John Wayne

John Wayne
John Wayne
Born Marion Robert Morrison
May 26, 1907(1907-05-26)
Winterset, Iowa, U.S.
Died June 11, 1979(1979-06-11) (aged 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Stomach cancer
Other names Marion Mitchell Morrison; "The Duke"; Duke Morrison
Education Glendale High School
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1926–1976
Home town Glendale, California
Political party Republican
Religion Roman Catholic convert from Presbyterian
Spouse Josephine Alicia Saenz (m. 1933–1945) «start: (1933)–end+1: (1946)»"Marriage: Josephine Alicia Saenz to John Wayne" Location: (linkback://
Esperanza Baur (m. 1946–1954) «start: (1946)–end+1: (1955)»"Marriage: Esperanza Baur to John Wayne" Location: (linkback://
Pilar Pallete (m. 1954–1979) «start: (1954)–end+1: (1980)»"Marriage: Pilar Pallete to John Wayne" Location: (linkback://

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer.[1] He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height. He was also known for his conservative political views and his support, beginning in the 1950s, for anti-communist positions.[2]

John Wayne is also the biggest box office draw of all time appearing within the Quigley annual list of "Top 10 Money Maker's Poll" a record 25 times, with the exception of 1958 he was on this list every year from 1949 to 1974.[3]

A Harris Poll, released January 2011, placed Wayne third among America's favorite film stars,[4] the only deceased star to ever appear on the list and the only one who has appeared on the poll every year since it first began in 1994.

In June of 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne 13th among the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time.


Early life

Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa.[5] His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert.[2][6][7][8][9]

Wayne's father, Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937), was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (1845–1915). Wayne's mother, the former Mary "Molly" Alberta Brown (1885–1970), was from Lancaster County, Nebraska. Wayne was of Scots-Irish and Scottish descent on both sides of his family, and he was brought up as a Presbyterian.[10][11]

Wayne's family moved to Palmdale, California, and then in 1911 to Glendale, California, where his father worked as a pharmacist. A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him "Little Duke" because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke.[12][13] He preferred "Duke" to "Marion", and the name stuck for the rest of his life.

As a teen, Wayne worked in an ice cream shop for a man who shod horses for Hollywood studios. He was also active as a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization associated with the Freemasons. He attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale. He played football for the 1924 champion Glendale High School team.

Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in pre-law. He was a member of the Trojan Knights and Sigma Chi fraternities.[14] Wayne also played on the USC football team under legendary coach Howard Jones. An injury curtailed his athletic career; Wayne later noted he was too terrified of Jones's reaction to reveal the actual cause of his injury, which was bodysurfing at the "Wedge" at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. He lost his athletic scholarship and, without funds, had to leave the university.[15]

Wayne began working at the local film studios. Prolific silent western film star Tom Mix had gotten him a summer job in the prop department in exchange for football tickets. Wayne soon moved on to bit parts, establishing a longtime friendship with the director who provided most of those roles, John Ford. Early in this period, Wayne appeared with his USC teammates playing football in Brown of Harvard (1926), The Dropkick (1927), and Salute (1929) and Columbia's Maker of Men (filmed in 1930, released in 1931).[16]

Film career

While working for Fox Film Corporation in bit roles, he was given on-screen credit as "Duke Morrison" only once, in Words and Music (1929). In 1930, director Raoul Walsh cast him in his first starring role in The Big Trail (1930). For his screen name, Walsh suggested "Anthony Wayne", after Revolutionary War general "Mad Anthony" Wayne. Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected it as sounding "too Italian". Walsh then suggested "John Wayne". Sheehan agreed, and the name was set. Wayne himself was not even present for the discussion.[17] His pay was raised to $105 a week.

The Big Trail was to be the first big-budget outdoor spectacle of the sound era, made at a staggering cost of over $2 million, using hundreds of extras and wide vistas of the American southwest, still largely unpopulated at the time. To take advantage of the breathtaking scenery, it was filmed in two versions, a standard 35mm version and another in "Grandeur", a new process using innovative camera and lenses and a revolutionary 70mm widescreen process. Many in the audience who saw it in Grandeur stood and cheered. Unfortunately, only a handful of theaters were equipped to show the film in its widescreen process, and the effort was largely wasted. The film was considered a huge flop.[18]

Wayne in Wake of the Red Witch (1948)

After the failure of The Big Trail, Wayne was relegated to small roles in A-pictures, including Columbia's The Deceiver (1931), in which he played a corpse. He appeared in the serial The Three Musketeers (1933), an updated version of the Alexandre Dumas novel in which the protagonists were soldiers in the French Foreign Legion in then-contemporary North Africa. He appeared in many low-budget "Poverty Row" westerns, mostly at Monogram Pictures and serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation. By Wayne's own estimation, he appeared in about eighty of these horse operas from 1930 to 1939.[19] In Riders of Destiny (1933) he became one of the first singing cowboys of film, albeit via dubbing.[20] Wayne also appeared in some of the Three Mesquiteers westerns, whose title was a play on the Dumas classic. He was mentored by stuntmen in riding and other western skills.[16] He and famed stuntman Yakima Canutt developed and perfected stunts still used today.[21]

Wayne's breakthrough role came with director John Ford's classic Stagecoach (1939). Because of Wayne's non-star status and track record in low-budget westerns throughout the 1930s, Ford had difficulty getting financing for what was to be an A-budget film. After rejection by all the top studios, Ford struck a deal with independent producer Walter Wanger in which Claire Trevor — a much bigger star at the time — received top billing. Stagecoach was a huge critical and financial success, and Wayne became a star. He later appeared in more than twenty of John Ford's films, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Wayne's first color film was Shepherd of the Hills (1941), in which he co-starred with his longtime friend Harry Carey. The following year, he appeared in his only film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the Technicolor epic Reap the Wild Wind (1942), in which he co-starred with Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard; it was one of the rare times he played a character with questionable values.

In 1949, director Robert Rossen offered the starring role of All the King's Men to Wayne. Wayne refused, believing the script to be un-American in many ways.[22] Broderick Crawford, who eventually got the role, won the 1949 Oscar for best male actor, ironically beating out Wayne, who had been nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima.

John Wayne in Operation Pacific (1951)

He lost the leading role in The Gunfighter (1950) to Gregory Peck due to his refusal to work for Columbia Pictures because its chief, Harry Cohn, had mistreated him years before when he was a young contract player. Cohn had bought the project for Wayne, but Wayne's grudge was too deep, and Cohn sold the script to Twentieth Century Fox, which cast Peck in the role Wayne badly wanted but for which he refused to bend.[22]

One of Wayne's most popular roles was in The High and the Mighty (1954), directed by William Wellman, and based on a novel by Ernest K. Gann. His portrayal of a heroic copilot won widespread acclaim. Wayne also portrayed aviators in Flying Tigers (1942), Flying Leathernecks (1951), Island in the Sky (1953), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and Jet Pilot (1957).

John Wayne in The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers (1956) continues to be widely regarded as perhaps Wayne's finest and most complex performance. In 2006, Premiere Magazine ran an industry poll in which Wayne's portrayal of Ethan Edwards was rated the 87th greatest performance in film history. He named his youngest son Ethan after the character.

John Wayne won a Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969). Wayne was also nominated as the producer of Best Picture for The Alamo (1960), one of two films he directed. The other was The Green Berets (1968), the only major film made during the Vietnam War to support the war.[15] During the filming of Green Berets, the Degar or Montagnard people of Vietnam's Central Highlands, fierce fighters against communism, bestowed on Wayne a brass bracelet that he wore in the film and all subsequent films.[22] His last film was The Shootist (1976), whose main character, J. B. Books, was dying of cancer — the illness to which Wayne himself succumbed three years later.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Wayne played the lead in 142 of his film appearances.

Batjac, the production company co-founded by Wayne, was named after the fictional shipping company Batjak in Wake of the Red Witch (1948), a film based on the novel by Garland Roark. (A spelling error by Wayne's secretary was allowed to stand, accounting for the variation.)[22] Batjac (and its predecessor, Wayne-Fellows Productions) was the arm through which Wayne produced many films for himself and other stars. Its best-known non-Wayne production was the highly acclaimed Seven Men From Now (1956), which started the classic collaboration between director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott.

In the Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Money-Making Western Stars poll, Wayne was listed in 1936 and 1939.[23] He appeared in the similar Box Office poll in 1939 and 1940.[24] While these two polls are really an indication only of the popularity of series stars, Wayne also appeared in the Top Ten Money Makers Poll of all films from 1949 to 1957 and 1958 to 1974, taking first place in 1950, 1951, 1954 and 1971. With a total of 25 years on the list, Wayne has more appearances than any other star, beating Clint Eastwood (21) into second place.[25]

In later years, Wayne was recognized as a sort of American natural resource, and his various critics, of his performances and his politics, viewed him with more respect. Abbie Hoffman, the radical of the 1960s, paid tribute to Wayne's singularity, saying, "I like Wayne's wholeness, his style. As for his politics, well — I suppose even cavemen felt a little admiration for the dinosaurs that were trying to gobble them up."[26] Reviewing The Cowboys (1972), Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who did not particularly care for the film, wrote: "Wayne is, of course, marvelously indestructible, and he has become an almost perfect father figure."


1964 illness

Wayne had been a chain-smoker of cigarettes since young adulthood. In 1964, Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer, and underwent successful surgery to remove his entire left lung[27] and four ribs. Despite efforts by his business associates to prevent him from going public with his illness (for fear it would cost him work), Wayne announced he had cancer and called on the public to get preventive examinations. Five years later, Wayne was declared cancer-free. Despite the fact that Wayne's diminished lung capacity left him incapable of prolonged exertion and frequently in need of supplemental oxygen, within a few years of his operation he chewed tobacco and began smoking cigars until the day he died.


From The Challenge of Ideas (1961)

Wayne claimed in his Playboy interview to have been a socialist during his years at college, and he admitted voting for Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election. In the same interview, he also expressed admiration for Democratic President Harry S Truman.[28] For most of his career, however, he was a vocally conservative Republican. He took part in creating the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in February 1944 and was elected president of that organization in 1947. He was an ardent anti-communist and vocal supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he made Big Jim McLain to show his support for the anti-communist cause. A supporter of Vice President Richard Nixon's candidacy in the United States presidential election in 1960, he expressed his vision of patriotism when John F. Kennedy won the election: "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job."[29]

Wayne used his iconic status to support conservative causes, including rallying support for the Vietnam War by producing, co-directing, and starring in the critically panned The Green Berets in 1968. In the mid-1970s, however, he went against many fellow conservatives in supporting the Panama Canal Treaty.[30]

Due to his enormous popularity, and his status as the most famous Republican star in Hollywood, wealthy Texas Republican Party backers asked Wayne to run for national office in 1968, as had his friend and fellow actor, Senator George Murphy. He declined, joking that he did not believe the public would seriously consider an actor in the White House. However, he did support his friend Ronald Reagan's runs for Governor of California in 1966 and 1970. He was also asked to be the running mate for Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968. Wayne vehemently rejected the offer.[2] Wayne actively campaigned for Richard Nixon,[31] and addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in August 1968. Wayne also was a member of the conservative and anti-communist John Birch Society.[32]

Wayne openly differed with the Republican Party over the issue of the Panama Canal. Conservatives wanted America to retain full control, but Wayne, believing that the Panamanians had the right to the canal, sided with President Jimmy Carter and the Democrats to win passage of the treaty returning the canal in the Senate. Mr. Wayne was a close friend of the late Panamanian leader, Brig. Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera. Mr. Wayne's first wife, Josephine, whom he divorced in 1946, was a native of Panama.[33]

Soviet documents released in 2003 revealed, despite being a fan of Wayne's movies, Joseph Stalin ordered Wayne's assassination due to his strong anti-communist politics. Stalin died before the killing could be accomplished. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, reportedly told Wayne during a 1959 visit to the United States that he had personally rescinded the order.[34][35]


Military service

Visiting Brisbane, Australia, in December, 1943

America's entry into World War II resulted in a deluge of support for the war effort from all sectors of society, and Hollywood was no exception. Many established stars rushed to sign up for military service.

As the majority of male leads left Hollywood to serve overseas, John Wayne saw his just-blossoming stardom at risk. Despite enormous pressure from his inner circle of friends, he put off enlisting. Wayne was exempted from service due to his age (34 at the time of Pearl Harbor) and family status, classified as 3-A (family deferment). Wayne's secretary recalled making inquiries of military officials on behalf of his interest in enlisting, "but he never really followed up on them".[36] He repeatedly wrote to John Ford, asking to be placed in Ford's military unit, but consistently postponed it until "after he finished one more film",[37] Republic Studios was emphatically resistant to losing Wayne, especially after the loss of Gene Autry to the Army.[38]

Correspondence between Wayne and Herbert J. Yates (the head of Republic) indicates Yates threatened Wayne with a lawsuit if he walked away from his contract, though the likelihood of a studio suing its biggest star for going to war was minute.[39] Whether or not the threat was real, Wayne did not test it. Selective Service records indicate he did not attempt to prevent his reclassification as 1-A (draft eligible), but apparently Republic Pictures intervened directly, requesting his further deferment.[40] In May, 1944, Wayne was reclassified as 1-A (draft eligible), but the studio obtained another 2-A deferment (for "support of national health, safety, or interest").[40] He remained 2-A until the war's end. Thus, John Wayne did not illegally "dodge" the draft, but he never took direct positive action toward enlistment.

Wayne was in the South Pacific theater of the war for three months in 1943–1944, touring U.S. bases and hospitals, as well as doing some work for OSS commander William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, who "hoped that a celebrity like Wayne could provide information denied his own operatives. Donovan was particularly interested in Wayne's assessment of MacArthur himself. Wayne's mission was only partly successful. He never met MacArthur, and although he filed a report with Donovan when he got back to the States, he had nothing substantial to offer Donovan." [41] Donovan gave him a plaque and commendation for serving with the OSS, but Wayne dismissed it as meaningless.[41]

The foregoing facts influenced the direction of Wayne's later life. By many accounts, Wayne's failure to serve in the military during World War II was the most painful experience of his life.[42] Some other stars, for various reasons, did not enlist, but Wayne, by virtue of becoming a celluloid war hero in several patriotic war films, as well as an outspoken supporter of conservative political causes and the Vietnam War, became the focus of particular disdain from both himself and certain portions of the public, particularly in later years. While some hold Wayne in contempt for the paradox between his early actions and his later attitudes, his widow suggests Wayne's rampant patriotism in later decades sprang not from hypocrisy but from guilt. Pilar Wayne wrote, "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."[43]

Statements to Playboy magazine

In an interview with Playboy magazine published on May 1, 1971, Wayne made several controversial remarks about race and class in the United States. The interview became a hot topic and many stores had trouble keeping the issue in stock.[44] He noted that, as someone living in the 20th century, he was not responsible for the way people who lived one hundred years before him had treated Native Americans, stating:

I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them if that's what you're asking. Our so called stealing of this country was just a question of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves ... Look, I'm sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can't be blamed on us today. I'm quite sure that the concept of a Government-run reservation ... seems to be what the socialists are working for now — to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave ... What happened between their forefathers and our forefathers is so far back — right, wrong or indifferent — that I don't see why we owe them anything. I don't know why the government should give them something that it wouldn't give me.[45][46]

Wayne responded to questions about whether social programs like Medicare and Social Security were good for the country:

I know all about that. In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself — but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man's responsibilities, he finds that it can't work out that way — that some people just won't carry their load ... I believe in welfare — a welfare work program. I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.

In the interview he previously had discussed race relations, including his response to Angela Davis's assertion that her removal from a position as an assistant professor in the UCLA philosophy department on the grounds that she was an active member the Communist party was actually because she was black:

With a lot of blacks, there's quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.[47][48]

When asked how blacks could address their perceived lack of leadership experience and the inequities of the past, Wayne replied:

It's not my judgment. The academic community has developed certain tests that determine whether the blacks are sufficiently equipped scholastically. But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background ... By going to school. I don't know why people insist that blacks have been forbidden to go to school. They were allowed in public schools wherever I've been. Even if they don't have the proper credentials for college, there are courses to help them become eligible. But if they aren't academically ready for that step, I don't think they should be allowed in. Otherwise, the academic society is brought down to the lowest common denominator ... What good would it do to register anybody in a class of higher algebra or calculus if they haven't learned to count? There has to be a standard. I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. Now, I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can't play football with the rest of us. I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they'd tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America.[44]

Wayne later made controversial pro-war comments when asked why a North-South joint election in Vietnam could not have been administered in lieu of armed conflict:

That would be no more practical than if France, after coming to help us in the Revolution, suggested having an election to decide what we wanted to do. It would be an exact parallel. The majority of those living in the Colonies didn't want war at that time. If there had been a general election then, we probably wouldn't be here today. As far as Vietnam is concerned, we've made mistakes. I know of no country that's perfect. But I honestly believe that there's as much need for us to help the Vietnamese as there was to help the Jews in Germany. The only difference is that we haven't had any leadership in this war. All the liberal senators have stuck their noses in this, and it's out of their bailiwick. They've already put far too many barriers in the way of the military. Our lack of leadership has gone so far that now no one man can come in, face the issue and tell people that we ought to be in an all-out war.

Personal life

Wayne with third wife Pilar Pallete at Knott's Berry Farm in 1971
Roadside sign on the way to John Wayne Island in Panama

Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. His wives, all of them Hispanic women, were Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. He had four children with Josephine:

  • Michael Wayne (film producer) — Born November 23, 1934 / Died April 2, 2003
  • Mary Antonia "Toni" Wayne LaCava — Born February 25, 1936 / Died December 6, 2000
  • Patrick Wayne (actor) — Born July 15, 1939
  • Melinda Wayne Munoz — Born December 3, 1940

and three with Pilar:

  • Aissa Wayne (actress, now attorney) — Born March 31, 1956
  • John Ethan Wayne (actor) — Born February 22, 1962
  • Marisa Wayne (actress) — Born February 22, 1966

Heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison alleges that Wayne is his great-uncle.[49] Wayne's son Ethan was billed as John Ethan Wayne in a few films, and played one of the leads in the 1990s update of the Adam-12 television series.

His stormiest divorce was from Esperanza Baur, a former Mexican actress. She convinced herself that Wayne and co-star Gail Russell were having an affair. The night the film Angel and the Badman (1947) wrapped, there was the usual party for cast and crew, and Wayne came home very late. Esperanza was in a drunken rage by the time he arrived, and she attempted to shoot him as he walked through the front door.[22]

Wayne's hair began thinning in the 1940s, and he started wearing a hairpiece by the end of that decade (though his receding hairline is quite evident in Rio Grande). He was occasionally seen in public without the hairpiece (notably, according to Life Magazine photos, at Gary Cooper's funeral).[50] The only time he unintentionally appeared on film without it was for a split second in North to Alaska. On the first punch of the climactic fistfight, Wayne's hat flies off, revealing a brief flash of his unadorned scalp. Wayne also has several scenes in The Wings of Eagles where he is without his hairpiece. (During a widely noted appearance at Harvard University, Wayne was asked by a student, "Is your hair real?" Wayne responded in the affirmative, then added, "It's not mine, but it's real!")

Wayne had several high-profile affairs, including one with Marlene Dietrich that lasted for three years.[51] In the years prior to his death, Wayne was romantically involved with his former secretary Pat Stacy (1941–1995).[15] She wrote a biography of her life with him, DUKE: A Love Story (1983).

A close friend of Wayne's, California Congressman Alphonzo Bell, wrote of him, "Duke's personality and sense of humor were very close to what the general public saw on the big screen. It is perhaps best shown in these words he had engraved on a plaque: 'Each of us is a mixture of some good and some not so good qualities. In considering one's fellow man it's important to remember the good things ... We should refrain from making judgments just because a fella happens to be a dirty, rotten SOB.'"[52]

During the early 1960s, John Wayne traveled extensively to Panama. During this time, the actor reportedly purchased the island of Taborcillo off the main coast of Panama. It was sold by his estate at his death and changed hands many times before being opened as a tourist attraction.

Wayne was a Freemason, a Master Mason in Marion McDaniel Lodge #56 F&AM, in Tucson, Arizona. He became a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and later joined the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple in Los Angeles. He became a member of the York Rite.[53]

Wayne biographer Michael Munn writes of Wayne's love of alcohol.[13] According to Sam O'Steen's memoir, Cut to the Chase, studio directors knew to shoot Wayne's scenes before noon, because by afternoon Wayne "was a mean drunk".[54]

John Wayne's height has been perennially described as at least 6'4" (193 cm), but claims abound that he was shorter.[55] However, Wayne's high school athletic records indicate he was 6'3" at age 17, and his University of Southern California athletic records state that by age 18, he had grown to 6'4".[56]


Although he enrolled in a cancer vaccine study in an attempt to ward off the disease,[27] John Wayne died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at the UCLA Medical Center, and was interred in the Pacific View Memorial Park cemetery in Corona del Mar. According to his son Patrick and his grandson Matthew Muñoz, a priest in the California Diocese of Orange, he converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death.[57][58] He requested his tombstone read "Feo, Fuerte y Formal", a Mexican epitaph Wayne described as meaning "ugly, strong and dignified".[59] However, the grave, unmarked for twenty years, is now marked with a quotation from his controversial 1971 Playboy interview: "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."[60][61][62]

Among the 220 or so cast and crew who filmed the 1956 film, The Conqueror, on location near St. George, Utah, 91 at various times developed some form of cancer (41%), including stars Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell. The film was shot in southwestern Utah, east of and generally downwind from the site of recent U.S. Government nuclear weapons tests in southeastern Nevada. Although the 41% incidence of cancer in the cast and crew is identical to that of the general population,[63] many contend radioactive fallout from these tests contaminated the film location and poisoned the film crew working there.[64][65] Despite the suggestion that Wayne's 1964 lung cancer and his 1979 stomach cancer resulted from nuclear contamination, he himself believed his lung cancer to have been a result of his six-pack-a-day cigarette habit.[66]


Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom

John Wayne's enduring status as an iconic American was formally recognized by the United States Congress on May 26, 1979, when he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Hollywood figures and American leaders from across the political spectrum, including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Mike Frankovich, Katharine Hepburn, General and Mrs. Omar Bradley, Gregory Peck, Robert Stack, James Arness, and Kirk Douglas, testified to Congress of the merit and deservedness of this award. Most notable was the testimony of Robert Aldrich, then president of the Directors Guild of America: "It is important for you to know that I am a registered Democrat and, to my knowledge, share none of the political views espoused by Duke. However, whether he is ill disposed or healthy, John Wayne is far beyond the normal political sharp shooting in this community. Because of his courage, his dignity, his integrity, and because of his talents as an actor, his strength as a leader, his warmth as a human being throughout his illustrious career, he is entitled to a unique spot in our hearts and minds. In this industry, we often judge people, sometimes unfairly, by asking whether they have paid their dues. John Wayne has paid his dues over and over, and I'm proud to consider him a friend and am very much in favor of my Government recognizing in some important fashion the contribution that Mr. Wayne has made."

Maureen O'Hara, Wayne's close friend, initiated the petition for the medal and requested the words that would be placed onto the medal: "It is my great honor to be here. I beg you to strike a medal for Duke, to order the President to strike it. And I feel that the medal should say just one thing, 'John Wayne, American.'"[67] The medal crafted by the United States Mint has on one side John Wayne riding on horseback, and the other side has a portrait of Wayne with the words, "John Wayne, American". This Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the family of John Wayne in a ceremony held on March 6, 1980, at the United States Capitol. Copies were made and sold in large numbers to the public.

On June 9, 1980, Wayne was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter, at whose inaugural ball Wayne had appeared "as a member of the loyal opposition", as Wayne described it in his speech to the gathering. Thus, Wayne received the two highest civilian decorations awarded by the United States government.

American icon

Wayne rose beyond the typical recognition for a famous actor to that of an enduring icon who symbolized and communicated American values and ideals. By the middle of his career, Wayne had developed a larger-than-life image, and as his career progressed, he selected roles that would not compromise his off-screen image. By the time of his last film The Shootist (1976), Wayne refused to allow his character to shoot a man in the back as was originally scripted,[68] saying "I've made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it."

Wayne's rise to being the quintessential movie war hero began to take shape four years after World War II, when Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) was released. His footprints at Grauman's Chinese theater in Hollywood were laid in concrete that contained sand from Iwo Jima.[69] His status grew so large and legendary that when Japanese Emperor Hirohito visited the United States in 1975, he asked to meet John Wayne, the symbolic representation of his country's former enemy.[70]

Wayne was a popular visitor to the war zones in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. By the 1950s, perhaps in large part due to the military aspect of films such as the Sands of Iwo Jima, Flying Tigers, They Were Expendable, and the Ford cavalry trilogy, Wayne had become an icon to all the branches of the United States Armed Forces, even in light of his actual lack of military service. Many veterans have said their reason for serving was in some part related to watching Wayne's movies. His name is attached to various pieces of gear, such as the P-38 "John Wayne" can opener, so named because "it can do anything", paper towels known as "John Wayne toilet paper" because "it's rough and it's tough and don't take shit off no one," and C-ration crackers are called "John Wayne crackers" because presumably only someone as tough as Wayne could eat them. A rough and rocky mountain pass used by military tanks and jeeps at Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County, California, is aptly named "John Wayne Pass".

Various public locations, named in memory of John Wayne, include John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, where his nine-foot bronze statue graces the entrance; the John Wayne Marina[71] that Wayne bequeathed the land for, near Sequim, Washington; John Wayne Elementary School (P.S. 380) in Brooklyn, New York, which boasts a 38-foot mosaic mural commission by New York artist Knox Martin[72] entitled "John Wayne and the American Frontier";[73] and a 100-plus-mile trail named the "John Wayne Pioneer Trail" in Washington state's Iron Horse State Park. A larger than life-size bronze statue of Wayne atop a horse was erected at the corner of La Cienega Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California at the former offices of the Great Western Savings & Loan Corporation, for whom Wayne had made a number of commercials. (The building now houses Larry Flynt Enterprises.)

In the city of Maricopa, Arizona, part of Arizona State Route 347 is named John Wayne Parkway, which runs through the center of town.

On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Wayne into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts.[74]

Celebrations and landmarks

Several celebrations took place on May 26, 2007, the centennial of John Wayne's birth.

At the John Wayne birthplace in Winterset, Iowa, the John Wayne Birthday Centennial Celebration was held on May 25–27, 2007. The celebration included chuck-wagon suppers, concerts by Michael Martin Murphey and Riders in the Sky, a Wild West Revue in the style of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, a Cowboy Symposium with John Wayne co-stars, Gregg Palmer, Ed Faulkner, and Dean Smith, along with Paramount producer A.C. Lyles and costumer Luster Bayless were all there to talk about their friendships with Wayne. They had cavalry and trick horse demonstrations, as well as many of John Wayne's films running at the local theater.

This event also included the groundbreaking for the New John Wayne Birthplace Museum and Learning Center at his birthplace house. Over 30 family members were there, including Melinda Wayne Munoz, Aissa, Ethan and Marisa Wayne. Several grandchildren and great-grandchildren were also present. An old gas station is being torn down to make way for the new museum. This groundbreaking was held with Ethan Wayne at the controls of the equipment.

In 2006, friends of Wayne's and his former Arizona business partner, Louis Johnson, inaugurated the "Louie and the Duke Classics" events benefiting the John Wayne Cancer Foundation[75] and the American Cancer Society.[76][77] The weekend long event each fall in Casa Grande, Arizona includes a golf tournament, an auction of John Wayne memorabilia and a team roping competition.[76]

Missed roles

  • John Wayne desperately wanted the role of "Jimmy Ringo" in the 1950 film The Gunfighter, directed by Henry King, but the role went to Gregory Peck instead. John Wayne's final film, The Shootist (1976), directed by Don Siegel was very similar to The Gunfighter.[22]
  • An urban legend has it that John Wayne was offered the leading role of Matt Dillon in the longtime favorite television show Gunsmoke, but he turned it down, recommending instead James Arness for the role. The only part of this story that is true is that Wayne did indeed recommend Arness for the part. Wayne introduced Arness in a prologue to the first episode of Gunsmoke.[78]
  • Wayne was approached by Mel Brooks to play the part of the Waco Kid in the film Blazing Saddles. After reading the script he said, "I can't be in this picture, it's too dirty ... but I'll be the first in line to see it."[79]
  • He reportedly had initially strongly considered taking the role of Major Reisman in The Dirty Dozen, even asking MGM to make changes to the script to accommodate him. But ultimately, he turned it down to make The Green Berets. The role went to Lee Marvin.
  • Wayne had lobbied to play the lead in Dirty Harry, but Warner Bros. felt that at age 63, he was too old for the role. The role eventually went to Clint Eastwood.
  • Prior to his death, Wayne had bought the film rights to Buddy Atkinson's novel, Beau John, and was in the pre-production stage of the movie when he took ill. The film was a comedy set in Kentucky during the 1920s, and would have co-starred Ron Howard and Hal Linden.

Awards and nominations

Academy Award

Wayne was nominated for three Academy Awards, which are presented annually by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence in the film industry, winning one of them.

Best Actor

The winner for each year is highlighted in yellow.
- 1949 - - 1969 -
Actor Film Actor Film
Broderick Crawford All the King's Men Best Picture Richard Burton Anne of the Thousand Days
Kirk Douglas Champion Dustin Hoffman Midnight Cowboy Best Picture
Gregory Peck Twelve O'Clock High Peter O'Toole Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Richard Todd The Hasty Heart Jon Voight Midnight Cowboy Best Picture
John Wayne Sands of Iwo Jima John Wayne True Grit


- 1960 -
Producer Film
Bernard Smith Elmer Gantry
Jerry Wald Sons and Lovers
John Wayne The Alamo
Billy Wilder The Apartment
Fred Zinnemann The Sundowners

Golden Globe

The Golden Globe Awards are presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to recognize outstanding achievements in the entertainment industry, both domestic and foreign, and to focus wide public attention upon the best in motion pictures and television. Wayne won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in "True Grit".

The Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures is an annual award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Golden Globe Award ceremonies in Hollywood, California. It was named in honor of Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), one of the industry's most successful filmmakers; John Wayne won this particular award in 1966.

See also


  1. ^ Kehr, Dave. "John Wayne News — The New York Times". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  2. ^ a b c Jim Beaver, "John Wayne". Films in Review, Volume 28, Number 5, May 1977, pp. 265–284.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Harris Polls > Johnny Depp is America's Favorite Actor, While Denzel Washington is Number 2". Harris Interactive. 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  5. ^ Madison County, Iowa, birth certificate.
  6. ^ Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson (1995). — John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press. pp. 8-9 — ISBN 9780029238370.
  7. ^ (Years later, after Wayne became an actor, a publicist's error referred to his "real" name as Marion Michael Morrison instead of the correct Marion Mitchell Morrison. This error infected virtually every biography of Wayne until Roberts & Olson uncovered the facts in their biography John Wayne: American, drawing on the draft of Wayne's unfinished autobiography, among other sources.)
  8. ^ Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson (1995). — John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press. pp. 8-10 — ISBN 9780029238370.
  9. ^ Wayne, John, My Kingdom, unfinished draft autobiography, University of Texas Library.
  10. ^ "John Wayne: American". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  11. ^ "Ancestry of John Wayne: Fifth Generation". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  12. ^ Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson (1995). — John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press. p. 37. — ISBN 9780029238370.
  13. ^ a b Munn, Michael (2003). — 'John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth. London: Robson Books. p. 7. — ISBN 0451212444.
  14. ^ Davis, Ronald L. Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. p. 30 ISBN 0806133295.
  15. ^ a b c Biography — Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  16. ^ a b Biography of John Wayne. — Think Quest: Library.
  17. ^ Roberts & Olson, p. 84.
  18. ^ Clooney, Nick (November 2002). The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections on the Screen. New York: Atria Books, a trademark of Simon & Schuster. p. 195. ISBN 0-7434-1043-2. 
  19. ^ Clooney, p. 196.
  20. ^ Peterson, Richard A. (1997). Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity. University of Chicago Press. pp. 84–86. ISBN 0226662845. 
  21. ^ Canutt, Yakima, with Oliver Drake, Stuntman. University of Oklahoma Press, 1997, ISBN 0806129271.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson. John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press, 1995 ISBN 978-0029238370.
  23. ^ Phil Hardy The Encyclopedia of Western Movies, London, Octopus, 1985, ISBN 0706425553
  24. ^ Chuck Anderson. "Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice Polls". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Time magazine, 8 August 1969.
  27. ^ a b Rochman, Sue (Fall 2008). "The Duke's Final Showdown".'sFinalShowdown.aspx. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  28. ^ "Interview: John Wayne". Playboy. Retrieved 2010-08-29. [dead link]
  29. ^ McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. p. 583. 
  30. ^ Warner, Edwin. — "That Troublesome Panama Canal Treaty". — TIME. — October 31, 1977.
  31. ^ Judis, John. — "Kevin Phillips, Ex-Populist: Elite Model". — The New Republic. — (c/o Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) — May 22, 2006.
  32. ^ "John Wayne, Man and Myth". 1995-09-25. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  33. ^ "Reagan Angered John Wayne — New York Times". 1987-03-16. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  34. ^ Montefiore, Sebag (2003). Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. London: George Weidenfeld & Nicholson. ISBN 1842127268.
  35. ^ "Why Stalin loved Tarzan and wanted John Wayne shot". — Daily Telegraph, 6 April 2004.
  36. ^ Roberts & Olson, John Wayne: American, p. 211.
  37. ^ Roberts & Olson, John Wayne: American, p. 212.
  38. ^ Gene Autry, who was also Wayne's age, gave an interview in 1942 that seemed, to later biographers, to chastise Wayne for his refusal to enlist and provide an example for younger actors in Hollywood: "I think the He-men in the movies belong in the Army, Marine, Navy or Air Corps. All of these He-men in the movies realize that right now is the time to get into the service. Every movie cowboy ought to devote time to the Army winning, or to helping win, until the war is over — the same as any other American citizen. The Army needs all the young men it can get, and if I can set a good example for the young men I'll be mighty proud." Source: Wills, Gary, John Wayne's America, pp. 221–223.
  39. ^ Roberts & Olson, p. 220.
  40. ^ a b Roberts & Olson, p. 213.
  41. ^ a b Roberts & Olson, p. 253.
  42. ^ Roberts & Olson, p. 212.
  43. ^ Wayne, Pilar, John Wayne, pp. 43–47.
  44. ^ a b Randy Roberts, James Stuart Olson "John Wayne:America", Richard Warren Lewis p. 580, 1997.
  45. ^ Playboy Magazine Volume 18, issue #5 "John Wayne:The Playboy Interview", Richard Warren Lewis p. 78, May 1971.
  46. ^ "John Wayne — Playboy Interview — Legendary Actor — Westerns". Retrieved 2010-08-29. [dead link]
  47. ^ Playboy Magazine Volume 18, issue #5 "John Wayne:The Playboy Interview", Richard Warren Lewis p. 79, May 1971.
  48. ^ "Playboy Interview: John Wayne". Retrieved October 30, 2010. [dead link]
  49. ^ Oliver Irish. "The Great White Hope climbs back between the ropes". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  50. ^ "LIFE: John Wayne and wife arriving at church for funeral service for actor Gary Cooper". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  51. ^ Olson & Roberts, John Wayne: American, pp. 195–197.
  52. ^ Alphonzo Bell, with Marc L. Weber, The Bel-Air Kid: An Autobiography, Trafford Publishing, 2002, ISBN 978-1-55369-378-9.
  53. ^ "John Wayne". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  54. ^ "Cut to the Chase" by Sam O'Steen. Los Angeles: Michael Wiese Productions (February 2002) ISBN 094118837X, p. 11.
  55. ^ Wills, Gary, John Wayne's America, pp. 90-91.
  56. ^ cited in Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson. John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press, 1995 ISBN 978-0029238370, pp. 47, 54.
  57. ^ "The religion of John Wayne, actor". Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  58. ^ Kerr, David (October 4, 2011). "My granddaddy John Wayne". California Catholic Daily. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  59. ^ Candelaria, Nash. "John Wayne, Person and Personal The love affairs of an American legend" in Hopscotch: A Cultural Review — Volume 2, Number 4, 2001, pp. 2–13, Duke University Press.
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ "Lifetime Risk (Percent) of Being Diagnosed with Cancer by Site and Race/Ethnicity", U.S. National Cancer Institutes
  64. ^ "The Conqueror and Other Bombs". Mother Jones. 1998-06-09. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  65. ^ Sparks, Preston (2009-03-16). "Blast's ties to cancer unclear". Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  66. ^ Bacon, James. — John Wayne: The Last Cowboy. — US Magazine. — (c/o — June 27, 1978.
  67. ^ Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, House of Representatives, 96th Congress, First Session, on H.R. 3767, A Bill to Authorize the President of the United States to Present on Behalf of the Congress a Specially Struck Gold Medal to John Wayne, May 21, 1979, Serial 96-10.
  68. ^ Trivia — The Shootist (1976) — IMDb.
  69. ^ Endres, Stacey and Robert Cushman. Hollywood At Your Feet. Beverly Hills: Pomegranate Press, 1993 ISBN 0-938817-08-6.
  70. ^ "The Nation: Hirohito Winds Up His Grand U.S. Tour". 1975-10-20.,9171,946563,00.html. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  71. ^ "John Wayne Marina". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  72. ^ (2008-09-21). "Exhibitions". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  73. ^ "John Wayne, Knox Martin — Public Art for Public Schools". 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  74. ^ Wayne inducted into California Hall of Fame, California Museum. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  75. ^ "John Wayne Cancer Foundation". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  76. ^ a b Olson, Jim. — "Louie and the Duke Classics 2006". — Grande Living. — October 2006. — (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document).
  77. ^ "News and Events: 2006 Archive". Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  78. ^ Gunsmoke —, 6 August 2007.
  79. ^ Interview: Mel Brooks. Blazing Saddles (DVD). Burbank, California: Warner Brothers Pictures/Warner Home Video, 2004. ISBN 0790757354.

Further reading

  • Baur, Andreas, and Bitterli, Konrad. "Brave Lonesome Cowboy. Der Mythos des Westerns in der Gegenwartskunst oder: John Wayne zum 100. Geburtstag". Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg. Nuremberg 2007 ISBN 978-3-939738-15-2.
  • Roberts, Randy, and James S. Olson. John Wayne: American. New York: Free Press, 1995 ISBN 978-0029238370.
  • Campbell, James T. "Print the Legend: John Wayne and Postwar American Culture". Reviews in American History, Volume 28, Number 3, September 2000, pp. 465–477.
  • Shepherd, Donald, and Robert Slatzer, with Dave Grayson. Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne. New York: Doubleday, 1985 ISBN 0-385-17893-X.
  • Carey, Harry Jr. A Company of Heroes: My Life as an Actor in the John Ford Stock Company. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1994 ISBN 0-8108-2865-0.
  • Clark, Donald & Christopher Anderson. John Wayne's The Alamo: The Making of the Epic Film. New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1995 ISBN 0-8065-1625-9. (pbk.)
  • Eyman, Scott. Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999 ISBN 0-684-81161-8.
  • McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. New York: Grove Press, 1997 ISBN 0-8021-1598-5.
  • Maurice Zolotow., Shooting Star: A Biography of John Wayne. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974 ISBN 0671829696.
  • Jim Beaver, "John Wayne". Films in Review, Volume 28, Number 5, May 1977, pp. 265–284.
  • McGivern, Carolyn. John Wayne: A Giant Shadow. Bracknell, England: Sammon, 2000 ISBN 0-9540031-0-1.
  • Munn, Michael (2004), John Wayne: the man behind the myth, Robson, ISBN 9781861057228 
  • Davis, Ronald L. Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. ISBN 0806133295.
  • Raab, Markus, Beautiful Hearts, Laughers at the World, Bowlers. Worldviews of the Late Western; in: Baur/Bitterli: Brave Lonesome Cowboy. Der Myhos des Westerns in der Gegenwartskunst oder: John Wayne zum 100. Geburtstag, Nuremberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-939738-15-2.

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