He is an actor born in Chicago, Illinois, to a family where his father was an advertising executive and former actor and his mother had been an actress on radio and homemaker.
As a youngster he was involved in the Boy Scouts of America and rose to the position of Life Scout, working as a Reptile study counsellor at a camp. This would later be the reason that the character Indiana Jones would be a Life Scout in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
While in high school in Park Ridge, Illinois, he was the first broadcaster on its new radio station and the sportscaster, from 1959 until his graduation in 1960. He took further education Wisconsin’s Ripon College, although didn’t graduate from there, and chose to take a class in drama as he thought it would be a good way to meet women. He also ventured into music by being a member of The Brothers Gross and played the gutbucket, aka washtub bass.
Wanting to work again in radio, he moved to California to try and get work as a radio voice-over artist. This was unsuccessful so he signed on as a bit role actor or extra on the New Talent Program run by Columbia Pictures. The company changed his name to Harrison J. Ford, even though he has no middle name, so as to avoid confusion with the silent movie actor of the same name who had his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His his first films would often see him go un-credited, starting with his initial role in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round in 1966 and other such as the 1967 Luv. His first credited role was in the 1967 A Time for Killing. He moved companies to work in small television roles for Universal Studios and was seen in the late 1960s and up to the mid-1970s gracing our screens in shows such as Dynasty, Gunsmoke, The F.B.I., Ironside, Kung Fu, Petrocelli and The Virginian. Also appearing in movies he had further credited and un-credited roles respectively in the movies Journey to Shiloh and Zabriskie Point.
Thinking the acting life wasn’t for him he decided he wanted to earn a better living for supporting his wife and children so taught himself to be a carpenter working in the Hollywood area and touching on music once again built a recording studio for Sergio Mendes and was also a stagehand for The Doors. This went on for a couple of years until he was building cabinets for George Lucas who decided he wanted to hire him to appear in his 1973 American Graffiti. He carried on his carpentry work afterwards, which would prove to be lucrative, as it was enough to get him noticed and while doing work on Francis Ford Coppola’s office he ended up getting roles from him in 1974’s The Conversation and later the 1979 Apocalypse Now.
In 1975 the tide turned and he found himself reading lines for the actors to be cast in George Lucas’ new film Star Wars. Thanks to Steven Spielberg who said to Lucas that he could play the part of Hans Solo, he suddenly found himself a very successful actor in the first three movies of what would be one of the most acclaimed film series in history.
Then in 1981 came the character he is possibly his most recognisable aside from Hans Solo, the adventurer Indiana Jones. Another incredibly successful series of movies, this time with him as the lead character and often doing his own stunts, saw the productions of 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1984’s Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom, 1989’s Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, and after a period of nine years, 2008’s Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Starring in many more movies aside from his blockbuster series’ he also had roles, often leading, in films such as Air Force One, Blade Runner, Clear & Present Danger, Crossing Over, Dalai Lama Renaissance, The Devil’s Own, Firewall, Force 10 from Navarone, Frantic, The Frisco Kid, The Fugitive, Hanover Street, Heroes, Hollywood Homicide, The Hunt for Red October, K-19: The Widowmaker, Patriot Games, Presumed Innocent, Random Hearts, Regarding Henry, Sabrina, Six Days Seven Nights, Water to Wine, What Lies Beneath, Witness and Working Girl. He also played the role of the school principal in E.T. in 1982, which ended up not making the final cut, but nevertheless, his success as an actor was such that he had featured in the Top 5 box-office hits of all time at one point and five of his movies are also in the National Film Registry.
Not content just to stay with films, he stepped into the music scene in 1985 by working with the singer Jimmy Buffett to provide the authentic whip cracking on his song “Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)” on his album Last Mango in Paris. A lunch with Jimmy Buffett and the late Ed Bradley also resulted in him getting his ear being pierced.
Recognised for his contribution to the entertainment industry he has won a Golden Globe, been nominated for several Academy and BAFTA Awards, was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is ranked No. 4 in the lost of domestic box-office stars with his films grossing an estimated $6 billion worldwide.
Having a huge interest in aircraft he is the owner of a collection of 7 airplanes and helicopters, is currently the Chairman of the Young Eagles program in the Experimental Aircraft Association and has been known to provide emergency services in his helicopter when required.
His work with charitable concerns has seen him as a General Trustee on the Archaeological Institute of America’s governing board, served meals to to the homeless for Thanksgiving at the Los Angeles Mission, being on the board of Conservation International, being given the Jules Verne Spirit of Nature Award and having the newly discovered ant species pheidole harrisonfordi and the spider species calponia harrisonfordi named in his honour.
Here is “Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)” on which he is credited with the whip…