Harrison Ford

On this date in 1942, Harrison Ford was born in Chicago to former radio actress Dorothy (née Nidelman) and John “Christopher” Ford, an advertising executive and former actor. “My parents did not practice any organized religion, although my father was raised Roman Catholic and my mother was Jewish,” Ford said. (Parade magazine, July 7, 2002) “But there was always an ethical context to our lives, a very strong notion of individual moral responsibility.”

He dropped out of Ripon College in Wisconsin to act. He found acting jobs by the late 1960s but his career was slow to take off so he worked as a carpenter in Hollywood. His big break came as the swashbuckling Han Solo in “Star Wars” (1977), which would be followed by many other heroic leading roles.

Some of his many other films include “American Graffiti” (1973), “The Conversation” (1974), “Hanover Street” (1979), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom” (1984), “Witness” (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, 1985), “The Mosquito Coast” (1986), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), “Presumed Innocent” (1990), “Patriot Games” — his first movie cast as Jack Ryan (1992), “The Fugitive” (1993), “Clear & Present Danger” (1994) and “Sabrina” (1995).

Ford’s fourth “Indiana Jones” movie was released in 2008. His former wife, Melissa Mathison, wrote the screenplay for the movie, “E.T.” Ford has called “The Mosquito Coast,” in which he plays an unraveling back-to-nature character, one of his favorite roles. Appearing with him in that movie was atheist actress Butterfly McQueen.

Ford received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Satellite Award for his 2013 portrayal in “42” of L.A. Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, who broke baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson. He won the Best Actor Saturn Award in 2016 for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” His recent credits include “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) and an adaptation of “The Call of the Wild” (2020).

Ford has been named a Living Legend of Aviation and a Hero of Aviation. He was granted the Freedom of Flight Award in 2009 and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2010. He has applied his proficiency as a licensed pilot of both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to charitable endeavors that include piloting emergency copter flights near his home. He is an honorary board member of Wings of Hope, which organizes aviators to promote improved health, education, economic opportunity and food security to communities in need.

Ford is a productive and generous philanthropist. He is vice chair of Conservation International, an environmental protection organization. He donated about 400 acres of his ranch for use as a nature preserve. He is a major donor to The Bob Hoover Academy, which educates at-risk California teens and teaches them to be pilots.

Ford has been married three times and has four children with Mary Marquardt and Melissa Mathison. He and Calista Flockhart are parents to her adopted son, Liam.

“I’m scared to death about the denial of science,” Ford told the Washington Post in 2017. “Science is real. Science is the most real thing in our world, other than nature. I’m hoping we’ll all get back to a place where we can really understand that science is tested knowledge.”

PHOTO: Ford at Celebrity Fight Night XXIII in Phoenix in 2017; Gage Skidmore photo under CC 3.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation