01 May 1916 1
Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada 1
30 Aug 2006 1
Beverly Hills CA home 1

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford 1
Also known as:
Glenn Ford 1
Full Name:
Glenn Ford 2
01 May 1916 1
Sainte-Christine-d'Auvergne, Quebec, Canada 1
Male 1
01 May 1916 2
30 Aug 2006 1
Beverly Hills CA home 1
Cause: Natural Causes 1
30 Aug 2006 2
Burial Place: Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica CA 1
Last Residence: Beverly Hills, CA 2
Mother: Hannah Wood Mitchell 1
Father: Newton Ford 1
Jeanne Baus 1
1993 1
Divorce Date: 1994 1
Cynthia Hayward 1
1977 1
Divorce Date: 1984 1
Kathryn Hays 1
1966 1
Divorce Date: 1969 1
Eleanor Powell 1
1943 1
Divorce Date: 1959 1
Actor 1
Race or Ethnicity:
Canadian 1
Employer: U.S. Naval Reserve 1
Position: Captain 1
Start Date: 1958 1
End Date: 1970 1
Employer: United States Marine Corps Reserve 1
Position: December 13, 1942 1
Place: sergeant 1
End Date: 07 Dec 1944 1
Social Security:
Card Issued: Unknown Code (PE) 2

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Glenn Ford, 90; Prolific, Popular Actor Starred in `Blackboard Jungle,' `Gilda'

Glenn Ford, the rangy, laconic actor who in a long and prolific career in films and television portrayed characters from gallant leading men to saddle tramps, died Wednesday. He was 90.

Ford, a top box-office draw in the 1950s whose career spanned more than five decades and more than 100 films, was found dead at his Beverly Hills home by Fire Department paramedics just before 4 p.m.

Largely out of the public eye since the early 1990s, Ford was saluted by American Cinematheque at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre in May on his 90th birthday. Ford, who had suffered several strokes, had been expected to attend but ultimately missed the event because of fragile health.

In his prime, Ford posted a string of memorable credits that included "Gilda," "The Big Heat," "The Blackboard Jungle," "3:10 to Yuma," "The Teahouse of the August Moon," "Don't Go Near the Water," "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," "Pocketful of Miracles" and "The Rounders."

He could play an ambitious, crooked gambler with a soul-saving sense of honor ("Gilda") or an idealistic yet tough-minded teacher ("Blackboard Jungle").

As a youth, Ford portrayed a Depression-era store clerk who hitchhiked west in "Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence," his first feature picture in 1939. As a middle-aged character actor, he was the surrogate father of "Superman" (1978) in the first feature-length film treatment of the comic book character.

And although he was never nominated for an Oscar, he was a longtime Hollywood favorite.

Ford, who was under contract to Columbia Pictures for many years, got along well with studio chief Harry Cohn, who was famous for his parsimonious purse strings and flaming temper.

Ford recalled in a 1981 interview that Cohn had sent for him when he left Columbia after his contract had expired and that the studio boss shook his hand fondly and said: "You know why we always got along together, Glenn? Because you never were afraid of me."

In the 1970s, Ford began concentrating on television, portraying Sheriff Sam Cade in "Cade's County"; the narrator of the children's series "Friends of Man"; and the Rev. Tom Holvak, a poverty-stricken preacher, in "The Family Holvak."

The last character, in the 1975-77 series, was based, Ford told The Times in 1975, on his grandfather, Thomas Ford, a rural minister in Quebec, Canada, the actor's native land.

He was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford on May 1, 1916, the son of a railroad executive and mill owner and nephew of Sir John MacDonald, a former prime minister of Canada and a descendant of Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States.

Ford spent his earliest years in Glenford, site of the family's paper mill, from which Ford took his professional name.

By the time his family moved to California when he was 7, he had already developed a taste for performing. At Santa Monica High School, he ran track, played lacrosse and excelled in English and drama.

Ford worked with numerous little theater groups and California touring companies as an actor and stage manager before joining the Broadway-bound play "Soliloquy," starring film actor John Beal, in 1938.

But when the play reached Broadway, it closed after only two performances. Ford returned to Los Angeles, and 20th Century Fox hired him for a fourth-billed role in the low-budget "Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence."

It was not the most auspicious of debuts.

In a 1985 interview with The Times, Ford recalled that the film's director, Ricardo Cortez, told him he would never make it as a movie actor. But soon after, Ford was signed by Columbia. Roles in a string of B pictures followed, until World War II service intervened.

Ford enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1942, after having been a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for a year. After his discharge in 1945, he returned to the screen the next year in three notable pictures: "Gilda"; "A Stolen Life," in which he played opposite Bette Davis; and "Gallant Journey," a film biography of 19th century flight pioneer John Montgomery.

In "Gilda," where Rita Hayworth performs one of the steamiest dances in movie history, Ford was praised by Variety as "a far better actor than the tale permits."

In 1953, Ford had his Columbia contract rewritten so he could work for other studios. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer featured him as the doctor-husband in "Interrupted Melody," the story of opera star Marjorie Lawrence, a polio victim. That picture and others, such as "Ransom" and "Don't Go Near the Water," brought him rave notices about his "recent mature and thoughtful performances" and his "sly and adept" comedy.

Off-screen, Ford played polo -- he had learned to ride while taking care of Will Rogers' polo ponies as a teenager in the 1930s -- and was lifelong friends with William Holden and Hayworth. He also worked with Actors and Others for Animals, an animal-rights group.

He was married four times. The first marriage, to dancer Eleanor Powell in 1943, ended in divorce in 1959. They had a son, Peter. Ford married actress Kathryn Hays in 1966, but the marriage lasted only a year. In 1977, he wed actress Cynthia Hayward, a union that ended in divorce in 1984. In 1993, he married Jeanne Baus.

As a commander in the Naval Reserve, Ford spent a month in South Vietnam in 1967. Accompanied by a Marine Corps camera crew, he filmed combat locations for "Global Marine," a documentary training movie for recruits.

"People who come out here for a visit and go back with pat opinions about how the war is going to be won are fools," Ford told The Times at the end of his trip to the war zone.

"This is a vicious war, a unique war, with no simple answer, but I think the complicated problem we face here cannot be appraised and judged by anyone who has not been here."

In the mid-to-late 1960s, Ford created three quality film roles that enriched his reputation: the footloose cowboy in "The Rounders," the good cop gone bad in "The Money Trap" and the frontiersman trying to recapture his family from Indians in "Day of the Evil Gun."

If Ford gravitated toward a single genre in his later years, it was the western, where the simple plot lines and sparse dialogue suited him. "You don't have to speak English to understand what's going on," he once told The Times. "I've always said the talking pictures talk too much anyway."

Besides, he added, "I'm out of place doing sophistication. I'm so uncomfortable in a tuxedo."

Information about survivors and funeral plans was unavailable late Wednesday.

Glenn Ford, Leading Man in Films and TV, Dies at 90

  Glenn Ford a laconic, soft-spoken actor whose leading roles in westerns, melodramas and romantic films made his name a familiar one on movie-house marquees from the early 1940’s through the 60’s, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 90.

Paramedics called to the home shortly before 4 p.m. found him dead, the police said. He had a series of strokes in the 1990’s.

In movies like “Gilda” (1947), “The Big Heat” (1953),“Blackboard Jungle” (1955) and “Pocketful of Miracles”(1961), Mr. Ford’s acting could appear effortless. But in his quiet, easygoing manner, he could also project a certain depth and complexity of character, combining affability with resoluteness, gentleness with inner strength. Critics consistently gave his performances high praise.

Though Mr. Ford was never nominated for an Academy Award, he was popular with moviegoers, especially in the 1950’s, starring in box-office successes like “The Teahouse of the August Moon” (1956), “Don’t Go Near the Water” (1957) and “Imitation General” (1958).

He had started his Hollywood career seemingly typecast as an actor who could do well in undistinguished films. He made a series of B movies for Columbia Pictures, playing featured roles in such forgettable productions as “Men Without Souls” and “My Son Is Guilty” (both in 1940) and“Texas,” “The Desperadoes” and “Destroyer” (all in 1941).

He usually attracted critical praise even when the script, production and direction were anything but praiseworthy.

In 1946, for example, Mr. Ford starred opposite Rita Hayworth in “Gilda,” a film remembered mostly as the vehicle for her provocative lip-synching of a song called “Put the Blame on Mame.” Writing in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther praised Mr. Ford’s “stamina and poise in a thankless role.”

But in the 1950’s, Mr. Ford began to make pictures that were more worthy of his talents. In “Blackboard Jungle,” for example, he played an idealistic, beleaguered teacher in a tough New York City high school. The film, with an opening sequence set to Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” also starred Sidney Poitier and was nominated for four Oscars, including one for best screenplay.

“I had always marveled at the subtlety of his work,” Mr. Poitier told The Associated Press this week.

Mr. Ford’s popularity continued into the 1960’s, when he starred in films like “Pocketful of Miracles,” playing a warmhearted bootlegger opposite Bette Davis’s street beggar Apple Annie; “Experiment in Terror (1962), with Lee Remick; “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (1963), which later became the basis of a television series with Bill Bixby; and “The Rounders” (1965), with Henry Fonda.

Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford was born on May 1, 1916, in Quebec, the only child of Newton and Hannah Ford. The Fords, of Welsh descent, were prominent in Canada. Newton Ford was a railroad executive and mill owner and a nephew of Sir John MacDonald, a former prime minister of Canada. Another Ford ancestor was Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States.

Gwyllyn was initially reared in Ste.-Christine, Portneuf, an hour from the city of Quebec. When he was 7, his family moved to Santa Monica, Calif., where Mr. Ford was educated.

After high school, he began working with small theater groups. He later said his father had no objection to his growing interest in acting but had 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.”

Mr. Ford listened to his father, and in the 1950’s, when he was one of the nation’s most popular actors, he regularly worked on plumbing, wiring and air-conditioning at home.

At various times, Mr. Ford worked as a roofer and an installer of plate-glass windows. At one point, he worked in a Santa Monica bar, keeping it clean for $5 a week. Years later, as a successful actor, he would drive by that bar almost every day. “There are too many places here that won’t let me forget how I started,” he told an interviewer.

In the late 1930’s, he managed to get a screen test at 20th Century Fox but did not do well. Given a second chance, however, he later won his first movie part, in 1939, in “Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence.”

He was billed as Gwyllyn Ford in that movie, but when he signed a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures shortly afterward, the studio’s chief, Harry Cohn, asked him to change his name, suggesting John Gower. Mr. Ford compromised, keeping his last name but changing his first.

The B movies followed until 1943, when he joined the Marine Corps. While in the Marines, he met the dancer Eleanor Powell at a war-bond cavalcade. They were married in 1943 and had a son, Peter, who survives. The marriage ended in divorce in 1959.

In 1966, Mr. Ford married Kathryn Hays, an actress, but the marriage ended quickly. In 1977, he wed Cynthia Hayward, a model 32 years his junior. They divorced in 1984. In 1993, he married Jeanne Baus, but they, too, soon divorced.

By 1965, his star power had enabled him to build a luxurious home in Beverly Hills featuring an atrium over which hung a 900-pound artificial sun. Mr. Ford could switch it on whenever he wanted to feel drenched with light. The house also held a replica of an English pub, to which he retreated when he preferred the shadows.

As Mr. Ford grew older, he was cast less frequently, but in “Superman” (1978) he appeared in a brief scene as Clark Kent’s father. He also made some movies for television, among them “Punch and Jody” (1974), “The Disappearance of Flight 412” (1975), “Evening in Byzantium” (1978) and “The Sacketts”(1979), and appeared in the series “Cade’s County” (1971). In 1978, he was the host of the series “When Havoc Struck.”

In his heyday, there were times when it seemed that Mr. Ford was averse to vacations. In 1960 and 1961 he worked on four overlapping projects: “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” “Cry for Happy,” “Cimarron” and “Pocketful of Miracles.” In all, from 1939 to 1991, Mr. Ford appeared in 85 films, according to the Film Encyclopedia.

When someone noted in the 60’s that in five years he had taken off an average of only 21 days between films, Mr. Ford replied simply, “I like to work.”

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