Wallace Ford

Active - 1931 - 1965  |   Born - Feb 12, 1898   |   Died - Jun 11, 1966   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Western, Action, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Once there was a film historian who opined that Wallace Ford was in more movies than any other character actor of his prominence. This is unlikely, but Ford was certainly kept busy in roles of all shapes and sizes during his 35-year movie career. Orphaned in infancy, Ford grew up in various British orphanages and foster homes (his search in the mid-1930s for his natural parents drew worldwide headlines). He first set foot on stage at age 11, playing in vaudeville and music halls before working his way up to Broadway. His inauspicious feature-film debut was in Swellhead (1931), a baseball melodrama which lay on the shelf for nearly five years before its release. He went on to play wisecracking leading roles in such "B"s as Night of Terror (1933), The Nut Farm (1935) and The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1935); the critics paid no heed to these minor efforts, though they always showered Ford with praise for his supporting roles in films like John Ford's The Informer (1935) and Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He occasionally took a leave of absence from films to accept a stage role; in 1937, he created the part of George in the original Broadway production of Of Mice and Men (1937). As he grew balder and stockier, he remained in demand for middle-aged character roles, often portraying wistful drunks or philosophical ne'er-do-wells. Wallace Ford ended his film career with his powerful portrayal of Elizabeth Hartman's vacillating father in A Patch of Blue (1965).

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