Today Glenn Ford resides with son Peter (the veteran actor’s only child) and his family in Beverly Hills, California. We at Wildest Westerns worked on the following questions with Mr. Ford over a period of months. Mr. Ford is now 89 years old, and for his age, his health is good; however, his recall, according to Peter, is not as thorough as it once was. Therefore, when applicable, special notes provided by Peter have been placed in parentheses at the end of some of his father’s answers (denoted as “Peter’s Notes”) to give our readers some additional background information. These notes are based on Glenn Ford’s past in-person recollections, as well as on information extracted from Mr. Ford’ letters, diaries, cassette tapes and scrapbooks in the Glenn Ford Library and Archives files.
Wildest Westerns: Who were your heroes growing up, Western stars or otherwise?
GLENN FORD: My heroes were my father and Will Rogers.
WW: Did you ever meet Will Rogers?
GF: I worked for Mr. Rogers after school grooming his horses at his ranch and that’s where I rode my first horse.
WW: Was he your inspiration to become an actor?
GF: I used to watch the polo matches [at Mr. Rogers' ranch] and I saw Darryl Zanuck, Clark Gable and many of the Hollywood crowd on those occasions. I dreamed one day I might be and actor, but my aspirations were to act on stage. I suppose I looked up to anyone working on stage or in the movies when I was a youngster, and I dreamed about meeting them in person one day.
WW: And your father?
GF: My dad was my hero. He was larger than life to me. Sadly, he died in 1940 when I first started in films, but I think he knew Mom and I would be okay because I was making my fifth picture (Babies for Sale) at the time.
WW: And your parents were originally from…
GF: My father and mother came to California in 1922 from Canada. My dad worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad, but here in California he drove the tram on the boardwalk in Venice. On the weekends and when I wasn’t in school, I helped him. He worked hard and was a proud man who devoted himself to his family.
[Peter's Notes: In an entry from my father's diary on 9/18/34 (He was 17 years old.), he says that he had pin-up photos of Alice Faye and Claudette Colbert at the head of his bed in his bedroom. Perhaps they weren't "heroes" but certainly persons of interest to a young aspiring actor!]
WW: You had a long stretch at Columbia Pictures. How did you come to be put under contract there?
GF: I had completed Heaven with a Barded Wire Fence for 205h Century Fox at the end of June 1939 on an initial two-week contract that ended up being extended to six weeks. The very same Daryll Zanuck who I first saw at Will Rogers’ Ranch when I was a stable boy became my boss. I had done many stage plays by this time but I didn’t think I wanted to be in films………
This link goes to the only web site fully sanctioned by the Ford family.