Sunday, April 9, 2017

Born Today April 9 (Not So Silent Edition): Ward Bond


American character actor Ward Bond, birth name Wardell Edwin Bond--was born on this day in Benkelman, Nebraska.  His family later moved to Denver, Co. (this move has lead to some confusion as to when and where he was actually born, but the information above has been corroborated as correct).   Bond grew up in Benkelman; the move to Colorado came in the year 1919, where Ward attended and graduated high school.  He then attended the University of Southern California, where he played football; one Marion Michael Morrison (AKA John Wayne) was also on the team.  Bond would never appear in a fully silent film, and he is often credited with making his movie acting debut in 1929.  However, somewhere along the way, he had gotten into acting as an extra in a couple of Hollywood's biggest films of the late 1920's.  This was probably as a result of his friendship with Wayne, who had been acting in films since 1926.  The first of these was Noah's Ark, a Darryl F. Zanuck written, Michael Curtiz directed multiple time line epic that was an early talkie (sound by Western Electric Apparatus).  He next had a bit part in the 1929 Words And Music, which had both a mono and a silent edition.  His first credited role also came in 1929 with Salute, a film at least partially directed by John Ford.  In fact, the entire  U. of So. Cal. football team was hired for this film--as the film culminates with an Army/Navy football game.  It would be, though the Wayne/Bond/Ford trio who would go on to have serious careers in Hollywood and the three would remain life-long friends.  Having caught the acting bug with these early experiences, he would go on to be one the best character actors of Hollywood's golden age--making a career out of playing hard boiled types, despite the genre.  Though he had roles in earlier blockbusters, such as Gone With The Wind and Sergeant York, he is probably best remembered for his role in the Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life.  During the 1950's he also got into television work as well, with his last role being Major Seth Adams in Wagon Train--a major character in the show.  Bond died prematurely at the age of 57 from a massive heart attack on the 5th of November in 1960 in Dallas, Texas.  His old friend John Wayne gave the eulogy at his funeral, he was then cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.

Seen here on the left in It's A Wonderful Life

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