Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago. A quiet, shy, boy, he was always a loner thoughout his youth. Ford graduated from high school in 1960 and went on to college. He was booted out of Ripon three days before graduation. One good thing did come out of Ford’s college nightmare, he started taking drama courses.
Ford headed to the West Coast with his college sweetheart and soon-to-be wife, Mary Marquardt, to seek work as an actor. After playing numerous bit parts in movies, he was booted from his Columbia contract. Although he got numerous television roles in shows like “The Partridge Family”, “Gunsmoke”, “Kung Fu”, and “The Virginian”, acting just wasn’t paying the rent for his family. In 1974, he turned his back on acting and became a full-time carpenter.
When the money started to come in, he began to accept acting jobs again. Finally, Harrison’s big break came. One of his clients, Fred Roos, was a casting director at Universal, who had just been appointed to an unknown director named George Lucas for a film called AMERICAN GRAFFITI. The film was the surprise smash of 1973, and Roos gave Ford another job idea: the part of the smuggler Han Solo. To Harrison’s disbelief, Lucas gave him the part. His future as an actor was sealed when STAR WARS was released on May 25, 1977. It was a box office smash and a merchandiser’s dream.
Harrison’s career took a bit of a blow after STAR WARS. Ford met screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who, after his breakup with Mary Marquardt, became his wife. Ford and Mathison married in 1983.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK rejuvanated Ford’s career. It was just as successful as its predecessor, despite the chaotic production. It was that summer of 1980 that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg first developed the character of Indiana Jones, the adventurous, slightly immortal archaeologist. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, besides being the most fun Ford had ever had doing a film, won him the most notice of his career so far.
BLADE RUNNER proved to be a nightmarish experience for many involved in it’s creation. Ford played Rick Deckard, the dark, brooding hero who hunts down and destroys androids in Los Angeles, 2019. The film, despite being a flop, is a cult classic which still endures today. After BLADE RUNNER, Ford returned to the familiar character of Han Solo in RETURN OF THE JEDI. After RETURN OF THE JEDI came the second installment of the Indiana Jones adventures, called INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.
Ford began to hunt for a role in which his abilities as a serious actor would be magnified, and the outcome was WITNESS. It represented Ford’s best acting, and his only Academy Award nomination, for best actor in 1985. Harrison and his second wife, Melissa Mathison, had been brought together because of their dislike of Hollywood. After purchasing 800 acres of undeveloped land seven miles from the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, they moved into a two story farmhouse. Ford and Mathison had two children, Malcolm and Georgia, in 1987 and 1990, respectively.