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John Wayne

John Wayne
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John Wayne Biography

His father Clyde was a pharmacist with a lung condition which required him to move wife Mary and son Marion to the warmer climate of southern California where they tried ranching near the Mojave desert. Until the ranch failed he and his younger brother Robert swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. Next the family moved to Glendale where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers, and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne. His first featured film was Men Without Women (1930). After more than 70 low-budget adventures, mostly routine, Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939), the movie through which he emerged as a major star. He appeared in nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions. From 1942-3 he was in a radio series, "The Three Sheets to the Wind", and in 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, later becoming its President. His conservative political stance was also reflected in The Alamo (1960) which he produced, directed and starred in. His patriotic stand was enshrined in The Green Berets (1968) which he co-directed and starred in. In September 1964 he had a cancerous left lung removed; in March 1978 there was heart valve replacement surgery; and in January 1979 his stomach was removed. He received the Best Actor nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and the Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969). A Congressional Gold Medal was struck in his honor in 1979. He is perhaps best remembered for his parts in John Ford's cavalry trilogy - Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950).

John Wayne Awards

YearAwardCategoryForResult
2007 Golden Boot Awards Awarded posthumously.Accepted by his son, Patrick Wayne, on his behalf. Won
1996 Golden Boot Awards Won
1978 People's Choice Awards, USA Favorite Motion Picture Actor Won
1977 People's Choice Awards, USA Favorite Motion Picture Actor Won
1976 People's Choice Awards, USA Favorite Motion Picture Actor Won

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John Wayne Trivia

  • Holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts - 142. In all but 11 films he played the leading part.
  • His appearance on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968) in 1969 showed he had a sense of humor by agreeing to appear in a pink fluffy bunny suit.
  • Ranked #16 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. (October 1997)
  • Born at 1:00pm-CST
  • Children with Pilar: Aissa Wayne, John Ethan Wayne and Marisa Wayne.
  • Sons with Josephine: Michael Wayne (producer) and Patrick Wayne (actor); daughters Toni Wayne and Melinda Wayne.
  • Most published sources refer to Wayne's birth name as Marion Michael Morrison. His birth certificate, however, gives his original name as Marion Robert Morrison. According to Wayne's own statements, after the birth of his younger brother in 1911, his parents named the newborn Robert Emmett and changed Wayne's name from Marion Robert to Marion Michael. It has also been suggested by several of his biographers that Wayne's parents actually changed his birth name from Marion Robert to Marion Mitchell. In "Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne" (1985), Donald Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer state that when Wayne's younger brother was born, "the Duke's middle name was changed from Robert to Mitchell. . . . After he gained celebrity, Duke deliberately confused biographers and others by claiming Michael as his middle name, a claim that had no basis in fact."
  • His production company, Batjac, was originally to be called Batjak, after the shipping company owned by Luther Adler's character in the film Wake of the Red Witch (1948). A secretary's typo while she was drawing up the papers resulted in it being called Batjac, and Wayne, not wanting to hurt her feelings, kept her spelling of it.
  • In the comic Preacher, his ghost appears in several issues, clothed in his traditional gunfighter outfit, as a mentor to the hero of the series, Jesse Custer.
  • Great-uncle of boxer/actor Tommy Morrison, aka "The Duke".
  • An entry in the logbook of director John Ford's yacht "Araner", during a voyage along the Baja peninsula, made a reference to one of Wayne's pranks on Ward Bond: "Caught the first mate [Wayne] pissing in [Ward] Bond's flask this morning - must remember to give him a raise."
  • He and his drinking buddy, actor Ward Bond, frequently played practical jokes on each other. In one incident, Bond bet Wayne that they could stand on opposite sides of a newspaper and Wayne wouldn't be able to hit him. Bond set a sheet of newspaper down in a doorway, Wayne stood on one end, and Bond slammed the door in his face, shouting "Try and hit me now!" Wayne responded by sending his fist through the door, flooring Bond (and winning the bet).
  • His favorite drink was Sauza Commemorativo Tequila, and often served it with ice that he had chipped from an iceberg during one of his voyages on his yacht, "The Wild Goose".
  • He was offered the lead in The Dirty Dozen (1967), but went to star in and direct The Green Berets (1968) instead. The part was eventually given to Lee Marvin.
  • The evening before a shoot he was trying to get some sleep in a Las Vegas hotel. The suite directly below his was that of Frank Sinatra (never a good friend of Wayne), who was having a party. The noise kept Wayne awake, and each time he made a complaining phone call it quieted temporarily but each time eventually grew louder. Wayne at last appeared at Sinatra's door and told Frank to stop the noise. A Sinatra bodyguard of Wayne's size approached saying, "Nobody talks to Mr. Sinatra that way." Wayne looked at the man, turned as though to leave, then backhanded the bodyguard, who fell to the floor, where Wayne knocked him out by crashing a chair on top of him. The party noise stopped.
  • He was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
  • His spoken word RCA Victor album "America: Why I Love Her" became a suprise best-seller, and Grammy nominee, when it was issued in 1973. Re-issued again, in the wake of September 11, 2001, it became a best-seller all over again.
  • Pictured on one of four 25 US commemorative postage stamps issued 23 March 1990 honoring classic films released in 1939. The stamp featured Wayne as The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939). The other films honored were Beau Geste (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939).
  • Upon being cast by Raoul Walsh in Fox's The Big Trail (1930) the studio decided his name had to be changed. Walsh said he was reading a biography on General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and suggested that name. The studio liked the last name but not the first and decided on "John Wayne" as the final rendition.
  • He once made a cameo appearance on "Beverly Hillbillies, The" (1964)_ and when asked how he wanted to be paid, replied, "Give me a fifth of bourbon--that'll square it."
  • In 1973 he was awarded the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation for his days playing football for Glendale High School and USC.
  • Arguably Wayne's worst film, The Conqueror (1956), in which he played Genghis Kahn, was based on a script that director Dick Powell had every intention of throwing into the wastebasket. According to Powell, when he had to leave his office at RKO for a few minutes during a story conferance, he returned to find a very enthused Wayne reading the script, which had been in a pile of possible scripts on Powell's desk, and insisting that this was the movie he wanted to make. As Powell himself summed it up, "Who am I to turn down John Wayne ?"
  • Among his favorite leisure activities were playing bridge, poker, and chess.
  • In 1971 he displayed a sense of humor when he appeared on _"Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour, The" (1969)_ in his usual western screen costume, flashing the peace sign to the show's other guests that week, the then-hot rock band Three Dog Night.
  • He was buried at Pacific View Cemetary in Corona del Mar, California, not far from his hometown of Newport Beach. His grave finally received a plaque in 1999.
  • Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1974.
  • Grandfather of actor Brendan Wayne.
  • Referenced in the Paula Cole song "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" (1996).
  • In a May 1971 Playboy magazine interview, on the subject of blacks making strides towards equality in the U.S., he stated that he believed in "white supremacy" until blacks were educated enough to take a more prominent role in American society.
  • He was voted the 5th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Just on his sheer popularity and his prominent political activism, the Republican party in 1968 supposedly asked him to run for President of the USA, even though he had no previous political experience. He turned them down because he did not believe America would take a movie star running for the President seriously. He did support Ronald Reagan's run for governor of California, though.
  • Wayne was initiated into DeMolay in 1924 at the Glendale Chapter in Glendale California.
  • Received the DeMolay Legion of Honor in 1970.
  • He was a Master Mason. In other words, he was a good man who became a member of the Masonic Fraternity.
  • Pictured on a 37 USA commemorative stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued 9 September 2004. The first-day ceremonies were held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
  • Was a member of the first class to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on November 13th, 1986.
  • Although he complained that High Noon (1952) was "un-American", when he collected Gary Cooper's Oscar on his behalf, he also complained that he wasn't offered the part himself. He later teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story the American way in "Rio Bravo".
  • Increasingly so by the early 1960s, used to wear 3 or 4 inch lifts in his shoes, a practice that mystified friends like Bobby Darin and Robert Mitchum because the Duke stood over 6' 4". It was possibly due to his increasing weight, health problems, and age, and that he wasn't able to loom as tall without lifts.
  • Despite his association with being solely Irish, he was equal parts Scottish, Irish and English.
  • While making The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958), he apparently became so enraged with director John Huston (who was something of a tough guy himself and was nearly as tall as Wayne but not as massive) that he throttled and punched him out. It is unknown what Huston did to earn the beating, but the director was known to have a mean streak. Wayne later re-enacted the incident for Peter Bogdanovich, who was somewhat terrified to be used as a substitute for Huston.
  • He was voted the 4th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
  • Was named the #13 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute
  • Eagerly sought the role of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in Patton (1970), but was turned down by the producer.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Carter in 1980.
  • Shares a birthday with Aaron Michael Lacey and Miles Davis.
  • In 1953, he accepted the Oscar for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" on behalf of Gary Cooper, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony.
  • Brother of Robert E. Morrison.
  • Addressed the Republican National Convention in 1968.
  • On 11 June 1979, the flame of the Olympic Torch at the Coliseum in Los Angeles was lit to honor his memory. It remained lit until the funeral four days later.
  • Maureen O'Hara presented him with the People's Choice Award for most popular motion picture actor in 1976.
  • During the filming of The Undefeated (1969), he fell from his horse and fractured three ribs. He couldn't work for almost two weeks. Then he tore a ligament in his shoulder and couldn't use one arm at all. The director, Andrew V. McLaglen, could only film him from an angle for the rest of the picture. His only concern throughout was not to disappoint his fans, despite being in terrible pain.
  • According to movie industry columnist Jim Bacon, Wayne's producers issued phony press releases when he was hospitalized for cancer surgery in September 1964, claiming the star was being treated for lung congestion. "Those bastards who make pictures only think of the box office," he told Bacon, as recounted in 1979 by the columnist. "They figure Duke Wayne with cancer isn't a good image. I was too doped up at the time to argue with them, but I'm telling you the truth now. You know I never lie." After Bacon broke the story of the Duke's cancer, thousands of cancer victims and their relatives wrote to Wayne saying that his battle against the disease had given them hope.
  • He underwent surgery to have a cancerous left lung removed on 16 September 1964, in a six hour operation. Press releases at the time reported that Wayne was in Los Angeles' Good Samaritan Hospital to be treated for lung congestion. When Hollywood columnist Jim Bacon went to the hospital to see Wayne, he was told by a nurse that Wayne wasn't having visitors. According to a June 27, 1978 "Us" magazine article, Wayne said to his nurse from his room, "Let that son of a bitch come in." When Bacon sat down in his room, Wayne told him, "Well, I licked the Big C." Wayne confessed that his five-packs-a-day cigarette habit had caused a lung tumor the size of a golf ball, necessitating the removal of the entire lung. One day following surgery, Wayne began coughing so violently he ruptured his stitches and damaged delicate tissue. His face and hands began to swell up from a mixture of fluid and air, but the doctors didn't dare operate again so soon. Five days later they drained the fluid and repaired the stitches. On 29 December 1964, Wayne held a press conference at his Encino ranch, against the advice of his agent and advisers, where he announced, "I licked the Big C. I know the man upstairs will pull the plug when he wants to, but I don't want to end my life being sick. I want to go out on two feet, in action." Before he had left the hospital on 19 October, Wayne received the news that his 52-year-old brother Robert had lung cancer.
  • Regretted playing Temujin in The Conqueror so much, he shuddered whenever anyone mentioned the film's name.


John Wayne Photos

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