Packing a Life in Seven
By Alicia Flannery
In 1993, an honorable individual dutifully moved (with immediate family) back into a home that he had not lived in for over 30 years. Why? His famous father’s series of relationships — agents, lawyers and greedy women who were not in his best interests — left him alone and lonely. And finally, the again and ailing patriarch needed around-the-hourglass care. For our commendable individual, this was undoubtedly the beginning of a brutally honest introspection — seven years of paper, paper and more paper. Eventually, a reasonable 312 paged biography emerged. It was a combination of his peerless circumstances and his iconic father’s diaries. Diaries! Who was his illustrious father? The brilliant, late actor: Glenn Ford. Peter Ford is the described individual. His newly written book is entitled, Glenn Ford: A Life.
Stepping into the game room of the Ford family’s home, there is a sense that the tick, tick of time is struggling to reconsider. The walls of this space are adorned with inscribed frames revealing truly stunning photos of their friends, Hollywood symbols: Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Fred Astaire, etc. The young Ford lived in a world where James Mason not only could have been, but was, his baby sitter and Charlie Chaplin was one of his famous neighbors. As a matter of fact, young Ford would often find Astaire a guest in his home. It was on one of those occasions when Astaire told him, “Your mother was one of the greatest dancers ever in film.” Astaire knew. In 1940, he and Ford’s mother, Eleanor Powell, were dance partners in one of Hollywood‘s last great musicals, Broadway Melody.
Ford’s recollections of matchless experiences are endless. He was privy to golf course chit-chat as a caddy for Clark Gable. Imagine!
To quote Ford: “Being the son of Glenn Ford was not easy. I became my father’s biggest fan in order to survive.”
Young Ford elaborates: “Most of my peers are dysfunctional, bitter or angry. There are very few children of movie stars, especially a child of two parents in the business, who are alive, sane or happy today. Being a movie star’s child is the hardest job — and I mean job —in the world. You have no privacy. You have no self-identification…
“Nothing has ever been written about my father. He was an excellent and underrated actor. Many people would agree. He did win a Golden Globe Award, but the Academy members never nominated him. I wanted my book, Glenn Ford: A Life, to serve the memory of my father as a great actor. It was very, very difficult to write a book that did that —and told a story — yet stayed honest. I couldn’t lie.”