57 (passed away Nov. 5th, 1960)
Apr. 9th, 1903
Benkelman, Nebraska, USA
6' 2 1/2"
Ward Bond's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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 (I). Director John Ford (I) 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.
- Was an epileptic, a closely guarded secret not made public until many years after his death.
- 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.
- Campaigned for Republican 'Richard Nixon' (qv) in the 1960 presidential election.
- Died at the Town House Motor Hotel, 2914 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, Texas.
- 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)_ (qv), _Bringing Up Baby (1938)_ (qv), _Gone with the Wind (1939)_ (qv), _The Grapes of Wrath (1940)_ (qv) , _The Maltese Falcon (1941)_ (qv), _It's a Wonderful Life (1946)_ (qv) and _The Searchers (1956)_ (qv).
- A popular urban myth holds that on the day he died, Bond was scheduled to meet singer 'Johnny Horton' (qv) in Dallas to sign a contract to appear on _"Wagon Train" (1957)_ (qv). 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.
- 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.
- Family rumor is that Bond was a roommate at USC with 'John Wayne (I)' (qv), 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.
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