In Part 3 of our exclusive interview with Peter Ford about his mother, Eleanor Powell we focus on Eleanor Powell’s marriage to actor, Glenn Ford and why she decided to retire from filmmaking. 

Note: This interview includes direct quotes from Peter, as well as summaries of our conversation and quotations from the biography he wrote about his father, “Glenn Ford: A Life.”.


Eleanor Powell and Glenn Ford

PETER: My mother met my dad at a party before WWII. He had made a film with Pat O’Brien before the war and Eleanor was on a bomb tour with Laurel & Hardy, James Cagney, etc. and Pat introduced them.

Quote from Glenn Ford: A Life, by Peter Ford of his dad, Glenn Ford remembering his first glimpse of his mother, Eleanor Powell :

I saw her from across the room. She was wearing a lavender cocktail suit, I remember. She had a wonderful figure, gorgeous legs, of course. But I had only seen her in black-and-white movies, and in person I was struck by her coloring, her chestnut hair, worn in soft waves to her shoulders, this glowing complexion, and beautiful cornflower blue eyes. And when she smiled, I was captivated.

I don’t remember what we said. The party was crowded and boisterous, and at the end of the day we only had a few moments alone.”

Eleanor Powell7On their first date they went to the famous Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood and right then they knew they wanted to continue seeing each other.

Glenn went away to film “The Desperadoes” in Utah, but when he came back a few weeks later, he rushed to see Eleanor. They soon became a “couple made for the gossip column headlines, Glenn the handsome playboy actor who had been linked with numerous beautiful and available actresses and Eleanor the sweet musical star whose private life was considered squeaky clean and “dull” by tabloid standards,” Glenn Ford: A Life

Peter tells me that his mother had been brought up by her mother to maintain a strict moral code and was still a virgin at twenty-nine at the time she married Glenn Ford on October 23, 1943. Peter Ford, their only son was born on February 5, 1945.

How old were you when your parents divorced?

PETER: I was fourteen. They divorced in 1959.

Was that traumatic for you?

PETER: Yes. My dad wasn’t real happy and she caught him in a few “piccadillos” with other women and they used to fight a bit and I remember being sent to my grandmother’s house in southern part of Beverly Hills on many a weekend when the climate was not too nice at home. But in those days in California the child could make the election of what parent they wanted to live with so my mother waited until I was fourteen because she thought that my father might try to claim me. I didn’t want to be claimed by him because he and I had sort of a rocky relationship, but she wanted to make sure that he couldn’t go to court saying, “look, I’m the bread winner…” so she waited until I was fourteen.

So you lived with your mother then.

PETER: Yes, I lived with my mom and my father and I really didn’t talk for two or three years until I was about 17 or 18 and then we kind of got to know each other. I was an adult by then, so it was a different kind of relationship; I became more of a peer than a child.

Peter Ford with father, Glenn Ford

My father was an only child and my mother was an only child and I was an only child, too. 



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1 Comment

  1. I think that Glenn was disappointed in Eleanor’s lack of sexual earthiness which is why he started cheating on her almost immediately after they were married. The fact that Eleanor was a virgin until she was married was not an advantage for her. In her movies she seemed almost asexual. Being 29 and still a virgin can work against a woman especially if she is in the movies. It shows. I think you can carry the “no sex before marriage” thing a little too far.

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