UPDATED Tom Hanks, Oscar-winning actor from “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump,” will be the 2011 Class Day speaker, Senior Class Secretary Cathy Lew ’11 and Treasurer Mathilde Williams ’11 announced in an e-mail to members of the senior class today.
Lew and Williams, who were joined by fellow Senior Class Representative Chloe Gordon ’11 in selecting the speaker, said they sought out a speaker from the entertainment industry in provide broad appeal to Class Day attendees. Williams said they had considered both alumni and non-alumni but ultimately decided on Hanks — who is not a Yale graduate — because of his ability as an actor and writer to engage an audience.
“Tom Hanks is someone we thought would be a great choice not only for the class of 2011 but also people in the audience, administration and faculty,” Lew said. “We also appreciated the fact that he’s shown his broad range in many different aspects of the entertainment industry.”
Previous commencement speakers have included former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 last year, as well as Tony Blair, Christopher Buckley ’75, Fareed Zakaria ’86, and Anderson Cooper ’89.
Hanks’ publicist Michelle Benson declined to comment on Hanks’ selection as Class Day speaker. Hanks has experience delivering commencement addresses, and had given a speech at Vassar’s 2005 graduation.
The official announcement follows an earlier e-mail, the subject of which subject line was “No crying on Class Day because…” and read “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” That phrase was linked to a YouTube video of the Randy Newman song from “Toy Story.” “No crying on Class Day” is a reference to Hanks’ famous line in “A League of Their Own:” “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Hanks has previously been to New Haven at least once, when he visited Mory’s to research for his role in the 1990 film “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” in which he played a character who had graduated from Yale.