Harrison Ford Turned 81: Here Are 7 Facts About the Iconic Actor That Few People Know About
Harrison Ford blew out his candles for the 81st time on July 13, 2023. With a career in Hollywood that has spanned over 6 decades of memorable moments, the Indiana Jones-star is a never-ending source of fascinating stories. To celebrate his birthday, we dug up a few lesser-known facts about him and some are even more mind-blowing than his own movies!
He majored in Philosophy and is a licensed pilot.
After graduating from high school in 1960, Ford enrolled in Ripon College, where he became a Philosophy major. However, the soon-to-become actor felt the degree failed to give him many job prospects. “I was a philosophy major in college, which prepares you to do nothing but teach philosophy or write,” he once said. “I was looking for something that was challenging and would provide me with a variety of experiences.”
Besides his connection to Philosophy and his clear love of acting, the 81-year-old is also an aviation enthusiast. He is a pilot of both fixed-wing aircrafts, such as planes, and helicopters. In fact, his skills in the air have allowed him to provide emergency helicopter services in various occasions in the past.
He has rescued several people, including a lost child.
In July 2000, the actor offered to help a hiker, named Sarah George, who had become too dehydrated to move whilst on a 5-hour climb of Table Mountain in Wyoming. He landed his helicopter near to where she was and then flew her to a safe place, where she was medically assisted.
One year later, Ford saved the life of a 13-year-old boy scout, Cody Clawson, who had gotten lost in a forest close to Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. Clawson was grateful for the rescue and claimed to have received the best gift possible from the actor. “Cody said the kids asked if he got an autograph, and he said, ’No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that’s better than an autograph’”, Clawson’s mother recalled.
He used to be a carpenter and that helped him land the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars saga.
Sérgio Mendes, a Brazilian Bossa Nova singer, once posted a throwback photo on his Facebook page that showed Harrison Ford (on the far right) as part of a crew of carpenters. “Before Han Solo, there was a great carpenter named Harrison Ford. And here he is, with his crew, the day he finished building my recording studio back in 1970,” the singer wrote in the caption.
Well, his work as a carpenter was what first introduced him to George Lucas, the filmmaker behind the Star Wars universe. “I was actually installing a door for Francis Ford Coppola as a favor to his art director, who had built the door and couldn’t find anyone to install it,” Ford explained how he entered Hollywood as a carpenter. “While I was finishing up the door, in you [George Lucas] walked with Richard Dreyfuss.”
The actor has had 2 animal species named after him.
Ford, a long-time environmentalist, was first honored with a spider species. The Calponia harrisonfordi was described by American arachnologist Norman I. Platnick, who named the type species after the Indiana Jones-star “in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the American Museum.”
Then, he got an ant species named after him as well. The Pheidole harrisonfordi is mainly found in Central America, but it was American biologist Edward Osborne Wilson who picked its name. This act was also in recognition of his environmental work, particularly “his outstanding contribution in service and support to tropical conservation, hence the habitats in which the Pheidole ants will continue to exist.”
He had a fling with Carrie Fisher while they filmed Star Wars.
In 2016, the late Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, in the first Star Wars movies, revealed that she had a brief affair with Ford while shooting the original 1976 film. “It was so intense,” she recalled in an interview. “It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.”
Although it all ended as soon as filming of the movie wrapped, the actress looked back on it with fondness. “I was so inexperienced, but I trusted something about him,” she said. “He was kind.”
He pierced his ear at Claire’s Accessories.
Ford pierced his ear when he was already a 55-year-old, back in 1997. Yet, he still chose Claire’s Accessories to do so, although he has explained that it was out of convenience. It happened whilst he was having lunch with singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett and 60 Minutes reporter Ed Bradley. “We all had the same phones and watches,” he recalled. “But I realized I didn’t have an earring like they did.”
Afterward, he decided to go get his ear pierce, accompanied by his then-wife Melissa Mathison, and the two ended up at a Claire’s store. The employee who did the deed, Tavora Escossery, said he “didn’t flinch, and when it was done, he said, ’That didn’t hurt.’” Before it was time to go, the actor jokingly signed an autograph to her. “To Tavora. You made a hole in me. Harrison Ford,” it read.
He has been playing Indiana Jones for over 40 years.
Ford was only 38 years old when Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, premiered. Although not long passed between the actor returned to reprise the legendary role for the second and third movies of the franchise, it was a long time between he made a return for the fourth movie, nearly 20 years. When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released in 2008, he was already 65.
Fans of the adventurer then had to wait 15 more years to see Ford back on screens playing one of his most famous roles in the newly released Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. What a journey it’s been!
Harrison Ford isn’t the only fascinating actor in Hollywood though. Leonardo DiCaprio is full of surprises himself, including the fact that he once adopted, from a distance, a young South African girl.