Ward Bond (April 9, 1903 - November 5, 1960) was an American film actor whose qualities of both rugged appearance and easygoing charm led to featured roles in numerous classic films. When the American Film Institute selected the 100 greatest American films in 1998, Bond had appeared in more of the titles (seven) than any other performer.
Bond was born in Benkelman, Nebraska but grew up in Colorado. He was educated at the University of Southern California, where he played on the football team. While Bond was on the university football team, he became friends with teammate and future Hollywood star John Wayne.
Ward Bond made his film debut in 1929 and played over 200 roles. He was frequently typecast as a friendly policemen or as a brutal thug. He had a longtime working relationship with Wayne as well as directors John Ford and Frank Capra, performing in such films as The Searchers, The Quiet Man, and Fort Apache for Ford, with whom he made 25 films, and It Happened One Night and It's a Wonderful Life for Capra. Among his other prominent films were Gone With the Wind, The Maltese Falcon, and Sergeant York. He later starred in the popular NBC TV series Wagon Train from 1957 until his death.
In the 1940s, Bond was a member of right-wing group called the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideas, whose major platform was opposition to alleged Communists in the film industry.
An urban legend has grown up that country singer Johnny Horton died in an automobile accident while driving to see Bond at a hotel to discuss a possible role in the fourth season of Wagon Train. Although Horton was indeed killed in a car crash early on November 5, 1960, and Bond died from a massive heart attack later that day, the two events are unrelated. Horton was on his way from Austin, Texas to Shreveport, Louisiana, not Dallas, and Bond was in Dallas not to meet Horton but to attend a football game. (In any case, Bond, as star of his show, was not a producer and was in no position to hire Horton.)
Bond was 57 at his death. John Wayne gave the eulogy at his funeral.
For his contribution to the television industry, Ward Bond has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Blvd. In 2001, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.