Glenn Ford’s Son: US Celebrates 'Decadence'

Sunday, 03 Apr 2011 11:34 AM

By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter

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Peter Ford, the only child of iconic good guy Glenn Ford, tells Newsmax.TV that too many celebrities these days achieve fame through their bad behavior — and he acknowledges that his family experienced a bit of ugliness, too.

“In the old days, when I was young . . . your celebrity was gained by hard work,” Ford says. “Today, everybody’s a bad boy — and all the girls are bad girls — and that’s what’s celebrated.”

Citing the troubles of “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen as a classic example of where Hollywood has gone wrong, Ford says: “The more mischief you can get into, the more famous you get.”

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That aspect of Hollywood culture has spilled over and become a national problem, Ford says.

“You can do something outrageous, and suddenly you’re the talk of the town for a week or two and, quite frankly, that’s enough to propel you into a career as a celebrity,” he says in the exclusive interview.

“We don’t celebrate the goodness any more — we celebrate our decadence. That’s not good for our country, and it saddens me.”

Ford, 65, is promoting his new biography of his famous dad, arguably the greatest actor never to get an Oscar nomination. Glenn Ford, who died at the age of 90 in 2006, had a career spanning more than half a century and nearly 100 movies, including classics such as “Gilda,” “Blackboard Jungle,” and the original “3:10 to Yuma,” which was remade in 2007 with Russell Crowe in Ford’s role.

The book, “Glenn Ford: A Life,” comes out this month. It includes interviews with costars, including Debbie Reynolds, Angela Lansbury, Ernest Borgnine, Sidney Poitier, and Carl Reiner, among others.

The author says it will not sugarcoat his four-times-divorced father’s failings, including his many affairs. “He was not the man that people think he was,” Peter notes.

“The public persona was kind of like a Jimmy Stewart type, an everyman,” says Ford, the product of Glenn Ford’s first marriage to dancer-turned-actress Eleanor Powell. “He achieved that place in life by virtue of his hard work, but it was not without a lot of suffering that he and our family went through.

“I became almost like a prop for his career.”

The biography is three books in one, Peter says: “our family, me, and my father,” adding: “I just wanted to tell the folks about growing up in Hollywood as a young lad with Charlie Chaplin as our next-door neighbor, all the good and the bad and the ugly that we experienced as our family.”

Ford says that, in his father’s era, the studio system carefully controlled the stars’ images to the point that, if there was a legal problem, the police’s first call was to the studio PR flak, who hushed up matters.

But he describes today’s celebs as “untethered.” When they take to Twitter or Facebook to chronicle their every move, there is little hope that their indiscretions can remain secret. Talking about the publicity surrounding singer Britney Spears’ meltdown, Ford says: “That would never have happened in the studio days because it was very much an industry and it was very protective.”

But he sticks up for a surprising section of the modern media: “I’ve been in the tabloids, my family has been in the tabloids quite a bit through the years, especially when dad was alive,” he says. “There’s a lot of truth in those tabloids.”

Ford cites George Clooney as perhaps the modern-day actor who is most like his dad, although he points out that Clooney’s left-leaning politics would have been anathema to Glenn Ford, a strong supporter of Ronald Reagan.

But he says the real stars, such as his father, have disappeared. “Where are there Elizabeth Taylors today? Where are the Robert Taylors and John Waynes? They don’t exist. I don’t know if it was a certain time in our history where those people emerged, but I don’t think there is any comparison.”

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