Most people remember John Ford as an iconic Hollywood film director and winner of multiple Oscars. Ford was known especially for his westerns for which he frequently used Monument Valley in the Arizona/Utah area as a backdrop. But during World War II, Ford went to work for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to both the CIA and the Army’s Special Forces.
Ford was born Sean Aloysius O’Fearna (also known as John Martin “Jack” Feeney) on February 1, 1895, in Capetown, Maine — the 11th and last child of an Irish family. John attended Portland High School. He then went on to study at the University of Maine for a short time.
His older brother Francis had taken the stage name of Ford and was working in Hollywood. John soon followed him there. He also adopted the stage name of Ford and was known at that time as “Jack.” He began working as a prop man and later acted in silent films before moving on to write and direct films himself.
Known for his westerns, Ford also developed a long-lasting relationship with John Wayne who appeared in 24 of his films. One of those garnered Ford an Oscar for Best Director in “The Quiet Man”, which was filmed in Ireland with Wayne and Maureen O’Hara as the stars of the film. He’s the only director to have won the Best Director award four times for “The Informer”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “How Green Was My Valley”, and “The Quiet Man.” He and Wayne collaborated on several iconic westerns among them “Stagecoach,” ”Fort Apache,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “The Searchers” (which gets the vote here as the best western ever made), and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”