Road sign on I-74
Road sign on Interstate 74 East, near Danville

Gene Hackman spent most of his childhood in Danville, Illinois, a small city in the east-central part of the state.  Born in San Bernadino, California in 1930, he moved to Danville as a young boy.  At 16 he enlisted in the Marines for a four year hitch.  He returned to Danville briefly after military service, working as a TV cameraman at WDAN, but soon left to pursue acting in California, and later, New York.  He still has family and friends  in the Danville area and occasionally visits.

Gene Hackman at Danville Public Library
Gene visits Danville Public Library, July 24, 2001.

Gene Hackman's House
(Photo courtesy Danville Area Convention & Visitors' Bureau)

Gene Hackman Plaque

Above left,
Gene's childhood home at 2101 Cannon Street, on Danville's east side.  The home was torn down in 1998.  Above right, a "Walk of Fame" marker on N. Vermilion St., at the Village Mall entrance.  Below, 8 year-old Gene with his parents and family in Danville, 4/20/38.

Gene with family, 1938

Gene with his father in the Commercial News Pressroom
(photo courtesy Danville Commercial News)

Gene with his Oscar for Unforgiven

Above left
, during a family visit in 1971, Gene's father, a pressman for the Danville Commercial News, gave a tour of the facilities to Gene and other family.   Standing next to Gene Sr. is Orin Hackman, a veteran journalist whose appreciation of art had a lasting impact on the actor.  Above right, after winning his second Oscar for 1993's Unforgiven, Hackman dedicated the award to the memory of his uncle Orin, who had died the day before. 


Gene at Red Mask Theater with Friend
(photo courtesy Danville Commercial News)

Plaque at Danville High School

Left, Hackman visits a friend at Danville's Red Mask Theater in 1969.  He was there to see "Any Wednesday," coincidentally a show he starred in on Broadway.  Above, a plaque honors him at Danville High School, his alma mater.  Similar plaques honor Danville natives Bobby Short, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, and others.


Famous Danville natives return for a visit
In May 1988, Gene joined Danville natives (from left) Donald O'Connor, Bobby Short, Dick Van Dyke, and Jerry Van Dyke for a benefit to raise money for the city's Fischer Theatre(photo by Chuck Cannady, courtesy Vermilion County Museum)

Below, In 2005, the McDonald's restaurant on Gilbert Street in Danville was remodeled to showcase an impressive salute to famous Danville natives with permanent displays of photographs and memorabilia.

Glass etching of Hackman at McDonald's
Glass etching of Gene

Photos of Hackman on display at McDonald's
Photographs of Gene line a wall


Gene and Dan tour Archives

Discussing literature with a friend
Discussing literature with a friend.

Above and right, from July 23-25, 2001, while visiting family and friends in Danville, Gene visited the public library with friend Daniel Lenihan, co-author of their novels Wake of the Perdido Star and Justice for None and a noted underwater archaeologist.   

Touring the Outreach Dept.


Below, on January 19, 2003, Gene received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 60th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.  That same night in Danville, a party was held at the Fischer Theatre to recognize his achievements, with proceeds going to the theater's restoration.

Fischer Theatre

Watching the Golden Globes

Above left, the Fischer marquee.  

Above right, watching the live Golden Globes broadcast via video projection.

Right, lining up for Hors d'oeuvres.

Bottom right, the Chuck Briggs Jazz Trio provides music.

Bottom left, the audience toasts Gene after his acceptance speech.  In the speech, he recalled spending countless hours as a kid in Danville's Palace movie theater, which was located next door to the Fischer. 


Lining up for Hors d'oeuvres

Audience toasts Gene after his acceptance speech.

Chuck Briggs Jazz Trio provides music.


On June 3, 2004, Gene Hackman and Dan Lenihan appeared at Danville Public Library for a book signing to promote their new novel Justice for NoneBelow, the crowd, estimated at 600-700, extended past the front of the building and well beyond the back.  It was the largest turnout ever seen for a library event.

Line outside the library

Crowd in the meeting room

Barb Nolan presents authors with gifts
Above, library staff present the authors with gifts.  Right, Dan and Gene pose with Justice for None.

The authors with Justice For None

Signing the books

Gene with a young fan
Left, signing the books.  Above, Gene with a young fan.

Lunch in the library break room
The signing was scheduled to last two hours, but the authors graciously stayed an additional two hours to ensure that no one would be shut out.  Above, after the signing, Gene's old classmates joined him and Dan for lunch in the library's break room.

[ Top ]

 Danville Public Library Home

Last Update June 23, 2009  |  Feedback: mboedicker@hotmail.com