Paul Ford (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, notably
as Mayor Shinn in
The Music Man
The Music Man and as Colonel John T. Hall in The
Phil Silvers Show.
1 Early years
5 Partial filmography
7 External links
Ford was born
Paul Ford Weaver in Baltimore, Maryland. His father
was described as "a well-to-do businessman" who lost his fortune when
his investment in a soft drink company failed.
At an early age, he showed an adept talent for performance, but was
discouraged when directors thought he was tone-deaf.
Dartmouth College for one year, Ford was a salesman
before he became an entertainer.
He took his middle birth name, which was his mother's maiden name, as
his stage last name. The change occurred after he failed an
audition as Paul Weaver but was successful when he auditioned again as
In later years, Ford 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
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Public Works programs provided Ford with
work, and to the day he died, he was a passionate Democrat.[citation
needed] He first ventured into entertainment, however, in a puppet
theater project that the
Works Progress Administration
Works Progress Administration sponsored.
Years later, he said of that opportunity: "I got on the puppet project
of the W.P.A. and helped write and put on shows for the Federal
Theater. We did puppet shows at the World's Fair in 1939 and 1940, and
I served as narrator, a kind of Hoosier cornball in beard."
Following his experience with puppets, Ford worked as an attendant at
a gas staton before turning to acting for a career. His first
professional acting job was in an
Off-Broadway production in 1939.
In 1955, Ford played the bank president in the
NBC comedy series
Norby. He 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
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.
He appeared in the 1962–1963 season in the CBS anthology The Lloyd
Bridges Show. He starred in The Baileys of Balboa, which lasted only
one season (1964–1965).
His stage credits include
Another Part of the Forest
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
The Music Man (1957),
A Thurber Carnival
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
His final role prior to his death was a Washington doctor in Richard.
In 1976, Ford died of a heart attack at Nassau Hospital in Mineola,
New York. He was 74. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver
City, California. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, and
Ford was nominated for three Emmy Awards: Best Supporting Performance
by an Actor (1957), Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor
in a Dramatic or Comedy Series (1958) and Outstanding Performance in a
Supporting Role by an Actor (1963). The first two were for his work on
Phil Silvers Show; the third was for a role on the Hallmark Hall
Ford's obituary in
The New York Times
The New York Times noted, "In 1967 Mr. Ford was
cited by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures as the best
supporting actor for his role in The Comedians."
The House on 92nd Street
The House on 92nd Street (1945) - Police Sergeant (uncredited)
The Front Page (TV Movie 1945)
The Naked City
The Naked City (1948) - Henry Fowler (uncredited)
Lust for Gold
Lust for Gold (1949) - Sheriff Lynn Early
All the King's Men (1949) - leader of the opposition in the state
The Kid from Texas (1950) - Sheriff Copeland
Perfect Strangers (1950) - Judge James Byron
The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) - Col. Wainwright Purdy III
The Missouri Traveler
The Missouri Traveler (1958) - Finas Daugherty
The Matchmaker (1958) - Horace Vandergelder
Keep in Step (TV Movie 1959) - Col. John T. Hall
The Right Man (TV Movie 1960) - Perfect Candidate
Advise and Consent (1962) - Senator Stanley Danta
The Teahouse of the August Moon (TV Movie 1962) - Col. Wainwright
The Music Man
The Music Man (1962) - Mayor George Shinn
Who's Got the Action?
Who's Got the Action? (1962) - Judge Boatwright
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Col. Wilberforce
Never Too Late (1965) - Harry M. Lambert
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) - Fendall
A Big Hand for the Little Lady
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) - C.P. Ballinger
The Spy with a Cold Nose
The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966) - American General
The Comedians (1967) - Smith
In Name Only (1969) - Elwy Pertwhistle
Twinky aka Lola (1969) - Mr. Wardman, Scott's Father
Fair Play (1972) - F. O. McGill
Richard (1972) - Washington Doctor
Journey Back to Oz
Journey Back to Oz (1974) - Uncle Henry (voice) (voice recorded in
^ a b Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More
Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. (2 volume set). McFarland.
ISBN 9780786479924. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
^ Ryan, Jack (May 5, 1963). "Paul Ford--He Found It's Never Too Late".
Eureka Humboldt Standard. California, Eureka. Family Weekly.
p. 32. Retrieved June 27, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
^ a b c d e Fraser, C. Gerald (April 14, 1976). "Paul Ford, Actor,
Dead; Colonel in 'Bilko'". The New York Times. Archived from the
original on 28 June 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
^ a b Hischak, Thomas S. (2003). Enter the Players: New York Stage
Actors in the Twentieth Century. Scarecrow Press. pp. 112–113.
ISBN 9780810847613. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
^ Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names
and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 181.
ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of
Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard
Corporation. p. 248. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved 28 June
^ "Bilko's Colonel Gave Up Job In Gas Station To Be Actor". Waco
Tribune-Herald. Texas, Waco. SPL. December 14, 1958. p. 44.
Retrieved June 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925
through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company,
Inc., Publishers. p. 771. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
Paul Ford dies; was 'Bilko' star". The Day. Connecticut, New
London. Associated Press. April 13, 1976. p. 21. Retrieved 28
^ "("Paul Ford" search results)". EMMYS. Television Academy. Retrieved
28 June 2017.
Paul Ford on IMDb
Paul Ford at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Paul Ford at Find a Grave
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
John Williams (1954)
Charles Bickford (1955)
Richard Basehart (1956)
Sessue Hayakawa (1957)
Albert Salmi (1958)
Hugh Griffith (1959)
George Peppard (1960)
Jackie Gleason (1961)
Burgess Meredith (1962)
Melvyn Douglas (1963)
Martin Balsam (1964)
Harry Andrews (1965)
Robert Shaw (1966)
Paul Ford (1967)
Leo McKern (1968)
Philippe Noiret (1969)
Frank Langella (1970)
Ben Johnson (1971)
Joel Grey /
Al Pacino (1972)
John Houseman (1973)
Holger Löwenadler (1974)
Charles Durning (1975)
Jason Robards (1976)
Tom Skerritt (1977)
Richard Farnsworth (1978)
Paul Dooley (1979)
Joe Pesci (1980)
Jack Nicholson (1981)
Robert Preston (1982)
Jack Nicholson (1983)
John Malkovich (1984)
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Klaus Maria Brandauer (1985)
Daniel Day-Lewis (1986)
Sean Connery (1987)
River Phoenix (1988)
Alan Alda (1989)
Joe Pesci (1990)
Anthony Hopkins (1991)
Jack Nicholson (1992)
Leonardo DiCaprio (1993)
Gary Sinise (1994)
Kevin Spacey (1995)
Edward Norton (1996)
Greg Kinnear (1997)
Ed Harris (1998)
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman (1999)
Joaquin Phoenix (2000)
Jim Broadbent (2001)
Chris Cooper (2002)
Alec Baldwin (2003)
Thomas Haden Church
Thomas Haden Church (2004)
Jake Gyllenhaal (2005)
Djimon Hounsou (2006)
Casey Affleck (2007)
Josh Brolin (2008)
Woody Harrelson (2009)
Christian Bale (2010)
Christopher Plummer (2011)
Leonardo DiCaprio (2012)
Will Forte (2013)
Edward Norton (2014)
Sylvester Stallone (2015)
Jeff Bridges (2016)
Willem Dafoe (2017)
ISNI: 0000 0000 7730 2286
BNF: cb14178104x (data)