Tony Ward, The Bad Boy Factor

Anthony Borden, better known to the world as Tony Ward can be credited with one of the longest running careers as a male model in history. In an industry where professional models often have a very limited shelf life before being dumped for a younger and hotter make, Tony Ward has successfully kept his place at the front for four long decades.

Photo credit: Bang+Strike
Photo credit: Bang+Strike

Ward was born in sunny Santa Cruz, California and moved to the City of Angels following his high school graduation to pursue his dreams of becoming a Hollywood actor or dancer. Warner was first spotted by a talent scout while attending West Valley College at the age of eighteen, after which his career took flight.

He gained his first taste of success under the direction of photographer Herb Ritts for a Calvin Klein advertising campaign. Since then he has worked with the biggest names in the fashion industry including Roberto Cavalli, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, and Hugo Boss. Along the way, Ward has proved his credentials with commercial photography work for the likes of Nordstrom, Volvo, Diesel and H&M. Some of his co-workers through the years have included the cream of the supermodel crop from Claudia Schiffer to Naomi Campbell to Eva Herzigova to Alessandra Ambrosia to Madonna.

Photo credit: Pinterest
Photo credit: Pinterest

As a kid Ward hated being photographed, a statement backed by the fact that he now has very few photographs from his childhood. Shockingly self-critical, Ward has often been overheard describing his face as “one of the ugliest things in the world.” At a time in which the industry he calls home was promoting ‘pretty’ male models to match their female counterparts, Ward stood miles apart with his chiseled features and iconic Roman nose. While rumour has it that some industry professionals considered his nose an ugly landmarking marring an otherwise attractive package and advised him to get cosmetic surgery, Ward himself maintains that the best advice he has ever received to this day, is to not go through with altering his face. The evidence bears out this advice as today his face can be seen on numerous magazine covers ranging from RUSSH Magazine, Schön!, 10 Magazine, IO Donna, Slurp, TÊTU and Homme Style.

Ward’s private life has also come under scrutiny and made for some interesting fodder for his many starving admirers. His relationship with musical icon Madonna in the early 90s generated copious amounts of conversation. Ward features in many of Madonna’s music videos namely Cherish, Justify My Love and Erotica. Ward is one of the names published in Madonna’s well known 1992 Sex book.

Ward & Madonna. Photo credit: Bang&strike
Ward & Madonna. Photo credit: Bang+Strike

Apart from his modelling career and relationship with Madonna, Ward is best known for his controversial words and deeds. He has appeared in a number of photoshoots featuring bold displays of nudity. Famously before his high fashion career took off, Ward got his start starring in erotic photography for gay magazines such as the now defunct In Touch. Notoriously forthright and frank, the man has never shied away from giving his honest opinion. For example, in an interview with Inoubliable Model Army, Ward was asked about the most valuable life lessons gained from his illustrious modelling career, and he offered up these interesting pearls of wisdom, “Don’t ever think you’re too cool to use the right skin products and never give up…oh and get paid!” Incidentally, Ward could have a burgeoning career as a writer if he wanted, in that same interview going on to vividly describe himself as “savage” and likening his career to “a techno-coloured acid trip full of hotties, grabbing hands and costumes”.

Photo credit:
Photo credit: Inoubliable 

Ward is also a versatile actor, appearing in twenty music videos and leaving a footprint on the world of films. He made his film debut in 1996, taking on a lead role in Hustler White and was part of an assemble cast in Story of Jen, Out in Fifty and L.A. Zombie.

Although Ward is now fifty-three years old (practically ancient in modelling years) he seems very far away from slowing down. Ward has recently released what he considers the highlight of his career so far, his photographic autobiography. Since then he has revived his own fashion brand, “Six in the Face”. A multifaceted talent, Ward has also presented an exhibition of artwork alongside fellow artist Daniel Rivas. His most recent venture appears to have him donning the hat of a musician as he is taking guitar lessons. Whether we will soon see him gracing the music world or continuing his work as a model, is anyone’s guess.

Stay tuned for FIB 5 minute web-doco Top Models vol.66 “Male Legends”