Wednesday May 21, 2014

Ward Bond: Oaf, Loudmouth, Anti-Semite

Ward Bond doesn't come off too well in Scott Eyman's biography “John Wayne: The Life and Legend.” He was a member of the Ford-Wayne alchoholic Irishmen club, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about his association with the right-wing Motion Picture Alliance and the Hollywood blacklist. Eyman writes:

Ward Bond was extremely busy; always in demand as a character actor, he now began to function as a self-appointed Inspector Javert, checking out the anticommunist bona fides of various actors, writers and directors.

In 1947, Anthony Quinn came hat-in-hand to Bond. Film parts were falling through for him because he was a member of the Actor's Lab, which the MPA considered a communist organization. “You a commie, Tony, a red?” Bond asked as he sat on the toilet. Right: the toilet. Prefiguring LBJ. Quinn denied it. He said he was true blue. Bond gave him a pass. 

Nunnally Johnson, the screenwriter for John Ford's “The Grapes of Wrath,” referred to the MPA as “that Duke Wayne-Ward Bond outfit,” adding:

So many outrageous things went on that made me ashamed of the whole industry ... think of John Huston having to go and debase himself to an oaf like Ward Bond ...

Actor James Lydon piles on:

Duke was just a private citizen and he kept his beliefs private. Now, Ward Bond was a thickheaded loudmouth ... He was the one screaming all sorts of things that nobody else cared about. 

It gets worse. John Ford owned eight acres in Receda, which became a rehabiliation center for both veterans of Ford's movie and veterans of U.S. wars. Syd Kronenthal was the supervisor—he was also hired to help Marlon Brando play a paraplegic in his first film role—and he remembers the Ford team getting drunk all the time:

They were all very right-wing, and when they got loaded they'd start spewing anti-Semitic remarks. The worst of them was Victor McLaglen, and Ward Bond was anti-Semitic as hell. They either didn't know I was Jewish or they forgot.

And I'm only up to page 200.

Ernie and Bert in "It's a Wonderful Life"

Ward Bond as Bert the cop in “It's a Wonderful Life,” a movie the Motion Picture Alliance would condemn for its negative portrayal of bankers and businessmen. 

Posted at 05:59 AM on Wednesday May 21, 2014 in category Books  
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