Few actors ever achieve the level of pop culture icon status that Harrison Ford has carved out for himself over the last several decades. Not only is it Ford’s birthday this week — he’s turning 74 — but this year also marks Ford’s 50th year as a professional actor.
The pilot of the Millennium Falcon has come a long way since his first part as a bellhop in 1966’s Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round. And while Han Solo may be finished with the Star Wars movies we can still look forward to him in new additions of the Indiana Jones franchise and in the long-awaited sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner. But in the meantime, let’s dig up some info that you might not know about the man underneath that Indiana Jones fedora.
His Role In The Frisco Kid Was Supposed To Go To John Wayne
Fresh off his breakout role in 1977’s Star Wars and his part in Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic, Apocalypse Now, Harrison Ford took a part in a goofy Western titled The Frisco Kid. What might be most unusual about the Gene Wilder story of a Polish rabbi befriending a bank robber, is that it would have likely been John Wayne’s final film. The iconic cowboy actor’s last film was The Shootist in 1976, before he died in 1979, the same year The Frisco Kid was released. According to Gene Wilder’s autobiography, Kiss Me Like A Stranger, John Wayne had surprisingly agreed to do the comedy Western for his typical fee of $1 million, but pulled out at the last minute after a movie executive botched the deal during a meeting. With Wayne out of the picture, director Robert Aldrich landed the next best thing after Clint Eastwood with then-up-and-coming movie star Harrison Ford signing on.