The biographies of classic Hollywood stars were actually what led me to the library in the first place. I’m revisiting that genre and decided to start with Glenn Ford. Glenn Ford, A Life seemed an intriguing biography given that it was written by Ford’s son, Peter. I just love the photo selected for the cover of the book, which tells so much the era in which Ford made movies. I was pleased with the easy writing style that was conversational, but still informative. Given how many movies Ford was in and how many people he interacted with, I was relieved to see that Peter was able to quickly relay enough background information to give context to these events without launching into a tangent on irrelevant issues.
Gwyllyn, as he was born, is to me an extremely underrated and overlooked star. I always think it is funny to hear about the struggles stars had early in their careers. Ford wrestled with unsympathetic bosses, bad jobs, and poverty before he even though about becoming an actor. Once he did, many, many people said no to him before he achieved stardom. Ford was a product of the Columbia studio system, which meant he did not have control over which movies he was in. He finally managed to break his contract when the studio failed to abide by its obligations. Like me, audiences found Ford a genuine person who looked out for his costars. Despite being very likable, he somehow never got the kind of recognition that other stars like William Holden did.
I found it commendable that Peter wrote about his father in what I found to be an objective way. He addressed his parent’s marriage, his own upbringing, and both the good and bad decisions his father made. Ford came across as a dashing and honest man, so it was surprising to me that he got swept up in the celebrity of Hollywood. He cheated on his wife Eleanor Powell, a star well-known for her tap dancing ability, with Rita Hayworth and several other stars.
The quotes from Ford and his contemporaries that appeared in the book gave this a personal touch, adding to how much I liked this biography. My first exposure to Ford was in the popular movie Gilda with Rita Hayworth, which I intend to watch again now that I understand the off-screen relationship between the two stars.