Clash of the cowboys: Wagon Train's Robert Horton and Ward Bond did not get along

Their relationship was professional, at best.

The Everett Collection

Those of us lucky enough to have great coworkers recognize the value friendship can bring to the workplace. While not everybody can get along all the time, working with an agreeable bunch makes the day go by much easier. Any job can be a slog, so turning to a friend to commiserate can be such a relief. It's healthy to exhale together and bond over a workload. After all, there aren't too many other people who can relate to what you're going through at work. So, having a buddy you can turn to for a laugh, a shared eye-roll, or even a word of encouragement can make all the difference.

Unfortunately, not all personalities are compatible, and this was the case on the set of NBC's Wagon Train. While the cast would undergo some considerable shakeups as the series progressed, for its first four seasons, Wagon Train was anchored by Ward Bond as Major Seth Adams and Robert Horton as Scout Flint McCullough. The series was inspired by the earlier John Ford film of the same name, which also featured Bond. But, when Ward Bond was joined on set by Robert Horton, the proceedings became tense, and the two reportedly did not work well together.

While onscreen, Horton and Bond's characters had a tight-knit rapport, the truth was far from genial. That same quasi-family dynamic did not extend beyond the director yelling "Cut," as the actors allegedly had irreconcilable differences. In their obituary for Robert Horton, The New York Times describes one incident in particular that threatened to interrupt the series' production schedule:

"Onscreen the two had an almost father-son relationship, though they did not always appear together; episodes tended to feature one or the other in alternate weeks. But offscreen they often clashed. After one particularly fierce argument, the two men vowed not to appear together on camera again. (They did weeks later, however, when the script called for it.)"

While details about the feud aren't readily available, multiple sources corroborate the alleged discrepancy.  

Years after Bond's death, Horton appeared on the mentalism talk show The Amazing World of Kreskin. When the host asked about Horton's former co-star, the actor had a notable shift in composure, as Horton only described Bond as "a big, husky, burly fellow." He refused to elaborate or divulge further information.

However, it may also be true that the two actors settled their differences just two days before Ward Bond passed away.

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8 Comments

gockionni 16 days ago
That’s unfortunate but it happens.
I knew a guy whose father played supporting roles in several tv westerns. As a kid, this man would often hang around the sets while his dad worked. He spoke quite highly of Ward Bond. “I loved me some Ward Bond,” he’d tell me. He truly admired this actor as a person off camera, so he couldn’t have been all that bad of a guy.
MrsPhilHarris 20 days ago
Ward Bond was best friends with John Wayne. Legend has it that director John Ford screamed and insulted everyone, but it didn’t bother Bond when Ford went off on him.
trogg888 20 days ago
Ward bond sort of struck me as prickly
JamesB 20 days ago
I always liked the short-lived "Shenandoah" series. I can't imagine Ward Bond carrying off the namesake character of that show as Robert Horton did!
Beatseeker 20 days ago
no info? thanks for wasting my time...
Runeshaper 20 days ago
That's interesting. I wonder what started the battle?
Lantern Runeshaper 8 days ago
Maybe political differences? I've read that Ward Bond was far to one side of the political spectrum; perhaps Robert Horton was the opposite.
Runeshaper Lantern 8 days ago
Could be! That's a good point.
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