John Wayne was in a lot of firefights on-screen during his career. But the actor once shot a fellow actor in real life –accidentally. Wayne and fellow actor Ward Bond went hunting when the accident happened.
Bond, of course, was a big western cowboy in his own right. The actor starred in over 200 films during his career, including almost two dozen with Wayne. He also played a major role on the TV series “Wagon Train” as wagon master Major Seth Adams.
Both Wayne and Bond were the best of friends, an accidental shooting notwithstanding. That incident happened on a hunting expedition during the 1950s. Wayne’s shotgun went off and struck Bond in the rear-end. No serious damage was done. But Bond often teased Wayne for years about the incident.
John Wayne and Ward Bond’s Friendship
Though they were former college football teammates, Bond and Wayne didn’t become friends until they appeared in John Ford’s “Salute” together. Sensing that Wayne didn’t like Bond, Ford thought it would be funny if he made the two young actors share a room together during production.
Spending time together actually resulted in the two become best friends.
“Over corn whiskey and a few nocturnal escapades, Ward and I became close personal friends, and that friendship lasted until the day Ward died, over thirty years later,” Wayne wrote in an unpublished biography. “Salute” was the start of a friendship and professional career together.
In total, they played in 22 movies and two TV shows together, including Wayne’s classic “The Searchers” in 1956.
Ward Bond Died in 1960
In 1960, Bond’s years full of partying and living reckless finally caught up to him. The actor had a heart attack while in a Dallas hotel during the middle of “Wagon Train” fourth season. News of Bond’s death devastated Wayne for years. Later when he read scripts, Wayne often imagined himself starring in the films alongside Ward.
After Bond died, Wayne led a funeral-at-sea service for the late actor’s ashes and personally gave a eulogy. Wayne never got over his friend’s death. But Bond had the final laugh. In his will, he gifted Wayne the same shotgun that Wayne had accidentally shot him with all those years previous.
“When you lose a friend that close after so many years together, you realize you’ve reached the time of life when the ghosts surrounding you are some of the most significant people in your life,” Duke wrote. “Part of me knows he’s gone; another part automatically spots good parts for him. Instincts stay long after friends are gone.”