Birthday: April 9, 1903 Birth
Place: Benkelman, Nebraska, USA Height: 6' 1"
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American actor Ward Bond was a football player at the University of Southern California when, together with teammate and lifelong chum John Wayne, he was hired for extra work in the silent film Salute (1928), directed by John Ford. Both Bond and Wayne continued in films, but it was Wayne who ascended to stardom, while Bond would have to be content with bit roles and character parts throughout the 1930s. Mostly playing traffic cops, bus drivers and western heavies, Bond began getting better breaks after a showy role as the murderous Cass in John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (1939). Ford cast Bond in important roles all through the 1940s, usually contriving to include at least one scene per picture in which the camera would favor Bond's rather sizable posterior; it was an "inside" joke which delighted everyone on the set but Bond. A starring role in Ford's Wagonmaster (1950) led, somewhat indirectly, to Bond's most lasting professional achievement: His continuing part as trailmaster Seth Adams on the extremely popular NBC TV western, Wagon Train. No longer supporting anyone, Bond exerted considerable creative control over the series from its 1957 debut onward, even seeing to it that his old mentor John Ford would direct one episode in which John Wayne had a bit role, billed under his real name, Marion Michael Morrison. Finally achieving the wide popularity that had eluded him during his screen career, Bond stayed with Wagon Train for three years, during which time he became as famous for his offscreen clashes with his supporting cast and his ultra-conservative politics as he was for his acting. Wagon Train was still NBC's Number One series when, in November of 1960, Bond unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and died while taking a shower.
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 as the star of the series had no say in casting.
Many sources quote 1905, and/or Denver, Colorado, USA regarding 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 twenty-six 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.
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