John Wayne

I loved the actor, but I didn’t know the man. I would’ve liked to have known the man, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention when I should have.

I know he was a hawk and a patriot, and I know the only way he served his country was in the war movies he made, but I would like to know more. I read his biography and I have gathered bits and pieces here and there, but I would like to know more: the good and the bad.

His America Why I Love Her never fails to move me and I wear a “John Wayne Bracelet” (Those of you who are true fans will know what that is), I have his movies from 1960 on up except for The High and The Mighty, and he is one of my heroes.

As a youngster growing up in Germany, my Dad always took me to the on-base movies which starred John, and maybe I equate the two, who knows?

Share with me what you know about him, please.



His actual name was Marion.

Yes. Marion Morrison, to be precise.

You asked me to share what I know about him, which is not much. I do have opinions about him, but I don’t know if that’s what you’re after.

He learned to handle a gun when he was a kid. He used to have a job on a ranch shooting rattlesnakes.

He made up the character of “John Wayne”. He didn’t think he could act, so he decided he needed a hook. He came up with the ‘distinctive’ voice, the walk, and the attitude. He used to practice it in front of a mirror.

Early in his career, he made a B-Western movie where he played a singing cowboy, but his voice was dubbed in by a professional.

Bobbitt or Gayce???

Oh, he also died of cancer that was almost certainly contracted on the set of The Conqueror. As a matter of fact, [url=""Cecil wrote a column on it.

Oh, he also died of cancer that was almost certainly contracted on the set of The Conqueror. As a matter of fact, Cecil wrote a column on it.

I forget where I read this (Gary Wills?) but Wayne was a fairly cosmopolitan man and got tired of his spurs-and-Stetson image. Also, he attributed much of his success to a natural sense of body and grace, “moving well” as he put it.


He died on June 11, 1979 – exactly the same day I was born.

Taken from (with great pleasure) The Book of Sheer Manliness (A DAMN good read for men out there)

Man Mixed with Character, John Wayne defines The Guy: Fierce loyalty to his pals, a straight shooter, loved to work, did not suffer fools, a nose extremely sensitive to bullshit, skilled in the arts of riding, shooting, card playing, fishing, boating, drinking, cursing, fighting, smoking. Loved his family, his country, chess, Zane Grey Novels, the desert, well done char-broiled steaks. Attracted and respected by both sexes for his unwavering resolve, his off-hand self-depreciating manner, huge features genuinely larger than life, accessibility, a rascal-like smile and an easy laugh.

Personally, He is the one guy that I would invite to sit and fish with My Father, My deceased Papa, and Me. That says a lot in my book.

Oh and just for fun

Great quotes from the Duke and of the Duke
Marlene Dietrich’s response the first time she saw Wayne:

“Oh Daddy buy me that.”
On God:

“There must be some higher power or how does all this stuff work?”
Being a Man:

“I want to play a real man in all my films and I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either” (TESTIFY DUKE)
On Critics:

“When people say a John Wayne picture got bad reviews, I always wonder if they know its a redundant sentence. Hell, I don’t care. People like my pictures and that’s all that counts”
Wayne’s digust over excessive screen violence was well known. When his makeup man Dave Grayson was asked by director Mark Rydell to apply gorey makeup to the Duke in The Cowboys, he replied

“Look Mark, I can do it if the Duke permits me too, but it will take four makeup men.”

“Why four makeup men?” asked Rydell

“Three are gonna have to hold him down.”
Another time, Wayne showed up particularly drunk to makeup one day, and after bruises and stage blood were liberally splashed on his face and shirt, he turned to Grayson and said sarcastically “For crissakes why don’t you put a little MORE blood on me.”

“I can’t” Grayson replied, “You drank it.”

Well, I just happen to have some of the “bad” you were looking for. Dig in.
He used to hang out alot at the bar that I worked at in Roche Harbor, Wa. He was a complete and utter lush. Six out of seven nights he would have to be either escorted out of the bar for disruptive behavior or he passed out and was carried down the docks to his yacht. They always let him back in, I mean, this is John Wayne we’re talking about. Mind you, this was in his later years. He may have been much more cordial earlier on but by the time he reached Roche time he lived by the “F*ck you! I’m John Wayne!” motto that many others have been known to adopt after several bourbons. :slight_smile:

I cannot verify the truth of the story I am about to relate; I heard it from my brother, who is very knowledgeable about cinema. True or false, it’s too good a story not to tell.

Supposedly one of Wayne’s directors was criticizing him before a retake, saying that the expression on his face in the previous take had not been right for the scene.

Wayne fixed the director with a steely glare and said, “I’ve got two expressions and you’re looking at one of them.”

He was a complete and utter bigot. Pick up his Playboy interview (I have them all on CD but they can’t be printed - I’ll supply a date if anyone is interested) and he says, in no uncertain terms, that black people are incapable of managing their own affairs without being trained to do so by white people.

He was born in Iowa. I think Madison County. If not, then
a county right next to it.

Glenn Ford liked him in “Red River,” although that’s one
Wayne movie Ford didn’t direct. Supposedly after Ford saw
it, he said of Wayne, “I didn’t know the (SOB) could act.”

That would be John Ford (who directed, among other things, My Darling Clemintine). Glenn Ford acted in, among other things, The Blackboard Jungle.

Incredible artice, Danimal. Thanks.

This is just from my own memory but I believe I’d heard Wayne berated Kirk Douglas for appearing weak in some film, saying that the two of them were known as tough guys and that he damn well better act that way. It might have been from Douglas’ portrayal of Vincent in Lust for Life but I’m not positive.

I knew he’d said some rather silly things about Indians in that interview - that America was justified in stealing Indian lands because the settlers needed it - but I didn’t know he’d said anything about blacks. I would be interested in that.

It certainly would be ironic, considering how one of his most famous characters, Tom Doniphan from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, was good friends with Woody Strode’s Pompey and refused to drink at a bar that would not serve Pompey.

Buce Dern once related an anecdote that occurred on the set of “The Cowboys.” Dern’s character, Long Hair, kills Wayne’s character, and Wayne warned Dern that most of middle America would probably hate him for this, to which Dern replied “Yeah, Duke, but they’ll love me at Berkeley.” I may be mistaken, but I believe it was Dern who said of Wayne, “Politics aside, you couldn’t help but love the man.”

Saw an interview on AMC (or somesuch) with Dennis Hopper, who also worked with Wayne (can’t recall the film), and “loved” him, despite Wayne constantly calling him “Pinko.” I think, in the context, Wayne and Hopper saw their name-calling as a form of affection.

Trivia: His screen name was taken from “Mad Anthony Wayne.”

He hated having to wear his hairpiece, and always preferred to keep his hat on (in movie scenes), so he wouldn’t have to wear it.

He longed to play Patton, but studio heads (wisely, in this instance) felt he couldn’t handle the complexities of the role.

It annoyed him that his friend Kirk Douglas would “do little bits of business” in two-shot scenes instead of just standing there trading the dialogue.

Sir Rhosis

<QUOTE>He was a complete and utter bigot. Pick up his Playboy interview (I have them all on CD but they can’t be printed - I’ll supply a date if anyone is interested) and he says, in no uncertain terms, that black people are incapable of managing their own affairs without being trained to do so by white people. </QUOTE>

Taken from Big Book of Manliness:

"Bullshit. It was the result of sloppy speech and some hasty generalization made by interviewer Richard Warren Lewis.

The culprit is Wayne’s notorious May 1971 interview in Playboy. Wayne was openly disgusted with much of the Sixties counterculture revolution and he was often baited by journalists who considered him a establishment dinosaur.

Here is what was said in the interview.

“With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we cannot turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white surpremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”

Taken at face value, there is a big yipes. He sounds racist, practically is saying he is a racist.

Take a look at the man and the life and times he lived and lived in. Wayne was not talking about white supremacy as in hate monger collectives. He would abhor being associated with such people. He was referring in his clumsy way (and yes it was REALLY CLUMSY) was the status quo. Further he was not referring to blacks or anyone else in general were incapable of takin leadership roles in this country. Just the opposite.
He was railing against tokenism which allowed race to enter the evaluative process. He believed passionately in a meritocracy and objected, certainly naively then, to needed programs like affirmitive action. John Wayne’s sin was one of his most endearing qualities- it was his deep faith and belief in the American people to put aside prejudices and, independent of government dictates, do the right thing. The honorable standards by which he lived should be applied to all of us, and his legacy should not be corrupted by one easily misconstrued statement."
Look all I know is the guy was rough and said things that he should have thought about more. He was a man of few words but I know he is not a Bigot.

Woody Strode, one his inner circle of friends even said “Duke has a way about him but I understood what he meant and think people should too.”

I think it was misconstrued. But thats just me