Actor. Born July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. Arguably the most bankable movie star ever, Harrison Ford came into his success relatively late in life. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs of Park Ridge and Morton Grove, where his father was an advertising executive, producer of TV commercials, and sometime radio actor. Never academically inclined, Ford failed out of tiny, conservative Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, where he had majored in philosophy. After discovering drama in college, he did a season of summer stock in Williams Bay, Wisconsin before heading out to Hollywood in 1964 with his college sweetheart and new wife, Mary Marquardt.
A Columbia Pictures talent scout spotted Ford at a Laguna Beach stage production and signed him to a contract under Columbia’s New Talent program, the studio’s attempt to make movie stars out of good-looking, unknown young actors and actresses. The stubborn, opinionated Ford was fired from Columbia after only 18 months and immediately signed a contract at Universal. After a series of minor roles in forgettable movies by both studios, Ford was working as a self-taught carpenter when he got the chance to audition for the low-budget coming-of-age movie American Graffiti(1973). In this surprise commercial success, Ford played a secondary role alongside stars Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss. The most important aspect of that film, however, was that it marked Ford’s first collaboration with director George Lucas.
Ford was still making his living as a carpenter in 1977, when he landed his first major role, as the renegade starship captain Han Solo in Lucas’s intergalactic adventure movie, Star Wars. The film was the first ever to gross $10 million in its first weekend, and with $300 million in its first year of distribution, it became by far the largest box-office smash in history up until that time. By the time its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980, Ford had expanded his acting range in several other films, including a smaller role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Return of the Jedi(1983) completed the trilogy of wildly successful Star Wars films, showcasing Ford’s appeal both as an action star and romantic lead.
In 1981, Ford again teamed with Lucas on a Lucas/Steven Spielberg collaboration.
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Harrison Ford Biography
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