He's alive, but unconscious, like Gerald Ford.
Johnny Hinshaw (Stephen Stucker), Airplane

Gerald Rudolph Ford (1913 - 2006), 38th president of the United States of America, from 1974 to 1977. Known as the "accidental president," he replaced Richard Nixon's vice president Spiro Agnew, and then Nixon himself, becoming the first and only President who was not elected to the position.

Early Days

Leslie King, Jr. was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 14, 1913. At the age of two, his parents divorced and his mother remarried. To accommodate, Leslie took the name of his stepfather: Gerald R. Ford. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, working odd jobs around town and earning a reputation as an All-American boy.


Upon graduation from high school, Ford (nicknamed "Jerry" by friends) attended the University of Michigan, where he studied economics and political science. He was, however, more noted at school for playing center for the school's two-time national championship football team, even being named team MVP in 1934.

Don't talk that way about Ford. He's doing damn well for a guy that was hit in the head playing football.
Archie Bunker, "All In The Family"

Early Career

After exiting college, Ford became an assistant football coach at Yale, where he also spent time as the boxing coach, while earning a law degree from the school in 1941. He was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1941 on his first try and practiced law in Grand Rapids for a year before joining the Navy.

Service Record

During World War II, Ford served as an aviation operations officer, including two years aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey in the Pacific Fleet (which weathered a typhoon that nearly killed Ford!) He was a quick learner, and was discharged as a lieutenant commander.

US Congress

After returning home and further developing his modestly successful law practice, Ford was contaced by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg about running for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1948, he defeated incumbent Bartel J. Jonkman in the primary and handily won the election, running on a platform of aggressive anti-Communism.


In 1949, Ford married Elizabeth Bloomer, a former professional dancer and model.

They had four children: Michael Gerald, (b. March 14, 1950); John Gardner (b. March 16, 1952); Steven Meigs, b. (May 19, 1956); and Susan Elizabeth, b. (July 6, 1957).

Politics As Usual

Upon being elected chairman of the House Republican Conference in 1963, Ford attempted to reinstitute an older model of Republican leadership: abandoning McCarthyism and anti-Mafia politics, he attempted to push values and morals. In the same year, Lyndon Johnson named Ford to the Warren Commission, set up to investigate John F. Kennedy's murder. In 1965, Ford ousted Charles Halleck as the House Minority Leader in a hotly contested vote.

Ford's general policies in politics were unabashedly Republican: he opposed federal aid for education as well as health care, attempted to restrict minimum wage, voted down measures that provided loans and subsidies for farmers, and in general voted down any federal attempt to intervene with state politics (including, notoriously, fighting certain aspects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.)

As Congressman, Ford was a constant supporter of defense funding and appropriations. He also supported spending for the United Nations and was instrumental in supporting the early foundations of what would later become the IMF.

One of Ford's most controversial activities was his unsuccessful attempt in 1970 to instigate impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, a liberal, on charges that included conflict of interest.

Vice Presidency

Two days after Spiro Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, then-President Richard Nixon nominated Ford to succeed him under a provision of the 25th Amendment under the Constitution. After a thorough investigation, Ford was approved by both houses of Congress and sworn in as vice president on December 6.

The Republican party was sagging under the weight of the Watergate scandal, and the vice president, in hundreds of public appearances, sought to rally the party faithful. He expressed the belief that President Nixon was not involved in the Watergate cover-up. But the president, after being forced to release damaging evidence, resigned after it became apparent that he would be removed through the impeachment process. Ford was sworn in as president at noon on August 9, 1974, by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the East Room of the White House.

The Accidental Presidency

After the presidential pardon, Ford had great difficulty governing the nation. He vetoed 48 bills in his first 21 months in office, claiming they would prove too costly. He battled the Democratic-controlled Congress over tax cuts — "waffling" badly as he switched his position from being opposed to cuts and then agreeing to them. As the nation's oil prices skyrocketed, Ford seemed indecisive as to how to break U.S. dependence on imported oil especially from the Middle East. In foreign affairs, moreover, the Ford administration seemed helpless to end the final victory of communist forces in Vietnam. The entire nation watched in horror as the North Vietnamese seized all of South Vietnam, resulting in the evacuation by U.S. helicopters of U.S. personnel and other civilians from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

On May 14, 1975, in a dramatic move, Ford ordered U.S. forces to retake the SS Mayaguez, an American merchant ship seized by Cambodian gunboats two days earlier in international waters. The vessel was recovered and all 39 crewmen saved. In the preparation and execution of the rescue, however, 41 Americans lost their lives.

On two separate trips to California in September 1975, Ford was the target of assassination attempts. Both of the assailants were women -- Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Sara Jane Moore.

The butt of public jokes about his lack of coordination, ridiculed as part of the Watergate cover-up, and blamed for runaway inflation and the final loss of South Vietnam (although he came in near the heaviest points of both of these long-standing dilemmas), Ford nearly lost the Republican nomination to former governor Ronald Reagan of California in 1976. Moreover, Ford's own party’s platform repudiated many of his policies. It was clear that the nation's voters were looking for candidates from outside of Washington politics. The former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, nominated by the Democrats, beat Ford in the general election by a narrow margin in both the popular vote and the electoral college. Ford's campaign had been seriously hurt by Reagan's challenge and by Ford's own ineptitude as a campaigner. For example, he foolishly claimed in a televised debate with Carter that "there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe." That misstatement convinced many Americans that he was not up to the job.

After Presidency After his Presidency, Ford settled down to a quiet life of golf, serving as an executive on the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center Board of Directors, and helping his wife gain publicity for her various charitable causes (for more information, you may wish to read her biography.) He passed away on December 26, 2006, after a series of health issues. He was 93.

Publications By Mr. Ford:

  • Time To Heal: The Autobiography Of Gerald Ford
  • Humor And The Presidency
  • Portrait Of The Assassin (with John R. Stile)

Miscellaneous Information


  • Gerald R. Ford Library and Gerald R. Ford Museum - http://www.ford.utexas.edu/
  • Encyclopedia Americana: Gerald Ford - http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/ea/bios/38pford.html

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have"
Gerald Ford

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