Glenn Ford was one of Hollywood's most popular stars and one of its most versatile and underrated actors. He was also an admirable person. He was a loving husband and father. He was kind to his friends and generous to charities. At various times, he served in the Coast Guard, the Marines and the Naval Reserve; in fact, he nearly lost his life from enemy action in Vietnam. However, he was also a serial adulterer and a distant father who could be moody, arrogant, and volatile.
Peter Ford, Glenn's son, tells this entire story in his candid biography of his famous father. Though Peter doesn't pull any punches, this is not a trashy-type memoir but a thoroughly researched and well-documented account that covers the actor's complete life, from his birth in Canada in 1916 to his death in Beverly Hills in 2006.
Within those 90 years is a continually fascinating story of a genuine movie star. Along the way, Peter gives a comprehensive account of all of his father's films and provides interesting anecdotes on the production of his most famous movies. Numerous co-stars, such as Jack Lemmon, Sidney Poitier, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley Jones and Ernest Borgnine recall working with Glenn. From such interviews as well as from contemporary reviews, the actor's extraordinary and unappreciated talent becomes clear.
Glenn's difficult relationships with personalities such as Harry Cohn, Frank Capra and Marlon Brando provide interesting reading. He remained a devoted friend to Rita Hayworth during her troubled years, when everyone else in Hollywood had deserted her. The book naturally provides intimate details on his marriage to Peter's mother, Eleanor Powell, as well as on the author's life with this famous couple, before and after their divorce. Glenn's three additional--and increasingly disastrous--marriages are also detailed. Also revealed are his affairs with numerous actresses, including--in addition to Hayworth--Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Maria Schell and a host of others. But the author never resorts to salaciousness; this isn't that kind of book.
Ironically, this famous Hollywood star who had everything was always looking for love, or something resembling it. In actuality, he had true love from Eleanor Powell but he threw it away. Eleanor gave up her successful career for Glenn but he didn't appreciate this sacrifice. He had a selfish streak that he displayed toward those closest to him while he became increasingly vulnerable to younger women who left him emotionally and financially bankrupt. Depression and alcoholism marked the slow decline of Glenn Ford's life but, fortunately, his son and daughter-in-law never deserted him.
As an author, Peter Ford displays remarkable objectivity in his descriptions of his often-difficult childhood and his fluctuating relationship with his father. He has a relaxed way of writing which makes the book a very satisfying read. He has the advantage of being a significant part of his subject's life but yet he still maintains a careful balance between emotion and reality. He avoids speculation and gossip and concentrates on factual detail. He details his father's faults as well as his virtues with compassion, understanding and honesty. This is a revealing, truthful and insightful biography of a Hollywood legend.