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Happy birthday Glenn Ford

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One week ago LAist went to the American Cinematheque to celebrate the 90th birthday of actor Glenn Ford. He starred with Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds and Rita Hayworth; he played good guys in Westerns, bad guys in noirs, and Christopher Reeves' farmer dad in the 1978 Superman. The Cinematheque screened Gilda, one of Ford's best-remembered films (due in no small part to Rita Hayworth's stunning beauty). Those of us who had hopes of seeing Glenn Ford in person had to settle for watching him again on video; he wasn't quite well enough to travel so he sent a taped a birthday greeting.

What we did get were brief intros and tributes from a short parade of his co-stars. Jamie Farr, whose first film was Blackboard Jungle with Glenn Ford, started things off. He's as tan as George Hamilton, and full of energy. Next up was Martin Landau, who appeared with Ford in The Gazebo in 1959; Landau is a man with a dry, dry sense of humor, which we loved. Then came Shirley Jones, who was the courtee in The Courtship of Eddie's Father (Ford was Eddie's father; Eddie was little Ronnie Howard). LAist couldn't help but note that while all three actors were in films with Ford, they were all icons of the 70s TV reruns: "M*A*S*H*", "Space: 1999" and "The Partridge Family." Our cheesy inner TV baby was very happy.

Then came Debbie Reynolds, bounding down the aisle in a red dress, and our reverie was blown. She started doing Vegas-style schtick (or maybe Reno-style), making jokes about how everyone had come downtown, and things had changed, and we'd all had to bring guns. Now last time we checked Hollywood Blvd wasn't downtown, and since there had been a peaceful march of 400,000 that afternoon we're not sure how she meant things were changing, and personally LAist can think of places more self-protection worthy than the historic Egyptian Theatre. She barely managed to squeeze in a happy birthday to Glenn Ford, and it sounded entirely fake. Her tone-deafness for the tone of the event (respectful, celebratory) was cringe-worthy — we have new sympathy for Carrie Fisher.

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But that was just a few minutes and it all happened a week ago. What does remain are the DVDs of Glenn Ford's amazing work. Netflix him; you'll be glad you did.