|Born||Paul Ford Weaver
November 2, 1901
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Died||April 12, 1976
Mineola, New York, U.S.
Paul Ford (born Paul Ford Weaver; November 2, 1901 – April 12, 1976) was an American character actor who came to specialize in authority figures whose ineptitude and pompous demeanor were played for comic effect.
Ford was born in Baltimore, Maryland. At a young age, he showed an adept talent for performance, but was discouraged when directors thought he was tone-deaf. However, in later years, he made his hollow, reverberating voice one of the most recognized of his era. His success was long in the making, and he did little acting, but instead raised his family during the Great Depression.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Public Works programs provided Ford with work, and to the day he died, he was a passionate Democrat. Ford auditioned for a play under his birth name, but did not get the part. Later, he dropped his surname and was known professionally as Paul Ford.
Ford became an "overnight" success at age 54 when he played Colonel John T. Hall opposite Phil Silvers on Silvers' The Phil Silvers Show TV show (often known as Sergeant Bilko or just Bilko). His signature role may well be the part of Mayor George Shinn, a befuddled politico in the film adaptation of the Broadway show The Music Man. Ford played the role straight, and received glowing reviews.The other role he is most identified with is that of Horace Vandergelder opposite the Dolly Levi of Shirley Booth in the 1958 screen version of The Matchmaker. Ford had an active career in both films and television until his retirement in the early 1970s.
Despite being a respected Broadway character actor, Ford was notorious for being unable to remember his lines. This would alternately cause difficulty forcing him and those around him to improvise. This became especially notable on The Phil Silvers Show.
His stage credits include Another Part of the Forest (1946), Command Decision (1947), The Teahouse of the August Moon (1953), Whoop-Up (1958), replacing David Burns as Mayor Shinn in The Music Man (1957), A Thurber Carnival (1960), Never Too Late (1962), 3 Bags Full (1966) and What Did We Do Wrong? (1967).
Most actors who worked with Ford claimed he was a kindly and very funny man. He was known for his quotes about the Depression in later years, including, "My kids used to think everyone lived on peanut butter sandwiches."
- Lust for Gold (1949)
- Perfect Strangers (1950)
- The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)
- The Missouri Traveler (1958)
- The Matchmaker (1958)
- Advise and Consent (1962)
- The Music Man (1962)
- Who's Got the Action? (1962)
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), which also starred Phil Silvers, although they shared no scenes
- Never Too Late (1965)
- The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)
- A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)
- The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966)
- The Comedians (1967)
- Richard (1972)
- Journey Back to Oz (1974) — voice recorded in 1962