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THE LAST COWBOY; GLENN FORD: 1916-2006 Hollywood's tough-talking king of the gunslingers dies aged 90.

Byline: By RYAN PARRY, US Correspondent

VETERAN Hollywood gunslinger Glenn Ford, famous for playing tough-talking cowboys, has died aged 90.

Paramedics found the star, who had suffered a series of strokes in recent years, dead at his mansion in Beverly Hills.

Ford was the last of a generation of actors such as John Wayne and Henry Fonda who made their names in westerns.

He excelled in cowboy epics 3:10 to Yuma, Texas, and The Fastest Gun Alive, often playing the classic bad guy who says little - preferring to let his pistols do the talking.

But Ford was a far better actor than many of his contemporaries. He earnt critical acclaim for performances in gangster classic The Big Heat and ground-breaking drama The Blackboard Jungle.

Sidney Poitier, Ford's co-star in The Blackboard Jungle, last night described him as "a remarkable actor". He added: "He had those magical qualities that are intangible but are quite impactful on the screen. He was truly gifted. He was a movie star."

Ford was born Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford on May 1, 1916, in Quebec, Canada, the son a railway executive. His family moved to California when he was eight. He was a talented horseman who landed his first Hollywood job as a stable boy for cowboy comic Will Rogers.

His acting career began in the theatre and for a while he was the stage manager for the legendary Tallulah Bankhead.

In 1939 Ford, who had by now dumped his real Christian name in favour of Glenn, made his film debut in the romance Heaven With a Barbed Wire Fence. Years later he recalled how the director told him afterwards he would never make it in movies.

In fact in a 53-year Hollywood career he appeared in more than 100 films. His first big hit came in 1946 when he starred in the big budget romance Gilda with Hollywood's leading sex symbol Rita Hayworth.

Roles began to dry up in his later years although he enjoyed a brief return to the limelight playing Christopher Reeve's adopted dad in Superman. Away from the cam eras, Ford served in the Marines during the Second World War and briefly in Vietnam as a comman der in the naval reserve.

Despite the acclaim of fellow actors, Ford was never nominated for an Oscar. He was always modest about his talents, saying: "Acting is just being truthful. I have to play myself. I'm not an actor who can take on another character."

Ford, who was married four times and had one son, was a private man who shunned the glitz of Hollywood. He was an action man off-screen as well as on, playing polo to a high standard and taking up hang gliding at the age of 64.

Ford missed a 90th birthday Hollywood gala due to ill health. But he sent video saying: "I wish I were up and around. There's so much I have to be grateful for."

WEST STERN: Glenn Ford as tough cowboy


WEST STERN: Glenn Ford as tough cowboy' DRAMA: In Blackboard Jungle' Day of the Evil Gun (1968)' Gilda, with Rita Hayworth (1946)' 3:10 To Yuma (1957)' The Big Heat (1954)' The Sheepman (1958)
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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