Gary Sinise has won acting trophies and enjoyed the astronomical ratings of his hit show, CSI: NY. But his greatest reward comes from the charitable work he does offscreen.Photograph by Melanie Dunea.
While several of the golden-marquee costars Gary Sinise has had throughout the years, like Nicolas Cage, have continued to conduct choruses of box-office ka-ching with special effects and eye-candy espionage, and others, like Sharon Stone, have barricaded themselves from paparazzi in makeshift foxholes, Sinise has emerged as a perhaps unlikely great American action hero, having spearheaded a massive movement to support U.S. troops and the children of war they protect. While Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith went to Washington to affect big change, Sinise -- star of Forrest Gump, Snake Eyes, and CBS’s smash hit CSI: NY -- goes to the Middle East, and the effects are no less powerful.
In just five years, Sinise’s Operation Iraqi Children (OIC) -- run in collaboration with Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend; and Mary Jean Eisenhower, president and CEO of People to People International and granddaughter of former president Dwight Eisenhower -- has delivered more than 650 tons of school supplies to war-ravaged Iraq, giving weary troops tangibles they can use to connect with local children and inspiring those same children to pursue higher education. Additionally, Sinise plays in nearly three dozen United Service Organization (USO) shows each year with his cheekily named classic-rock unit, the Lt. Dan Band, whose moniker is derived from Sinise’s indelible Oscar-nominated role in Forrest Gump.
Sinise, who has won multiple acting awards and is now entering his sixth season as detective Mac Taylor on the slice-and-sleuth CSI: NY, is a Renaissance man with a political conscience. Friends and colleagues have tagged him “this generation’s Bob Hope.”
“The nonsurprise about Gary is that he is a multitalented celebrity,” says Eisenhower, an Executive Committee member of OIC. “The surprise is that Gary uses that status constantly not to further himself but to further the causes and the passions and the needs of those who need that support most. Gary does more than most of us will ever know. I call him a silent angel.”