Gwyllyn Samuel Newton “Glenn” Ford died on August 30, 2006 at the age of 90, he was a Canadian-born American actor.
Born at Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City on May 1, 1916, he was the son of the Québécois Hannah Wood Mitchell and Newton Ford, a railway man.
Through his father, Ford was a great-nephew of Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and also related to U.S. President Martin Van Buren.
After Ford graduated from Santa Monica High School, he began working in small theatre groups. While in high school, he took odd jobs, including working for Will Rogers, who taught him horsemanship.
Ford later commented that his railroad executive father had no objection to his growing interest in acting, but told him, “It’s all right for you to try to act, if you learn something else first.
Be able to take a car apart and put it together. Be able to build a house, every bit of it.
Then you’ll always have something.”
Ford heeded the advice and during the 1950s, when he was one of Hollywood’s most popular actors, he regularly worked on plumbing, wiring and air conditioning at home.
Working with Academy-award-winning Fredric March and wooing (onscreen) 30-year-old Margaret Sullavan, recently nominated for an Oscar, Ford’s shy, ardent young refugee riveted attention even in such stellar company.
“Glenn Ford, a most promising newcomer,” wrote The New York Times, Bosley Crowther in a review on February 28, 1941, “draws more substance and appealing simplicity from his role of the boy than anyone else in the cast.”
Ford recalled to his son that he and Bill Holden, who had joined the Army Air Corps, “talked about it and we were both convinced that our careers, which were just getting established, would likely be forgotten by the time we got back… if we got back.”
He was assigned in March 1943 to active duty at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego.
With his Coast Guard service, he was offered a position as an officer, but Ford declined, feeling it would be interpreted as preferential treatment for a movie star and instead entered the Marines as a private.
He trained at the Marine base in San Diego, where Tyrone Power, the number-one male movie star at the time, was also based.
It was Power who suggested Ford join him in the Marine’s weekly radio show, “Halls of Montezuma” broadcast Sunday evenings from San Diego.
In 1943 Ford married legendary tap dancer Eleanor Powell, and had one son, Peter Ford.
Like many actors returning to Hollywood after the war (including James Stewart and Holden (who had already acquired a serious alcohol problem), he found it initially difficult to regain his career momentum.
He was able to resume his movie career with the help of Bette Davis, who gave him his first postwar break in the 1946 movie A Stolen Life (1946).
However, it was not until his acclaimed performance in a 1946 classic film noir, Gilda (1946), with Rita Hayworth that he became a major star and one of the most popular actors of his time.
He scored big with the film noir classics The Big Heat (1953) and Blackboard Jungle (1955).
On May 1st, 2006, Glenn had a gala 90th birthday celebration at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.
There was a showing of a newly-restored print of Gilda (1946) and his son, Peter Ford, hosted the event.
Over 700 tickets went on sale and were quickly sold out.