Harrison Ford Biography

Harrison Ford Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Harrison Ford" (born July 13, 1942) is an Academy Award-nominated American actor. Ford is best known for his performances as the tough, wisecracking space pilot Han Solo in the "Star Wars" film series and the adventurous archaeologist and action hero, Dr. Henry 'Indiana' Jones Junior, in the Indiana Jones film series, but his four-decade career also included roles in other Hollywood blockbusters such as "Air Force One" and "The Fugitive" At one point, Ford had roles in the top five box-office hits of all time, though his role in 1982's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (as Elliot's school principal) was deleted from the final cut of the film. Five of his films have been inducted into the National Film Registry.

As of May 2007, the domestic box office grosses of Ford's films total about US$3.10 billion, with worldwide grosses approaching US$6 billion, making Ford the No. 3 domestic box-office star behind Eddie Murphy and Tom Hanks.

He was ranked #1 in Empire magazine's 'The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time' list.

Early life

Ford was born on Monday, July 13, 1942, at 11:41 AM Central Time in Chicago, Illinois at Swedish Covenant Hospital to Dorothy Nidelman (born "Dora Nidelman" on October 17, 1917, in New Jersey; died February 10, 2004), a former radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born "John William Ford" on November 20, 1906 in New York; died February 10, 1999), an advertising executive and a former actor. Ford's paternal grandparents were of Irish and German descent, and his maternal grandparents, Harry Nidelman and Anna Lifschutz, were Jewish immigrants from Russia. When asked in which religion he was raised Ford jokingly responded, 'Democrat.' Ford has also said that he feels 'Irish as a person but I feel Jewish as an actor.'

He was active in the Boy Scouts of America, in which he achieved its second-highest rank, Life Scout, and worked at a Scout Camp as a Reptile Study merit badge counselor. Because of this, he and 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' fear of snakes.

In 1960, Ford graduated from Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, where he claims he was picked on by bullies and ignored by girls and also voted 'Boy Least Likely to Succeed.' His was the first student voice broadcast on his high school's new radio station, WMTH-FM, and was its first sportscaster during his senior year, 1959-1960. The radio room still bears his graffiti. 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. Toward the end of his college freshman year, he was a member of a folk band called The Brothers Gross, in which he played gutbucket. He did not graduate from Ripon.

Early work

In 1964, Ford travelled to Los Angeles, California to pursue a job in radio voice-overs. He did not get the job, but stayed in California, and eventually signed a $150/week contract with Columbia Pictures's New Talent program, playing bit roles in films. His first known speaking 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, save for a brief foreground appearance on a train in The Great Escape (1963). His speaking roles continued next with "Luv" (1967) though he was again uncredited. In his next film, he was credited as 'Harrison J. Ford' in the 1967 Western film, "A Time For Killing", but the 'J' didn't stand for anything because he does not have a middle name. It was added to avoid confusion with the silent film actor named Harrison Ford, who appeared in more than 80 films between 1915 and 1932, and who died in 1957. Ford later said that he was unaware of the existence of the earlier Harrison Ford (who is no relation) until he stumbled across a star with his own name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ford soon dropped the 'J' from his name 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". Ford was offered the role of Mike Stivic in Norman Lear's "All in the Family" but he turned down the part because of expressions of bigotry uttered by the leading character Archie Bunker. Then, he played in the western "Journey to Shiloh" (1968) and had an uncredited role in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 film "Zabriskie Point" as an airport worker. Not happy with the acting jobs being offered to him, Ford became a self-taught professional carpenter to better support his then-wife and two small sons. Some of Ford's carpentry work remains in the Hollywood Hills area. While working as a carpenter, he became a stagehand for the popular rock band, "The Doors", and drummer John Densmore's book 'Riders on the Storm' mentions that he was one of the four cameras for their taped concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968. He also built a sun deck for ­­­Sally Kellerman and a recording studio for Sergio Mendes.

He turned to acting again 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). The relation he forged 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).

"Star Wars"

Harrison Ford's work as a carpenter would land the actor his biggest role to date. In 1975, director George Lucas used him to read lines for actors being cast for parts in his upcoming space opera, "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope". At the reading, Steven Spielberg noticed that Ford was suited for the part of Han Solo and convinced Lucas to give Harrison the role that would eventually shoot him to fame.

The 6'1' Ford went on to star as Solo in the next two "Star Wars" sequels, "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi", as well as in "The Star Wars Holiday Special". He wanted George Lucas to write in the death of the iconic Han Solo character at the end of "Return of the Jedi", saying 'that would have given the whole film a bottom', but Lucas refused.

Other films

Ford made many movies in the wake of "Star Wars". There was "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. Ford then starred in 1981 as Indiana Jones in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster historical action-yarn, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" , and its hugely successful prequel and sequel to date, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), which turned Ford himself into a blockbuster phenomenon. Unlike many other actors of the same or similar genre, Ford's authenticity as a daring action hero was supported by his willingness to perform many of his own stunts for the Indiana Jones trilogy. During this time, Ford also starred in a number of dramatic-action films: Peter Weir's "Witness" (1985) and "The Mosquito Coast" (1986) and Roman Polanski's "Frantic" (1988). He also starred in Mike Nichols' romantic drama "Working Girl" (1988) and as Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott's cult sci-fi classic, "Blade Runner" (1982).

The 1990s brought Ford the role of Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger", as well as leading roles in Alan Pakula's "Presumed Innocent" (1990) and "The Devil's Own" (1997), Mike Nichols' "Regarding Henry" (1991), Andrew Davis' "The Fugitive" (1993), Sydney Pollack's remake of "Sabrina" (1995) and Wolfgang Petersen's "Air Force One" (1997). During production of "The Fugitive", he reprised his role as Indiana Jones in an episode of the television series "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles". 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 "Regarding Henry" (1991).

Many of Ford's major film roles came to him by default or 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").


The 2001 edition of the "Guinness Book of Records" listed Ford as the richest actor alive: his reported salary for the 2002 flop "K-19: The Widowmaker" was $25 million. The 27 movies that he has starred in have grossed a combined box office of more than $3.3 billion. However, since then he has been overtaken by Eddie Murphy and Tom Hanks as the biggest movie star, and Mel Gibson is now the world's richest living actor.


Despite being one of the most financially successful actors of his generation, Ford has received just one Oscar nomination, that of Best Actor for "Witness". It has been speculated that this has been because action movies (such as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies) typically do not receive the same critical acclaim as other genres.

In April 2006, Ford was awarded the K.T. Hurley Award for Conservation for his work helping young people with their nature conservation projects.

In 2000, he received the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. On June 2, 2003, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Kodak Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.

On Oct. 6, 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.

Recent work

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). Even 2000's "What Lies Beneath", which featured an unusually dark performance from Ford, was widely criticized as predictable and formulaic. Budgeted at more than $90,000,000, "What Lies Beneath" was released on July 21, 2000 and was met with mixed reviews. It received an average of 45% on RottenTomatoes. However, it opened at the top of the box office, grossing $29,702,959. It continued strongly through the summer, and ended up grossing $155,464,351 in the United States and $291,420,351 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. Ford also turned down leading roles in the critically acclaimed films "Traffic" and "A History of Violence" as well as "The Patriot".

Also in 2004, Ford appeared in the straight-to-video "Water to Wine" as a favor to his son Malcolm. Ford was credited as 'Jethro the Bus Driver,' and his line, 'What up, biotch?' has become an Internet phenomenon..

Current and upcoming projects

He is currently scheduled to star in a fourth Indiana Jones movie, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", with a story by George Lucas, screenplay by David Koepp, and direction by Steven Spielberg. Shooting began on the movie in June 2007 for a May 22, 2008 release.

He has also completed filming on a film called "Crossing Over" directed by Wayne Kramer. He will play Immigrations officer Max Brogan alongside Sean Penn and Ray Liotta.

Another new project is the movie "Manhunt", directed by Sebastian Cordero and due to be released in 2009. It tells the story of Lieutenant Colonel Everton Conger, who led the hunt for Abraham Lincoln's assassin in 1865.

Ford has also finished recording narration for the upcoming feature documentary film about the Dalai Lama entitled "Dalai Lama Renaissance".

Personal life

Ford is one of Hollywood's most notoriously private actors, zealously guarding his personal life. Outside of film promotion, he rarely appears in the press, preferring to keep to himself at his Jackson, Wyoming home. Ford despises the Internet for facilitating the spread of malicious gossip about him.

Marriages and children

Ford has been married twice. He married Mary Marquardt in 1964, and they divorced in 1979. He had two sons with her, Benjamin (born in 1967) and Willard (born in 1969). He married again, to Melissa Mathison, screenwriter of "The Black Stallion", "Kundun", and "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial", on March 14, 1983. They had two children: a son, Malcolm (born on March 10, 1987), and a daughter, Georgia (born on June 30, 1990). Mathison filed for legal separation on August 23, 2001, and their subsequent divorce in January 2004 has become one of the most expensive in Hollywood history, as she was awarded a share of Ford's residual paychecks. Ford has since been dating actress Calista Flockhart.

Aircraft pilot

Ford is a private pilot of both planes and helicopters, and owns an 800-acre (3.2-km˛) 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. The hiker was asked by local reporters what it felt like to be rescued by 'Indiana Jones', referring to Ford's famous role. The hiker then replied that he wasn't saved by Indy, but rather by 'Han Solo'.

He is the current Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program, taking over after Chuck Yeager retired.

Environmental causes

Ford sits on the board of directors of Conservation International.

Ford is an Honorary Chairman of the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation.

Ford was awarded the Jules Verne Spirit of Nature Award for his ongoing work in preservation of the planet. (... more)


Harrison Ford began flight training in the 1960s at Wild Rose Airport in Wild Rose, Wisconsin flying in a TriPacer, 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 out 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 206-L4 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 Husky A-1B

Cessna Citation CJ3

Beech Bonanza B36T3

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan

1929 Waco Taperwing

Bell 407

Previous aircraft:

Gulfstream II

Gulfstream IVSP

Pilatus PC-12

Ford keeps his aircraft at the 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 threw up in Harrison Ford's helicopter!'

In March 2004 Harrison 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 200 children as part of the Young Eagles program, usually in his De Havilland 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.

Harrison Ford flies his De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver (N28S) more than any of his other aircraft, and though he dislikes showing favoritism, he has repeatably stated that he likes this aircraft and the sound of its Pratt & Whitney 985 radial engine. He uses it regularly for impromptu fly-ins at remote airports, and bush strips, as well as gatherings with other Beaver owners and pilots. 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 DHC-2 (N28S), a junked former U.S. military Beaver, with updated avionics and an upgraded engine.


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).

Awards and nominations

Academy Award

Nominated: Best Actor, "Witness" (1985)


Nominated: Best Actor, "Witness" (1985)

Golden Globe Award

Nominated: Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, "Witness" (1986)

Nominated: Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, "The Mosquito Coast" (1987)

Nominated: Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama, "The Fugitive" (1994)

Nominated: Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical/Comedy, "Sabrina" (1996)

"Won: Cecil B. DeMille Award" (2002)


"Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" (1966)

"Luv" (1967)

"The Long Ride Home: A Time For Killing" (1967)

"Journey To Shiloh" (1968)

"Zabriskie Point" (1970)

"Getting Straight" (1970)

"American Graffiti" (1973)

"The Conversation" (1974)

"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977)

"Heroes" (1977)

"Force 10 from Navarone" (1978)

"Star Wars Holiday Special" (1978)

"Apocalypse Now" (1979)

"Hanover Street" (1979)

"The Frisco Kid" (1979)

"Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)

"Blade Runner" (1982)

"Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983)

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984)

"Witness" (1985)

"The Mosquito Coast" (1986)

"Frantic" (1988)

"Working Girl" (1988)

"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)

"Presumed Innocent" (1990)

"Regarding Henry" (1991)

"Patriot Games" (1992)

"The Fugitive" (1993)

"Clear and Present Danger" (1994)

"Jimmy Hollywood" (1994)

"Sabrina" (1995)

"The Devil's Own" (1997)

"Air Force One" (1997)

"Six Days Seven Nights" (1998)

"Random Hearts" (1999)

"What Lies Beneath" (2000)

"K-19: The Widowmaker" (2002)

"Hollywood Homicide" (2003)

"Scary Movie 3" (2003)(President painting cameo)

"Water To Wine" (2004)

"Firewall" (2006)

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008)

Salary history

"Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" (1966) - $150

"Luv" (1967) - $150/week

"A Time For Killing" (1967) - $150/week

"American Graffiti" (1973) - $500/week

"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977) - $650,000 + royalties

"Presumed Innocent" (1990) - $12,500,000

"Patriot Games" (1992) - $9,000,000

"The Devil's Own" (1997) - $20,000,000

"Air Force One" (1997) - $22,000,000

"Six Days Seven Nights" (1998) - $20,000,000

"Random Hearts" (1999) - $20,000,000

"What Lies Beneath" (2000) - $20,000,000

"K-19: The Widowmaker" (2002) - $25,000,000 + 20% of the Gross

External links

(Harrison Ford Web)

(Harrison Ford: A Web Guide)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Harrison Ford.