1965 publicity portrait
|Born||Marion Robert Morrison
May 26, 1907
Winterset, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||June 11, 1979
Los Angeles, California
Cause of death
|Other names||Marion Mitchell Morrison
|Education||Glendale High School|
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer|
|Home town||Glendale, California|
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. An Academy Award-winner, Wayne was among the top box office draws for three decades. An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.
Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, but his family relocated to the greater Los Angeles area when he was nine years old. He found work at local film studios when he lost his football scholarship to USC as a result of a bodysurfing accident. Initially working for the Fox Film Corporation, he mostly appeared in small bit parts. His first leading role came in the widescreen epic The Big Trail (1930), which led to leading roles in numerous films throughout the 1930s, many of them in the western genre. His career rose to further heights in 1939, with John Ford's Stagecoach making him an instant superstar. Wayne would go on to star in 142 pictures.
Among his better-known later films are The Quiet Man (1952), in which he is an Irish-American in love with a fiery spinster played by Maureen O'Hara; The Searchers (1956), in which he plays a Civil War veteran whose young niece (Natalie Wood) is abducted by a tribe of Comanches in an Indian raid; Rio Bravo (1959), playing a sheriff with Dean Martin; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), portraying a rancher competing with Eastern lawyer (James Stewart) for a woman's hand in marriage; True Grit (1969), as a humorous U.S. Marshal who sets out to avenge a man's death in the role that won Wayne his Academy Award; and The Shootist (1976), his final screen performance, in which he plays an aging gunfighter battling cancer.
Wayne moved to Orange County, California, in the 1960s, and was a prominent Republican in Hollywood, supporting anti-communist positions. He died of stomach cancer in 1979. In June 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne 13th among the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Film career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Missed roles
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 Filmography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907 at 224 South Second Street in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. 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's ancestry included Scottish, Scots-Irish, Irish, and English. He was brought up as a Presbyterian.
Wayne's family moved to Palmdale, California, and then in 1916 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. He preferred "Duke" to "Marion", and the name stuck for the rest of his life.
Wayne attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale. As a teen, he 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 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.:30 Wayne also played on the USC football team under coach Howard Jones. A broken collarbone injury curtailed his athletic career; Wayne later noted he was too terrified of Jones's reaction to reveal the actual cause of his injury, a bodysurfing accident. He lost his athletic scholarship and, without funds, had to leave the university.
Wayne began working at the local film studios. Prolific silent western film star Tom Mix found Wayne a summer job in the prop department, as a favor to Southern Cal football coach Howard Jones, who, in the past, had given Mix USC 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 he had a minor, uncredited role as a guard in the 1926 film Bardelys the Magnificent. Wayne also 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).
Early career and breakthrough
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 saw him moving studio furniture while working as a prop boy and 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 was not even present for the discussion. 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 the new 70 mm Grandeur film process, using an innovative camera and lenses. 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. Despite being highly regarded by modern critics, the film was considered a huge box office flop at the time.
After the commercial 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 played the lead, with his name over the title, 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. In Riders of Destiny (1933) he became one of the first singing cowboys of film, albeit via dubbing. 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. He and famed stuntman Yakima Canutt developed and perfected stunts and onscreen fisticuffs techniques still used today.
Wayne's breakthrough role came with director John Ford's classic Stagecoach (1939). Because of Wayne's B-movie 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 mainstream star. Cast member Louise Platt credits Ford as saying at the time that Wayne would become the biggest star ever because of his appeal as the archetypal "everyman".
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. 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). He repeatedly wrote John Ford saying he wanted to enlist, on one occasion inquiring whether he could get into Ford's military unit, but consistently kept postponing it until after "he finished just one or two pictures". Wayne did not attempt to prevent his reclassification as 1-A (draft eligible), but Republic Studios was emphatically resistant to losing him; Herbert J. Yates, President of Republic, threatened Wayne with a lawsuit if he walked away from his contract and Republic Pictures intervened in the Selective Service process, requesting Wayne's further deferment.
Wayne toured U.S. bases and hospitals in the South Pacific for three months in 1943 and 1944. By many accounts, Wayne's failure to serve in the military was the most painful experience of his life. His widow later suggested that his patriotism in later decades sprang from guilt, writing: "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."
U.S. National Archives records indicate that Wayne had, in fact, made an application  to serve in the O.S.S., today's equivalent of the C.I.A., and had been accepted within the U.S. Army's allotted billet to the O.S.S. William Donovan, O.S.S. Commander, wrote Wayne a letter informing him of his acceptance in to the Field Photographic Unit, but the letter went to his estranged wife Josephine's home. She never told him about it. 
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. He would appear in more than twenty of John Ford's films throughout the next two decades, 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): the first movie he called someone "Pilgrim".
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. 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.
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.
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).
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. 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.
In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Dirty Harry, Wayne took on the role of gritty detective McQ in the 1974 crime drama. 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.) 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. He appeared in the similar Box Office poll in 1939 and 1940. 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.
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." 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."
Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. He was fluent in Spanish and his three wives, each of Hispanic descent, were Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. He had four children with Josephine: Michael Wayne (November 23, 1934 – April 2, 2003), Mary Antonia "Toni" Wayne LaCava (February 25, 1936 – December 6, 2000), Patrick Wayne (born July 15, 1939), and Melinda Wayne Munoz (born December 3, 1940). He had three more children with Pilar: Aissa Wayne (born March 31, 1956), John Ethan Wayne (born February 22, 1962), and Marisa Wayne (born February 22, 1966).
Several of Wayne's children entered the film and television industry; 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, a claim which both Wayne and Russell denied. 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.
Wayne had several high-profile affairs, including one with Marlene Dietrich that lasted for three years. After his separation from his wife, Pilar, in 1973, Wayne became romantically involved and lived with his former secretary Pat Stacy (1941–1995) until his death in 1979. She published a biography of her life with him in 1983, titled Duke: A Love Story.
Wayne's hair began thinning in the 1940s, and he started wearing a hairpiece by the end of that decade. He was occasionally seen in public without the hairpiece (notably, according to Life magazine, at Gary Cooper's funeral). During a widely noted appearance at Harvard University, Wayne was asked by a student, "Where did you get that phony hair?" He responded, "It's not phony. It's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real."
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.'"
Wayne biographer Michael Munn chronicled Wayne's drinking habits. According to Sam O'Steen's memoir, Cut to the Chase, studio directors knew to shoot Wayne's scenes before noon, because by afternoon he "was a mean drunk". He had been a chain-smoker of cigarettes since young adulthood and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964. He underwent successful surgery to remove his entire left lung and four ribs. Despite efforts by his business associates to prevent him from going public with his illness for fear that 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. Wayne has been credited with coining the term The Big C as a euphemism for cancer.
Wayne's height has been perennially described as at least 6 ft 4 in (193 cm). He was a Freemason, a Master Mason in Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 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. During the early 1960s, John Wayne traveled extensively to Panama, during which he purchased the island of Taborcillo off the main coast. It was sold by his estate at his death and changed hands many times before being opened as a tourist attraction.
Throughout most of his life, Wayne was a vocally prominent conservative Republican. Initially a self-described socialist during his college years, he voted for Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election and expressed admiration for Roosevelt's successor, fellow Democratic President Harry S. Truman. 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. 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. Recently declassified Soviet documents reveal that despite being a fan of Wayne's movies, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin contemplated Wayne's assassination as a result of his frequently espoused anti-communist politics.
Wayne supported Vice President Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1960, but 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." He used his iconic star power 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 a May, 1971 interview with Playboy magazine Wayne responded to questions about whether entitlement programs including 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.
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. Instead he supported his friend Ronald Reagan's runs for Governor of California in 1966 and 1970. He was asked to be the running mate for Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968, rejecting the offer and actively campaigned for Richard Nixon; Wayne addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in August 1968. For a while, he was also a member of the anti-communist John Birch Society.
Wayne openly differed with the Republican Party over the issue of the Panama Canal, as he supported the Panama Canal Treaty in the mid-1970s; conservatives had wanted the U.S. to retain full control of the canal, but Wayne believed that the Panamanians had the right to the canal and sided with President Jimmy Carter and the Democrats. Mr. Wayne was a close friend of the late Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos Herrera and Wayne's first wife, Josephine, was a native of Panama. His support of the treaty brought him hate mail for the first time in his life.
An interview of Wayne that was published in Playboy magazine in May 1971 turned into a firestorm of controversy. Wayne made headlines for his resolute opinions about social issues and race relations in the United States. In the same interview he expressed his support for the Vietnam War.
I believe in white supremacy, until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people ... I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from [the Native Americans] ... Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.:289
Although he enrolled in a cancer vaccine study in an attempt to ward off the disease, 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, Newport Beach. 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. He requested that his tombstone read "Feo, Fuerte y Formal", a Spanish epitaph Wayne described as meaning "ugly, strong, and dignified". The grave, which went 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."
Among the cast and crew who filmed the 1956 film The Conqueror on location near St. George, Utah, 91 developed some form of cancer at various times, 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. Many contend that radioactive fallout from these tests contaminated the film location and poisoned the film crew working there. Despite the suggestion that Wayne's 1964 lung cancer and his 1979 stomach cancer resulted from nuclear contamination, he believed his lung cancer to have been a result of his six-pack-a-day cigarette habit.
Awards, celebrations, and landmarks
John Wayne's enduring status as an iconic American was formally recognized by the U.S. government by awarding him the two highest civilian decorations. He was 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 Maureen O'Hara, 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, who said:
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.
On June 9, 1980, Wayne was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President 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.
In 1998, Wayne was posthumously awarded the Naval Heritage Award by the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for his support of the U S Navy and military during his film career.
Various public locations are named in honor of Wayne, including the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, where a nine-foot bronze statue of him stands at the entrance; the John Wayne Marina 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 entitled "John Wayne and the American Frontier"; 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. In the city of Maricopa, Arizona, part of Arizona State Route 347 is named John Wayne Parkway, which runs through the center of town.
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 and the American Cancer Society. 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.
Several celebrations took place on May 26, 2007, the centennial of Wayne's birth. A celebration at the John Wayne birthplace in Winterset, Iowa, 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, and a Cowboy Symposium with Wayne's co-stars, producers, and costumer. Wayne's films ran repetitiously at the local theater. Ground was broken for the New John Wayne Birthplace Museum and Learning Center at a ceremony consisting of over 30 of Wayne's family members, including Melinda Wayne Munoz, Aissa, Ethan and Marisa Wayne. Later that year 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.
Cultural image as an 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, 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. 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.
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 named "John Wayne Pass".
Wayne is the only actor to appear in every edition of the annual Harris Poll of Most Popular Film Actors, and the only actor to appear on the list after his death. Wayne has been in the top ten in this poll for 19 consecutive years, starting in 1994, 15 years after his death.
John Wayne Cancer Foundation
The John Wayne Cancer Foundation was founded in 1985 in honor of John Wayne, after his family granted the use of his name for the continued fight against cancer. The foundation's mission is to "bring courage, strength and grit to the fight against cancer". The foundation provides funds for innovative programs that improve cancer patient care, including research, education, awareness, and support.
Legal problems with Duke University
Newport Beach, California-based John Wayne Enterprises sells products such as Kentucky straight bourbon using Wayne's picture. When the company tried to trademark the image appearing on one of the bottles, Duke University in Durham, North Carolina filed a notice of opposition. According to court documents, Duke has tried three times since 2005 to stop the company from trademarking the name. The company wants a federal judge in Orange County, California to declare that both brands can be allowed. The company's complaint filed in federal court says the university "does not own the word 'Duke' in all contexts for all purposes." The university's official position is not to object if Wayne's image is used, but if the company wants to use the Duke name without Wayne, the university says "we are also committed to protecting the integrity of Duke University's trademarks." Richard Howell, an attorney for John Wayne Enterprises, said the company supports a co-use agreement, though he believed the name "Duke" would be more likely associated with Wayne than with the university.
- 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. Wayne's final film, The Shootist (1976), directed by Don Siegel, was very similar to The Gunfighter.
- Wayne was offered the lead role in the 1952 film High Noon, but turned it down because he felt the film's story was an allegory for blacklisting, which he actively supported. In his Playboy interview from May 1971, Wayne stated he considered High Noon "the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole life" and that he would "never regret having helped run" Carl Foreman (who wrote the screenplay) "out of the country".:142
- An urban legend has it that Wayne was offered the leading role of Matt Dillon in the longtime television show Gunsmoke, but he turned it down, recommending James Arness for the role instead. The only part of this story that is true is that Wayne recommended Arness for the part. Wayne introduced Arness in an on-camera prologue to the first episode of Gunsmoke.
- 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."
- He reportedly had initially strongly considered taking the role of Major Reisman in The Dirty Dozen, even asking Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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.
Awards and nominations
Wayne was nominated for three Academy Awards; twice for best actor—winning in 1969 for his lead role in True Grit—and once for best picture (as he was a producer) for The Alamo.
|The winner for each year is highlighted in yellow.|
|- 1960 -|
|Bernard Smith||Elmer Gantry|
|Jerry Wald||Sons and Lovers|
|John Wayne||The Alamo|
|Billy Wilder||The Apartment|
|Fred Zinnemann||The Sundowners|
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. In 1953, Wayne was awarded the Henrietta Award (a now retired award) for being World Film Favorite: Male.
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. It was named in honor of Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), one of the industry's most successful filmmakers; John Wayne won the award in 1966.
In 1970, Wayne won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in True Grit.
Brass Balls Award
In 1973, The Harvard Lampoon, a satirical paper run by Harvard University students, invited Wayne to receive The Brass Balls Award, created in his "honor", after calling him "the biggest fraud in history". Harvard Square had become a hot bed of leftist intellectualism and protest throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Wayne accepted the invitation as a chance to promote the recently released film McQ, and a Fort Devens Army convoy offered to drive him into the square on an armored personnel carrier. The ceremony was held on January 15, 1974, at the Harvard Square Theater and the award was officially presented in honor of Wayne's "outstanding machismo and penchant for punching people". Although the convoy was met with protests by members of the American Indian Movement and others, some of whom threw snowballs, Wayne received a standing ovation from the audience when he walked onto the stage. An internal investigation was launched into the Army's involvement in the day.
Between 1926 and 1976, Wayne appeared in over 170 motion pictures, and became one of America's biggest box office stars.
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- (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 and Olson uncovered the facts in their biography John Wayne: American, drawing on the draft of Wayne's unfinished autobiography, among other sources.)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Wayne.|
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- Official website
- John Wayne Cancer Foundation
- John Wayne Cancer Institute
- FBI file on John Wayne
- Birthplace of John Wayne official website
- John Wayne at the Internet Movie Database
- John Wayne at the TCM Movie Database
- John Wayne at AllMovie
- "On the Set of The Alamo": Behind-the-scenes footage from the production of the film, from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image
- The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-28A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Photos of John Wayne in 'Stagecoach' by Ned Scott
- John Wayne at Find a Grave