Gary Alan Sinise

Doctor of Humane Letters

Many people remember Gary Sinise for his striking portrayal of the emotionally tortured and physically damaged Lieutenant Dan in the 1994 hit movie Forrest Gump. But although he won an Oscar nomination for that supporting role, it is only a small part of his story. Sinise has been a double and sometimes a multiple threat, acting on screen, on television, and on stage, as well as directing and producing both theater and film.

Sinise was only 19, somewhere between high school and what some might call the real world, when, in 1974, in a church basement in Chicago, he and two others founded the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a shoestring enterprise fueled by the love of theater and a belief in ensemble collaboration and artistic risk. That collaboration and risk paid off. The company grew, gained strength, and in 1982 made its New York debut with Sam Shepard’s True West, which Sinise directed (earning an Obie Award), and in which he starred with John Malkovich. Since then Steppenwolf has become one of America’s most daring and respected ensembles, with a reputation for fearlessness and excellence.

Sinise himself is valued among his peers as a creative thinker with an eye for the original script, known for choosing roles and directorial projects that demonstrate a love of American classics as well as the offbeat. His work is wide ranging: A supporting player in The Green Mile and Apollo 13, he produced, directed, and starred in Of Mice and Men, and was executive director of the TV film That Championship Season. His credits as a television and film actor include biographical starring roles in Truman and George Wallace, for which he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy respectively. Still to come, later this year, is a Miramax film with Anthony Hopkins, based on Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain, in which Sinise plays that subtly outspoken literary intelligence, Nathan Zuckerman.

A self-educated, creative talent, Sinise never attended college. This is his first academic degree.

<< Back | Next >>