Secondary People

I always loved the bit player in the movies.  The second banana or the little part which sticks in your memory.

John Wayne had a few players that if you look closely you will see in many of his films.

Ward Bond was one of them.  Gruff, burly American character actor. Born in 1903 in Benkelman, Nebraska (confirmed by Social Security records; sources stating 1905 or Denver, Colorado are in error.) Bond grew up in Denver, the son of a lumberyard worker. He attended the University of Southern California, where he got work as an extra through a football teammate who would become both his best friend and one of cinema’s biggest stars: John Wayne. Director John Ford promoted Bond from extra to supporting player in the film Salute (1929), and became another fast friend. An arrogant man of little tact, yet fun-loving in the extreme, Bond was either loved or hated by all who knew him. His face and personality fit perfectly into almost any type of film, and he appeared in hundreds of pictures in his more than 30-year career, in both bit parts and major supporting roles. In the films of Wayne and Ford, particularly, he was nearly always present. Among his most memorable roles are John L. Sullivan in Gentleman Jim (1942), Det. Tom Polhaus in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and the Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnson Clayton The Searchers (1956). An ardent but anti-intellectual patriot, he was perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. In the mid-’50s he gained his greatest fame as the star of TV’s Wagon Train (1957). During its production, Bond traveled to Dallas, Texas, to attend a football game and died there in his hotel room of a massive heart attack.

But most people do recognize him and then there is Hank Worden as guy who is in the background.  Yet to me he is as memorable as Bond.

Raised on a cattle ranch in Montana. Educated at Stanford and the University of Nevada as an engineer. Washed out as an Army pilot. Toured the country in rodeos as a saddle bronc rider. Broke his neck in a horsefall in his 20s, but didn’t know it until his 40s. Chosen along with Tex Ritter from a rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York to appear in the Broadway play “Green Grow the Lilacs”, the play from which the musical “Oklahoma” was later derived. Drove a cab in New York, then worked on dude ranches as a wrangler and as a guide on the Bright Angel trail of the Grand Canyon. Recommended by Billie Burke to several movie producers. Became friends with John Wayne, Howard Hawks, and later John Ford, all of whom provided him with much work. Survived by adopted daughter Dawn Henry.

Both guys are in the Searchers.  Bond a bigger part but Hank a bit part with punch.

If you look closely you see these secondary roles in most films and yet some stand out.

Bond was the head of the Texas Rangers and Worden plays the crazy guy who in the end tells Wayne where to find the kidnapped girl.

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2 thoughts on “Secondary People

  1. Don Knotts who was Andy Griffiths second banana on The Andy Griffith Show was great too. He won a couple of Emmy awards for his role of Barney Fife. His character was very memorable.

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