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TRAVEL ON A WAGON TRAIN INTO 2011

New Year’s Day will be really special if you love classic television. The Western’s Channel will present a Wagon Train all-day marathon. The show’s early years gave Ward Bond his initial chance at top billing during his long career.

Beginning in 1957, this fine show ran for eight years, and was based on the 1950 John Ford-film The Wagonmaster. Bond played Maj. Seth Adams, who led a caravan from Missouri to California. Fine scripts from Borden Chase and Sam Peckinpah, and guest stars as Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Lou Costello, and Jane Wyman gave the program its luster. The pioneering spirit, coupled with hardships associated with  19th Century travel, provided much of the adventure in each week’s stories.

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In 1960, Ward Bond suddenly died of a heart attack in a Texas hotel, while preparing to attend a college football game. He was only 57. John McIntyre replaced the burly character actor after his death during the fourth season of the show.  

Ward Bond’s real life account, which features gallant cinematic roles, questionable personal decisions, his untimely demise, and his legacy is  chronicled in Chapter Four of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History.

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Check local listings for The Western’s Channel to enjoy this piece of televised Americana.