Gene Hackman was 25 years old when he finally decided to take his chance at acting by enrolling at the Pasadena Playhouse in California on the G.I. Bill. Legend says that Hackman and friend Dustin Hoffman were voted "least likely to succeed." He failed out after 3 months. He received one of the lowest grades the school had ever given, 1.3 out of 10. He hopped on a bus to New York City to make it on stage and prove them wrong.
While in New York, Hackman worked as a soda jerk, furniture mover, and worked nights at the Chrysler Building as part of the crew that polished the leather furniture.
In a 2004 Vanity Fair story on him, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Duvall, Hackman said one of the worst memories of being a struggling actor, was working as a doorman at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Times Square. He recalled having seen former Marine officers pass him by when opening the door for them, of which one had said "Hackman, you're a sorry son of a bitch." Another time, a Pasadena Playhouse acting teacher whom Hackman hated walked by him, stopped, and shouted, “See Hackman, I was right, you would never amount to anything!”Gene Hackman went on to win two Academy Awards & three Golden Globes!