When an actor retires from the bright lights of Hollywood and decides they want a quiet life away from the constant scrutiny of the media, they usually still do make regular appearances at various events and such. Gene Hackman, however, retired from the movie industry 17 years ago and pretty much disappeared from public life entirely, preferring to abandon his celebrity life for something much more quiet and unassuming.
It was only last month following the death of Superman director Richard Donner, that Hackman made a very rare connection with his former life to share a story about working with the director on the movie, and yesterday author James L Neibaur posted a rare photo of the actor on his Twitter account, which is the first to have been seen in many years.
Neibaur, who is also a well respected film historian, posted the image of an almost unrecognizable Hackman, which was taken two years ago when the former Lex Luthor actor was 89. He commented, “Gene Hackman retired from action 17 year ago, but had this recent pic taken to show he is alive and well at 91, and living in New Mexico. He goes bike riding every day and remains active and engaged with hobbies and friends.” He followed the post with a further comment clarifying the age of the photo, saying, “I was informed that this pic is 2 years old, when he was a young, strapping 89 and I can’t edit the post, so I am adding this tweet to clarify. Still great that Mr. Hackman is alive and well, and has so many supportive fans.”
Smiling and happy in the image, which was taken at a signing event in 2019, it is clear to see that Hackman is still very much loving life, and the arrival of the image online brought many fans out to praise the actor, who many stand by the belief that he never made a bad movie in his career. With the likes of Unforgiven, Crimson Tide, Mississippi Burning and his last movie from 2004, Mooseport all being mentioned, there is one series of movies that get just a little more love than the others – Superman.
Hackman played the Man of Steel’s arch-enemy Lex Luthor in the original Superman: The Movie and sequels Superman II and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Allegedly Hackman’s villain did not appear in Superman III because there was a general agreement of all involved in the movie that Luthor shouldn’t be present in all of the movies. The version of Luthor is still loved as one of the best and most iconic among Superman fans, and this was made even more apparent by his appearance in the comic book tie-in to 2019’s Crisis on Infinite Earths TV event and by his referencing in the original theatrical cut of Justice League. Hackman is now one of the few surviving actors from the original Superman movie who was born prior to the character’s conception in 1938.
In his career, Hackman won a number of accolades including two Oscars, and had multiple nominations to his name for movies like 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde and I Never Sang For My Father. The posting of his photo online yesterday not only reminded people that he is still alive and well, but also gave the perfect chance for fans to commemorate a true living legend of cinema.