Tom Hanks in ‘blackface’ controversy

Orlando Parfitt

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks has been forced to apologise after a video emerged of him on stage with a man in blackface.

The footage was shot in 2004 at a fundraising event at his children’s school, St. Matthew's Parish School, in California and has been released online by American political website The Daily Caller.

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The grainy video shows Hanks chatting and joking with a man identified by The Daily Caller as investment banker James Montgomery, who is wearing blackface, dressed in ‘African tribal wear' and holding a toy gorilla.

Eagles musician Glenn Frey is also on stage and at one point says: “This is as close to diversity as we’ll get at St Matthew’s.”

During the clip Hanks auctions a ‘trophy gorilla’, complete with banana-shaped earrings. “It comes with a dowry,” he said.

Hanks was criticised by the Congress of Racial Equality, who called the incident “an orchestrated, heinous, and racist ‘Stepin Fetchit’ routine that Mr Hanks was a part of.”

Hanks released a statement distancing himself from the skit.

“In 2004, I was blindsided when one of the parents got up on the stage in a costume that was hideously offensive then and is hideously offensive now," he said. "What is usually a night of food and drink for a good cause was, regrettably, marred by an appalling few moments."

Montgomery has also responded to the video, saying: "Each of us does and says things at one point or another in our lives we regret. The costume I wore to the 2004 Fundraiser was one such thing for me.”