Harrison Ford has tackled some of the most iconic roles in film history, from the heroic Indiana Jones to the legendary Han Solo. Despite his eventual popularity, Ford’s road to success had many twists and turns. Born in Chicago in 1942, Ford was the son of a stay-at-home mom and an advertising executive. He attended Maine Township High School, where he participated in the social science club and a club for model train enthusiasts. Ford graduated from high school in 1960.
After graduating, he attended Ripon College. While studying philosophy and English, Ford signed up for a drama course. Although he was afraid to perform in front of an audience, he appreciated the storytelling aspect of being a performer. Before finishing his degree, Ford left college and went to Hollywood. He landed a job as a contract player for Columbia Pictures, and then he went to Universal Studios. He made his first film appearance in “Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round,” playing an uncredited bellhop pager. In an interview, Ford said one of the studio executives told him he would never make it in show business.
Ford appeared in a string of TV series before his luck started to change. George Lucas hired him to play the role of Bob Falfa in “American Graffiti.” Although Ford’s career did not immediately take off, Lucas became a very important connection. From 1974 to 1977, he continued to appear in television series and made-for-TV movies. In 1977, Lucas gave Ford the role of Han Solo in “Star Wars.” His portrayal of a loner who gets involved in the Rebel Alliance kicked his career into high gear. A short time later, he appeared in “Apocalypse Now” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” a “Star Wars” sequel.
In the early 1980s, Ford took on the role of Indiana Jones, an archaeology professor turned adventurer. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Dr. Jones goes up against a group of Nazis who want to use the famed Ark of the Covenant to make their army unstoppable. The movie turned out to be the highest-grossing film of 1981. The early part of the decade was a busy time for Ford, with “Return of the Jedi” making its debut in 1983 and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” premiering in 1984.
Ford’s career continued its upward trajectory through the 1980s and into the 1990s. He played John Book in “Witness” and Jack Trainer in “Working Girl.” The third installment of the Indiana Jones series, titled “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” premiered in 1989. Ford became involved in another series in the early ’90s when he assumed the role of Jack Ryan in “Patriot Games.” He played the same role in “Clear and Present Danger,” which premiered in 1994. Other roles he played during the ’90s include Richard Kimball in “Fugitive”; Henry Turner in “Regarding Henry”; Linus Larrabee in “Sabrina”; Quinn Harris in “Six Days Seven Nights”; and President James Marshall in “Air Force One.”