7/13/1942 (80 years old) Chicago, Illinois, United States
Before Ford's rise to megastardom, he tackled bit parts in film and on TV during the '60s. But his lack of progress by the end of that decade compelled him to abandon show business and switch his focus to carpentry. (One of his projects was the entrance to Francis Ford Coppola's offices. The director later cast him in his films The Conversation and Apocalypse Now.) In the '70s Ford resumed his quest for acting success and soon landed a noticeable role in George Lucas' 1973 nostalgia-fest American Graffiti. Finally a working actor, he had turned in solid work in a string of supporting parts when Lucas asked if Ford could help out at an audition for his new project, a sci-fi saga called Star Wars, by reading the part of Han Solo opposite potential Luke Skywalkers. Ford perfectly embodied the lone laser-slinger, and Lucas eventually offered him the breakthrough role. Suddenly the Force seemed to be with Ford as he proceeded to become one of the most bankable stars ever. In addition to the Star Wars franchise, he launched the Indiana Jones movies after Tom Selleck was forced to turn down the part. Ford then tackled more challenging fare when he earned his sole Oscar nod as a hard-bitten cop trying to protect an Amish boy in Witness, played an obsessive inventor in Mosquito Coast and embodied a noirish antihero in Blade Runner. And in the '90s he took over the role of CIA agent Jack Ryan from Alec Baldwin in two film adaptations of Tom Clancy novels. Ford then slowed down his pace by appearing in one big-budget flick per year. Some were hits (The Fugitive, Air Force One), and some were misfires (the romantic comedy Six Days Seven Nights, the historic thriller K-19: The Widowmaker). Several years later, Ford's fans rejoiced when he finally agreed to return to the role of everyone's favorite archaeologist in 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Off screen, Ford's marriage to his college sweetheart ended in divorce in the late '70s, as did his marriage to his second wife, E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison. He then began a long-term relationship with actress Calista Flockhart, 22 years his junior, in 2002, eventually tying the knot in 2010.
Early work on TV included guest shots on Gunsmoke, The F.B.I. and The Virginian.
To supplement his meager acting earnings in the late '60s and early '70s, became a self-taught carpenter. Jobs included a recording studio for Sergio Mendes and a portico entrance for Francis Ford Coppola's L.A. office.
Was cast in a small but memorable part in George Lucas' 1973 hit American Graffiti leading to his breakout role as Han Solo in the director's 1977 blockbuster Star Wars.
Popularized the adventure character Indiana Jones, beginning with the high-grossing Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Had a new species of spider named after him in 1993 by the American Museum of Natural History, the Calponia harrisonfordi.
An avid flyer, earned pilot's license in 1996 and flew the plane in 1998's romantic adventure Six Days Seven Nights.