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Ford was born in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, the third child and youngest son of former United States President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Ford graduated from T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA June 14, 1974. Ford attended Utah State University, studying range management. while his older brother Jack studied forestry there. Ford also attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He studied Animal Science-Equine Studies while at Cal Poly.
Ford was cast in the 1978 film Grease as Tom Chisholm, but dropped out before filming began and was replaced by Lorenzo Lamas. Ford joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 1981, creating the role of private investigator Andy Richards. He was a regular member of the cast from 1981 to 1987 and briefly from 2002-2003. Ford has since appeared in minor roles in a number of films and television series, including Escape From New York, Babylon 5: In the Beginning, Armageddon, Black Hawk Down, Starship Troopers, When Harry Met Sally, Heat, Transformers, Contact.
Ford serves on the board of trustees for the Gerald R. Ford Foundation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He describes himself as a "moderate Republican" and a "fiscal conservative." He also acknowledged that he suffered from alcoholism in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Although he still takes on occasional acting assignments, he spends most of his time raising money for charitable organizations and giving speeches, as well as motivational talks, to student groups on alcoholism.
He has never been married. In 1991, he announced his engagement to Laura Carlos. Later, he claimed that his marriage plans didn't go forward as he was working on his sobriety. In February 1980 he filed a lawsuit in California to determine if he was the legal father of a boy, named Lawrence, born in December 1979. There was "a complete and amicable settlement" very shortly afterward, details being kept private.