Wallace Ford

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"Sam Grundy" redirects here. For the character, see Love on the Dole.
Wallace Ford
Wallace ford.JPG
Wallace Ford in Central Park (1932)
Born Samuel Jones Grundy
(1898-02-12)12 February 1898
Bolton, Lancashire, England
Died 11 June 1966(1966-06-11) (aged 68)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names Wally Ford
Occupation Actor
Years active 1930–1965
Spouse(s) Martha Haworth (m. 1922–66)

Wallace Ford (12 February 1898 – 11 June 1966) was an English born American stage, cinema and television actor. Usually playing wise-cracking characters, he combined a tough but friendly demeanor with a small but powerful build.

Early life[edit]

Born Samuel Jones Grundy in Bolton, Lancashire, England into a working class family of limited means. At 3 years of age he was placed by his uncle and aunt, in whose care he had been, into a Dr. Barnardo's orphanage home as they were unable to maintain his upkeep along with their own several children. At the age of 7 he was shipped with a number of other children from a similar background out to Canada to be found new homes with farming foster families as a part of the British Empire's on-going programme to populate the Canadian territory, Samuel being adopted by a family in Manitoba. He was ill treated however 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', where he acquired his initial training as a performer.[1]

In 1914 at the age of 16 Samuel in company of another youth decided to head South to the United States of America to seek their fortune, riding a freight train illicitly. During the trip the other youth was killed beneath the wheels of a train. Later Samuel would adopt as his stage name the name of his dead companion from the trip, 'Wallace Ford'.[2]

U.S.A. & Broadway[edit]

Following military service as a Trooper at Fort Riley, in Kansas with the United States Cavalry during World War I,[2] he became a Vaudeville theatre 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.[3] 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'.[2]


He made the move into cinema with a debut in the film Swellhead in 1930.

In 1931 he appeared alongside Clarke 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-1940s in Hollywood B movies such as Exiled to Shanghai, Murder by Invitation and Roar of the Press; and supporting roles in larger feature films such as The Lost Patrol, Spellbound and Dead Reckoning.

In 1937 he returned to the Broadway stage to play the role of 'George' in the original theatre production of Of Mice & Men.

In 1945 Ford appeared in Blood on the Sun alongside Jimmy Cagney, whose physique and acting style his own resembled.

In the late 1940's and into the 1950's he transitioned into a character actor appearing as a regular performer in the newly fashionable Westerns 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 A Patch of Blue in 1965, for which he received a Golden Laurel nomination.

Personal life[edit]

Ford met his wife Martha in 1922 whilst they were performing together on Broadway in 'Abie's Irish Rose', she being a chorus girl in the production at the time. The marriage produced one child, a daughter named Patricia (1927-2005).[4]


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.[4] His body was buried in an unmarked grave at Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery.

Partial Broadway Performances[edit]

  • Pigs (1924) as Thomas Atkins, Jr.
  • Gypsy Jim (1924) as Tom Blake
  • Gypsy (1929) as Mac
  • Of Mice and Men (1937) as George

Partial filmography[edit]

Partial Television Performances[edit]


External links[edit]