Date of Birth: December 30, 1942
Hailing from San Diego, California, Ward was raised in Louisiana and Texas.While still in his teens, the Scottish-Irish Cherokee descendent enlisted in the Air Force and by the age of 21, he decided that acting was to be his
path. He moved to New York and enrolled at the Herbert Berghof Acting Studio. His education was paid for through odd jobs including working as a janitor and a demolition man.
After school, he moved to San Francisco, where he found work in experimental theater. Acting couldn't pay the rent, so he supported his career by working as a construction rigger in the city's subway system. He ventured across the pond to work in mime and masque theater and performed in cabarets in Europe and Northern Africa before moving to Rome where he translated spaghetti westerns and appeared in two TV movies. He returned to
San Francisco to appear in Sam Shepard's stage production of Inacoma and Angel City. Other stage appearances include One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest and The Glass Menagerie.
Ward knocked around filmdom for several years before landing a plum role as Clint Eastwood's partner in Escape from Alcatraz (1979). He first won critical attention for his portrayal of doomed astronaut Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff (1983). Two years later, Hollywood tried to turn him into an action lead with Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), but it wasn't successful.
During the 1990s his roles began to be noticed by viewers, first playing a Florida cop Hoke Moseley in the thriller Miami Blues (which he co-produced), followed by strong appearances in the controversial Henry & June and a starring role in Tremors. In 1993 he won a Volpi Award from the Venice Film Festival with his fellow cast members of Short Cuts, for Best Ensemble Cast. The decade continued his rise to the Hollywood spotlight with appearances in such mainstream films as Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Dangerous Beauty, and finally, Road Trip, which screened in 2000.
The new millenium saw Ward working harder than ever, appearing in as many as seven films a year. He also found time to make guest appearances on hit TV series such as Grey's Anatomy, In Plain Sight and United States of Tara, as well as playing a recurring role on ER.
Ward is married to second wife, Marie-France. He has a child with first wife, Sylvia.