The two friends were on a hunting trip when Wayne borrowed the gun he then accidentally shot Bond in the butt
NBC’s Wagon Train pulled an impressive audience, and many fans loved seeing Ward Bond take the role of wagon master. The show ran from 1957 to 1962, and Bond starred in the series for the first three years. After the Wagon Train star’s death, he left John Wayne a very special gift in his will. Here’s what he gave the Western star and why.
Wagon Train star Ward Bond and John Wayne had an incredibly close friendship. The official John Wayne website states that the two played football together at the University of Southern California, and then both worked on a movie titled Salute. Wayne forged a serious friendship with the Salute director, John Ford, but it seems his friendship with Bond was just as strong. While Bond and Wayne’s friendship began with Salute, they appeared in 22 movies and television shows together.
When Bond died, Wayne was reportedly heartbroken. “When you lose a friend that close after so many years together, you realize you’ve reached the time of life when the ghosts surrounding you are some of the most significant people in your life,” he wrote in a manuscript regarding the loss. “Part of me knows he’s gone; another part automatically spots good parts for him. Instincts stay long after friends are gone.”
Ward Bond died suddenly of a heart attack in November 1960. Before the Wagon Train star died, he wished for John Wayne to have his shotgun. So, why did Bond give Wayne the gun?
According to the John Wayne website, Wayne accidentally shot Bond with a shotgun years before Bond’s death. The two friends were on a hunting trip when Wayne borrowed the gun. He then accidentally shot Bond in the butt.
Clearly, the injuries to Bond were not fatal — and it’s clear he and Wayne had a friendship full of laughter, considering the will. Wayne died in 1979, 19 years after Bond’s death. He died after battling cancer for over a decade.
While no one could ever replace John Wayne’s good friend, Ward Bond, on Wagon Train, the show decided to move forward without him. John McIntire replaced Bond as the wagon master on the show, according to MeTV. While the show could’ve given an explanation for the disappearance of Bond’s character, none was ever given. McIntire stepped in, and the show carried on. The final episode aired on May 2, 1965. It lasted a total of eight seasons.
According to Western Writing, only two Wagon Train cast members are currently alive — Michael Burns and Robert Fuller. Michael played the teenager Barnaby West on the show, and he moved on from TV to become a historian and professor. Robert Fuller played chief scout Cooper Smith, and he went on to have a ranch in Texas.