Harrison Ford

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For the silent film actor, see: Harrison Ford (silent film actor).
Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford (born July 13, 1942) is an American actor who, between 1977 and 1983, appeared in what were then the top ten highest-grossing movies of all time.

He is most well-known for his performances as the tough, wisecracking space pilot Han Solo in the Star Wars films, and the droll but tenacious archaeologist/action hero Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels.

The U.S. box office grosses of all of Ford's films combined totals about $3.18 billion, with worldwide grosses at approximately $5.65 billion. No other actor in history has box-office grosses as large.



Ford was born in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Dora Nidelman (born 1917 in New Jersey to Harry Nidelman and Anna Lifschutz) was Jewish; his father, Christopher Ford (born November 20, 1906 in New York to John Fitzgerald Ford and Florence Veronica Niehaus; died on February 10, 1999), was Irish/German and a Catholic, as well as a former actor. When asked what religion he was raised, Harrison jokingly responded, “Democrat," though his parents did take him to occasional services.

He graduated from Maine Township High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, 1960 where he claims he was picked on by bullies and ignored by girls. He attended Ripon College in Wisconsin, taking a drama class in his junior year chiefly as a way to meet women. He was expelled after failing a philosophy class his senior year, 3 days from graduation. He asked his favorite professor, Dr. Tyree (who he mentions in The Last Crusade), for a letter of recommendation to avoid the draft, but he refused to write it. Since then he has broken contact with Ripon. Once he became famous, Ripon repeatedly tried to make contact again to use Ford's star power to help their small school, but the actor refused.

Ford, a self-described "late bloomer," became fascinated with acting. While in college, toward the end of his freshman year, he was a member of a folk band called The Brothers Gross, in which he played gutbucket. He was a brother of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

He married his college sweetheart, Mary Marquardt, in 1964. The newlyweds moved to Los Angeles, California, where Ford signed a contract with Columbia Pictures for $150 a week in the studio's New Talent program, getting bit parts in three films. He then went to Universal Studios and did minor television roles. Not happy with the acting jobs being offered to him, Ford became a self-taught professional carpenter to better support his wife and two small sons before his break-through role in American Graffiti. Coincidentally, it was his work as a carpenter that would land Ford his biggest role. George Lucas hired Ford in 1975 to build some cabinets in his home and used him to read lines for actors being cast for parts in Star Wars. It was Steven Spielberg who first noticed that Ford was perfect for the part of Han Solo.

Ford went on to star as Han Solo in the first three Star Wars films. He starred as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and two sequels, and as Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. He also has starred in Blade Runner, Witness, The Fugitive (1993), and the remake of Sabrina, among others. While often playing the leading man or the hero of many action films, Ford took to the dark side as an adulterous husband with a terrible secret in What Lies Beneath.

Many of Ford's major film roles came to him by default and other unusual circumstances - Han Solo, due to him reading lines for other actors; Indiana Jones, because Tom Selleck was not available; and Jack Ryan, apparently due to Alec Baldwin's fee demands. While some of his most revered work is in the science-fiction category with Star Wars and cult classic Blade Runner, he said the latter was one of his least favorite roles, and has yet to return to the genre.

The (2001) edition of the Guinness Book of Records listed Ford as the richest actor alive: his reported salary for the 2002 film K-19: The Widowmaker was more than $25 million. The 27 movies he has starred in have grossed a combined box office of more than $3.3 billion. However, despite being one of the most successful actors of his generation, Ford has received only one Oscar nomination, for Best Actor for Witness. However, in 1999, he received the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Although Ford's star has waned in recent years following the critical failures of K-19: The Widowmaker and Hollywood Homicide, he intends to film a fourth Indiana Jones movie with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg in 2006.

Ford assisted musician Jimmy Buffett by recording whip cracks (a skill learned for Raiders of the Lost Ark) used in the song "Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)."

Ford was credited as "Harrison J. Ford" for a small role in the 1967 Western, A Time for Killing, but the "J" didn't stand for anything; he doesn't have a middle name. The "J" was added to avoid confusion with the other actor named Harrison Ford who died in 1957. The first Ford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6665 Hollywood Blvd. in front of famed eatery Musso & Frank. The modern-day Harrison Ford received a star in front of the Kodak Theater at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. on June 2, 2003.

Ford has been married twice. He married Mary Marquadt in 1964, and divorced in 1979. He had two children with her, Benjamin (born in 1967) and Willard (born in 1969). He married again, to Melissa Mathison, screenwriter of Black Beauty and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, on March 14, 1983. They had two children: a son, Malcolm Carswell (born on March 10, 1987), and a daughter, Georgia (born on June 30, 1990). Their divorce in January of 2004 was one of the most expensive in Hollywood history. He has been dating actress Calista Flockhart since 2002 (thus since after Melissa filed for legal separation on August 23, 2001), to whom he is supposedly engaged.

Ford is a private pilot of both planes and helicopters, and owns an 800 acre (3.2 km²) ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, approximately half of which he has donated as a nature preserve. On several occasions he personally has provided emergency helicopter services at the behest of local authorities, in one instance rescuing a hiker overcome by dehydration. He is the current Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagle program, taking over after Chuck Yeager retired. Ford also gives of his time and money for environmental causes. He sits on the Board of Directors of Conservation International.

Though he dislikes public speaking, he once appeared before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on behalf of the people of Tibet. His goal was to prevent China from gaining Most Favored Nation status, because of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Ford is one of Hollywood's most notoriously private actors and doesn't appear heavily in the press, preferring to keep to himself at his Wyoming home.


Year Film Role Other notes
Unknown Manhunt Col. Everton Conger Announced
2006 Indiana Jones 4 Indiana Jones Announced
2006 Godspeed


2006 Firewall Post-Production
2004 Water To Wine Jethro (as Jethro the Bus Driver)
2003 Hollywood Homicide Joe Gavilan
2002 K-19: The Widowmaker Alexei Vostrikov
2000 What Lies Beneath Dr. Norman Spencer
1999 Random Hearts Sergeant William "Dutch" Van Den Broeck
1998 Six Days Seven Nights Quinn Harris
1997 Air Force One President James Marshall
1997 The Devil's Own Tom O'Meara
1995 Sabrina Linus Larrabee
1995 Les Cent et une nuits Himself
1994 Jimmy Hollywood Himself
1994 Clear and Present Danger Jack Ryan
1994 A Century of Cinema Himself
1994 Mustang: The Hidden Kingdom (TV) Narrator
1993 The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble
1992 Commercial Entertainment Product Himself (uncredited)
1992 Earth and the American Dream Narrator
1992 Patriot Games Jack Ryan
1992 L'Envers du décor: Portrait de Pierre Guffroy
1991 Regarding Henry Henry Turner
1990 Presumed Innocent Rusty Sabich
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Indiana Jones
1988 Working Girl Jack Trainer
1988 Frantic Dr. Richard Walker
1986 The Mosquito Coast Allie Fox
1985 Witness Detective Captain John Book
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Han Solo
1982 Blade Runner Rick Deckard
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Han Solo
1979 More American Graffiti Officer Bob Falfa (uncredited)
1979 The Frisco Kid Tommy Lillard
1979 Apocalypse Now Colonel Lucas
1979 Hanover Street David Halloran
1978 The Star Wars Holiday Special (TV) Han Solo
1978 Force 10 from Navarone Lieutenant Colonel Mike Barnsby
1977 Heroes Ken Boyd
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Han Solo
1977 The Possessed (TV) Paul Winjam
1976 Dynasty (TV) Mark Blackwood
1975 Judgement: The Court Martial of Lt William Calley (TV) Frank Crowder
1974 The Conversation Martin Stett
1973 American Graffiti Bob Falfa
1970 The Intruders (TV) Carl
1970 Getting Straight Jake
1970 Zabriskie Point Airport worker (uncredited)
1968 Journey to Shiloh Willie Bill Rearden
1967 A Time for Killing Lieutenant Shaffer
1967 Luv Hippy (uncredited)
1966 Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round Bellhop

Salary history

  • K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) - $25,000,000 + 20% of the Gross
  • What Lies Beneath (2000) - $20,000,000
  • Random Hearts (1999) - $20,000,000
  • Six Days Seven Nights (1998) - $20,000,000
  • Air Force One (1997) - $22,000,000
  • The Devil's Own (1997) - $20,000,000
  • Patriot Games (1992) - $9,000,000
  • Presumed Innocent (1990) - $12,500,000
  • Star Wars (1977) - $650,000
  • American Graffiti (1973) - $500/week

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