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Glenn's Life
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Glenn's Life

With a career that spans seven decades (he made his professional acting debut fresh out of high school, and his first movie in 1937), Glenn Ford was one of the last of a rare breed of leading men who emerged during Hollywood's Golden Age. His youthful determination to “learn how not to act,” led to a naturalistic on-screen style that allowed him to excel in almost every film genre. Canadian born, he has been embraced by generations of movie fans, and critics, as an American Everyman.

Glenn was most renowned for starring in such classics as Gilda, Blackboard Jungle, The Big Heat, Teahouse of the August Moon, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Rounders, Pocketful of Miracles, The Fastest Gun Alive, Don't Go Near the Water, It Started With A Kiss, 3:10 To Yuma, and Superman. Television has been impacted by Glenn Ford's talent as well through such films as The Brotherhood of the Bell, The Sacketts, Beggarman Thief, and the series Cade's County.

Tough and commanding in film noir dramas, Glenn's dashing looks and boyish grin also made him perfect for love stories. His unassuming masculinity, grace on horseback, and remarkably quick draw brought him glory in a series of highly regarded westerns, and his comic talents enhanced a number of popular comedies, particularly those set within a military milieu.

When cast as the stalwart hero, he searched for ways to imbue the role with human frailties audiences could identify with. He was never afraid to expose the flaws in characters looked up to for their leadership. Playing everything from cops and cowboys, gangsters and gumshoes, reporters and refugees, dads and doctors, sheriffs and sailors, and gamblers and generals, Glenn starred in more than one hundred feature and television films.

Even a partial listing of his costars constitutes a "who's who" of Hollywood's last six decades: Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, Barbara Stanwyck, John Huston, Edward G. Robinson, Henry Fonda, Julie Harris, Tom Selleck, Shelley Winters, Robert Mitchum, Angela Lansbury, Frederic March, Debbie Reynolds, Christopher Reeve, Sidney Poitier, Gene Tierney, Ann-Margret, Charleton Heston, David Carradine, Barbara Hershey, Ethel Barrymore, and Shirley MacLaine. America's top box-office star of 1958, and a Golden Globe winner for his performance as "Dave the Dude" in Pocketful of Miracles, Glenn remained an audience favorite for another thirty years. In 1989 his career achievements were recognized with the French Legion of Honor.

Possessed of a more mercurial nature than his easygoing public image might suggest. Glenn Ford's private life has, on occasion, been as dramatic as one of his movie plots. "We are all three people," he said in 1949, "the person we think we are, the person the world thinks we are, and the person we really are."

Over the years, Glenn has been linked romantically to literally dozens of Hollywood's most dazzling women, including Joan Crawford, Dinah Shore, Brigette Bardot ,Connie Stevens, Debbie Reynolds, Maria Schell, Linda Christian, Hope Lange, and Judy Garland. (If Bette Davis is one that got away, it was not for a lack of trying on her part).

Glenn's relationship with stunning Rita Hayworth, his costar in five films, survived four decades in various permutations, and was more serious and complex than has ever been acknowledged publicly. Many of the dynamics that characterized the plot of their most celebrated collaboration, Gilda, were at work off the screen as well, drawing the ire of Orson Welles, Rita's estranged husband, and Harry Cohn, Columbia Studio's tyrannical chief.

Glenn was married four times, most notably to lovely Eleanor Powell, the tap dancing legend of movie musicals. Their union, falsely depicted as picture-perfect by fan magazines, produced a son, Peter, and lasted sixteen years. Glenn's 1966 marriage to actress Kathryn Hays (of As the World Turns fame), didn't last, and his subsequent marital choices left him devastated emotionally and financially.

For all of the remarkable women that played significant roles in Glenn Ford's professional and personal life, however, the most influential was undoubtedly his mother, Hannah, who was nearly burned to death three days prior to Glenn's birth. Her intense and enduring devotion to her "miracle baby" instilled expectations in Glenn that his wives and lovers found difficult to live up to. Full details of Hannah's mysterious early life, and the powerful, loving bond she shared with her son have never been revealed before. In fact, much of Glenn Ford: A Life is being shared with the public for the first time.

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Last Updated: December 17, 2013
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