2013 November 13 • Wednesday
Who was Glenn Ford? I always call him Gloomy Glenn Ford since, with the exception of the classic 3:10 to Yuma (which should never have been re-made), he seems always to play a saturnine sort of character.
The Big Heat, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Plunder of the Sun, Gilda—he never has a happy or light-hearted role. (His desperado in 3:10 to Yuma isn't happy or light-hearted either, though he does seem to be enjoying himself a lot more than the usual Glenn Ford character.)
And so I turned to this biography of the actor, Glenn Ford: A Life, written by the subject's son, Peter Ford, the only child of Glenn Ford and the great dancer Eleanor Powell.
The author traces his father's birth and upbringing in Canada to Glenn's move to California and struggle to become an actor. Glenn Ford became a huge star in the middle of the century, even though he not, I think, as well remembered as many of his peers.
Peter Ford's own story is runs through the book, for the personal connection he has with his subject, of course, but also because of their professional association. Glenn was a distant father during Peter's childhood, often literally as well as emotionally, but Glenn frequently got the adult Peter gigs as an actor or dialogue director on films Glenn was doing.
As a child, however, Peter got very little from his dad.
The picture that emerges of Glenn Ford is of a hard-working and talented actor who was a consummate professional and very generous to his friends and co-workers. At home he seems to be a little boy, unruly and aggressive when he's not the center of attention or the first priority in everybody's lives. In his later years, as he works less and finds himself alone more, this tendency leads to some very bad choices and leaves him vulnerable to manipulative and parasitic oportunists.
The book itself is a breeze to read, well written and an enjoyable look into the world of Hollywood royalty with its attendant excesses, excitements and memorable anecdotes.