Glenn Ford: Wikis


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Glenn Ford

Glenn Ford in the 1953 film Plunder of the Sun.
Born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford
May 1, 1916(1916-05-01)
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada[1]
Died August 30, 2006 (aged 90)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Years active 1939-1992
Spouse(s) Eleanor Powell (1943-1959)
Kathryn Hays (1966-1969)
Cynthia Hayward (1974-1977)
Jeanne Baus (1993-1994)

Glenn Ford (May 1, 1916 – August 30, 2006) was a Canadian-born American actor from Hollywood's Golden Era with a career that spanned seven decades. Despite his versatility, Ford was best known for playing ordinary men in unusual circumstances.


Early life and career

Born as Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford at Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City,[2] Ford was the son of Anglo-Quebecers Hannah Wood Mitchell and Newton Ford, a railway conductor.[3] Through his father, Glenn Ford was a great-nephew of Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald.[4] Ford moved to Santa Monica, California with his family at the age of eight, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939.

After Ford graduated from Santa Monica High School, he began working in small theatre groups. Ford later commented that his railroad executive father had no objection to his growing interest in acting, but told him, "It's all right for you to try to act, if you learn something else first. Be able to take a car apart and put it together. Be able to build a house, every bit of it. Then you'll always have something."[5] Ford heeded the advice and during the 1950s, when he was one of Hollywood's most popular actors, he regularly worked on plumbing, wiring and air conditioning at home.[5] At times, he worked as a roofer and installer of plate-glass windows.

He acted in West Coast stage companies, before joining Columbia Pictures in 1939. His stage name came from his father's hometown of Glenford, Canada.[6] His first major movie part was in the 1939 film, Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence.

Military service

Glenn Ford - USN 2.jpg

In 1942, Ford's film career was interrupted when he volunteered for duty in World War II with the United States Marine Corps Reserve on December 13, 1942, as a photographic specialist at the rank of Sergeant. He was assigned in March 1943 to active duty at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego. He was sent to Marine Corps Schools Detachment (Photographic Section) in Quantico, Virginia three months later, with orders as a motion-picture production technician. Sergeant Ford returned to the San Diego base in February 1944 and was assigned next to the radio section of the Public Relations Office, Headquarters Company, Base Headquarters Battalion. There he staged and broadcast the radio program Halls of Montezuma. Ford was honorably discharged from the Marines on December 7, 1944.

In 1958, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and was commissioned as a lieutenant commander with a 1655 designator (public affairs officer). During his annual training tours, he promoted the Navy through radio and television broadcasts, personal appearances, and documentary films. He was promoted to commander in 1963 and captain in 1968.

Ford went to Vietnam in 1967 for a month's tour of duty as a location scout for combat scenes in a training film entitled Global Marine. He traveled with a combat camera crew from the demilitarized zone south to the Mekong Delta. For his service in Vietnam, the Navy awarded him a Navy Commendation Medal. His World War II decorations are as follows: American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Rifle Marksman Badge, and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Medal. He retired from the Naval Reserve in the 1970s at the rank of captain.[7]

Acting career

Following military service, Ford's breakthrough role was in 1946, starring alongside Rita Hayworth in Gilda.[2] He went on to be a leading man opposite her in a total of five films.[2] While the movie is mostly remembered as the vehicle for Hayworth's "provocative rendition of a song called Put the Blame on Mame", The New York Times movie reviewer Bosley Crowther praised Ford's "stamina and poise in a thankless role" despite the movie's poor direction.[5]

Ford's career flourished in the 1950s and into the 1960s and continued into the early 1990s, with an increasing number of television roles. His major roles in thrillers, dramas and action films include A Stolen Life with Bette Davis, The Secret of Convict Lake with Gene Tierney, The Big Heat, Blackboard Jungle, Framed, Interrupted Melody with Eleanor Parker, Experiment in Terror with Lee Remick, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Superman and westerns such as The Fastest Gun Alive, 3:10 to Yuma and Cimarron. Ford's versatility also allowed him to star in a number of popular comedies, such as The Teahouse of the August Moon, Don't Go Near the Water, The Gazebo, Cry for Happy and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

In 1971, Ford signed with CBS to star in his first television series, a half hour comedy/drama titled The Glenn Ford Show. However, CBS head Fred Silverman noticed that many of the featured films being shown at a Glenn Ford film festival were westerns. He suggested doing a western series instead, which resulted in the "modern day western" series, Cade's County. Ford played southwestern Sheriff Cade for one season (1971–1972) in a mix of western drama and police mystery. In The Family Holvak (1975–1976), Ford portrayed a depression era preacher in a family drama, reprising the same character he had played in the TV film, The Greatest Gift.

In 1978, Ford had a supporting role in Superman, as Clark Kent's adopted father, Jonathan Kent, a role that introduced Ford to a new generation of film audiences.[2] Ford's final scene in the film begins with a direct reference to Blackboard Jungle - the earlier film's theme song "Rock Around the Clock" is heard on a car radio. In 1991, Ford agreed to star in a cable network series, African Skies. However, prior to the start of the series, he developed blood clots in his legs which required a lengthy stay in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Eventually he recovered, but at one time his situation was so severe that he was listed in critical condition. Ford was forced to drop out of the series and was replaced by Robert Mitchum.

The 2006 movie Superman Returns includes a scene where Ma Kent (played by Eva Marie Saint) stands next to the living room mantel after Superman returns from his quest to find remnants of Krypton. On that mantel is a picture of Pa Kent (as played by Glenn Ford). This "cameo" of sorts was Ford's last screen appearance (the photograph is more easily visible in a deleted scene included with the DVD release of the film).

Personal life

Glenn Ford in 1979

Ford's first wife was actress and dancer Eleanor Powell (1943–1959), with whom he had his only child, Peter (born 1945). The couple appeared together on screen once, in a short subject produced in the 1950s entitled The Faith of Our Children; when they married, Powell was more famous than Ford.[2] Ford subsequently married actress Kathryn Hays (1966–1969); Cynthia Hayward (1977–1984) and Jeanne Baus (1993–1994). All four marriages ended in divorce. Ford was not on good terms with his ex-wives. He also had a long-term relationship with actress Hope Lange in the early 1960s, although they never married.[2]

In 1978, Ford underwent hypnosis at his home in Beverly Hills, and recalled a past life of being a Colorado cowboy named Charlie Bill.[citation needed] He gave a detailed description of a past life, which was tape-recorded for academics at the University of California to study. A second experiment was conducted[citation needed] at the university itself when Ford, then 61, responded well to the hypnosis. This time he did not recall the life of Charlie Bill, but that of a Scottish piano teacher named Charles Stuart. "I teach the piano to young flibbertigibbets", said Ford under the hypnosis, using a quaint old English word for rascals not in common use in California. He allegedly played a few notes on piano during the experiment, despite later telling that he never had been taught to play the instrument. The researchers then managed to locate the grave of a Charles Stuart in Elgin, Scotland, who died in 1840. After being shown a photo of the burial place, Ford said "That shook me up real bad. I felt immediately that it was the place I was buried."

For the first half of his life, Glenn Ford supported the US Democratic Party - in the 1950s he supported Adlai Stevenson for President - and in later years became a supporter of the Republican Party, campaigning for his friend Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections.[citation needed]

Ford offered to buy the National Hockey League's Atlanta Flames for $8 million in 1980 in order to keep the team in Atlanta, but was outbid by Canadian Nelson Skalbania, who moved the team to Calgary, Alberta, where they became the Calgary Flames.[citation needed]

Ford's son, Peter, became an actor (as well as a singer and radio host), before giving up on his acting career around 1975;[2] he later became a successful business contractor. Ford was reportedly furious when he learned that Peter had briefly taken control of his estate in 1992, when he was seriously ill and had gone into a coma while in the hospital. Ford became estranged from his son and stated that he would leave his estate to Pauli Kiernan, his 39-year-old nurse and companion. While Peter contended Kiernan was manipulating his father, the elder Ford said, "What Peter has done to me is cruel and wicked. He just wants my money. I want my nurse Pauli to get the money. I know who's been good and kind to me in these last years of my life."[5] Several years later, however, Glenn and Peter Ford reconciled. Peter subsequently moved into his father's Beverly Hills mansion along with the latter's wife Lynda and their three children.[5]


Ford suffered a series of minor strokes which left him in frail health in the years leading up to his death. He died in his Beverly Hills home on August 30, 2006 at the age of 90.[8]

His interment was located in Santa Monica's Woodlawn Cemetery.


After being nominated in 1957 and 1958, in 1962 Glenn Ford won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor for his performance in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles. He was listed in Quigley's Annual List of Top Ten Boxoffice Champions in 1956, 1958 and 1959, topping the list at number one in 1958.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Glenn Ford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Blvd. In 1978, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1987 he received the Donostia Award in the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and in 1992 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur medal for his actions in the Second World War.

Ford was scheduled to make his first public appearance in 15 years at a 90th birthday tribute gala in his honor[9] hosted by the American Cinematheque at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on May 1, 2006, but at the last minute, he had to bow out. Anticipating that his health might prevent his attendance, Ford had the previous week recorded a special filmed message for the audience, which was screened after a series of in-person tributes from friends including Martin Landau, Shirley Jones, Jamie Farr and Debbie Reynolds.[10]

On October 4, 2008, Peter Ford held a live auction on the Internet to sell some of his father's possessions, including Ford’s lacquered cowboy boots (opening bid $2,500), Ford's jacket and cap from The White Tower ($400), his wool trench coat from Young Man with Ideas ($300), and his United States Naval Reserve uniform cap ($250). The auction also offered the sofa where the senior Ford allegedly claimed to have had a romantic "encounter" with Marilyn Monroe ($1,750).[11]


See also


  1. ^ Glenn Ford bio
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Photos from the Glenn Ford Library". Ford family. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  3. ^ Marriage Certificate of Newton Ford and Hannah Wood Mitchell Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 > P > Portneuf (Church of England) > 1914
  4. ^ "Glenn Ford, Leading Man in Films and TV, Dies at 90". New York Times. August 31, 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Richard Severo, "Glenn Ford, Actor 1916-2006", The Globe and Mail, September 1, 2006, p. S10
  6. ^ "'Blackboard Jungle' Actor Glenn Ford Dies at 90". Fox News. August 31, 2006.,2933,211422,00.html. 
  7. ^ James E. Wise and Anne Collier Rehill (1997). Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Naval Institute Press. pp. 259–264. ISBN 1-55750-937-9. 
  8. ^ New York Times obituary for Glenn Ford
  9. ^ Glenn Ford Salute
  10. ^ Army Archerd: "I visit Glenn Ford on his 90th"
  11. ^ "Glenn Ford's Son Auctioning Father's Memorabilia" @

External links

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