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Glenn Ford: the anti-movie-star
The Associated Press
LOS ANGLES — He never won an Academy Award — was never nominated. He never earned the big bucks that stars of his stature enjoyed. Yet for 52 years Glenn Ford remained an in-demand actor whose name above the title could attract movie-ticket buyers.
Ford might be called the anti-star. He didn't hang out with the gang in Hollywood watering holes. He never quarreled with directors or studio bosses. His name was never sullied by scandal. He did his acting job and went on to the next one.
His career contrasts with that of his (mostly) friendly rival at Columbia studio, William Holden. Both were put under contract by Columbia boss Harry Cohn in the pre-World War II period. Both vied for good roles; sometimes they co-starred, as in "Texas" and "The Man from Colorado."
Ford was sedate, Holden was a roisterer, noted for his boozing and romancing. Holden once bragged to Robert Mitchum that he had bedded every one of his leading ladies.
Holden won the Oscar for "Stalag 17," and was nominated for "Sunset Boulevard" and "Network." He died in 1981 during a drinking binge. He was 63.
Ford continued working until 1991 when a series of strokes overcame him. The 90-year-old actor was found dead Wednesday in his Beverly Hills home, police said. An exact cause of death was not given.
During interviews with this reporter over the years, Ford revealed some of the factors contributing to his longevity.
"I've always been of the opinion that motion pictures talk too much," he remarked in 1975. "When I see films that go on and on with dialogue, I feel like telling the actors, 'Be quiet! Let the audience do some of the work.' ...
"Some actors count their lines as soon as they receive a script. I'm the opposite. I try to see how many lines I can whittle down. ... You can say just as much in four as you can in 14."
Ford was no pushover for overbearing directors. He earned battle stars for some of his encounters. But in 1965 he commented: "I think film actors are better off when they are in the hands of a strong director. When actors are coddled and catered to, they lose their sense of reality. If you don't applaud after their close-ups, they go into their dressing rooms and pout."
That was Ford's last venture as producer. He reasoned, "Hell, no actor is going to tell Frank Capra how to make a picture. He had forgotten more about movie making than most directors know."
Ford said in 1960 that he preferred to work for major studios rather than independent producers. His reasoning:
"I've had a lot of [independent] guys tell me I can earn a million dollars by making a picture with them. Of course, the script isn't quite right, and they won't spend much money on the picture. It doesn't take many of those before you're washed up."
That was no worry for Glenn Ford. He was a star to the end of his career.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company