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Glenn Ford: A Life (Wisconsin Film Studies) Paperback – May 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


“Glenn Ford never got the respect he deserved for being a tough, straight-ahead actor who always had a way of rising to the occasion demanded by Fritz Lang or Vincente Minnelli. His son’s biography is a welcome tribute to a conflicted man and an often overlooked star.”—Scott Eyman, author of Pieces of My Heart


"A frank portrait of a conflicted man and a respected star of Golden Age Hollywood. . . . Peter succeeds in objectively revisiting his father’s life and work while peeling back without fear the painful layers in their mutual history. . . . This biography should rank with Maria Riva’s Marlene Dietrich as one of the best examples of a family biography and should appeal to film scholars and film fans alike."—Library Journal

“Glenn Ford was a perfect gentleman, educated and kind. When called upon to perform, he was a hell of an actor.”—Mickey Rooney

Book Description

Glenn Ford—star of such now-classic films as Gilda, Blackboard Jungle, The Big Heat, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Rounders—had rugged good looks, a long and successful career, and a glamorous Hollywood life. Yet the man who could be accessible and charming on screen retreated to a deeply private world he created behind closed doors.
    Glenn Ford: A Life chronicles the volatile life, relationships, and career of the renowned actor, beginning with his move from Canada to California and his initial discovery of theater. It follows Ford’s career in diverse media—from film to television to radio—and shows how Ford shifted effortlessly between genres, playing major roles in dramas, noir, westerns, and romances.
    This biography by Glenn Ford’s son, Peter Ford, offers an intimate view of a star’s private and public life. Included are exclusive interviews with family, friends, and professional associates, and snippets from the Ford family collection of diaries, letters, audiotapes, unpublished interviews, and rare candid photos. This biography tells a cautionary tale of Glenn Ford’s relentless infidelities and long, slow fade-out, but it also embraces his talent-driven career. The result is an authentic Hollywood story that isn’t afraid to reveal the truth.

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Product Details

  • Series: Wisconsin Film Studies
  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029928154X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299281540
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Nick Anez on May 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Glenn Ford was one of Hollywood's most popular stars and one of its most versatile and underrated actors. He was also an admirable person. He was a loving husband and father. He was kind to his friends and generous to charities. At various times, he served in the Coast Guard, the Marines and the Naval Reserve; in fact, he nearly lost his life from enemy action in Vietnam. However, he was also a serial adulterer and a distant father who could be moody, arrogant, and volatile.

Peter Ford, Glenn's son, tells this entire story in his candid biography of his famous father. Though Peter doesn't pull any punches, this is not a trashy-type memoir but a thoroughly researched and well-documented account that covers the actor's complete life, from his birth in Canada in 1916 to his death in Beverly Hills in 2006.

Within those 90 years is a continually fascinating story of a genuine movie star. Along the way, Peter gives a comprehensive account of all of his father's films and provides interesting anecdotes on the production of his most famous movies. Numerous co-stars, such as Jack Lemmon, Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones and Ernest Borgnine recall working with Glenn. From such interviews as well as from contemporary reviews, the actor's extraordinary and unappreciated talent becomes clear.

Glenn's difficult relationships with personalities such as Harry Cohn, Frank Capra and Marlon Brando provide interesting reading. He remained a devoted friend to Rita Hayworth during her troubled years, when everyone else in Hollywood had deserted her. The book naturally provides intimate details on his marriage to Peter's mother, Eleanor Powell, as well as on the author's life with this famous couple, before and after their divorce.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Helene Stephens on May 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary book and far exceeds the standards of the "movie star biography" genre. It is simply superb and an exemplary tribute to an actor who had been a "constant" of the American screen for decades. Well-written, interesting, honest, filled with delightful anecdotes and characters, this book is just wonderful reading.

As long as I can remember, Glenn Ford has been a "constant" of the American film. I admit I've always been a "fan," but I got that from my parents! I recall, back in the late 1940's, my parents would go to any film starring Glenn Ford because, they said, they knew it would be good. After reading this book, I realize that many of Mr. Ford's films would NOT have been considered good - except for HIS being a part of them! In truth, Glenn Ford never gave a bad performance, and he made it look easy, through seven decades of his career.

Mr. Ford's son Peter has filled his pages with the stories behind the dreams that Glenn Ford brought to the screen. He has given us a perfect portrayal of a true film icon. It is a candid and honest biography, so YES, we do see the good and the bad. And along the way, we get a sweeping and entertaining vista of the American film industry. The author's voice is natural; it's as if he were sitting in our living room and sharing stories with us. And through the author, we get to "see" the many faces of the private Glenn Ford.

It's been said that Glenn Ford was the only actor who'd be able to hold his own on the screen in "Gilda" with Rita Hayworth - and I agree. Over the years, I have come to favor film noir, and I have watched (and re-watched) many of Mr. Ford's performances - and always, I'm impressed by the "actor-chameleon" who seemed to blend effortlessly into each role.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By In Glorious Black And White on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I enjoy the way this book is written. Unlike some I have read recently it does not present like a day to day diary.

A fascinating story which may surprise some, extremely readable and actually quite hard to put down. His serial womanising, his son Peter Ford does not try to paint a rosey image of the actor. He was a womaniser of olympian standars; he was hard to get to know but once you entered his inner sanctum he was a friend for life regardless. This is underlined with his treatment of Rita Hayworth in understanding the illness that eventually took her, that everyone else hardly understood or tolerated. From my own scant knowledge the story appears accurate. The only this that bothers me is his treatment of the elegant and charming dancing queen Eleanor Powell. She certainly deserved a man who was loyal and faithful and he did not even come close. For me, rather like beating up on my sister. Certainly man of many faults but considerable talent.

One of the better recent biographies. This man had a life and it is there for you to examine.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is actually one of the best celeb bios I've read and it is only more remarkable because its author is also the son of Glenn Ford. Peter Ford manages to review his father's career with an objective eye while also providing insight into his often remote relationship with a father who was difficult at times to connect to. Within the confines of this biography, Peter Ford also manages to convey what life was like growing up in Beverly Hills as the only child of two high profile celebrities and provides glimpses of his mother Eleanor Powell who was not surprisingly every bit as nice as I expected.
An actor who always managed to keep working until old age finally got him, Glenn Ford was often not a very admirable person in terms of his personal life. An unfaithful husband, he was ideally someone who probably should have never married. He had affairs with many of his co-stars and had tempestuous relationships with Rita Hayworth and Geraldine Brooks. He had a fondness for drink and had a foul personality when drinking, yet he was also a dedicated actor who worked hard to nail a role.
Peppered with anecdotes and personal impressions, this book provides a window into the life and career of Glenn Ford and creates a unique view of '40's and '50's Hollywood and beyond. This bio is by no means a 'Mommie Dearest", but it does get to the truth.
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