Harrison Ford - biography
Harrison Ford (born July 13, 1942) is an American film actor and producer. Ford is best known for his performances as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy and as the title character of the Indiana Jones film series. He is also known for his roles as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, John Book in Witness and Jack Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. His four-decade career also includes roles in several other Hollywood blockbusters, including Presumed Innocent, The Fugitive, Air Force One, and What Lies Beneath. At one point, three of the top five box-office hits of all time included one of his roles. Five of his films have been inducted into the National Film Registry.
In 1997, Ford was ranked # 1 in Empire's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. As of July 2008, the United States domestic box office grosses of Ford's films total almost $3.4 billion, with worldwide grosses surpassing $6 billion, making Ford the third highest grossing U.S. domestic box-office star. Ford is the husband of actress Calista Flockhart.
Ford was born on July 13, 1942, at Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital, to Dorothy (née Dora Nidelman), a homemaker and former radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an advertising executive and a former actor. A younger brother, Terence, was born in 1945. Harrison Ford's paternal grandparents, Florence Veronica Niehaus and John Fitzgerald Ford, were of German and Irish Catholic descent, respectively. His maternal grandparents, Anna Lifschutz and Harry Nidelman, were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire). When asked in which religion he was raised, Ford has jokingly responded, "Democrat". He has also said that he feels "Irish as a person, but I feel Jewish as an actor".
Ford was active in the Boy Scouts of America, and achieved its second-highest rank, Life Scout. He worked at a scout camp, Napowan Adventure Base, as a counselor for the Reptile Study merit badge. Because of this, he and Eagle Scout director Steven Spielberg later decided that the character of young Indiana Jones would be depicted as a Life Scout in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They also jokingly reversed Ford's knowledge of reptiles into Jones's fear of snakes.
In 1960, Ford graduated from Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois. His was the first student voice broadcast on his high school's new radio station, WMTH, and he was its first sportscaster during his senior year, 1959–1960. He attended Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He took a drama class in his junior year, chiefly as a way to meet women. Ford, a self-described "late bloomer", became fascinated with acting.
In 1964, Ford travelled to Los Angeles, California to apply for a job in radio voice-overs. He did not get it, but stayed in California and eventually signed a $150 a week contract with Columbia Pictures's New Talent program, playing bit roles in films. His first known part was an uncredited role as a bellhop in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966). There is little record of his non-speaking roles (or "extra" work) in film.
His speaking roles continued next with Luv (1967), though he was still uncredited. He was finally credited as "Harrison J. Ford" in the 1967 Western film, A Time for Killing, but the "J" did not stand for anything since he has no middle name. It was added to avoid confusion with a silent film actor named Harrison Ford, who appeared in more than 80 films between 1915 and 1932, and died in 1957. Ford later said that he was unaware of the existence of the earlier Harrison Ford until he came upon a star with his own name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Ford soon dropped the "J" and worked for Universal Studios, playing minor roles in many television series throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Gunsmoke, Ironside, The Virginian, The F.B.I., Love, American Style, and Kung Fu. He appeared in the western Journey to Shiloh (1968) and had an uncredited, non-speaking role in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 film Zabriskie Point as an arrested student protester. Not happy with the roles being offered to him, Ford became a self-taught professional carpenter to support his then-wife and two small sons. While working as a carpenter, he became a stagehand for the popular rock band The Doors. He also built a sun deck for Sally Kellerman and a recording studio for Sergio Mendes.
He returned to acting when George Lucas, who had hired him to build cabinets in his home, cast him in a pivotal supporting role for his film American Graffiti (1973). His relationship with Lucas was to have a profound effect on Ford's career. After director Francis Ford Coppola's film The Godfather was a success, he hired Ford to do expansions of his office and Harrison was given a small role in his next two films, The Conversation (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979).
Ford's work as a carpenter would land him his biggest role to date. In 1975, George Lucas hired him to read lines for actors being cast for parts in his upcoming space opera, Star Wars (1977). However, Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and decided to cast him as Han Solo. Star Wars became the second highest grossing movie of all time in the United States and established Harrison Ford as a superstar. He went on to star in the successful Star Wars sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), as well as The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). Ford wanted Lucas to write in the death of the iconic Han Solo at the end of either sequel, saying "that would have given the whole film a bottom", but Lucas refused.
Ford's stardom as a leading man was solidified when he starred as Indiana Jones in the Lucas/Spielberg collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He reprised the role for the prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and the sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), which turned Ford himself into a blockbuster phenomenon. He later returned to his role as Indiana Jones again for a 1993 episode of the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and for the fourth film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). A sequel, Indiana Jones 5, is currently in development. The story was originally rumored to center around the Bermuda Triangle. Frank Marshall later revealed on his Twitter page, however, that the story was false. Shia LaBeouf is set to return as Indy's son, Mutt Williams. A release date has not yet been set.
Other film work
Ford has been in numerous other films including Heroes (1977), Force 10 from Navarone (1978), and Hanover Street (1979). Ford also co-starred alongside Gene Wilder in the buddy-Western The Frisco Kid (1979), playing a bank robber with a heart of gold. He then starred as Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott's cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982), and in a number of dramatic-action films: Peter Weir's Witness (1985) and The Mosquito Coast (1986), and Roman Polanski's Frantic (1988).
The 1990s brought Ford the role of Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), as well as leading roles in Alan Pakula's Presumed Innocent (1990) and The Devil's Own (1997), Andrew Davis's The Fugitive (1993), Sydney Pollack's remake of Sabrina (1995), and Wolfgang Petersen's Air Force One (1997). Ford has also played straight dramatic roles, including an adulterous husband with a terrible secret in both Presumed Innocent (1990) and What Lies Beneath (2000), and a recovering amnesiac in Mike Nichols' Regarding Henry (1991).
Many of Ford's major film roles came to him by default through unusual circumstances: he won the role of Han Solo while reading lines for other actors, was cast as Indiana Jones because Tom Selleck was not available, and took the role of Jack Ryan due to Alec Baldwin's fee demands (Baldwin had previously played the role in The Hunt for Red October).
Ford's star power has waned in recent years, the result of appearing in numerous critically derided and commercially disappointing movies, including Six Days Seven Nights (1998), Random Hearts (1999), K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), Hollywood Homicide (2003), and Firewall (2006). One exception was 2000's What Lies Beneath, which ended up grossing over $155 million in the United States and $300 million worldwide. In 2004, Ford declined a chance to star in the thriller Syriana, later commenting that "I didn't feel strongly enough about the truth of the material and I think I made a mistake." The role eventually went to George Clooney, who won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his work. Prior to that, he had passed on a role in another Stephen Gaghan-written role, Robert Wakefield in Traffic. That role went to Michael Douglas.
In 2008, Ford enjoyed success with the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, another collaboration between George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The film received generally mixed reviews but was the second highest-grossing film worldwide in 2008. He later said he would like to star in another sequel "if it didn't take another 20 years to digest". Other 2008 work included Crossing Over, directed by Wayne Kramer. In the film, he plays an immigrations officer, working alongside Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta. He also narrated a feature documentary film about the Dalai Lama entitled Dalai Lama Renaissance.
Ford filmed the medical drama Extraordinary Measures in 2009 in Portland, Oregon. Released January 22, 2010, the film also starred Brendan Fraser and Alan Ruck. Ford is also set to star in the film Morning Glory, co-starring along with Patrick Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Diane Keaton.
Recently he has expressed interest in returning to the Jack Ryan franchise.
Ford received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Witness, for which he also received "Best Actor" BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. He received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2002 Golden Globe Awards and on June 2, 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has received three additional "Best Actor" Golden Globe nominations for The Mosquito Coast, The Fugitive and Sabrina. In 2006, Ford was awarded the Jules Verne Spirit of Nature Award for his work in nature and wildlife preservation. The ceremony took place at the historic Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
He received the first ever Hero Award for his many iconic roles, including Han Solo and Indiana Jones, at the 2007 Scream Awards, and in 2008, the Spike TV's Guy's Choice Award for Brass Balls.
Harrison Ford received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2000.
Ford is one of Hollywood's most notoriously private actors, guarding his personal life. He has two sons (Benjamin and Willard) with his first wife, Mary Marquardt, as well as two children (Malcolm and Georgia) with his second wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison. He began dating Calista Flockhart after meeting at the 2002 Golden Globes, and together they are parents to her adopted son, Liam. Ford proposed to Flockhart over Valentine's Day weekend in 2009. They were married on June 15, 2010 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Ford is filming Cowboys and Aliens.
Ford has three grandchildren: Eliel (b. 1993), Giuliana (b. 1997), and Ethan (b. 2000). Son Benjamin owns Ford's Filling Station, a gastro pub in Culver City, California. Son Willard is co-owner of Ford&Ching showroom as well as Ludwig clothing company.
Ford injured his chin at the age of 20 when his car, a Volvo 544, hit a telephone pole in Northern California; the scar is visible in his films. An explanation for it on film is offered in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when a young Indiana Jones cuts his chin while attempting to crack a whip to ward off a lion. In Working Girl, Ford's character explains that it happened when he passed out and hit his chin on the toilet when a college girlfriend was piercing his ear. In June 1983, at age 40, during the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in London, he herniated a disc in his back, forcing him to fly back to Los Angeles for an operation. He returned six weeks later.
In 1993, the arachnologist Norman Platnick named a new species of spider Calponia harrisonfordi, and in 2002, the entomologist Edward O. Wilson named a new ant species Pheidole harrisonfordi (in recognition of Harrison's work as Vice Chairman of Conservation International).
Since 1992, Ford has lent his voice to a series of public service messages promoting environmental involvement for EarthShare, an American federation of environmental and conservation charities.
Like his parents, Ford is a lifelong Democrat, and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.
On September 7, 1995, Ford testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of the Dalai Lama and an independent Tibet, and was banned thereafter by the Chinese government from entering Tibet and China. In 2008, he narrated the documentary Dalai Lama Renaissance.
In 2003, he publicly condemned the Iraq War and called for "regime change" in the United States. He also criticized Hollywood for making violent movies, and called for more gun control in the United States. He opposed the recall of Californian Governor Gray Davis, and stated in an interview that replacing Davis with Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a mistake.
Following on his success portraying the archaeologist Indiana Jones, Ford also plays a part in supporting the work of professional archaeologists. He serves as a General Trustee on the Governing Board of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), North America's oldest and largest organization devoted to the world of archaeology. Ford assists them in their mission of increasing public awareness of archaeology and preventing looting and the illegal antiquities trade.
Ford volunteered as a food server near Ground Zero in 2001. On November 21, 2007, Ford and other celebrities, including Kirk Douglas, Nia Long and Calista Flockhart, helped serve hot meals to the homeless at the annual Thanksgiving feast at the Los Angeles Mission.
Ford is a private pilot of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and owns an 800-acre (3.2 km²) ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, approximately half of which he has donated as a nature reserve. On several occasions, Ford has personally provided emergency helicopter services at the behest of local authorities, in one instance rescuing a hiker overcome by dehydration.
Ford began flight training in the 1960s at Wild Rose Airport in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, flying in a Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer, but at $15 an hour he was unable to continue the training. His interest returned in the mid-1990s when he bought a used Gulfstream II and asked one of his pilots, Terry Bender, to give him flying lessons. They started flying a Cessna 182 out of Jackson, Wyoming. He later switched to Teterboro, New Jersey, flying a Cessna 206, the aircraft he soloed in.
On October 23, 1999, Harrison Ford was involved in the crash of a Bell 206L4 LongRanger helicopter (N36R). The NTSB accident report states that Ford was piloting the aircraft over the Lake Piru riverbed near Santa Clarita, California, on a routine training flight. While making his second attempt at an autorotation with powered recovery Ford allowed the aircraft's altitude to drop to 150–200 feet before beginning power up. As a result the aircraft was unable to recover power before hitting the ground. The aircraft landed hard and began skidding forward in the loose gravel before one of its skids struck a partially embedded log and flipped onto its side. Neither Ford nor the instructor pilot suffered any injuries though the helicopter was seriously damaged. When asked about the incident by fellow pilot James Lipton in an interview on the TV show Inside the Actor's Studio Ford replied "I broke it."
Ford owns various aircraft:
- de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (N28S)
- Aviat A-1B Husky (N6HY)
- Cessna Citation Sovereign (N5GU)
- Beechcraft B36TC Bonanza
- Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
- 1929-vintage Waco Taperwing
- Bell 407
- Cessna 525B CitationJet 3
- Gulfstream II
- Gulfstream IV-SP
- Pilatus PC-12
Ford keeps his aircraft at Santa Monica Airport, though the Bell 407 is often kept and flown in Jackson, Wyoming, and has been used by the actor in two mountain rescues during the actor's assigned duty time assisting the Teton County Search and Rescue. On one of the rescues Ford recovered a hiker who had become lost and disoriented. She boarded Ford's Bell 407 and promptly vomited into one of the rescuers' caps (she says it was not Ford's cap), unaware of who the pilot was until much later, saying, "I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter!"
Ford flies his de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (N28S) more than any of his other aircraft, and although he dislikes showing favoritism, he has repeatedly stated that he likes this aircraft and the sound of its Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial engine. Ford first encountered the Beaver while filming Six Days Seven Nights, and soon purchased one. Kenmore Air in Kenmore, Washington, restored Ford's yellow and green Beaver — a junked former U.S. military aircraft — with updated avionics and an upgraded engine. According to Ford, it had been flown in the CIA's Air America operations, and was riddled with bullet holes, which had to be patched up. He uses it regularly for impromptu fly-ins at remote airports and bush strips, as well as gatherings with other Beaver owners and pilots.
In March 2004, Ford officially became chairman of the Young Eagles program of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Ford was asked to take the position by Greg Anderson, Senior Vice President of the EAA at the time, to replace General Charles "Chuck" Yeager who was vacating the post that he had held for many years. Ford at first was hesitant, but later accepted the offer and has made appearances with the Young Eagles at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh gathering at Oshkosh, Wisconsin for two years. In July 2005 at the gathering in Oshkosh Ford agreed to accept the position for another two years. Ford has flown over 280 children as part of the Young Eagles program, usually in his DHC-2 Beaver, which can seat the actor and five children. Ford is involved with the EAA chapter in Driggs, Idaho, just over the mountains from Jackson, Wyoming.
As of 2009, Ford appears in Web advertisements for General Aviation Serves America, a campaign by advocacy group AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association).
Ford is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian aviation organization Wings of Hope.
He has also flown as an invited VIP with the Blue Angels.
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