|Intro||American film actor|
|Was||Actor Film actor Television actor|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio|
|Birth||9 April 1903, Benkelman, USA|
|Death||5 November 1960, Dallas, USA (aged 57 years)|
Wardell Edwin Bond (April 9, 1903 – November 5, 1960) was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 200 films and starred in the NBC television series Wagon Train from 1957 to 1960. Among his best-remembered roles are Bert, the cop, in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Captain Clayton in John Ford's The Searchers (1956).
Bond was born in Benkelman in Dundy County, Nebraska. Benkelman is a small town located in the southwestern corner of the state near the Kansas and Colorado state lines. The Bond family, John W., Mabel L., and sister Bernice, lived in Benkelman until 1919 when they moved to Denver, Colorado, where Ward graduated from East High School.
Bond attended the Colorado School of Mines and then went to the University of Southern California and played football on the same team as future USC coach Jess Hill. At 6' 2" and 195 pounds, Bond was a starting lineman on USC's first national championship team in 1928. He graduated from USC in 1931 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering.
Bond and John Wayne, who as Marion Michael Morrison, had played tackle for USC in 1926 before an injury ended his career, became lifelong friends and colleagues. Bond, Wayne, and the entire Southern Cal team were hired to appear in Salute (1929), a football film starring George O'Brien and directed by John Ford. During the filming of this movie, Bond and Wayne befriended Ford, and appeared in many of Ford's later films.
Bond made his screen debut in Salute and thereafter was a busy character actor, playing over 200 supporting roles. He appeared in 31 films released in 1935 and 23 in 1939. Rarely playing the lead in theatrical films, he starred in the television series Wagon Train from 1957 until his death in 1960. He was frequently typecast in extremes, as either a friendly lawman or a brutal henchman. He had a long-time working relationship with directors John Ford and Frank Capra, performing in such films as The Searchers, Drums Along the Mohawk, The Quiet Man, They Were Expendable and Fort Apache for Ford, with whom he made 25 films, and It Happened One Night, It's a Wonderful Life, and Riding High for Capra. Among his other well-known films were Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Sergeant York (1941), Gentleman Jim (1942), Joan of Arc (1948), Rio Bravo (1959), and Raoul Walsh's 1930 widescreen wagon train epic The Big Trail, which also featured John Wayne, in his first leading role.
Bond later starred in the popular series Wagon Train from 1957 until his death. Wagon Train was inspired by the 1950 film Wagon Master, in which Bond also appeared. Wagon Master was influenced by the earlier The Big Trail. For Wagon Train, Bond was assigned the lead role of the crusty but compassionate Major Seth Adams, the trail master. Bond specifically asked that Terry Wilson be given the role of assistant trail boss Bill Hawks and that Frank McGrath play the cook, Charlie B. Wooster. Wilson and McGrath stayed with the series for the entire run, from 1957 to 1965, first on NBC and then on ABC. After Bond's death, in 1960, the trail master role passed to John McIntire in 1961.
During the 1940s, Bond was a member of the conservative group called the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, whose major platform was opposition to communists in the film industry. In 1960, Bond campaigned for Republican presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon. Bond died three days before Democrat John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Nixon.
On the American Film Institute's “100 Years... 100 Movies” list—both the original and the tenth anniversary edition— Bond appears in the casts more often than any other actor, albeit always in a supporting role: 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).
Bond appeared in 13 films that were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: Arrowsmith (1931/32), Lady for a Day (1933), It Happened One Night (1934) Dead End (1937), You Can't Take It with You (1938), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Long Voyage Home (1940), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Sergeant York (1941), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), The Quiet Man (1952), and Mister Roberts (1955).
Bond made the following 23 films with John Wayne:
- Words and Music – bit part (uncredited) (1929)
- Salute – Midshipman Harold (1929)
- The Lone Star Ranger – Townsperson at the Dance (uncredited) (1930)
- Born Reckless – Sergeant (1930)
- The Big Trail – Sid Bascomb (1930)
- Maker of Men – Pat (un-credited) (1931)
- Three Girls Lost – Airline Steward (un-credited) (1931)
- College Coach – Assistant Coach (un-credited) (1933)
- Conflict – Gus "Knockout" Carrigan (1936)
- The Long Voyage Home – Yank (1940)
- The Shepherd of the Hills – Wash Gibbs (1941)
- A Man Betrayed – Floyd (1941)
- Tall in the Saddle – Judge Robert Garvey (1944)
- Dakota – Jim Bender (1945)
- They Were Expendable – BMC "Boats" Mulcahey (1945)
- 3 Godfathers – Perley "Buck" Sweet (1948)
- Fort Apache – Sgt. Major Michael O'Rourke (1948)
- Operation Pacific – Commander John T. "Pop" Perry (1951)
- The Quiet Man – Father Peter Lonergan (1952)
- Hondo – Buffalo Baker (1953)
- Rookie of the Year – Buck Goodhue, Alias Buck Garrison (TV drama 1955)
- The Searchers – Reverend Captain Samuel Johnson Clayton (1956)
- The Wings of Eagles – John Dodge (1957)
- Rio Bravo – Pat Wheeler (1959)
Bond had epilepsy, and because of it he was ineligible for military service during World War II.
Bond wed Doris Sellers Childs in 1936, and they divorced in 1944. He married Mary Louise Meyers in 1954. She survived him.
Death and legacy
Bond died on November 5, 1960, from a heart attack; he was 57. John Wayne gave the eulogy at his funeral. Bond's will bequeathed to Wayne the shotgun with which Wayne had once accidentally shot Bond.
For his contribution to the television industry, Bond has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960. In 2001, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Ward Bond Memorial Park is located in his birthplace, Benkelman, Nebraska.
A legend has developed that country singer Johnny Horton died in an automobile accident while driving to see Bond at a hotel in Dallas to discuss a possible role in the fourth season of Wagon Train. Although Horton was indeed killed in a car crash at 1:30 am on November 5, 1960, and Bond died from a heart attack at noon that same day, the two events were unrelated. Horton was on his way from Austin to Shreveport, Louisiana, not Dallas. Bond was in Dallas to attend a football game between SMU and Texas A&M at the Cotton Bowl (which ended in a scoreless tie).
- The Silver Theatre – episode – My Brother's Keeper (1950)
- The Bigelow Theatre – episode – His Brother's Keeper – Unknown (1951)
- The Gulf Playhouse – episode – You Can Look it Up – Unknown (1952)
- Schlitz Playhouse – episodes – Apple of His Eye, and Moment of Vengeance – Various (1952–1956)
- The Ford Television Theatre – episode – Gun Job – Hank Fetterman (1953)
- General Electric Theater – episodes – Winners Never Lose, and A Turkey for the President (1953–1958))
- The Ford Television Theatre – episode – Segment – Lt. Pannetti (1954)
- Suspense – episode – The Hunted – Bill Meeker (1954)
- Screen Directors Playhouse – episode – Rookie of the Year – Buck Goodhue, Alias Buck Garrison (1955)
- Cavalcade of America – episode – The Marine Who Was Two Hundred Years Old – Sgt. Lou Diamond (1955)
- Climax! – episode – The Mojave Kid – Sheriff (1955)
- The Christophers – episodes – Washington as a Young Man, and Bring Out their Greatness – Various (1955–1958)
- Schlitz Playhouse – episode – Plague Ship – Captain Parker (1956)
- Star Stage – episode – The Marshal and the Mob – Patterson (1956)
- Cavalcade of America – episode – Once a Hero – Harvey Kendall (1958)
- Wagon Train – 133 episodes – Major Seth Adams (1957–1961, his death) (final appearance)
- The Steve Allen Plymouth Show – episode – NBC Fall Preview – Himself (1957)
- The Steve Allen Plymouth Show – episode – Episode #3.16 – Himself (1958)
- Family Theater – episode – The Visitor (1952)