In the fall of last year, we ran the following as an introductory blog to one of very favorite character actor-stars .The idea was to  present our subject face first.

Longer — and very appreciative — blogs will come periodically about Wallace Ford.

Yes, you’ve probably gave seen him in a bunch of classic films. Bit parts, sometimes character parts. Occasionally our man came dangerously close to getting semi-star billing.  Much deserved.

It’s safe to say that few if any had traversed  tougher road to Hollywood semi-stardom than our man Wallace.

He was born Samuel Jones Grundy in Lancashire, England in 1898, a grew up in an orphanage. He was sent at a very early age to another orphanage in Toronto, Canada, followed by stays from 1909 on in nearly 20 on foster homes, where he was often treated badly, like a visiting slave.

As an 11-year-old boy Ford he escaped, taking off to join a Canadian vaudeville troup (the Winnepeg Kidies), which provided his home for three years. Then, this. The youngster and a friend took off on a ride-the-rails sojourn to the U.S. The friend met a grisly end, crushed to death by a railroad car. His name was Wallace Ford.

As a tribute to his friend’s memory Sam Jones took the name of Wallace Ford when a career in show business opened up, first on Broadway in the early 1920’s and then Hollywood in 1932 when he signed a contract with MGM.

Ford’s career lasted until his death in 1966 of a heart attack — in all covering more than 165 credits.

Here below are just a few of them:

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There he is (above) wielding a pistol in John Ford’s 1935 drama The Informer, set in the Irish revolution of the 1920’s. By the way, did you know that Wallace (not John) was born in England in 1898? (He died in 1966 at the relatively early age of 66.)
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Here (above) is Ford in the midst of one of his grislier roles in 1947’s T-Men, a superb film noir costarring Dennis O’Keefe and Charles McGraw. Ford pays a slippery stoolpidgeon who is dispatched by being fried inside a locked steam room.  Yup, that’s McGraw (right) who is sadistically doing the dispatching.

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There’s Ford above playing a genial geriatric (‘Ole-Pa’) in the 1965 melodrama, A Patch of Blue. He shares this scene with Shelley Winters and (center) Elizabeth Hartman. It was Ford’s last movie.

Finally, just to show that Ford got some decent billing in some big pictures, we run the following from 1943’s Shadow Of A Doubt, costarring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. Ford’s name may be last — but at least it’s there. He plays the camera-toting detective sidekick of Macdonald Carey on the lookout for a serial killer.

More on Wallace Ford to come.

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