Saturday, September 6, 2008

Episode #35: Glenn Ford As Pa Kent!

The actor Glenn Ford passed away on August 30, 2006 at the age of 90. He was born on May 1, 1916 at the Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. His parents, Mewton and Hannah Ford, named him Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford. His father was a railroad executive. The Fords moved to Santa Monica, California in 1924 and Gleen Ford became a naturalized American citizen in 1939, the same year he was hired by Columbia Pictures. Ford took his acting name from his father's hometown, Glenford, Canada.
Ford served in the Marine Reserves during WWII, and the Navy Reserves from 1958 unitl he retired in the 1970's.
Glenn Ford's screen personality was as a laid back easy going, soft spoken person. That does not mean he had a limited range as an actor. He had a versatile acting career, playing roles in everything from thrillers, dramas, action fims, comedies and westerns. Two of his better known roles were Blackboard Jungle (1955), where he played a new teacher who clashed with both students and faculty, and the Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963), about a son who tries to play a matchmaker for his father.
Glenn Ford portrayed Jonathan Kent in 1978's Superman:the Movie. In the scene when the teen Clark comes home from school, the car with his school friends that drives by has the song Rock Around the Clock, which was a song in Blackboard Jungle. As Pa Kent, Glenn is a flesh and blood version of Jonathan Kent from the Smallville stories. He was the perfect actor for the role, as the soft spoken Pa with a rock hard moral foundation. His first comment to his son, something like, "Showing off again, huh, son?" stops Clark in his tracks. Such a question, asked in such a mild tone is something that only a father knows how to make it work on his son, especially when there is respect between the two of them. It becomes clear in this brief scene, that Clark's own moral foundation was built in him by Jonathan Kent, as well as his mother. What Clark learns from his real father, Jor-El, is built on the foundation laid down by a simple, compared to Krytonian society, Kansas farmer.
Glenn Ford's only child and son Peter knew a father who was more strict than his screen persona might suggest. As shared on the official family web site, Peter said that it wasn't always fun growing up, but as an adult he appreciates his father's discipline, especially when he saw the lives of some of the other celebrity children he grew up with. Not all of his memories were gloomy. Peter tells of learning how to swim from Johnny Weismuller, in the Olympic sized pool his parents had built in their back yard. Weismulller ws an acting friend of Peter's mother, and portrayed Tarzan in b/w movies. Peter learned to play tennis from Pancho Sagora, and golf from Ben Hogan, who was prepping his father for a film role.
Peter Ford is currently working on a biography of his father, Glenn Ford: A Life In Film The Authorized Biography.

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Thank you for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and as always thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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