On July 13, 1942, Harrison Ford was born in Chicago Illinois. His mother was a homemaker and former radio actress. His father was an advertising executive and former actor. He has one younger brother named Terence. It wasn’t till Harrison’s first quarter in his senior year at Ripon College in Wisconsin that Harrison took an acting class to get over his shyness. Thankfully, he became fascinated with acting.
In 1964, he moved to Los Angeles, California to apply for some voice over work which he didn’t get. Not giving up though, he stayed in California and signed a $150 a week contract with Columbia Pictures New Talent Program. His first known part, yet uncredited, was the role of a bellhop in the 1966 film “Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round.” Offending the producer of the film, Harrison was placed at the bottom of the hiring list. However, he was able to secure roles in other movies. Playing small roles on the big and small screen, Harrison became a carpenter, this is where his big break would come.
Having been hired to build cabinets for a up and coming director George Lucas, he was hired as a pivotal supporting role for his film American Graffiti (1973). Ford’s relationship with Lucas would profoundly affect his career later on. After director Francis Ford Coppola‘s film The Godfather was a success, he hired Ford to expand his office and gave him small roles in his next two films, The Conversation (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979); in the latter film he played an army officer named “G. Lucas.” During this early period Ford often came to auditions directly from work still wearing his carpenter’s clothes and gear, to subtly remind casting directors that he had other options in life.
George Lucas eventually hired Harrison to read lines with other actors who were auditioning for the 1977 film Star Wars. Lucas really liked the way Harrison read the lines and eventually cast him as Han Solo. At the time, Harrison asked George to kill over Han in “Return of the Jedi.” Lucas refused and Harrison is now going to be in Episode VII that is filming now.
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were going to start working on “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” While Spielberg wanted to case Harrison in the lead role of Indiana Jones, Lucas didn’t. Eventually though Harrison won the role because Tom Selleck couldn’t do the role because of a scheduling conflict. Harrison would go on to play Indiana Jones in all four of the films.
In addition to his Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, Harrison was also in Blade Runner, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Fugitive and many more.
Happy Birthday Harrison, and we are all looking forward to your role in the upcoming Star Wars films.