Harrison Ford has over 40 film credits and while film stars appear to be getting ever younger, he's maintaining a career in both action and drama movies even as he approaches 60. But he didn't become even a minor star until he was 32 when he appeared in "American Graffiti", his eighth film.
Born in Chicago on July 13, 1942 to an Irish father and Russian Jewish mother, Ford tried acting after being a consistently average student. Educated first at Maine Township High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, he went to Wisconsin's Ripon College but dropped out. He had been more successful in the theatre there and pursued his acting, eventually signing first to Columbia and later to Universal.
Ford married Mary Marquardt on June 18, 1964 (the marriage ended in divorce 14 years later), and he made his first uncredited film appearance in "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" in 1966. He made three uncredited appearances in movies and on one occasion, "A Time for Killing" (1967) was billed as Harrison J Ford. He made up the initial to avoid being confused with the now little known other Harrison Ford, an actor in silent movies.
Despite making seven films between 1966 and 1970, he made a little more impact on television with parts in "Ironside" and "The Virginian". These were still insignificant roles and by 1970 he decided to give up acting in favour of carpentry and only rarely attended auditions until George Lucas cast him in "American Graffiti".
Its release in 1973 started Ford on the road to stardom but it also nearly stopped him. George Lucas held out against Ford in "Star Wars", the movie that would really ignite his career, simply because he didn't want to re-use someone from "Graffiti". Ford has subsequently had by far the most successful film career of anyone else in "Star Wars".
In 1983, he married Melissa Mathison, writer of "ET". He remains an expert carpenter and built his own home on his ranch in Wyoming. Ford is now also a pilot of both helicopters and fixed-wing light aircraft. Not bad for an actor who once quit the business in favour of woodwork.
Ford talks about fear.
Ford discusses his successful career.