Glenn Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford on May 1, 1916 in Portneuf, Quebec, Canada. When he was a child, his family moved to Santa Monica, California.
After graduating from high school, Ford decided to try his hand at acting. He got his first bit role in 1937's "Night in Manhattan". In 1939, he was discovered by a talent scout and signed a contract with Columbia Pictures, immediately making "Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence" and "My Son is Guilty". That year, Ford also became a naturalized United States citizen.
In 1942, Ford's film career was interrupted when he volunteered for duty in World War II with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve on 13 December as a photographic specialist at the rank of sergeant. He was assigned in March 1943 to active duty at the Marine Corps Base in San Diego. He was sent to Marine Corps Schools Detachment (Photographic Section) in Quantico, Virginia, that June, with orders as a motion-picture production technician. Sergeant Ford returned to the San Diego base in February 1944 and was assigned next to the radio section of the Public Relations Office, Headquarters Company, Base Headquarters Battalion. There he staged and broadcast the radio program Halls of Montezuma. Glenn Ford was honorably discharged from the Marines on 7 December 1944.
After returning to the United States in 1944, he married a woman named Eleanor Powell, who was a tap dancer. They had one son, Peter Ford, who also became an actor. His first film upon his return was "A Stolen Life" in 1946. That same year, he starred in the hit film "Gilda", which made him an international superstar.
The success of "Gilda" led to more important roles and Glenn became one of the most popular leading actors of the 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, he starred in "Framed", a noir film where he becomes involved with a femme fatale. In 1953, he had to opportunity to star in Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat" as a police officer. He also starred in some important westerns, such as "The Fastest Gun Alive", "3:10 to Yuma", and "Cimarron".
In 1959, Glenn divorced Eleanor Powell and didn't remarry until 1966, when he married Kathryn Hays. After a divorce in 1969, he married Cynthia Hayward in 1977. Their marriage fell apart and he didn't marry again until 1993. However, his marriage to Jeanne Baus lasted less than a year and they divorced in 1994.
In 1958, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and was commissioned as a lieutenant commander with a 1655 designator (public affairs officer). During his annual training tours, he promoted the Navy through radio and television broadcasts, personal appearances, and documentary films. He was promoted to commander in 1963 and captain in 1968.
Ford went to Vietnam in 1967 for a month's tour of duty as a location scout for combat scenes in a training film entitled Global Marine. He traveled with a combat camera crew from the demilitarized zone south to the Mekong Delta. For his service in Vietnam, the Navy awarded him a Navy Commendation Medal. His World War II decorations are as follows: American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Rifle Marksman Badge, and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Medal. He retired from the Naval Reserve in the 1970s at the rank of captain.
In 1962, Ford won a Golden Globe for best actor in honor of his performance in "Pocketful of Miracles". In 1978, he was given a place in the Western Performers Hall of Fame.
In the 1970s, he started appearing on television shows. His first appearance was in "Brotherhood of the Bell", followed by "Cade's County" and "The Family Holvak". In the 1980s, he started appearing less and less until his last appearance in 1991. Glenn cited circulatory problems as his reason for retiring from acting.
Currently, Glenn is living in retirement with his son Peter's family in Beverly Hills.
"People laugh when I say I'm not an actor, but I'm not, I play myself." - Glenn Ford