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Harrison Ford was born in Chicago , Illinois. His maternal grandparents, Harry Nidelman and Anna Lifschutz, were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Belarus (at that time a part of the Russian Empire), who came to New York in 1907, trying to save themselves from pogroms. And his paternal grandparents John Fitzgerald Ford and Florence Veronica Niehaus were immigrants from Ireland and Germany. This mixed, to say the least, ancestry has never really been a problem for Ford, who, in one of his interview, explained: "As a man I've always felt Irish, as an actor I've always felt Jewish.
 
His acting career had started long before he appeared in his first movie: while in high school in Illinois, he became the sportscaster for the local students’ radio station WMTH.
 
In 1964 Ford traveled to Los Angeles  to apply for a job in radio voice overs. He did not get the job, but eventually signed a $150 a week contract with Columbia Pictures, playing bit roles at first. His very first, yet uncredited, role was as a bellhop in Dead Heat (1966). A string of still uncredited, but already speaking, roles followed…
 
His craftiness as a carpenter played a huge role in his later career: when staying at George Lucas’ house to repair some cabinets, he attracted the eye of the director, who cast Ford in a supporting role in the cult movie American Graffiti (1973). In 1975 Lucas again invited Ford, this time not as a carpenter, but to test-read the lines for a new movie called Star Wars; Ford’s performance was so impressive that the director took a risk and cast him as Han Solo – the rest is cinema history.
 
Ford’s appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the rest of the Indiana Jones franchise movies only strengthened his reputation, and his role of detective Deckard in Ridley Scott’s cult picture Blade Runner (1982) made him a living legend, and invariable candidate for any role of a tough-as-nails yet humane character. 
 
Interestingly, two insect species are named after him due to their strong character and persistence: the Calponia harrisonfordi spider  and the Pheidole harrisonfordi ant.
 
Ford’s personal life is one of the most guarded secrets in Hollywood - the actor is extremely protective of his privacy.  He has been married three times and has  five children: two from the first marriage, two more from the second marriage, and an adopted child from the third one. He is also a happy grandfather of three.
 
The actor is an avid aviator and amateur rescuer, with a plane and  a helicopter license; in 1999 he crashed his helicopter but, luckily, walked away from the wreck. 
 
Harrison Ford is one of the very few Hollywood actors with their own star on the Walk of Fame but without either an Academy Award or even the Golden Globe. 
 
Sources: 
"Harrison Ford - Imperfect Hero”-  Gerry Jenkins (1998)
“Harrison Ford: the films” - Brad  Duke (2004)
"Harrison Ford Biography (1942–)" - Film Reference. (May 23, 2008)
 

 


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