Friday, July 20, 2007

Glenn Ford,
Actor and U.S. Marine
Gwyllyn Samuel Newton "Glenn" Ford (May 1, 1916 – August 30, 2006) was an acclaimed Canadian-born actor from Hollywood's Golden Era with a career that spanned seven decades. He was born to Anglo-Quebecer parents at Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City, Quebec and was a grand-nephew of Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. 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.

Ford is best known for his film roles playing either cowboys or ordinary men in unusual circumstances. His acting career began on stage, and his first major movie part was in the 1939 film Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence.

Military service
In 1942, Ford's film career was interrupted when he volunteered for duty in World War II with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 13 December 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, that June, 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. Glenn Ford was honorably discharged from the Marines on 7 December 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.

Postwar career
Following military service, Ford's breakthrough role was in 1946, starring alongside Rita Hayworth in Gilda . He went on to be a leading man opposite her in a total of five films. 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 pose in a thankless role" despite the movie's poor direction.

Ford's acting career flourished in the 1950s and into the '60s, 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, Framed, Blackboard Jungle, Interrupted Melody with Eleanor Parker, Experiment in Terror with Lee Remick, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Ransom!, 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, including Teahouse of the August Moon, Don't Go Near the Water, The Gazebo, Cry For Happy, and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

Ford starred for one season in the television series Cade's County (1971-1972), in which he played Southwestern Sheriff Cade 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". Julie Harris co-starred as his wife.

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. 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.

Personal life
After Ford graduated from High school, he began working on small theatre groups. Ford later commented that his father had no objection to his son's growing interest in acting but told him: "Its 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." Ford listened to his father's 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. At times, he worked as a roofer and installer of plate-glass windows. Ford was married four times: to actress Eleanor Powell (1943-1959, one son); Kathryn Hays (1966-1969); Cynthia Hayward (1977-1984); and Jeanne Baus (1993-1994). All four marriages ended in divorce. Ford appeared on screen with Powell only once, in a short subject produced in the 1950s entitled The Faith of Our Children.
Ford suffered a series of minor strokes which left him in frail health in the years leading up to his death. 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.

Ford's only child, Peter Ford (born 1945), also became an actor (as well as a singer and radio host) before giving up on his acting career around 1975; 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 Ms. Kiernan was manipulating his father, the elder Ford refused to accept his explanation and 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."

Several years later, however, Glenn Ford reconciled with his son Peter who subsequently moved into Ford's Beverly Hills mansion along with the latter's wife Lynda and their three children. However, unlike his son, Ford never reconciled with any of his wives. Glenn and Peter Ford then maintained a close relationship; Peter is currently writing a biography about his father.

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 Lйgion 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 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