he seemed washed up by the early '90s. But by mid-decade, he finally scored a slew of commercial and critical hits, earning two successive Oscars (as a gay lawyer dying of AIDS in 1993's Philadelphia and as a mentally challenged man in 1994's Forrest Gump), along with the respect of his peers, the public's love and a hefty per-project pay raise. Dubbed a latter-day James Stewart because of his everyman likability, the actor was careful to avoid typecasting. Although he played plenty of heroes, they were usually complicated and flawed (yet he never played any outright villains, either). He also branched out into writing, producing and directing (the 1996 feature That Thing You Do! and a number of TV projects, including the Emmy-winning 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers). The quintessential nice guy counted several A-list directors among his friends/fans and he collaborated multiple times with Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal) and Ron Howard (Splash, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code). He also distinguished himself from other megastars by staying in the spotlight and out of the tabloids, with a stable off-screen life with his actress wife, Rita Wilson, and their children.