Even Hollywood’s biggest stars need to find solace in their own friendships. Movie star John Wayne found just that in another actor named Ward Bond. They had a long-lasting friendship that ran deep as they spent many times drinking together and engaging in various dangerous antics. However, it occasionally went a little too far, as Wayne once set Bond’s chest on fire to get him to go downtown and drink with him.
According to JohnWayne.com, Wayne and Bond’s friendship extended to filmmaker John Ford to create the ultimate trio. The two actors’ relationship originally started professionally, but they soon discovered they had a lot in common. Wayne and Ford regularly stabbed Bond as part of “constant banter,” but he always tried to get the last laugh.
Their friendship lasted about 30 years until Bond’s death in 1960 from complications of a heart attack. Wayne once wrote that he never stopped thinking about his close friend, even going so far as to think about what roles in screenplays he read would be perfect for him.
Carolyn McGiverns John Wayne: A giant shadow chronicled some of the friendship the actor had with Bond. He was always there for the Western movie star through thick and thin, always bailing him out of life’s pressures and boredom in times of need. However, Bond was also there for Wayne when he wanted to get into trouble for fun, which often involved drinking together.
One night in particular, Wayne really wanted Bond to date him, but he refused to date him. As a result, he poured vodka on his friend’s chest and lit it to get him up and moving. Bond eventually agreed to go out for drinks with his friend.
Another example of their antics after they were already drunk. Bond bet his friend couldn’t knock him out of a newspaper he was standing on in a doorway. Of course, Wayne took that bet and banged his fist through the door, knocking him out and winning the bet. McGivern wondered how they’d managed to survive all of these antics over the years, but they did.
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Bond did his best to help Wayne through the most difficult times in his life, including failed romantic relationships. However, he couldn’t help him. Wayne frequently got into fist fights after drinking, which put him in an unsettling situation.
He filmed in 1944 The Fighting Sea Bees for director Edward Ludwig. Wayne played Lt. Cmdr. Wedge Donovan in the WWII drama, but he went drinking during filming. Ludwig eventually banned the actor from going to the local pubs during filming because he would lose half as many fights as he would win. As a result, the makeup artist often had to cover up the “bumps and bruises” he picked up from the fights.