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Arts & Culture

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Henry Ford

Henry Ford in his office at the Highland Park Plant, 1913.
Courtesy of the collections of The Henry Ford
Henry Ford in his office at the Highland Park Plant, 1913.

Airs Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"Henry Ford" presents a fascinating portrait of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century. Through his own fierce determination, Ford created the Model T, the most successful car in history, and introduced the groundbreaking five-dollar- a-day wage, ushering in the modern world as we know it.

The Life of Henry Ford

View a timeline of events that begins with Ford's birth on July 30, 1863, and ends with his death on April 7, 1947.

“His Model T represented this modern notion that happiness lay not in self-denial, not in self-restraint, not in scarcity, but it lay in self-fulfillment.” — Steven Watts

But despite his success, Ford remained restless and driven, always seeking to control what lay just beyond his grasp. The creator of an urban, industrial age, Ford longed for the simpler era he had helped destroy.

One of the nation’s richest men, he despised the wealthy and blamed Jews for what he deemed society’s degeneration. A hero to many ordinary Americans, he battled his workers and bullied those who looked up to him—including, and most tragically, his only son.

An absorbing life story, "Henry Ford" also offers an incisive look at the birth of the American auto industry with its long history of struggles between labor and management, and a thought-provoking reminder of how Ford’s automobile forever changed the way we work, where we live, and our ideas about individuality, freedom, and possibility.

Directed by Sarah Colt, "Henry Ford" will premiere on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 on PBS, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Ford’s birth.

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Watch Henry Ford on PBS. See more from American Experience.

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Watch Henry Ford Chapter 1 on PBS. See more from American Experience.

The biography of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century, this documentary of Henry Ford offers an incisive look at the birth of the American auto industry with its long history of struggles between labor and management.
Your browser does not support this object. Content can be viewed at actual source page: http://video.kpbs.org/video/2329670600

Watch Interview with Producer Sarah Colt on PBS. See more from American Experience.

An interview with Sarah Colt, producer/writer/director for "Henry Ford."
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Watch A Titan of American Industry Gives a Piggy Back Ride on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Despite being hard on his only son Edsel, Henry Ford doted upon his grandchildren. Edsel's first son, Henry II, who would later become president of Ford Motor Company, is seen here at age two, playing with his grandfather in the garden at Fair Lane estate on June 9, 1920.

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