Today’s article is on American actor Wallace (Wally) Ford. Despite his difficult childhood, Ford had a successful show business career and appeared in over 200 films. He was born in Bolton, England, on February 12, 1898, and named Samuel Jones Grundy. He lived in a Barnardo Home before being sent to Canada, after which he stayed in several foster homes, including a farm in Manitoba.
As explained in previous articles, the first step is to search our main home children online resource. However, if you search this database for the surname Grundy and the first name Samuel, no results come up. A second attempt using just the surname Grundy is equally ineffective, so another strategy is in order.
Since biographical sources also contain the surname Jones, we will presume that Grundy was dropped and Jones was used as his family name. A search with the latter gives you an item display for Samuel Jones, seven years of age, part of a group of 163 children who arrived in Canada on July 1, 1905, on the SS Southwark. The Passenger Lists, 1865–1922 have been digitized and you can access an image online of the passenger list for the SS Southwark.
How did Samuel Jones become Wallace Ford? As a young teen, Samuel Jones ran away from the Manitoba farmer for whom he worked. In the United States, after the tragic death of his friend Wallace Ford, Samuel Jones adopted his deceased friend’s name to honour his memory. From then on, Canadian Samuel Jones was known as Wallace Ford on American soil.
In 1936, Wally Ford, who was now a well-known actor, found his mother, Catherine Jones. Thanks to co-operation between the Los Angeles Police Department and New Scotland Yard, and after over 20 years of searching, mother and son were reunited.
Finally, remember to consult the previous articles in this series: Introduction, Part II on Edward Brignall and Part III on Harold Mornington.
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