Harrison Ford is one of our most legendary living actors: indubitably iconic for his sexy, manly ruggedness and gruff charm, his star roles as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and the man still looks incredible. Happily married, still flying (with some serious issues, but, still flying!) a grandfather of three and with zero intentions of ever retiring, Ford remains a national treasure.
The Beginning Wasn’t Promising
Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942, in Chicago. Ford’s father, Christopher, was Irish Catholic and his mother, Dora Nidelman was Russian and Jewish. Harrison Ford was a shy child. He went to Maine Township High School in Park Ridge and it’s amazing to know that the man who grew into a cinematic hero was bullied often in school. Ford graduated high school in 1960 and went on to Ripon College in Wisconsin. Ford could not find his spot in the world; he struggled with all aspects of college life and became depressed his freshman year, and eventually dropped out of his college classes.
The Acting Bug Bites Ford
There was finally a break for Harrison: he found that he loved acting and was good at it. Ford also fell in love while in college, with Mary Marquardt. In 1964 Ford married Marquardt, a year after he left college, after being disqualified for graduation (which happens when you stop attending class!) Harrison and Marquardt had two sons, Benjamin and Willard.
The family moved to Los Angeles, California for Ford’s acting career, and he had an interview with the Young Talent Program. This was the beginning of Ford’s acting career. His first movie with a significant role was in the movie Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round in 1966.
Ford Meets Lucas
Despite the movie roles he had received, Ford wasn’t successful and wasn’t getting any further acting roles. Soon, desperately broke and with a family to support, Ford took on set carpentry to make a living. He continued taking minor roles, never giving up, and then, a break: he was introduced to George Lucas.
Lucas was the director who discovered Ford’s talent. In the movie American Graffiti Ford had a significant role- not because it changed his life at the moment, (it was a low budgeted movie, and Lucas was nominated for an Oscar, but it didn’t do much for Ford’s career) but because it put Ford’s talent in Lucas’ mind. This relationship would change their lives forever.
It’s amazing that Harrison Ford ended up with the iconic role of Han Solo, because George Lucas was adamant about not re-using actors from American Graffiti which Ford had been in. Needing another fill-in to read lines with the actors, Lucas brought Ford in for a group reading and found that his reading was better than the other Han Solo actors he had brought in so far.
He brought Ford back and offered him the part. Ford himself said, ““I had helped George Lucas audition other actors for the principle parts, and with no expectation or indication that I might be considered for the part of Han, I was quite surprised when I was offered the part. My principle job at the time was carpentry.”
Harrison Ford knew that he didn’t want the character of Indiana Jones, offered to him by George Lucas, to be a copy of Han Solo. “Jones is a lot smarter than Han Solo, and just the breadth of character is just so much greater,” said Ford. He succeeded enormously. Indiana Jones became an iconic character, and the movie was so successful that it became a trilogy, the last film being with Shawn Connery as Indy’s bearded, flinty, sarcastic father. This film The Last Crusade was hugely financially successful and enormously popular with audiences. In 2008, the hero was brought back for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with Shia LeBeouf as Indy’s son.
Love and Marriage
Harrison Ford was divorced from his first wife, with whom he had two sons, in 1979. In 1983, Ford married Melissa Mathison, a Hollywood screenwriter (pictured) who wrote the screenplay for the beloved movie classic, E.T. Together, they had two children, Malcolm and Georgia, and for many years, a strong and loving marriage. After eighteen years of marriage, Mathison filed for divorce from Harrison, after he had been in the tabloids frequently with scandalous behavior at strip clubs and drunken nights out. Mathison was said to be devastated by Harrison’s behavior and the failure of their marriage, “crying herself to sleep.” Mathison died of cancer in 2015.
Harrison Ford, Biker
Harrison Ford has been riding motorcycles since he was a young man, but his interest grew with age, not to mention an increase in wealth. In this photo, he’s riding a BMW F800GS and is fully decked out in stylish safety gear as he rides on a gloomy day. The bike is in brand new, tip-top shape and has street tires. Ford told Daily Mail, “I also have more than my fair share of motorbikes – eight or nine. I have four or five BMWs, a couple of Harleys, a couple of Hondas and a Triumph; plus I have sports touring bikes.” Based on this array, Ford rides for both casual comfort and the love of speed!
Ford Flies the Friendly Skies
As an older movie star in his fifties, Harrison Ford found himself becoming immersed in the identity of being an actor. Feeling suffocated from the lack of privacy, he turned to his long-standing interest in aviation and never looked back. Now a devoted flyer, Ford values not only the flying itself but also the aviation community. “Learning to fly was a lot of work, but the net result was a sense of freedom and a pleasure in seeing to the safety of myself and the people who fly with me,” he told the Daily Mail. Ford is now licensed to fly fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters. Ford owns many different types of planes (a long-range jet, a bush plane, an open-top biplane) and a helicopter.
Harrison Ford, Hero
Harrison Ford lives on an 800-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming part-time and began flying his own helicopter as part of local search and rescue missions. In 2000, Harrison rescued hiker Sarah George off the 11,106 foot Table Mountain in Wyoming. George was weakened by altitude sickness and dehydration and had been unable to continue on. She described Ford, “He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat,” George told ET. “He didn’t look like I’d ever seen him before.”
The following year in 2001, a then-13-year-old Utah Boy Scout named Cody Clawson went missing in the wilderness. Clawson spent a wet night lost and alone in the cold outdoors of Yellowstone National Park. Many rescuers went looking for the boy, but only one found him: Harrison Ford!
Harrison Marries Again
Harrison Ford and actress Calista Flockhart (of Aly McBeal fame) were married in 2016 in gorgeous New Mexico, where Ford was filming Cowboys and Aliens. They had been dating for eight years. The happy couple met at the 2002 Golden Globes and became serious quickly. They had been raising Flockhart’s adopted son Liam together, who was one year old at the time of their meeting. Flockhart had never been married before.
There is a twenty-two age difference between the two, although that hasn’t seemed to matter at all. Flockhart and Ford stay very quiet about their marriage and family and appear strong and happy in their relationship. They are occasionally photographed out and about with Ford’s adult children from his previous marriages, as well.
Over time, Harrison has become a famous advocate of conservation and environmental activism. He is on the Board of Directors for Conservation International. Harrison even has two species named after him: a Central American ant, Peidole Harrisonfordi, and spider Calponia Harrisonfordi. Harrison has been quoted as saying he found “in nature a kind of God,” and has passionately devoted himself to protecting the environment, including traveling to Indonesia to film a series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously for Showtime. The film also focuses on the deforestation of Indonesia for paper and palm oil plantations and mining.
Harrison Ford, President
Harrison Ford has played two United States Presidents. In Air Force One (1997), he plays hero President James Marshall. Ford’s president in this movie is brave, intelligent, selfless, and full of righteous rage: everything an action hero and President should be! In Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), based on novelist Tom Clancy’s book series, he plays Jack Ryan.
Here’s the twist: Ford did not play the actual President in these two movies, but in Clancy’s book series Ryan is appointed Vice President and later succeeds to the Oval Office when the President dies. So he’s President in the end!
Harrison Ford is one of the most famously private movie stars of Hollywood. He’s said in an interview that giving up his privacy after becoming a well-known actor was “incalculable” before it happened, and stated the privacy of flying is one of the reasons he loves it. This isn’t surprising, considering that the entire reason Ford went into acting in college was to help cure himself of his suffocating shyness–he’s been called the “accidental movie star” because of his dislike for interviews and press.
Of course, The Atlantic also wrote this on Ford: “It’s a universally acknowledged truth that Harrison Ford is sort of a grump. He’s been especially grouchy in his later years, giving hilariously gruff, contentious interviews to various magazines of record.” So it seems Ford is shy and dislikes publicity to the point of becoming a grump about it. Makes sense.
The Scars of Harrison Ford
Ford famously has a scar on his chin which has been mentioned in two of his movies. Ford got the scar in 1968 when he tried to buckle his seat belt while already driving, and lost control of his car. In two of his movies there have been explanations for the mark: in the River Phoenix (rest in peace) introductory sequence in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade from 1989, young Indy is shown clumsily hitting himself in the chin the first time he tries to use the whip. In the 1988 movie Working Girl, his character first says that he got the scar in a knife fight, and then later comes clean and tells the true, embarrassing, story; he knocked his chin on a toilet after fainting during an ear-piercing.
Ford himself doesn’t remember the actual plane crash of 2015, which is probably better. The traumatic accident involved his Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR – a restored World War II-era trainer. The crash occurred just shortly after Ford took off in his vintage plane, flying over Santa Monica. It was later determined that a loose engine part caused the nightmare, (and an inappropriately worn harness contributed to the severity of injury) which ended with Ford and the plane making a hard crash into an open park area. Ford was critically injured with a large scalp laceration and broken bones, and remained hospitalized for a month during his recovery. As soon as he recovered, he immediately jumped back in a plane!
The Almost Disastrous Crash
Then in February of 2017, Ford, at 74 years old, completely missed a runway at John Wayne International Airport in Orange County, California, and flew low over a fully loaded jet carrying 110 passengers and six crew members. Wow. Ford’s voice can be heard on an air-traffic-control recording saying, “Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?”
After the event received alarm from the public, 45 minutes of video footage of the near miss was posted online. The video shows Ford’s private plane flying closely over the American Airlines 737, which is cruising slowly and preparing for take-off. People magazine quoted an aviation expert saying that Ford could lose his pilot license after this major violation.
Carrie Fisher Kisses and Tells
In 2016 Carrie Fisher publicly revealed her nearly four-decades-old affair with her Star Wars co-star, Harrison Ford. The affair was very brief and occurred during the filming of the first Star Wars. After her announcement, Fisher was doing a publicity tour in promotion of her new book, a memoir which went into more details of their charming fling. When asked what Harrison Ford said to Fisher when she called and told him she was writing about their short relationship, Fisher said that Ford replied “Lawyer up,” which, she followed, was a joke…she thinks? It was.
After Fisher’s sad and shocking death of a heart attack in December, Ford released a statement, ““Carrie was one-of-a-kind…brilliant, original, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely.”
Harrison and Company
Harrison Ford has five children: two from his first marriage, two from his second (pictured here with daughter, Georgia) and his adopted son with Calista Flockhart. “My first child was born when I was 25,” Ford said in an interview with PARADE. “Babies raising babies is not a pretty sight. I am much better at it now.” Still, by all accounts, Ford is close with his children. He told The Mirror in 2013, “I have five children, all of them are well and happy and doing well in their lives.”Harrison’s son Ben is his oldest child and is now a chef with a cookbook. Ben told The Daily Mail “My dad was definitely around when I was growing up. He was a constant.”
Harrison’s Family Life Now
Harrison Ford spends his weekends now with his wife, Calista Flockhart, and their son Liam. The family commute between their ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a family home in Los Angeles and a lovely penthouse loft in downtown New York. “I’m a kinder, gentler, Harrison Ford than I was,” he tells Mirror Online.
Ford spends his weekends doing whatever Calista and Liam want to do and says he has spent many days building woodworks with Liam or teaching him aspects of crafting or carpentry. The family also spend a fair amount of time on a houseboat together, vacationing just the three of them, which Ford says is one of his favorite ways to spend his time.
The Future of Ford
Ford hates the idea of retirement. “I’m thrilled that I’m still employed, still have my health and still have opportunities and interesting things to do. I have got a lot of plans,” he told Mirror Online. Ford is waiting for a script for the fifth adventure in the Indiana Jones series. Ford has often said that the Indiana Jones character is his favorite, the one he is the most proud of, and a character that he feels continues to have room to grow and hold down movies.
“To me, what was interesting about the character was that he prevailed. He had courage, he had wit, he had intelligence, he was frightened and he still managed to survive. That I can do,” he says of Indiana. It seems like Harrison Ford can do pretty much anything.