Ward Bond was discovered thanks to his ''ugly face''

Good looks aren't everything in Hollywood. Especially for a tough character actor.

The Everett Collection / Salute (1929)

The University of Southern California won its first college football national championship in 1928. The Trojan earned another nickname as they bruised opponents on the gridiron (like their 78–7 drubbing of Arizona that season). The press dubbed USC the "Thundering Herd." Much of that success was thanks to big uglies in the trenches like Ward Bond. 

We use "uglies" endearingly. Also, that's not our description, but rather the assessment of a Hollywood legend.

Three decades later, in 1957, when Bond was a grizzled veteran actor saddling up for the premiere of his new series Wagon Train, he looked back to the start of his career. He was discovered on the USC practice field.

John Ford was seeking talent for a pigskin flick called Salute. The movie centered around the Army-Navy rivalry. Ford, now considered one of the greatest directors in film history, decided to cast some of the "Thundering Herd" as Midshipmen.

"Get me that one with the ugly face," Ford said, gesturing to Bond. 

And that is how Ward Bond became an actor. He played "Midshipman Harold." One of his USC football buddies was enlisted for the production, as well. His name was Marion "Duke" Morrison, but today everybody just knows him as John Wayne.

Wayne worked as a "prop boy" and uncredited extra in Salute. Bond and Wayne became close friends and 10 years later, worked together with John Ford on Stagecoach. Wayne would become an American icon. Bond settled into a career as a tough or baddies in countless Westerns. 

He credited his horse-riding skills. In his eye, other actors were phonies. He knew how to ride.

"I mean really ride. Some of these guys look like I would like if I were flyin' a B-36," he told columnist Hal Humphrey. "I saw one on TV who mounted like an old woman. Then he leans forward, pulls back the reins and starts flappin' his arms. The poor horse didn't know that to do." Bond had been riding horses since he was a kid.

"I guess you could say I'm my own technical advisor on Wagon Train," Bond bragged. "I read a lot of Western stuff myself."

By that point, in 1957, Bond reckoned that he had "been the villainous heavy of the hero's side-kick in about 150 Western movies." 

Not too shabby for "the one with the ugly face."

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RichLorn 3 months ago
"Bond and Wayne became close friends and 10 years later, worked together with John Ford on Stagecoach. "
I'm not trying to be picky, but according to IMDB, Ward Bond did not appear in Stagecoach.
Blake3b 3 months ago
He is soooo NOT ugly! In the black and white photo he is super hot, very manly!
bjr1959 3 months ago
Ward Bond is Wagon Train. What a man, "when men were men, and women were proud of it." Ward could play anything. It's interesting too that the last Wagon Train only had Frank McGrath and Terry Wilson in it, The Jarbo Pierce Story. They were both buddies of Ward and stuntmen and he insisted they be on the show when he signed his contract. Smart man. They were the only ones to stay with the show through it entire run. What a man and so handsome.
Sooner 3 months ago
I don't think he's ugly. He has a rugged, manly face, which in my opinion is handsome.
Bertpar68 3 months ago
He was in the movie"It's a Wonderful Life". He was Bert, the police officer.
StrayCat 3 months ago
The article states: Bond and Wayne became close friends and 10 years later, worked together with John Ford on Stagecoach.

I don't believe Bond was in that movie.
LoveMETV22 StrayCat 3 months ago
John Ford originally wanted Ward Bond to play Buck the stage driver but gave the role to
Andy Devine when he found that Bond couldn't drive a "six-up" stagecoach and there wasn't time to teach him.
So Bond worked with Ford. Unfortunately he didn't appear as the role was given to Devine.
KJExpress 3 months ago
I've seen him in lots of movies and I certainly never considered him to be ugly.
Runeshaper 3 months ago
Wow! I never knew that Ward Bond and The Duke got picked up for the same film while playing football together. That's AWESOME! Both were GREAT actors (-:
Andybandit 3 months ago
Ward Bond was not ugly. He was good on Wagon Train.
LoveMETV22 3 months ago
Ward Bond, John Wayne, and John Ford were all legendary in their own respect. Perhaps a personality trait of Ford's would explain why he would refer to Ward Bond as ugly?
Pacificsun 3 months ago
Wagon Train is a very solid show.
bagandwallyfan52 3 months ago
Ward Bond and Shemp Howard
Of The Three Stooges were NOT
UGLY .
Shemp made a great punching bag.
harlow1313 3 months ago
Blessed are the Rondo Hattons and Charles Bukowskis of the world. Wabi-sabi, flawed beauty.
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MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 3 months ago
You got the right. Now everyone has chiclet teeth and flawless skin. So many celebrities look the same.
Moverfan harlow1313 3 months ago
Plastic-faced? My dear fellow contributor, have you LOOKED at Harrison Ford? (Oh, my, my, my, my, my...)
Pacificsun Moverfan 3 months ago
I just did, lately, a collection of photos. Well Clooney and Ford are aging now along with the rest of us, and that maturity starts making them look more distinguished. But they didn't start out as character actors, and that's kind of what we're referencing here.
CaptainDunsel justjeff 3 months ago
R.G. Armstrong; Virginia Gregg; Ernest Borgnine; Gerald S. O'Loughlin; Reta Shaw; George Murdock...
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