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Harrison Ford - Biography

It was a classic case of destiny when the carpenter at MGM Studios landed the lead in a blockbuster movie. 

harrison ford glenn close© Photo: Getty Images
Updated: June 15, 2023
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When was Harrison Ford born?

Born on July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, Harrison - the son of ad exec Christopher and homemaker Dorothy - was hardly the leading-man type at Maine Township High School East. In fact, he claims he was the class wimp. 

His star began to rise after he enrolled at Wisconsin's Ripon College, where he caught the acting bug and began performing in student plays. The would-be star launched his professional acting career at the age of 21 when he signed a $150 a week, seven-year contract as a studio player in Los Angeles. 

What was Harrison Ford's first role?

Working in minor roles in film and TV, he earned his way as a carpenter even after he got his break with a small but memorable part in the 1973 flick American Graffiti. 

Four years later, aged 35 and still struggling, he finally shot to fame in Star Wars and followed up with roles in the Vietnam War drama Apocalypse Now, sci-fi thriller Blade Runner and, of course, two sequels to the George Lucas epic that made him famous. 

Harrison's recurring stints as Han Solo, and the bullwhip-wielding archaeologist Indiana Jones, who he played in the film of the same name, cemented his place in cinematic history as one of Hollywood's most successful leading men. He received an Oscar nomination for Witness in 1986, and during the course of that decade starred in five of the top ten highest-grossing films of the decade, bringing in over $1 billion at the box office. 

Though known for his repeat roles as the hero in Hollywood blockbusters, and CIA agent Jack Ryan in screen adaptations of Tom Clancy's best-selling novels, Harrison has also tried his hand at non-action parts, from cad Jack Trainer in the comedy Working Girls to a recovering amnesia patient in Regarding Henry.  Now 80, Harrison is about to star in the fifth Indiana Jones instalment, and is appearing the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ series Shrinking.

"I made a conscious effort when I first did Star Wars to do different types of roles in between to make sure I wasn't typed," he says. "And, I think it seems to have worked." 

Where does Harrison Ford live?

Today the actor's vast fortune includes a sprawling Wyoming ranch, multimillion dollar homes in Connecticut and New York, a collection of 19th-century art and a number of aircraft, including a helicopter and $6 million Gulfstream jet. 

And what do you give the man who has everything? The American Museum of Natural History in New York named a spider after him Calponia harrisonfordi as a thankyou for narrating a documentary film.

Despite his Hollywood riches, Harrison prefers the simplicity of rural living, spending much of his time at his 700-plus-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with wife Calista Flockhart, and their son Liam.

Harrison is an avid pilot, however on March 5, 2015, he was forced to make an emergency landing on the Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California after his plane lost engine power. He was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a broken pelvis and broken ankle.

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