Harrison Ford (born on July 13, 1942) is an American actor. He is best 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.
As of January 2006, the combined domestic box office grosses of Ford's films total approximately US$3.05 billion, with worldwide grosses at approximately US $5.65 billion. This places him as the second high-grossing actor in film history, after Tom Hanks.
Harrison Ford was born in Chicago, Illinois to Dorothy Nidelman (born Dora Nidelman on October 17, 1917 in New Jersey), 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 maternal grandparents, Harry Nidelman and Anna Lifschutz, were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Russia who met in Brooklyn and moved to New Jersey. His Catholic paternal grandparents were John Fitzgerald Ford (an Irish American vaudeville performer) and Florence Veronica Niehaus (a German American). Ford's parents were left-wingers and not particularly practicing members of any religion, and Ford, when asked as to what religion he was raised in, jokingly responded, “Democrat", though his parents did take him to occasional services. Speaking of his heritage, Ford has said that he feels "Irish as a person but I feel Jewish as an actor".
In 1960, Harrison 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. He attended Ripon College in Wisconsin,
taking a drama class in his junior year, chiefly as a way to meet women. Three
days from graduation, Ford was expelled after failing a philosophy class in his
senior year. He asked his favorite professor, Dr. Tyree (who he mentions in The
Last Crusade), for a letter of recommendation to avoid the draft into the
Vietnam War, but he refused to write it. Since then, Ford broke off contact with
the Ripon school. 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
to aid them.
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 was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. In 1964, Ford moved to Los Angeles, California, where he signed a contract with Columbia Pictures for $150 a week in the studio's New Talent program, playing bit roles in three films. 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 because he does not have a middle name. It was added to avoid confusion with the other actor named Harrison Ford, who died in 1957.
Harrison Ford subsequently 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 then-wife and two small sons before his break-through role in American Graffiti. While working as a carpenter, he became a stagehand for the popular rock band, The Doors.
Coincidentally, it was his work as a carpenter that would land Harrison Ford his biggest role. In 1975, director George Lucas hired Ford to build some cabinets in his home and used him to read lines for actors being cast for parts in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It was Steven Spielberg who first noticed that Ford was well suited for the part of Han Solo.
Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes BackThe 6'1" Ford went on to star as Han Solo in the first three released Star Wars films; he had originally wanted his character to die in the third film in the series, saying that it would lend more dramatic weight to the film, but George Lucas disagreed with him. He starred as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and its two sequels, and as Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Ford's other well-known films include 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 had a change of pace, playing 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 his reading lines for other actors; Indiana Jones, because actor Tom Selleck was not available; and Jack Ryan, apparently due to Alec Baldwin's fee demands (Baldwin had previously played the role in The Hunt for Red October). While some of his most revered work is in the science-fiction category with the Star Wars films and the cult classic Blade Runner, he has 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 Harrison Ford as the
richest actor alive: his reported salary for the 2002 film K-19: The Widowmaker
was more than $25 million. The twenty seven movies that he has starred in have
grossed a combined box office of more than $3.3 billion. However, despite being
one of the most financially successful actors of his generation, Ford has
received only one Oscar nomination, that of Best Actor for Witness. In 1999, he
received the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and
received a star in front of the Kodak Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. on June 2,
2003. Although Ford's star power has waned in recent years, after the financial
failures of K-19: The Widowmaker and Hollywood Homicide, he intends to film a
fourth Indiana Jones movie with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, which is to
be released in 2007. In 2004, Ford declined a chance to star in the thriller
Syriana, commenting that "I didn't feel strongly enough about the truth of the
material and I think I made a mistake"; he was offered the role eventually
played by George Clooney, who won an Oscar for the role.
Harrison Ford has been married twice. He married Mary Marquadt in 1964, and divorced her 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 The Black Stallion, Kundun, 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). 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. Ford has since been dating actress Calista Flockhart since 2002.
Harrison 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 reserve. On October 23, 1999, Ford crash-landed a helicopter during a training exercise, flipping the helicopter onto its side. Neither Ford nor the instructor were injured. 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. 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. Ford has assisted musician Jimmy Buffett by recording whip cracks (a skill learned during "Raiders of the Lost Ark") used in the Buffett song "Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)".
Though Harrison Ford dislikes public speaking, Ford 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. As a result, Ford is banned by the People's Republic of China from entering Tibet.
Harrison Ford is one of Hollywood's most notoriously private actors, rigidly guarding his private life. He does not heavily appear in the press, preferring to keep to himself at his Wyoming home.
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