Built Ford Tough
He went from Boy Scout to carpenter to big-screen action hero. Here, in honor of Harrison Ford's 76th birthday, are 25 fun facts about the actor some have called the biggest movie star of all time.
He Began Acting as Harrison J. Ford
The "J" didn't stand for anything—Ford doesn't have a middle name—but he wanted to distinguish himself from a silent film actor who was also called Harrison Ford.
He's a Real Boy Scout
While growing up in Illinois, Ford rose to the second-highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America, becoming a Life Scout. In 2001, piloting his own helicopter, he rescued a 13-year-old Boy Scout who'd been lost overnight in Yellowstone National Park.
His Father Was Irish Catholic, His Mother Russian Jewish
Asked about his heritage, Ford (seen here with his mom in 2003) once deadpanned, "As a man, I've always felt Irish; as an actor, I've always felt Jewish."
You Probably Saw Him on TV
In the late '60s and early '70s, Harrison Ford had occasional small roles on "Gunsmoke," "The Virginian," "Ironside," "Love, American Style" (seen here) and "Kung Fu." Meanwhile, he supported his family as a professional carpenter.
He Toured With the Doors
In the late '60s, Ford worked as a cameraman on "Feast of Friends," a Doors concert film. "When it was over, I was one step away from joining a Jesuit monastery," Ford later recalled. "I thought it was cool ... but I couldn't keep up with those guys."
He Never Built Cabinets for George Lucas
It's often said that Ford was making cabinets at Lucas' home when the director cast him in "American Graffiti." That's a myth. But the actor did work as a carpenter for Francis Ford Coppola, after which he landed a small part in "Apocalypse Now."
His Original "Star Wars" Paycheck Was Just $10,000
But playing Han Solo paid off in the long run. Ford got $100,000 for 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" and $500,000 for 1983's "Return of the Jedi." Then, in 2015, he reportedly received $10 million to $20 million for co-starring in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
He Wanted Han Solo to Die
"I thought it would be good ... if he sacrificed himself in some noble way," Ford told Wired. With that in mind, he urged Lucas "to ask the writers to kill me off." Fortunately for Ford, the director ignored his suggestion.
There's a Story Behind That Scar on His Chin
The scar is the result of an accident that happened in the early '60s while Ford was putting on his seatbelt. Unfortunately, he was already driving at the time. While trying to buckle up, he ran off the road, slammed into a telephone pole and his face hit the steering wheel.
One of Indy's Famous Lines Wasn't in the Script
In 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when Marion (Karen Allen) tells Indiana Jones, "You're not the man I knew 10 years ago," Ford ad-libbed his character's much-quoted reply: "It's not the years, honey—it's the mileage."
He Provided Sound Effects for a Jimmy Buffett Song
The crack of a bullwhip on "Desperation Samba (Halloween in Tijuana)," a track on Buffett's 1985 album "Last Mango in Paris," is credited to Harrison Ford.
A Spider Is Named After Him
It's much smaller than this one. Discovered in 1993, the California-based spider was christened Calponia harrisonfordi after Ford narrated a documentary for the London Museum of Natural History.
He Hated the Voice-over in 'Blade Runner'
"It was simply bad narration," he told Playboy. Some have suggested that Ford deliberately did the voice-over poorly with the hope that it would be rejected. In any case, he did say that part of the script was written "by clowns."
His Second Wife Wrote "E.T."
In 1983, the year she married Ford, Melissa Mathison won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." Ford had a small part in the movie—he played Elliott's school principal—but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
He Picked the Song for the Dance Scene in "Witness"
Director Peter Weir asked Ford to choose the song, since the scene involved singing and dancing to it. The actor went with Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World." (The song heard on the soundtrack is actually a cover by another singer.)
His Favorite Harrison Ford Movie Was a Flop
Despite a stellar cast—including Helen Mirren and River Phoenix—the 1986 drama "The Mosquito Coast" was a critical disappointment that lost millions at the box office. "It's the only film I have done that hasn't made its money back," said Ford. "I'm still glad I did it."
He Turned Down Some Big Roles
Ford declined the part in "Terms of Endearment" for which Jack Nicholson won an Oscar. He also said no to lead roles in "Beverly Hills Cop," "Big," "Die Hard," "Ghost" and "Jurassic Park."
He Loves His Toys
Ford told London's Daily Mail he has "eight or nine" motorcycles, about seven airplanes—from a long-range jet to an open-top biplane—and a helicopter. "Flying is like good music," he said. "It elevates the spirit."
He's Got a Dry Wit
When Carrie Fisher called to let him know that her 2016 memoir "The Princess Diarist" would reveal their 1976 affair, the famously private Ford gave her a single-word reply: "Lawyer!" Just kidding. In the end, he didn't ask her to make any changes in the manuscript.
He Got His Ear Pierced—at Age 55
Inspired by his pal Jimmy Buffett, he dropped by Claire's Accessories in Los Angeles, where a sales assistant named Tavora did the piercing. Once the mission was accomplished, Ford left her a note: "To Tavora. You made a hole in me. Harrison Ford."
He Was a Sport at Harvard
In 1997, Harvard's Hasty Pudding Club gave Ford its Man of the Year Award, an honor that had previously gone to stars ranging from Paul Newman and Robert Redford to Tom Hanks and Robin Williams.
He and Calista Flockhart Met Cute
Ford and his third wife met when the "Ally McBeal" star intentionally spilled her drink on him at the 2002 Golden Globes. They married in 2010.
He's a Real-Life Hero Too
In 2000, a hiker named Sarah George was stricken with altitude sickness in the mountains of Wyoming. She managed to send out an emergency signal, and Ford came to the rescue. George didn't recognize him at first—and she threw up in his helicopter—but now she's Indiana Jones' No. 1 fan.
He Slugged Ryan Gosling
"We were just doing a fight scene and, you know, it just happened," Gosling told GQ. "But what was funny was, when it was over, they brought ice for my face, and Harrison pushed me out of the way and stuck his fist in the ice. I asked him the other day where he got his sense of humor from—was it from his mother or his father? He said, 'Sears.'"
In Terms of Box Office, He's Up There With Samuel L. Jackson
After the 2015 release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Ford pulled ahead of Samuel L. Jackson to become the highest-grossing actor in Hollywood history. (The movie grossed about $937 million, more than the original "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" combined.) Since then Jackson has taken back the lead. His U.S. box office total is now about $5.6 billion, while Ford is closing in on $5 billion, with Robert Downey Jr. close behind.
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