Edit
Ward Bond Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (22)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 9 April 1903Benkelman, Nebraska, USA
Date of Death 5 November 1960Dallas, Texas, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameWardell E. Bond
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as an extra through a football teammate who would become both his best friend and one of cinema's biggest stars: John Wayne. Director John Ford promoted Bond from extra to supporting player in the film Salute (1929), and became another fast friend. An arrogant man of little tact, yet fun-loving in the extreme, Bond was either loved or hated by all who knew him. His face and personality fit perfectly into almost any type of film, and he appeared in hundreds of pictures in his more than 30-year career, in both bit parts and major supporting roles. In the films of Wayne and Ford, particularly, he was nearly always present. Among his most memorable roles are John L. Sullivan in Gentleman Jim (1942), Det. Tom Polhaus in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and the Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnson Clayton The Searchers (1956). An ardent but anti-intellectual patriot, he was perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. In the mid-'50s he gained his greatest fame as the star of TV's Wagon Train (1957). During its production, Bond traveled to Dallas, Texas, to attend a football game and died there in his hotel room of a massive heart attack.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (2)

Mary Louise May (23 August 1954 - 5 November 1960) (his death)
Doris Sellers Childs (28 April 1936 - 7 July 1944) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Often played men in manly careers such as soldiers, sailors, cops and cowboys.
Gruff, deep voice.

Trivia (22)

A popular urban myth holds that on the day he died, Bond was scheduled to meet singer Johnny Horton in Dallas to sign a contract to appear on Wagon Train (1957). Horton died in an auto accident, hit by a drunk driver, at 1:30 a.m. and Bond died in Dallas at noon the same day. However, Bond was only the star of the series and not a producer, so he had no say in casting.
Many sources incorrectly quote 1905, and/or Denver, Colorado, USA regarding his birth.
Entered films in 1928 while attending the University of Southern California.
Family rumor is that Bond was a roommate at USC with John Wayne, who convinced him to go into acting. They were apparently best friends; one of their favorite activities in their youth was to go to bars, get drunk, and start fights.
On a hunting trip, he was accidentally shot by John Wayne. Bond left Wayne the shotgun in his will.
In The Wings of Eagles (1957), Bond played his friend, director John Ford, under the character name John Dodge (the name itself was a play on American automobile names. Ford was a real-life friend of the film's subject character). The set dressing, wardrobe, and Oscars in the scene are all actually Ford's.
Often played a policeman or soldier.
The muppet "Bert" on Sesame Street (1969) was rumored to be named after Bond's character (Bert the cop) in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
Bond appears in the most films (seven) of the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest American Movies: It Happened One Night (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940) , The Maltese Falcon (1941), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Searchers (1956).
Was an epileptic, a closely guarded secret not made public until many years after his death.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2001.
Although John Ford mocked many actors mercilessly (including John Wayne), Bond probably was on the receiving end of the worst verbal punishment from the director (who counted Bond among his favorite actors). At Bond's funeral, Ford walked up to Andy Devine and said, "Now YOU'RE the biggest asshole I know."
Although his career was cut short by his premature death in 1960 at the age of 57, he was one of the most prolific of Hollywood's actors over a period of 30 years. He regularly appeared in 10 to 20 films per year, with the record year for him being 1935, when he acted in 30 movies.
Worked with director John Ford on 26 films. Few, if any, actors, have appeared in so many films for a single director.
On his way to John Wayne's wedding he was hit by a car, but performed his duty as best man on crutches.
Bond's deep involvement in ultra-right-wing politics--and especially his enthusiastic efforts to blacklist suspected Communists and anyone with "progressive" political views in Hollywood--earned him the enmity of many in the film business. For several years he couldn't get any work in films other than those of his right-wing friends like John Wayne, and he believed that "liberal" producers and directors blacklisted him. Then in 1957, at the age of 54, he made an enormous comeback as Maj. Seth Adams in Wagon Train (1957), and was finally a star in his own right.
Bond has been officially remembered with a TV star on Hollywood Boulevard, by being inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and by a Ward Bond Memorial Park in his birthplace of Benkelman, Nebraska. However, he is probably most fondly remembered for his enormous output of solid work, with great respect by the industry.
Died at the Town House Motor Hotel, 2914 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, Texas.
Campaigned for Republican Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.
John Wayne gave the eulogy at his funeral.
According to Orson Welles, one night at Chasen's Restaurant in Hollywood Bond cut off Welles' tie.
Once while on location, John Ford had a photo taken of himself and John Wayne standing on either side of the rear end of a horse. He sent the photo to Bond with the caption, "Thinking of you".

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page