Mary Marquardt Battled Multiple Sclerosis in Private for Decades

Mary Marquardt was actor Harrison Ford’s first wife. The former couple divorced more than three decades ago, but many fans have remained curious to know more about Marquardt.

Mary Marquardt was there when Harrison Ford was just starting as an actor. After meeting at Rippon College in Wisconsin, she became the Hollywood star’s college sweetheart.

They tied the knot in June 1964. Sadly, their love for each other seemed to fade as the years passed. The eventual end of their marriage also marked the beginning of Marquardt’s battle with an incurable disease.

Marquardt and Ford’s early years of marriage had been challenging. At the time, her husband struggled to break into the entertainment industry.

Ford, who was dead set on becoming an actor, considered moving to a place with more opportunities. The coin flipping determined what happened next for the couple.

If the coin landed on tails, the couple would move to New York so Ford could try to make it on Broadway. If it landed on heads, Marquardt’s husband would try to make it in movies and TV in Hollywood.

The couple decided to move to New York when the coin landed on tails. However, they reconsidered another coin flip because New York was too cold for them to stay. After all, they already lived in cold areas of midwestern America.

Marquardt, who stayed by her husband’s side, agreed with her husband’s decision to live in a warm place. Uncertain of the life ahead, they packed everything they owned and drove to the Pacific coast in their Volkswagen bus.

The couple reached Laguna Beach, a coastal town in Los Angeles. While Ford pursued stardom, Marquardt settled in and raised their family there. She welcomed two sons: Benjamin and Willard.

Ford later became successful in the entertainment business, but his rise to fame seemed to hurt his marriage. Marquardt ended her marriage to Ford in 1979 after 15 years of marriage.

The couple’s separation happened after Ford met screenwriter Melissa Mathison on the set of the film “Apocalypse Now.” Marquardt never remarried, but her ex-husband went on to tie the knot with Mathison in 1984.

In the late 1980s, a few years after her divorce from Ford, Marquardt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that affects the body’s central nervous system and the spinal cord.

Marquardt’s illness requires her to use a wheelchair, but it does not stop her from making an essential contribution to the kitchen.

Despite experiencing the symptoms, she was able to raise her sons. In an interview in 2017, Ben revealed his mother kept her illness a secret from her loved ones because the symptoms changed all the time.

He added that he was unaware of his mom’s symptoms when he was young, and it took a while to understand it fully. MS has no treatment; his mother has lived and adapted to it for over 35 years.

Although his mother has become used to living with her disease, Ben said she lost her ability to cook. Instead of giving up cooking, she taught Ben how to cook and make recipes.

Ben, now a chef, said that cooking was Marquardt’s way of showing affection to her loved ones. He credited his mom for imparting her knowledge about cooking. He added:

“When other kids were out playing football, I was in the cooking in the kitchen with my parents.”

Marquardt’s illness requires her to use a wheelchair, but it does not stop her from making an essential contribution to the kitchen. Ben has come up with several recipes to help people with multiple sclerosis.

Harrison Ford’s ex-wife has been honest about her MS with her children, and as a result, she has raised them to be aware of her experience. In return, Ben raised MS awareness in public and even launched a #ReimagineMySelf campaign in 2017.