Ward Bond appears in over 200 films and television shows throughout his decades-spanning career. He is the most as the star of NBC’s hit Western television series Wagon Train.
Another legendary Western star of note was the one and only John Wayne. It really shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise to anyone that Bond and Wayne became close friends. After all, they both were masters of a similar craft.
Wayne seems right at home whenever he’s playing a cowboy and Bond shines as the wagon master Major Set Adams. It is a role that he holds from 1957 till his sudden death in 1960.
They say that birds’ feathers flock together. Well, back in the 50s and 60s many of the biggest western stars are close friends. John Wayne was friends with many of his co-stars and cohorts. Director John Ford was another one of his close pals, but by far, his longest friendship was with Bond.
The two bond at the beginning while they’re still young up-and-coming hotshots trying to find their way in Hollywood. But the two actors enjoyed a close relationship for another good reason besides both being western icons. While attending the University of Southern California together, Wayne and Bond played football together.
They receive their first big breakthrough roles in John Ford’s 1929 film Salute after wrapping up their time at USC. Over the years, these men appear in more than 20 films together – directed by their mutual friend, Ford. A few of their most memorable films were The Searchers, Fort Apache, Rio Bravo, They Were Expendable, and Hondo.
Ward Bond passes away after having a heart attack. He ends up leaving his old friend John Wayne a rather strange gift in his will. Keep watching to see what that was.
Wayne And Bond Didn’t Immediately Hit It Off
They play football together back in college, in Tinsel Town Wayne and Bond didn’t click right off the bat. On the set of Salute, Wayne becomes peeve with the Benkelman, Nebraska native. He shows up late and treats everyone around him with disrespect.
John Ford, however, saw potential in the two working together. He could tell that given the right circumstances, they would mesh well and deliver some truly compelling on-screen chemistry. So, instead of keeping the two headstrong actors separated, Ford decided to have their room together.
Wayne says that he and Bond bond – pun intends – over cheap corn whiskey, as he put it, ‘nocturnal escapades’. After that, they became close personal friends, and that friendship would end up lasting over three decades until Ward’s death in 60.
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Their Friendship Survived An Accidental Shooting
Bond and Wayne’s friendship was impenetrable. It’s not every day that people make friends that stick around even when the going gets rough. Their friendship even managed to survive the time that John accidentally shot his buddy Ward in the backside during a hunting trip. That episode ended up becoming a story that they would joke about for the remainder of Bond’s life.
After he died, Bond still had one last joke to tell apparently, because he ended up leaving the very gun that The Duke had shot him within his will. That’s right, he wasn’t about to let Wayne forget about that little accident even after death.
Wayne and Bond Were Both Staunchly Conservative
Bond notes for his Conservative political activism. John Wayne was also well-known for his conservative political views. Obviously, this shared socio-political philosophy was something that the two stars continued to bond over in their adult years, but apparently, even Wayne thought that Bond took things a little too far sometimes.
He evidently would tease Bond by saying that he must have been on another one of his anti-communist kicks again whenever he would get all worked up over the topic. During the 1940s, Bond is a proud member of a conservative group, the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. The organization’s major focus was opposing the communists and their influence in the film industry.
In 1960, Bond campaigned for Republican nominee Richard Nixon’s presidential run. He died only three days before Democrat John F. Kennedy defeated Nixon by a narrow margin and took the presidency.
John Wayne would become a conservative Republican icon throughout his career, and just like Bond, he was vehemently anti-communist. Unlike Bond, however, he occasionally voted for Democrats. For instance, he voted for the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 election and admired his successor Democrat Harry Truman.
In 1944, Wayne was instrumental in creating the Motion Picture Alliance For The Preservation of American Ideal – which as we already noted, Bond ended up becoming a member of. Wayne was also a vocal supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee – an investigative committee of the US House of Reps that investigated alleged disloyalty and individuals suspected of having fascist or communist ties.
John Wayne Made An Appearance On Wagon Train
By the 1960s, John Wayne was arguably the biggest film star in the world. He had little need to do TV roles at that point, but he still did on the occasion just for kicks. One notable example of this was when he appeared in the sitcom I Love Lucy in the episode that was aptly titled ‘Lucy and John Wayne’.
Ten years later, he made a cameo on an episode of The Beverley Hillbillies. For that guest-starring spot, The Duke asks that his pay is in the form of a bottle of Jack Daniels. Several years after that, he showed up on TV once again in an episode of Maude.
Most of the time when Wayne would make appearances on television he would play himself, but there was one rare moment when he took on an actual TV acting role, although he would do so without receiving proper credit.
Since he was such good friends with Ward Bond and John Ford, he eventually decided to make an appearance on Wagon Train to show his buddies a little bit of support. On top of that, Wayne was also a huge fan of Wagon Master, the film that Wagon Train was based.
In the episode Wayne appears in, its plot deals largely with Major Seth Adams Civil War background and how he promotes to the rank of Major. Near the end of the episode, Major Seth Adams met General William Tecumseh Sherman after the battle of Shiloh. While you can barely make out Wayne’s face since he was sporting a beard and Union Army uniform, you can distinctly make out his voice.
Wayne played the historical figure to pay his friends Bond and Ford another favor. Instead of crediting with his real name, he’s in under the pseudonym ‘Michael Morris’. Interestingly, Wayne plays Sherman once again two years later in the hit film How The West Was Won.
Wagon Train wouldn’t be the only secret cameo that Wayne would do throughout his career, however. In 1977, his voice can hear in Star Wars, although this time around it isn’t nearly as recognizable. Wayne played an informant named Garindan who ended up ratting out the rebel heroes to the Imperial troops in the first act of the film.
Garindan was seen wearing a long black hooded robe with a pair of goggles. The character, who was obviously an alien, sported an elephant-like trunk and spoke into a communication device with a shrill squeaky voice. An archival audio recording of John Wayne was manipulated to produce Garindans voice.
Wayne Made Sure He Made It To Bond’s Funeral
Bond suffered a massive fatal heart attack on November 5, 1960, while he and his wife were staying at a hotel in Dallas, Texas. Although he was immediately rushed to the hospital, there was no saving him. He was 57 years old when he died.
Bond’s body was cremated and his ashes were dispersed in the ocean. John Wayne gave the eulogy at his friend’s funeral-at-sea ceremony. He was quoted as saying during that speech and he and Bond were ‘the closest of friends – from school right on through’. He additionally called Bond a ‘wonderful, generous, and big-hearted man’.
Wayne and Ford’s Deaths
Even though he had enrolled in an experimental cancer vaccine program in an attempt to fight off the disease, Wayne ended up dying of stomach caner at the UCLA Medical Center on June 11, 1979. His body was buried at the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona Del Mar, California.
Surely, Ward Bond would have attended his funeral if he could have. But we’re willing to bet that Wayne likely thought about his old friend in the days leading up to his death.
Fittingly, Wayne requested that his tombstone read ‘Feo, Fuerte, y Formal’, a Spanish phrase that Wayne described as essentially meaning ‘Ugly, Strong, and Dignified‘. For nearly two decades, his grave was unmarked so that fans wouldn’t flock to it as a pilgrimage site, but in 1999 it was finally marked with his name and one of his favorite quotes.
Director John Ford passed on at the age of 79 on the 31st of August 1973 in Palm Desert, California. A funeral was held several days later on the fifth of September, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. He was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Well, that about wraps up this video, but now we’d love to hear from you. Did you know that Ward Bond and John Wayne were such close friends? And what do you think about Bond’s little gift for Wayne that he left him in his will? Let us know in the comments.
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