What Was Gerald Ford’s Career before He Entered Politics?

Gerald Ford is perhaps best known as the man who became the 38th President of the United States when Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office in 1974. Less known is the fact that after graduating from the University of Michigan and Yale Law School, the blonde, blue-eyed former football star earned extra money as a model. Together with his first serious girlfriend, a well-known model named Phyllis Brown, Gerald Ford appeared in a 1940 photo spread in Look magazine, and on the cover of a 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan, right before he joined the U.S. Navy.

An eventful presidential life:

  • Ford had two names growing up, both juniors. He was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his parents separated just two weeks after his birth. His mother later married a paint salesman, and he was renamed Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.
  • Ford played center and linebacker for the Michigan Wolverines football team, helping the team post undefeated seasons in 1932 and 1933. The team went on to claim national titles in both of those years.
  • Gerald R. Ford died in December 2006. He lived longer than any other U.S. president -- 93 years and 165 days. Conversely, his 895-day presidency was the shortest of any president who did not die in office.

Frequently Asked Questions

What professional path did Gerald Ford pursue before his political career?

Before embarking on his political journey, Gerald Ford worked as a lawyer. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1941, he established a law practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His legal career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Navy. Following his military service, Ford resumed his law practice until he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1948.

How did Gerald Ford's early career influence his political life?

Gerald Ford's early career as a lawyer and naval officer instilled in him a strong sense of duty and a deep understanding of the law. His legal background provided a foundation for his legislative work, while his military service contributed to his reputation as a man of integrity and discipline. These experiences shaped his approach to governance and helped him gain the trust of his constituents and colleagues in Congress.

Did Gerald Ford have any notable accomplishments in his pre-political career?

During his time in the Navy, Gerald Ford earned accolades for his service, including the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine engagement stars and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. As a lawyer, he built a respectable practice and was known for his diligence and professionalism. However, his most significant accomplishments came after he entered politics, where he rose to become the Vice President and eventually the 38th President of the United States.

What role did Gerald Ford play in the military during World War II?

Gerald Ford served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a lieutenant commander. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Monterey and took part in several major operations in the Pacific Theater. Ford's duties included serving as the ship's athletic officer and gunnery officer, and he saw action in battles such as the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

How long did Gerald Ford practice law before entering politics, and what type of law did he specialize in?

Gerald Ford practiced law for a relatively short period before entering politics, from 1941 until his election to Congress in 1948. During his legal career, he worked in a general practice, handling various types of cases. This broad exposure to different areas of law likely served him well in understanding the diverse legal issues he would later encounter as a legislator and President.

More Info: History.com

Discussion Comments


I disagree. I fear that Gerald Ford will be best remembered in terms of Chevy Chase's bumbling caricature on Saturday Night Night Live.

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