Malcolm Webster Ford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Malcolm Webster Ford
Born(1862-02-07)February 7, 1862
DiedMay 8, 1902(1902-05-08) (aged 40)
Known forathletics

Malcolm Webster Ford (February 7, 1862 - May 8, 1902) was an American athlete and journalist.


He was born in Brooklyn, the son of Gordon Lester Ford and Emily Fowler Ford (a granddaughter of Noah Webster, poet, and lifelong friend of Emily Dickinson).

In his heyday during the 1880s, he was three times the American National Champion as "All Around Athlete", a competition which was the equivalent of today's decathlon. (It consisted of ten events, three of which are different from those which are run today). He also excelled in individual events. In 1885 and 1886 he was the winner at the National Championships of the long jump and 100 and 200 yard dash, a "triple" which was not accomplished again until Carl Lewis did it in 1983.[1]

Ford's father and the Ford family strongly opposed his participation in athletics and he was disinherited because of his refusal to give up competition. He also twice endured scandals for competing as a professional and was banned from amateur competition.

He married Janet Wilhelmina Graves, a Brooklyn heiress, in 1892 and they had a child, also named Malcolm Webster Ford. The couple divorced in 1898 and Ford was granted custody of the child.

During the period of his marriage Malcolm was a business executive. At other times he worked as a journalist (his articles on track and field events were published in Outing magazine). He launched his own publications twice, but both were failures.

On May 8, 1902, he went to the residence of his brother in Manhattan, New York City, the novelist and biographer Paul Leicester Ford and fatally shot him, then took his own life. Ford was said to be in a dire financial condition and his brother had refused him further financial aid. An inquest ruled "temporary insanity".[2]


No full-length biography of Malcolm Ford exists. Major references are the biography of Paul Leicester Ford by Paul Z. Dubois, Paul Leicester Ford: an American man of letters 1865-1902, New York: B. Franklin, 1977, and Malcolm Ford's articles for Outing


  1. ^ Zarnowski, Frank (2005). All-around Men: Heroes of a Forgotten Sport. Scarecrow Press. p. 78. ISBN 0810854236.
  2. ^ "Noted Author is Murdered". Los Angeles Herald (220). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 9 May 1902. Retrieved 4 March 2016.