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Harrison Ford is one of Hollywood's leading men, with an acting career that has spanned nearly 40 years and included iconic roles.
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Born July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, Harrison Ford struggled for years as an actor before George Lucas cast him in 1973's American Graffiti. Ford then hit superstardom as Han Solo in the three Star Wars films and as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and its three sequels, which were all monster successes. He has gone on to play leading roles in numerous Hollywood films.
"I was terrified to get up in front of people, but I really enjoyed the storytelling part."
[On his first drama course, taken at Ripon College.]
Born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, actor Harrison Ford has starred in some of Hollywood's biggest films, such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He grew up in Des Plaines, a suburb of Chicago, as the son of an advertising executive and a stay-at-home mother. As a child, Ford was targeted by bullies. He went to Maine Township High School where he was involved in the social science and model train clubs, according to People magazine.
After graduating in 1960, Ford studied English and philosophy at Ripon College in Wisconsin. There, he discovered an interest in performing nearly by accident. Ford signed up for a drama course, hoping for an easy good grade. "I was terrified to get up in front of people, but I really enjoyed the storytelling part," he explained to People magazine.
Ford wasn't the best student in college, and he ended up leaving before completing his degree. With his future wife, Mary Marquardt, he made his way to Hollywood in the mid-1960s. Ford first landed a deal with Columbia Pictures as a contract player, earning $150 a week. He then ended up at Universal. In 1966, Ford made his film debut in a bit part in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round. Studio executives were less than impressed with him. One studio official told him that "You'll never make it in this business," Ford told the Hollywood Reporter.
Frustrated with his lack of success as an actor, Ford became a carpenter to supplement in his income. George Lucas gave him his first important film role in his 1973 drama American Graffiti, but his career failed to progress much. He worked for Francis Ford Coppola as both a carpenter and an actor with small roles in The Conversation (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979).
In 1977, Ford collaborated with Lucas again for his breakthrough role as Han Solo in Star Wars. His portrayal of the brash but likeable rogue in this science fiction classic helped raise his profile in Hollywood. The film's two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), helped make him a star.
Around this time, Ford brought another of his legendary film characters to the big screen. He played a resourceful, swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. The action adventure tale, written in part by George Lucas, proved to be a huge hit. It spawned several sequels, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
Ford enhanced his reputation as a dramatic actor with several significant roles in the mid-1980s.
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