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The 'brains' and 'action' heavies who had meaty roles and lots of dialog ... and the players who were fathers, ranch owners, lawman, mayors, judges, lawyers, storekeepers, newspaper editors, wardens, etc.

Ward Bond

Full name:

Ward Edwin Bond
Wardell Edwin Bond

1903 - 1960

(From Old Corral collection)

Ward Bond often played characters of Irish nationality such as his great portrayal of Father Lonergan in THE QUIET MAN. Some biographies list his birthplace as Denver, Colorado, but he was born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska to John W. Bond and Mabel L. Hundley Bond. The family lived in Benkelman for the 1910 census but moved to Denver, Colorado around 1919 and were in Denver when the 1920 census was taken.

Ward played football at the University of Southern California (and John Wayne was also on the team, but at that time, his name was Marion Morrison).

Bond, Wayne and the entire Southern Cal team were hired to appear in SALUTE (1929), a football yarn starring George O'Brien and directed by John Ford. It was during this football movie that Bond and Wayne became friendly with filmmaker Ford ... and both actors would appear in many of Ford's later films. Bond also became one of Wayne's closest friends (and drinking companions).

There were many memorable roles for Bond: he was a bus driver in the Clark Gable / Claudette Colbert IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; he was "Bert" the policeman in the Jimmy Stewart IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE; was one of the hard-boiled detectives harassing Humphrey Bogart in THE MALTESE FALCON; and he was the fly fishing Catholic priest in John Ford's THE QUIET MAN which starred John Wayne. One of my favorite Bond roles is his portrayal of boxing champion "John L. Sullivan" to Errol Flynn's "James J. Corbett" in the Warner Bros. production, GENTLEMAN JIM.

Bond, Harry Carey Jr., Ben Johnson, Victor McLaglen, and a few others were members of director John Ford's Stock Company. Bond worked in over two dozen Ford films including DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939), THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), TOBACCO ROAD (1941), THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), FORT APACHE (1948), 3 GODFATHERS (1948), WAGON MASTER (1950), and THE SEARCHERS (1956).

However, between SALUTE and the John Ford movies, Ward Bond sharpened his acting talents as a supporting player in a variety of B features at various production companies and studios. During the 1930s, he was a heavy at Columbia and Universal where he antagonized cowboy heroes Tim McCoy, Buck Jones and Ken Maynard.

Bond's best remembered roles are the John Ford films ... along with his three year run on TV's WAGON TRAIN where he starred as "Major Seth Adams". WAGON TRAIN was among the top rated TV shows when Bond passed away from a heart attack on November 5, 1960 in a Dallas, Texas hotel while on a visit to attend a football game. Obituaries listed Bond's wife Mary Lou May, and a previous wife, Doris Sellers Childs. However, no children were mentioned in the obituary - I'm wondering whether he had any offspring. Funeral services were held at the Field Photo Farm, a home for Purple Heart Veterans in Reseda, California. Pallbearers included John Wayne and WAGON TRAIN cast members Terry Wilson and Frank McGrath.

The Family Search website, death certificate, Texas Death Index, and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provide more on Ward Bond:

Find A Grave website notes that Bond was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean:

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Ward Bond:

Candace Rich's Fifties website has a page on the WAGON TRAIN TV series and her page on Ward Bond is at:

The Benkelman, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce website includes info on their Ward Bond Memorial Park and Dundy County museum which has some Ward Bond memorabilia:

There's a marker next to Bond's birthplace and home in Benkelman, Nebraska. The text reads "Actor Ward Edwin Bond was born in this house on April 9, 1903, the son of John W. and Mabel L. Bond. The family lived here until leaving Benkelman in 1919 ..." :

Jerry Murbach's Doctor Macro website has several images of Bond (and others) in John Ford's FORT APACHE:,%20Ward-Annex.htm

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from left to right are Tim McCoy, Geneva Mitchell and Ward Bond from FIGHTING SHADOWS (Columbia, 1935), one of the films in McCoy's last season at Columbia Pictures.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Buck Jones sneaking up on Ward Bond (left) and Bob Kortman (right) in a re-release lobby card from Buck's THE CRIMSON TRAIL (Universal, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Ward Bond versus Ken Maynard in a lobby card from WESTERN COURAGE (Columbia, 1935), one of the eight oaters that Maynard did for producer Larry Darmour which were released by Columbia.

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - WAGON TRAIN TV show stars Robert Horton and Ward Bond (with Bond as wagon train boss "Seth Adams").

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