John Wayne shot the co-star in the back and was reminded of that in his will

In 1929, John Wayne had a small, uncredited role in the American football movie Tribute. This would be the start of his lifelong relationship with legendary director John Ford – but it also forged a friendship with fellow actor Ward Bond who, for one only time in his career, had higher bills than the Duke. They starred in another sports epic, the 1936 boxing film, Conflict, before both became staples in many Westerns such as Fort Apache, Rio Bravo, and The Quiet Man, as well as The Searchers. Bond was at the height of his fame, starring in the hit TV show, Wagon Train, when he died suddenly in November 1960.

Bond never achieved the legendary heights of his best friend, but he is still remembered for his roles in some of the greatest Hollywood films ever made such as Gone With the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, Maltese Falcon, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

He was part of Wayne’s inner circle of conservative stars who sought to expose and blacklist any suspected communists or “progressive liberals” in Hollywood. As a result, he found himself increasingly isolated after antagonizing many powerful figures in the industry, but he was always able to count on a cohesive group of like-minded stars and directors to act.

Wayne and Bond, sometimes with Ford, were known to go together on hunting trips to Catalina Island or long hunting trips to the Baja California outback, often on horseback.

During one of those trips, Wayne borrowed one of Bond’s pistols and accidentally shot his friend in the back, apparently in the buttocks.

The story goes that the 6’4 Duke actually carried his injured colleague on the way to the hospital, where he was treated and eventually came out without long-term injuries.

When Bond died of a sudden heart attack in 1960 at the age of 57, Wayne was devastated. He was the coffin bearer and delivered a powerful and emotional eulogy at the funeral. At the party, Ford famously told (but apparently somewhat affectionately) another actor that since Bond’s departure, “You are now the biggest hole in Hollywood.”

Only after Bond’s death was Ford informed that the actor had spoiled an impeccable look at the researchers. There was a mysterious power outage while Wayne was making a perfect scene.

Years after the premiere of The Searchers, the movie’s cinematographer Wynton C. Hoch Ford told an event in Hollywood how the late actor negligently pulled out a plug to use an electric razor. The crew did not tell the notoriously blasting director at the time, fearing his reaction.

Upon hearing this “Ford’s face turned white. He was uncharacteristically speechless because he didn’t have the back of his favorite horse to kick anymore.”

Speaking of Bond’s death years later, Wayne said, “When you lose a close friend after so many years together, you realize you’ve come to a time in life when the ghosts around you are some of the most important people in your life.

“Part of me knows he’s gone, while another part automatically discovers parts that are good for him. Instincts remain long after friends are gone.”

Besides his memories, Wayne also finds himself with another powerful Bond reminder. In his will, the powerful actor Wayne left the only element that perfectly summed up their friendship and the kind of men they were both. Bond actually bequeathed to his co-star the same gun he shot all those years ago.


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