Wallace Ford
Ford in The Beast of the City (1932)
Samuel Grundy Jones

(1898-02-12)12 February 1898
Bolton, Lancashire, England
Died11 June 1966(1966-06-11) (aged 68)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery, Culver City
  • Actor
  • stage performer
  • vaudevillian
Years active1918–1965
Martha Haworth
(m. 1922)

Wallace Ford (born Samuel Grundy Jones; 12 February 1898 – 11 June 1966) was an English-born naturalized American vaudevillian, stage performer and screen actor. Usually playing wise-cracking characters, he combined a tough but friendly-faced demeanor with a small but powerful, stocky physique.

Early life

He was born Samuel Grundy Jones[1] in Bolton, Lancashire, England, into a working-class family of limited means. At the age of three, he was placed by his uncle and aunt, in whose care he had been, into a Barnardo's orphanage home, since they were unable to maintain his upkeep along with their own several children. When he was seven, he and other children from similar backgrounds were shipped to Canada to be found new homes with farming foster families as a part of the British Empire's ongoing programme to populate the territory.

Samuel was adopted by a family in Manitoba. He was ill-treated and became a serial runaway, being resettled several times with different families by the Canadian authorities. According to his own account, at the age of 11 he ran away for the last time and joined a vaudeville traveling troupe touring Canada called the Winnipeg Kiddies, from which he acquired his initial training as a performer.[2]

In 1914, 16-year-old Samuel and another youth named Wallace Ford decided to head south to the United States to seek their fortunes, riding a freight train illicitly. During the trip, Ford was killed beneath the wheels of a train. Later, Samuel adopted as his stage name the name of his dead traveling companion.[3]

Acting career

Ford (left) and Broderick Crawford in the original Broadway production of Of Mice and Men (1938)

Following his service as a trooper in the army at Fort Riley, Kansas, with the United States Cavalry during World War I,[2] 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.[4] Ford became a successful Broadway performer through the Roaring Twenties, appearing in multiple productions, including the lead role in the Broadway smash hit Abie's Irish Rose.[2][5]

In motion pictures, he made his credited debut with Possessed in 1931, appearing with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford, and the next year he was given the lead in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Freaks, directed by Tod Browning. Ford went on to have an extensive career over 30 years, appearing in more than 150 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), The Informer (1935), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), and Dead Reckoning (1947).

In 1938, he returned to the Broadway stage to play the role of George in the original production of Of Mice and Men.[5]

In 1945, 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 early 1950s, 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.

In the latter stage of his career, during the 1950s and early 1960s, Ford performed increasingly on television. He had a recurring role in the Western series The Deputy starring Henry Fonda and his final appearance on the "small screen" was on The Andy Griffith Show in 1964, playing Roger Hanover, Aunt Bee's old flame. The next year, he appeared in his last film, A Patch of Blue, for which he received a Golden Laurel nomination. Ford's performance as Ole Pa in A Patch of Blue proved to be the final role of his extensive acting career.

Personal life

The actor became a naturalized United States citizen on May 8, 1942; by this act, he also legally changed his name from Samuel Grundy to Wallace Ford. He met his future wife, Martha Haworth, 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).[2]

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 four months later.[2] His body was buried in an unmarked grave at Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery.[6]

Broadway credits

Date Title Role Notes
29 August – September 1921 The Poppy God Higgins Hudson Theatre, New York[7]
6 March–?, 1922 Broken Branches Arthur Weldon 39th Street Theatre, New York[8]
22 October – November 1923 Nobody's Business Oliver Pratt Klaw Theatre, New York[9]
14 January – February 1924 Gypsy Jim Tom Blake 49th Street Theatre, New York[10]
31 March – May 1924 Nancy Ann Dan Dennis 49th Street Theatre, New York[11]
1 September 1924 – June 1925 Pigs Thomas Atkins Jr. Little Theatre, New York[12]
14 January – March 1929 Gypsy Mac Klaw Theatre, New York[13]
14 October – November 1929 The Nut Farm Willie Barton Klaw Theatre, New York[14]
23 November 1937 – May 1938 Of Mice and Men George Music Box Theatre, New York[15]
26 December 1939 – 6 January 1940 Kindred Dermot O'Regan (Prologue) Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York[16]


Lobby card for The Beast of the City (1932) featuring Walter Huston, Jean Harlow and Wallace Ford
Lobby card for Employees' Entrance (1933) featuring Wallace Ford and Loretta Young
Ford recreated his 1929 Broadway role in the 1935 film The Nut Farm
Wallace Ford in The Informer (1935)
Poster for The Rogue's Tavern (1936)
Poster for Murder by Invitation (1941)
Poster for The Ape Man (1943)
Poster for Thunder Over Arizona (1956)
Poster for The Last Hurrah (1958)
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Married in Hollywood Mitzi's Fan Uncredited
1931 Possessed Al Manning [17]
1931 X Marks the Spot Ted Lloyd [17]
1932 Freaks Phroso [17]
1932 The Beast of the City Ed Fitzpatrick [17]
1932 The Wet Parade Jerry Tyler [17]
1932 Are You Listening? Larry Barnes [17]
1932 Skyscraper Souls Slim [17]
1932 Central Park Rick [17]
1932 Hypnotized Bill Bogard [17]
1933 Employees' Entrance Martin West [17]
1933 Night of Terror Tom Hartley [17]
1933 The Big Cage Russ Penny [17]
1933 Headline Shooter Mike [17]
1933 Three-Cornered Moon Kenneth Rimplegar [17]
1933 Goodbye Again Arthur Westlake [17]
1933 My Woman Chick Rollins [17]
1933 East of Fifth Avenue Vic Howard [17]
1934 Money Means Nothing Joe Flynn [17]
1934 The Lost Patrol Morelli [17]
1934 Men in White Shorty [17]
1934 I Hate Women Scoop McGuire [17]
1934 Money Means Nothing Kenneth 'Kenny' McKay[citation needed]
1934 The Mysterious Mr. Wong Jason H. Barton [17]
1934 The Man Who Reclaimed His Head Curly [17]
1935 The Whole Town's Talking Healy [17]
1935 In Spite of Danger Bob Crane [17]
1935 The Nut Farm Willie Barton [17]
1935 One Frightened Night Joe Luvalie [17]
1935 Swell-Head Terry McCall [17]
1935 Men of the Hour Andy Blane [17]
1935 The Informer Frankie McPhillip [17]
1935 Get That Man Jack Kirkland / John Prescott [17]
1935 She Couldn't Take It Fingers Boston [17]
1935 Mary Burns, Fugitive Harper [17]
1935 Another Face Joe Haynes [17]
1936 Two in the Dark Harry Hillyer [17]
1936 Absolute Quiet Jack [17]
1936 The Rogues' Tavern Jimmy Kelly [17]
1936 A Son Comes Home Steve [17]
1937 You're in the Army Now Jimmy Tracy [17]
1937 Jericho Mike Clancy[citation needed]
1937 Exiled to Shanghai Ted Young [17]
1938 Swing It, Sailor! Pete Kelly [17]
1938 Stardust Peter Jackson
1938 The Marines Come Thru Pvt. 'Singapore' Stebbins[citation needed] re-released in 1943 as Fight On, Marines
1939 Back Door to Heaven Frankie Rogers [17]
1940 Isle of Destiny Millard Barnes [17]
1940 Two Girls on Broadway Jed Marlowe [17]
1940 Love, Honor, and Oh Baby! Joe Redmond [17]
1940 Scatterbrain Sam Maxwell [17]
1940 The Mummy's Hand Babe Jenson [17]
1940 Give Us Wings Mr. York[citation needed]
1941 A Man Betrayed Casey [17]
1941 Roar of the Press Wally Williams [17]
1941 Murder by Invitation Bob White [17]
1941 Blues in the Night Brad Ames [17]
1942 All Through the Night Spats Hunter [17]
1942 Inside the Law Billy [17]
1942 Scattergood Survives a Murder Wally Collins [17]
1942 The Mummy's Tomb Babe Hanson [17]
1942 Seven Days' Leave Sergeant Mead [17]
1943 Shadow of a Doubt Fred Saunders [17]
1943 The Ape Man Jeff Carter [17]
1943 The Cross of Lorraine Pierre Flandeau [17]
1944 Secret Command Miller [17]
1944 Machine Gun Mama Johnny O'Reilly [17]
1945 Blood on the Sun Ollie Miller [17]
1945 The Great John L. McManus [17]
1945 On Stage Everybody Emmett Rogers [17]
1945 Spellbound Stranger in hotel lobby [17]
1946 A Guy Could Change Bill Conley [17]
1946 The Green Years Jamie Nigg [17]
1946 Lover Come Back Tubbs [17]
1946 Rendezvous with Annie Al Morgan [17]
1946 Black Angel Joe [17]
1946 Crack-Up Lieutenant Cochrane [17]
1947 Dead Reckoning McGee [17]
1947 Magic Town Lou Dicketts [17]
1947 T-Men The schemer [17]
1948 The Man from Texas Jed [17]
1948 Shed No Tears Sam Grover [17]
1948 Embraceable You Police Lt. Ferria [17]
1948 Coroner Creek Andy West [17]
1948 Belle Starr's Daughter Lafe Bailey [17]
1949 The Set-Up Gus [17]
1949 Red Stallion in the Rockies Talky Carson [17]
1950 Dakota Lil Carter [17]
1950 The Furies Scotty Hyslip [17]
1950 The Breaking Point F.R. Duncan [17]
1950 Harvey Ellis Logfren, The Taxi Driver [17]
1951 He Ran All the Way Mr. Dobbs [17]
1951 Warpath Private Potts [17]
1951 Painting the Clouds with Sunshine Sam Parks [17]
1952 She Couldn't Say No Joe Wheelen [17]
1952 Rodeo Barbecue Jones [17]
1952 Flesh and Fury Jack "Pop" Richardson [17]
1953 The Great Jesse James Raid Elias Hobbs [17]
1953 The Nebraskan Mac McBride [17]
1954 The Boy from Oklahoma Wally Higgins [17]
1954 Destry Doc Curtis [17]
1954 3 Ring Circus Sam Morley [17]
1955 The Man from Laramie Charley O'Leary [17]
1955 Wichita Arthur Whiteside [17]
1955 Lucy Gallant Gus Basserman [17]
1955 A Lawless Street Dr. Amos Wynn [17]
1955 The Spoilers Flapjack Simms [17]
1956 The Maverick Queen Jamie [17]
1956 The First Texan Henry Delaney [17]
1956 Johnny Concho Albert Dark [17]
1956 Thunder Over Arizona Hal Stiles [17]
1956 Stagecoach to Fury Judge Lester Farrell [17]
1956 The Rainmaker Sheriff Howard Thomas [17]
1958 Twilight for the Gods Old Brown [17]
1958 The Matchmaker Malachi Stack [17]
1958 The Last Hurrah Charles J. Hennessey [17]
1959 Warlock Judge Holloway [17]
1960 Tess of the Storm Country Fred Thorson [17]
1965 A Patch of Blue Ole Pa [17]

Select television credits

Wallace Ford with Betty Lou Keim in NBC-TV's The Deputy (1959–61)
Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Motorola Television Hour "Outlaw's Reckoning" (series debut)
1953 Goodyear Television Playhouse "The Happy Rest"
1953 Armstrong Circle Theatre "The Marshal of Misery Gulch"
1954 Father Knows Best Nick "The Christmas Story”
1954 Inner Sanctum Photographer "Dark of the Night"
1955 Ford Theatre Talker "Sunday Mourn"
1955 Damon Runyon Theatre Lt. Harrigan "Tobias the Terrible"
1957 The Court of Last Resort William Markham "The Jim Thompson Case"
1958 Playhouse 90 Mule Rogers "The Last Man"
1959–61 The Deputy Marshal Herk Lamson
1960 Tales of Wells Fargo "Dead Man's Street" F. X. Murphy, Marshal
1964 The Andy Griffith Show Roger Hanover


  1. ^ England and Wales Civil Registration Birth Index, January to March, 1898, Bolton, Lancashire
  2. ^ a b c d e Boyd Magers. "Characters and Heavies: Wallace Ford". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  3. ^ Lest We Forget
  4. ^ Hal Erickson, Allmovie biography on Wallace Ford
  5. ^ a b Wallace Ford at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries
  7. ^ "The Poppy God". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Broken Branches". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Nobody's Business". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Gypsy Jim". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Nancy Ann". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Pigs". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Gypsy". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  14. ^ "The Nut Farm". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Of Mice and Men". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Kindred". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di "Wallace Ford". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 10 July 2017.