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Revealed: How superstar Tom Hanks visited museum near Diss in secret - as his Toy Story character Woody

PUBLISHED: 15:37 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:47 07 March 2017

Actor Tom Hanks is believed to have visited a Norfolk air force museum incognito in 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Actor Tom Hanks is believed to have visited a Norfolk air force museum incognito in 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Actor Tom Hanks signed a visitors’ book after his animated alter ego Woody on an incognito visit to a Norfolk museum, it is believed.

The star toured the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum at Thorpe Abbotts, near Diss, while researching an upcoming Second World War drama, Masters of the Air.

Richard Gibson, museum trustee, said volunteers at the wartime base of the air group known as the ‘Bloody Hundredth’ discovered an entry in the visitors’ book after meeting with representatives from Mr Hanks’ production company, Playtone, on January 22.

The representatives were also laying the groundwork for the new series, which will follow the fortunes of a B-17 bomber crew in the conflict’s final years.

Mr Gibson said: “The producer and screenwriter visited and it was then that they said Tom Hanks had visited here two years ago, but obviously incognito.

The page from the visitors' book at the  100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss, which Tom Hanks is believed to have signed 'Woody'. Picture: STUART ANDERSONThe page from the visitors' book at the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss, which Tom Hanks is believed to have signed 'Woody'. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

“After they left I wondered if he had signed the visitor’s book, so we went back two years and this is what we found.”

The entry Mr Gibson believes came from Mr Hanks was made on March 22, 2015.

The name given was ‘Woody’ who said his address was ‘Covertry’ and summed up his verdict on the museum as ‘Fabulous’, followed by five stars.

Woody was the name of Mr Hanks’ cowboy character from the animated Toy Story film series.

From left, John Orloff, scriptwriter; Don Miller, author of Masters of the Air; and Kirk Saduski, executive in charge of production at Playtone, Tom Hanks' production company, visited the 100th Bomb Group Museum at Thorpe Abbotts last month. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFrom left, John Orloff, scriptwriter; Don Miller, author of Masters of the Air; and Kirk Saduski, executive in charge of production at Playtone, Tom Hanks' production company, visited the 100th Bomb Group Museum at Thorpe Abbotts last month. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

READ MORE: East Anglia to have starring role in Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s HBO series Masters of the Air

Mr Gibson said he was stunned when they found the entry.

He said: “We can’t say 100pc that it was him, but we think it was. What would you think after seeing that?”

Mr Gibson said he thought the new series would herald a boom in interest in the museum and the region in general, as happened following Band of Brothers, Mr Hanks’s previous Second World War TV series set in wartime Europe.

Richard Gibson, trustee of the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss. Picture: STUART ANDERSONRichard Gibson, trustee of the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

He said: “When Band of Brothers was aired the tourist trade in Normandy rose 40pc, so we can assume that something like that could happen here.

“There are people that have come here already just on the strength of the coverage Masters of the Air has received so far.”

READ MORE: A sign of daring times - bombardier’s son makes generous donation to the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, near Diss

Woody with his companion, Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films. (AP Photo/Disney Pixar) ** NO SALES **Woody with his companion, Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films. (AP Photo/Disney Pixar) ** NO SALES **

The Bloody Hundredth, which was assigned to the US 8th Air Force, was given its nickname after the heavy losses it received in the war.

Mr Hanks has been contacted for a comment.

Photo from the archives of the 100th Bomb Group, which was based at Thorpe Abbotts with their B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft.
Photo by Simon FinlayPhoto from the archives of the 100th Bomb Group, which was based at Thorpe Abbotts with their B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft. Photo by Simon Finlay

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