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A Famous Illinois Actor

Christine Banaszak
Tinley Park High School, Tinley Park

Harrison Ford is a contemporary movie star. His life illustrates a phenomenon of popular culture and mass communications. Acting in numerous productions, Ford always looked for innovative roles that would broaden his dramatic perspective. His versatile acting ability was greatly desired in the booming motion picture industry.

Harrison Ford was born on July 13, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. He spent his entire childhood in the surrounding suburbs of Park Ridge and Morton Grove. It was there that Ford was first exposed to a career in drama. Harrison's father was experienced in many different aspects of the media. He produced television commercials, did commercial voice-overs, and was involved in radio acting and advertising. Harrison's father was not his only influence though, as the theatrical history of their family is traced back to Ford's grandfather, who was a vaudevillian.

Harrison first acted while attending Ripon College in Wisconsin. He participated in a student production and found it to be a thrilling experience. He later moved to California, and it was there that a scout from Columbia Pictures signed Ford to a contract with the agency. Shortly thereafter Harrison signed with Universal Pictures, but it was not until a friend of his introduced him to Francis Ford Coppola that Ford's career took off. Coppola worked for director George Lucas, who was in the process of filming American Graffiti.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Harrison Ford displayed his skills by mastering minor parts in many films, including Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, Luv, A Time for Killing, Journey to Shiloh, American Graffiti, and Star Wars. Later in his career, Ford starred in popular movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Working Girl, Regarding Henry, and the recent action adventure film, Patriot Games.

Harrison Ford is a gifted actor who was born and raised in Illinois. He followed a late-twentieth-century course that began with his family earlier in the century.[David Brownstone, People in the News; Louise Mooney, Harrison Ford; and Charles Moritz, Current Biography.]

Movie theaters today differ physically from the theaters of yesteryear. New movie
houses no longer have elaborate stages like the one pictured here, but they still
draw crowds to see the big-name stars on the silver screen.

Movie Theaters

60 ILLINOIS HISTORY / MARCH 1993


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