By Robert Osbourne
Come May 1, one of the formidable stars of Hollywood's so-called golden era will not only be celebrating his 90th birthday but making his first public appearance in 15 years.
That day Glenn Ford -- the star of such memorable films as Richard Brooks' "Blackboard Jungle," Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat," Frank Capra's "Pocketful of Miracles" and about 100 others -- officially becomes a nonagenarian, and the American Cinematheque is planning a birthday bash, with Ford set to attend the event in Hollywood with his son Peter. (Peter's mother was the movies' tapdancing genius Eleanor Powell.)
It's all happening at 7:30 p.m. at the A.C.'s headquarters at Grauman's Egyptian Theater, where there will be birthday cake, champagne, special guests and the reading of messages from friends and dignitaries, followed by the screening of a newly restored 35mm print of the star's most famous film, the 1946 film noir classic "Gilda" with Rita Hayworth. (It's one of five films in which Ford appeared with Hayworth, a longtime friend and fellow survivor of the Columbia studio regime of Harry Cohn; Ford later moved to MGM for a 15-year run and was considered that studio's top male star of the 1960s.)
Also being shown that night: a rarely seen 11-minute 1937 short that marked Ford's movie debut. After the screenings, Peter will head a panel of Hollywoodians who worked with G.F. during his seven (!) decades of filmmaking for a discussion of that career. Whether his dad will stick around for the whole shebang will be decided on the spot -- at 90, one has the right to do whatever one damn well pleases -- but Glenn Ford certainly deserves horns tooting and a major fuss on such a landmark natal day. Martin Lewis and Steven Gaydos are producing the tribute.