Wallace Ford (Samuel Jones Grundy)

Wallace Ford

Following military service as a trooper at Fort Riley, in Kansas with the United States Army Cavalry during World War I, he became a vaudeville stage actor in an American stock company. In 1919, he performed in an adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s Seventeen, which played to full houses in Chicago for several months, before transferring to a successful run on Broadway in New York City. Wallace Ford became a successful Broadway performer through the Roaring Twenties, appearing in multiple productions, including the lead role in the Broadway smash hit of ‘Abie’s Irish Rose’. He made the move into movies with a debut in Swellhead in 1930. In 1931, he appeared alongside Clark Gable and Joan Crawford in Possessed, and the next year he was given the lead in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s notorious Freaks. Ford went on to have an extensive career over thirty years, appearing in more than one hundred and fifty films, with lead roles in the 1930s and ’40s in Hollywood B movies such as The Rogues Tavern (1936), Murder by Invitation (1941) and Roar of the Press (1941); and supporting roles in larger feature films such as The Lost Patrol (1934), Spellbound (1945) and Dead Reckoning (1947). In 1937, Wallace Ford returned to the Broadway stage to play the role of ‘George’ in the original production of Of Mice & Men.

In 1945, Wallace Ford appeared in the film Blood on the Sun alongside Jimmy Cagney, whose physique and acting style resembled his own. In the late 1940s and into the ’50s, he transitioned into a character actor, appearing as a regular performer in the newly fashionable Western genre, and in multiple John Ford productions as one of his preferred support players. He worked also in television towards the end of his career, including an appearance in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in the role of ‘Roger Hanover’, Aunt Bee’s old flame, in 1964. His final performance was in the movie A Patch of Blue in 1965, for which he received a Golden Laurel nomination. Wallace Ford met his future wife Martha in 1922 while they were performing together on Broadway in Abie’s Irish Rose, she being a chorus girl at the time. They had one child, a daughter named Patricia (1927-2005). After the death of his wife in February 1966, Ford moved into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital at Woodland Hills, California, and died in the hospital there of heart failure a few months later. His body was buried in an unmarked grave at Culver City’s Holy Cross Cemetery.

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  • WALLACE FORD, PORTRAIT CA. 1936 -

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Born

  • February, 12, 1898
  • United Kingdom
  • Bolton, Lancashire, England

Died

  • June, 11, 1966
  • USA
  • Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • heart failure

Cemetery

  • Holy Cross Cemetery
  • Culver City, California
  • USA

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