Holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts - 142. In all but 11 films he played the leading part.
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 Wayne: Aissa Wayne, Ethan Wayne and Marisa Wayne.
Sons with Josephine: Michael Wayne (producer) (died 2003, age 68) and Patrick Wayne (actor); daughters Toni Wayne (died 2000, age 64) 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 he 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. He also felt that the film portrayed the military in a bad light.
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 album "America: Why I Love Her" became a surprise best-seller and Grammy nominee when it was released in 1973. Reissued on CD in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it became a best-seller all over again.
Pictured on one of four 25¢ US commemorative postage stamps issued on Friday, March 23rd, 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 The Beverly Hillbillies (1962). In episode, The Beverly Hillbillies: The Indians Are Coming (1967). And when asked how he wanted to be paid, his answer, in return, was "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 conference, 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.
He was buried at Pacific View Cemetery in Corona del Mar, California, (a community within 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.
Because his on-screen adventures involved the slaying of a slew of Mexicans, Native Americans and Japanese, he has been called a racist by his critics. They believe this was strengthened by a Playboy Magazine interview in which he suggested that blacks were not yet qualified to hold high public office because "discrimination prevented them from receiving the kind of education a political career requires". Yet all of his three wives were of Latin descent.
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 however support Ronald Reagan's campaigns for governor of California in 1966 and 1970, as well as his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976.
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.
Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued on Thursday, September 9th, 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 Monday, November 13th, 1986.
Although he complained that High Noon (1952) was "un-American", he was gracious enough to collect Gary Cooper's Oscar on his behalf. He was mainly afraid the movie would hurt 'Coop's career. He later teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story his way in Rio Bravo (1959).
He had English, Scots-Irish (Northern Irish), and Irish ancestry.
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
He turned down Gregory Peck's role in Twelve O'Clock High (1949).
Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Brother of Robert E. Morrison.
Addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in 1968.
On Monday, June 11th, 1979, the flame of the Olympic Torch at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, was lit for honoring him, in memory. It remained lit until the funeral four days later, Friday, June 15th, 1979.
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 James 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 Thursday, September 17th, 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 James Bacon went to the hospital to see Wayne, he was told by a nurse that Wayne wasn't having visitors. According to a Monday, June 27th, 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 Tuesday, December 29th, 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 October 19th, Wayne received the news that his 52-year-old brother Robert E. Morrison had lung cancer.
Regretted playing Temujin in The Conqueror (1956) so much that he visibly shuddered whenever anyone mentioned the film's name. He once remarked that the moral of the film was "not to make an ass of yourself trying to play parts you're not suited for."
In 1978, after recovering from open heart surgery, he had a script commissioned for a film called "Beau John" in which he would star with Ron Howard, but due to his declining health it never happened. According to Howard, they saw each other at a function, and Wayne said to him that he had the script and said "It's me and you kid, or it's NOBODY!".
In November 2003 he once again commanded a top-ten spot in the annual Harris Poll asking Americans to name their favorite movie star. No other deceased star has achieved such ranking since Harris began asking the question in 1993. In a 2001 Gallup Poll, Americans selected Wayne as their favorite movie star of all time. He has been in the top-ten of the Harris poll each and every year it has come out, and usually in the top three. He is the only deceased actor to ever appear in this poll.
He made several films early in his career as a "singing" cowboy. His singing voice was supplied by a singer hidden off camera.
In 1971 he displayed a sense of humor when he appeared on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (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.
Of his many film roles, his personal favorite was that of Ethan Edwards from The Searchers (1956). Wayne even went so far as to name his son Ethan after that character.
In 1979, as it became known that Wayne was dying of cancer, Barry Goldwater introduced legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal. Maureen O'Hara and Elizabeth Taylor flew to Washington to give testimony, and signed statements in support of the motion from Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Kirk Douglas, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn were read out. The bill was passed unanimously, and the medal was presented to the Wayne family in the following year.
In 1974, with the Vietnam war still continuing, The Harvard Lampoon invited Wayne to The Harvard Square Theater to award him the "Brass Balls Award" for his "Outstanding machismo and a penchant for punching people". Wayne accepted and arrived riding atop an armored personnel carrier manned by the "Black Knights" of Troop D, Fifth Regiment. Wayne took the stage and ad-libbed his way through a series of derogatory questions with adroitness, displaying an agile wit that completely won over the audience of students.
Although on May 14, 1979, John Wayne's son Michael did arrange a visit to his father by Archbishop Marcos McGrath of Panama, it was not until June 11, 1979, two days before he died, that John Wayne would be baptized (likely conditionally) by Fr. Robert Curtis, UCLA Medical Center chaplain.
Mentioned in many songs, including Jimmy Buffett's "Incommunicado", Tom Lehrer's "Send The Marines", Ray Stevens' "Beside Myself", Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", Queen's "Bicycle Race" and Bruce Dickinson's (of Iron Maiden fame) "Sacred Cowboys".
Along with Charlton Heston, Wayne was offered and turned down the role of Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979), because he felt the film was an insult to World War II veterans, and also due to his own declining health.
Underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate in December 1976.
According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows" (8th Edition, pg. 495), Wayne was the first choice to play Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke (1955), but declined because he did not want to commit to a weekly TV series. He did, however, recommend his friend James Arness for the role, and gave the on-camera introduction in the pilot episode. In reality Wayne was never offered a TV series in the mid-1950s as he was a major movie star.
His performance as Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956) is ranked #87 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
After meeting the late Superman (1978) star Christopher Reeve at the 1979 Academy Awards, Wayne turned to Cary Grant and said, "This is our new man. He's taking over.".
In 1973 Clint Eastwood wrote to Wayne, suggesting they star in a western together. Wayne wrote back an angry response criticizing the revisionist style and violence of Eastwood's latest western, High Plains Drifter (1973). Consequently Eastwood did not reply and no film was made.
His final public appearance was to present the Best Picture Oscar to The Deer Hunter (1978) at The 51st Annual Academy Awards (1979). It was not a film Wayne was fond of, since it presented a very different view of the Vietnam War than his own movie, The Green Berets (1968), had a decade earlier.
He allegedly turned down Dirty Harry (1971) because he felt the role of Harry Callahan was too far removed from his screen image. When he saw the movie he realized it wasn't so different from the roles he had traditionally played, and made two cop dramas of his own, McQ (1974) and Brannigan (1975). Director Don Siegel later commented, "Wayne couldn't have played Harry. He was too old. He was too old to play McQ, which was a poor copy of Bullitt (1968)".
He made three movies with Kirk Douglas, despite the fact that the two men had very different political ideologies. Wayne was a conservative Republican while Douglas was a very liberal Democrat. Wayne criticized Douglas for playing Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956), and publicly criticized him for hiring blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten", to write the screenplay for Spartacus (1960). Douglas later praised Wayne as a true professional who would work with anybody if he felt they were right for the part. The two made three movies together, but avoided discussing politics.
One of the most unusual Oscar moments happened when anti-war liberal Barbra Streisand presented Vietnam war hawk Wayne with his Best Actor Oscar at The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970).
Wayne publicly criticized director Sam Peckinpah for his film The Wild Bunch (1969), which he claimed "destroyed the myth of the Old West".
The inscription on the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to him in 1979 reads, simply, "John Wayne, American."
Although never hailed as a great actor in the classic sense, Wayne was quite accomplished on stage in high school. He even represented Glendale High School in the prestigious 1925 Southern California Shakespeare Competition, performing a passage from "Henry VIII".
Despite being best known as a conservative Republican, Wayne's politics throughout his life were fluid. He later claimed to have considered himself a socialist during his first year of college. As a young actor in Hollywood, he described himself as a liberal, and voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election. In 1938 he attended a fund raiser for a Democratic candidate in New York, but soon afterwards "realized Democrats didn't stand for the same things I did". Henry Fonda believed Wayne called himself a liberal just so he wouldn't fall out with director John Ford, an activist liberal Democrat. It really wasn't until the 1940s that Wayne moved fully to the right on the political spectrum. But even then, he was not always in lockstep with the rest of the conservative movement - a fact that was nonetheless unknown to the public until 1978, when he 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. Carter openly credited Wayne with being a decisive factor in convincing some Republican Senators to support the measure.
According to Michael Munn's "John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth", in 1959, Wayne was personally told by Nikita Khrushchev, when the Soviet Premier was visiting the United States on a goodwill tour, that Joseph Stalin and China's Zedong Mao had each ordered Wayne to be killed. Both dictators had considered Wayne to be a leading icon of American democracy, and thus a symbol of resistance to Communism through his active support for blacklisting in Hollywood, and they believed his death would be a major morale blow to the United States. Khrushchev told Wayne he had rescinded Stalin's order upon his predecessor's demise in March 1953, but Mao supposedly continued to demand Wayne's assassination well into the 1960s.
His performance as Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956) is ranked #23 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
After seeing Wayne's performance in Red River (1948), directed by rival director Howard Hawks, John Ford is quoted as saying, "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act."
During his conservative political speeches in the late 1960s and early 1970s, students opposed to his political stances would often walk out of or boycott university film classes that screened his films.
Returned to Harvard in January 1974, at the height of his political activism, for a celebrity roast of himself. During the ceremony, the head said, "We're not here to make fun of you, we're here to hurt your feelings." Later, Wayne said jokingly, "You know, I accepted this invitation over a wonderful invitation to a Jane Fonda rally.".
Wore a toupee in every film from Wake of the Red Witch (1948) for the rest of his illustrious career. During the filming of The Wings of Eagles (1957) he didn't wear it at all for the latter part of the film, showing the character in later life. Wayne's hairpiece can be seen to fall off during a fight scene in North to Alaska (1960).
Following his retirement from making movies in 1976, Wayne received thousands of letters from fans who accused him of selling out by advertising insurance in television commercials. Wayne responded that the six-figure sum he was offered to star in the advertisements was too good to refuse.
It was no surprise that Wayne would become such an enduring icon. By the early 1970s his contemporaries Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Paul Muni and Gary Cooper were dead. James Cagney and Cary Grant both retired from acting at 62. The careers of other stars declined considerably--both Henry Fonda and James Stewart ended up working on television series that wound up being canceled. Wayne, however, continued to star in movies until 1976, remaining one of the top ten US box-office stars until 1974.
The fact that all three of his wives were Latin-American surprised Hollywood; this was the only "non-American" aspect of his life. "I have never been conscious of going for any particular type," Wayne said in response to a challenge from the press, "it's just a happenstance".
Wayne's westerns were full of action but usually not excessively violent. "Fights with too much violence are dull," claimed Wayne, insisting that the straight-shooting, two-fisted violence in his movies have been "sort of tongue-in-cheek." He described the violence in his films as "lusty and a little humorous," based on his belief that "humor nullifies violence." His conservative taste deplored the increasing latitude given to violence and sex in Hollywood. In the 1960s he launched a campaign against what he termed "Hollywood's bloodstream polluted with perversion and immoral and amoral nuances." Most of his westerns steered clear of graphic violence.
Wayne tried not to make films that exploited sex or violence, deploring the vulgarity and violence in Rosemary's Baby (1968), which he saw and did not like, and A Clockwork Orange (1971) or Last Tango in Paris (1972) which he had no desire to see. He thought Deep Throat (1972) was repulsive - "after all, it's pretty hard to take your daughter to see it." And he refused to believe that Love Story (1970) "sold because the girl went around saying 'shit' all the way through it." Rather, "the American public wanted to see a little romantic story." He took a strong stance against nudity: "No one in any of my pictures will ever be served drinks by a girl with no top to her dress." It was not sex per se he was against. "Don't get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman are concerned, I'm awfully happy there's a thing called sex," he said, "It's an extra something God gave us, but no picture should feature the word in an unclear manner." He therefore saw "no reason why it shouldn't be in pictures," but it had to be "healthy, lusty sex."
During a visit to London in January 1974 to appear on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969) and Parkinson (1971), Wayne caught pneumonia. For a 66-year-old man with one lung this was very serious, and eventually he was coughing so hard that he damaged a valve in his heart. This problem went undetected until March 1978, when he underwent emergency open heart surgery in Boston. Bob Hope delivered a message from the The 50th Annual Academy Awards (1978), saying, "We want you to know Duke, we miss you tonight. We expect you to amble out here in person next year, because there is nobody who can fill John Wayne's boots." According to Loretta Young, that message from Hope made Wayne determined to live long enough to attend the Oscars in 1979.
On Friday, January 12th, 1979, Wayne entered hospital for gall bladder surgery, which turned in a nine and a half hour operation when doctors discovered cancer in his stomach. His entire stomach was removed. On May 2nd, Wayne returned to the hospital, where the cancer was found to have spread to his intestines. He was taken to the 9th floor of the UCLA Medical Center, where President Jimmy Carter visited him, and Queen Elizabeth II sent him a get well card. He went into a coma on Sunday, June 10th, 1979, and died at 5:35 P.M., in the late afternoon the next day, Monday, June 11th, 1979.
Although it has often been written that Wayne was dying of cancer when he made The Shootist (1976), his final film, this is not actually true. Following the removal of his entire left lung in 1964, he was cancer-free for the next 12 years. It wasn't until Christmas 1978 that he fell seriously ill again, and in January of the following year the cancer was found to have returned.
Ranked in the top four box office stars, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars, an astounding 19 times from 1949 to 1972. (Only Clint Eastwood, with 21 appearances in the Top 10 to the Duke's 25, has been in the Top 10, let alone the top four, more times.) He made the top three a dozen times, the top two nine times, and was the #1 box office champ four times (1950, '51, '54 and 1971).
Was named the #1 box office star in North America by Quigley Publications, which has published its annual Top 10 Poll of Money-Making Stars since 1932. In all, the Duke was named to Quigley Publications' annual Top 10 Poll a record 25 times. (Clint Eastwood, with 25 appearances in the Top 10, is #2, and Wayne's contemporary Gary Cooper, with 18 appearances, is tied for #3 with Tom Cruise.) Wayne had the longest ride on the list, first appearing on it in 1949 and making it every year but one (1958) through 1974. In four of those years he was No. 1.
In a 1960 interview Wayne criticized the homosexual themes of Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and They Came to Cordura (1959).
Wayne appeared in a very uncomplimentary light in the Public Enemy song "Fight the Power," from the 1990 album "Fear of a Black Planet". Wayne has frequently come under fire for alleged racist remarks he made about black people and Native American Indians in his infamous Playboy magazine interview from May 1971. He was also criticized by some for supporting Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, after Goldwater had voted against the Civil Rights Act. However; it turned out that Goldwater was not as intolerant as people thought, and was quite progressive in his thinking on integration, but hindsight tends to rule the day.
Wayne denounced the subject of homosexuality in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) as "too disgusting even for discussion"--even though he had not seen it and had no intention of seeing it. "It is too distasteful," he claimed, "to be put on a screen designed to entertain a family, or any member of a decent family." He considered the youth-oriented, anti-establishment film Easy Rider (1969) and Midnight Cowboy (1969), which to his dismay won the Best Picture Oscar in 1970, as "perverted" films. Especially when early in "Midnight Cowboy" Jon Voight dons his newly acquired Western duds and, posing in front of a mirror, utters the only words likely to come to mind at the moment one becomes a cowboy: "John Wayne!" Wayne told Playboy magazine, "Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of these two men in 'Midnight Cowboy', a story about two fags, qualifies as a perverse movie?".
In 1971, owing to the success of Big Jake (1971), he was #1 at the US box office for the last time.
By the early 1960s, 161 of his films had grossed $350 million, and he had been paid as much as $666,000 to make a movie.
Due to his political activism, in 1968 Wayne was asked to be the segregationist Governor of Alabama George Wallace's running mate in that year's presidential election. Wayne's response made headlines: "Wayne Wallace candidates? Wayne SAID 'B------t!'", as if he was shouting to the reporters.
While visiting the troops in Vietnam in June 1966, a bullet struck Wayne's bicycle. Although he was not within 100 yards of it at the time, the newspapers reported he had narrowly escaped death at the hands of a sniper.
In December 1978, just a month before he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, he joined Bob Hope and Johnny Carson in offering his services to speak out publicly against government corruption, poverty, crime and drug abuse.
Producer-director Robert Rossen offered the role of Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949) to Wayne. Rossen sent a copy of the script to Wayne's agent, Charles K. Feldman,who forwarded it to Wayne. After reading the script, Wayne sent it back with an angry letter attached. In it, he told Feldman that before he sent the script to any of his other clients, he should ask them if they wanted to star in a film that "smears the machinery of government for no purpose of humor or enlightenment", that "degrades all relationships", and that is populated by "drunken mothers; conniving fathers; double-crossing sweethearts; bad, bad, rich people; and bad, bad poor people if they want to get ahead." He accused Rossen of wanting to make a movie that threw acid on "the American way of life." If Feldman had such clients, Wayne wrote that the agent should "rush this script . . . to them." Wayne, however, said to the agent that "you can take this script and shove it up Robert Rossen's derriere." Wayne later remarked that "to make Huey Long a wonderful, rough pirate was great, but, according to this picture, everybody was shit except for this weakling intern doctor who was trying to find a place in the world." Broderick Crawford, who had played a supporting role in Wayne's Seven Sinners (1940),eventually got the part of Stark. In a bit of irony, Crawford was Oscar-nominated for the part of Stark and found himself competing against Wayne, who was nominated the same year for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). Crawford won the Best Actor Oscar.
His image was so far-reaching that when Emperor Hirohito visited America in 1975, he asked to meet the veteran star. Wayne was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times as saying, "I must have killed off the entire Japanese army."
Allegedly thrust his Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969) to Richard Burton at the The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970), telling the Welsh actor, "You should have this, not me."
During the Vietnam War he was highly critical of teenagers who went to Europe to dodge the draft, calling them "cowards", "traitors" and "communists".
Despite his numerous alleged anti-gay remarks in interviews over the years,Wayne co-starred with Rock Hudson in The Undefeated (1969), even though he knew of the actor's homosexuality. In this Civil War epic, the champion of political conservatism worked well with and even became good friends with Hudson, Hollywood's gayest (although it wasn't publicly known at the time) leading man.They remained good friends until Wayne's death in 1979.
In 1971 Wayne and James Stewart were traveling to Ronald Reagan's second inauguration as Governor of California when they encountered some anti-war demonstrators with a Vietcong flag. Stewart's stepson Ronald had been killed in Vietnam in 1969. Wayne walked over to speak to the protesters and within minutes the flag had been lowered.
In the final years of his life, with the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the end of the Vietnam War, Wayne's political beliefs appeared to have moderated. He attended the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter on 20 January 1977, and along with his fellow conservative James Stewart he could be seen applauding Jane Fonda at AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Henry Fonda (1978). Later in 1978, Wayne uncharacteristically sided with the Democrats and President Carter against his fellow conservative Republicans over the issue of the Panama Canal, which Wayne believed belonged to the people of Panama and not the United States of America.
Offered Charlton Heston the roles of Jim Bowie and Col. William Travis in The Alamo (1960), saying the young actor would be ideal for either part. Heston declined the offer because he did not want to be directed by Wayne, and because he feared the critical response to the ideologically conservative movie. Wayne intended the epic to be an allegory for America's Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Separated from his wife Pilar Wayne in 1973, though they never divorced. When Louis Johnson, his business partner, sold all of their holdings in Arizona, The 26 Bar Ranch and the Red River Land and Cattle Company, Wayne's children got one half of it, $24,000,000. Pilar had already been taken care of at their separation.
Although media reports suggested he was to attend Elvis Presley's funeral in August 1977, Wayne didn't show up for it. Presley had once been considered for Glen Campbell's role in True Grit (1969). The reason Presley did not appear in the film, was that his manager told Wayne that the only way Presley would appear is for and outrageous sum of money, plus top billing OVER Wayne, so needless to say, those demands were not met.
Re-mortgaged his house in Hollywood in order to finance The Alamo (1960). While the movie was a success internationally, it lost him a great deal of money personally. For the next four years he had to make one film after another, including The Longest Day (1962), for which he was paid $250,000 for four days work. By early 1962 his financial problems were resolved.
Honored with an Army RAH-66 helicopter, named "The Duke". Many people attended the naming ceremony in Washington, DC, on May 12, 1998, including his children and grandchildren, congressmen, the president of the USO Metropolitan Washington, dignitaries and many military personnel. His eldest son Michael Wayne said at the ceremony, "John Wayne loved his country and he loved its traditions".
In 1973 he was honored with the Veterans of Foreign Wars highest award The National Americanism Gold Medal.
Produced and starred in a 1940s radio show about an alcoholic detective titled "Three Sheets to the Wind".
When he was honored with a square at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood the sand used in the cement was brought in from Iwo Jima, in honor of his film Sands of Iwo Jima (1949).
"The Greatest Cowboy Star of All Time" was the caption to a series of comic books dedicated to him. The "John Wayne Adventure Comics" were first published in 1949.
His image appeared on a wide variety of products including: 1950 popcorn trading cards given at theaters, 1951 Camel cigarettes, 1956 playing cards, Whitman's Chocolates and - posthumously - Coors beer. The money collected on the Coors beer cans with his image went to the John Wayne Cancer Institute. One of the most unusual was as a puppet on H.R. Pufnstuf (1969), who also put out a 1970 lunch box with his image among the other puppet characters.
Barry Goldwater visited the set of Stagecoach (1939) during filming. They had a long friendship and in 1964 Wayne helped in Goldwater's presidential campaign.
After his third wife Pilar Wayne left him in 1973, Wayne became (happily) involved with his secretary Pat Stacy for the remaining six years of his life.
Cited as America's favorite movie star in a Harris Poll conducted in 1995.
In his films Wayne often surrounded himself with a group of friends/fellow actors (often unknown names but recognized faces), such as Ward Bond, Jim Hutton, Bruce Cabot, Ben Johnson, Edward Faulkner, Jay C. Flippen, Richard Boone, Chuck Roberson and his son, Patrick Wayne.
Directed most of The Comancheros (1961) because credited director Michael Curtiz was dying of cancer and was often too ill to work. Wayne refused to be credited as a co-director.
Gave the eulogy at the funerals of Ward Bond, John Ford and Howard Hawks.
Had plastic surgery to remove the lines around his eyes in 1969, which left him with black eyes and forced him to wear dark glasses for two weeks. He also had surgery to remove the jowls around his mouth.
Worked with Robert Mitchum's youngest son Christopher Mitchum in three films, Chisum (1970), Rio Lobo (1970) and Big Jake (1971). Wayne had intended on Christopher becoming part of his regular stock company of supporting actors, but fell out with him in 1973 in an argument over politics. Wayne told him, "I didn't know you was a pinko.".
Some of his films during the mid-1950s were less successful, forcing Wayne to work with pop singers in order to attract young audiences. He acted alongside Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo (1959), Frankie Avalon in The Alamo (1960) and Fabian in North to Alaska (1960).
Wayne was buried in secret and the grave went unmarked until 1999, in case Vietnam War protesters desecrated the site. Twenty years after his death he finally received a headstone made of bronze which was engraved with a quotation from his infamous Playboy interview.
Wayne nearly got into a fight with British film critic Barry Norman on two occasions, both times over politics. In November 1963, on the set of Circus World (1964), the two had a serious argument over Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign. Nearly six years later, while Wayne was promoting True Grit (1969), the two nearly came to blows on a train over the Vietnam War. Despite this, Norman wrote favorably of Wayne as an actor in his book "The Hollywood Greats" (1986).
Listed in the 1910 U.S. Census as Marion R. Morrison, living with his parents in Madison, Iowa.
In 1920, lived at 404 N. Isabel Street, Glendale, California, according to U.S. Census.
While filming True Grit (1969), Wayne was trying to keep his weight off with drugs - uppers for the day, downers to sleep at night. Occasionally, he got the pills mixed up, and this led to problems on a The Dean Martin Show (1965) taping in 1969. Instead of taking an upper before leaving for the filming, he took a downer - and was ready to crash by the time he arrived on the set. "I can't do our skit," Wayne reportedly told Martin when it was time to perform. "I'm too doped up. Goddamn, I look half smashed!" Naturally, Martin didn't have a problem with that. "Hell, Duke, people think I do the show that way all the time!" The taping went on as scheduled.
Although he actively supported Ronald Reagan's failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, Wayne paid a visit to the White House as a guest of President Jimmy Carter for his inauguration. "I'm pleased to be present and accounted for in this capital of freedom to witness history as it happens - to watch a common man accept the uncommon responsibility he won 'fair and square' by stating his case to the American people - not by bloodshed, be-headings, and riots at the palace gates. I know I'm a member of the loyal opposition - accent on the loyal. I'd have it no other way.".
Pilar Wayne wrote in her book "My Life with The Duke": "Duke always said family came first, career second, and his interest in politics third. In fact, although he loved the children and me, there were times when we couldn't compete with his career or his devotion to the Republican Party.".
After Ronald Reagan's election as Governor of California in 1966, Wayne was exiting a victory celebration when he was asked by police not to leave the building - a mob of 300 angry anti-war demonstrators were waiting outside. Instead of cowering indoors, Wayne confronted the demonstrators head on. When protesters waved the Viet Cong flag under his nose, Wayne grew impatient. "Please don't do that fellows," Duke warned the assembled. "I've seen too many kids your age wounded or dead because of that flag. So I don't take too kindly to it." The demonstrators persisted, so he chased a group of them down an alley.
In 1975, for the first time since his arrival in Hollywood 47 years earlier, he did not act in any movies. Production began in January of the following year for his last, The Shootist (1976).
In 1967 Wayne wrote to Democratic President Lyndon Johnson requesting military assistance for his pro-war film about Vietnam. Jack Valenti told the President, "Wayne's politics are wrong, but if he makes this film he will be helping us." Wayne got enough firepower to make The Green Berets (1968), which became one of the most controversial movies of all time.
In 1960 Frank Sinatra hired a blacklisted screenwriter, Albert Maltz, to write an anti-war screenplay for a film to be called "The Execution of Private Slovik", based on a William Bradford Huie book about the only US soldier to be executed for desertion during World War II. Wayne, who had actively supported the Joseph McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunts for nearly 20 years, recalled, "When I heard about it, I was so goddamn mad I told a reporter, 'I wonder how Sinatra's crony, Senator John F. Kennedy, feels about Sinatra hiring such a man'. The whole thing became a minefield . . . I heard that Kennedy put pressure on Frank and he had to back down . . . He ended up paying Maltz $75,000 not to write the goddamn thing". The film wasn't made for another 14 years (The Execution of Private Slovik (1974)).
Campaigned for Sam Yorty in the 1969 election for Mayor of Los Angeles.
His great-nephew Tommy Morrison was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.
Announced his intention to campaign for Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election after Goldwater had voted against the Civil Rights Act. Although diagnosed with lung cancer and forced to undergo major surgery in September, Wayne still managed to host a TV special for Goldwater in October.
Directed most of Big Jake (1971) himself because director George Sherman, an old friend from Wayne's days at Republic, was in his mid-60s and ill at the time, and not up to the rigors of directing an action picture in the wilds of Mexico, where much of the film was shot. Wayne refused to take co-director credit.
His TV appearances in the late 1960s showed that Wayne had overcome his indifference to television. In addition to appearing on The Dean Martin Show (1965), The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969), he became a semi-regular visitor to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1967), often good-naturedly spoofing his macho image and even dressing up as The Easter Bunny in a famous 1972 episode.
After he finally won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969) his career declined. Chisum (1970), seemingly having little to do with Wayne, was released to mixed reviews and moderate business. Rio Lobo (1970) received very poor critical reception and proved to be a commercial disappointment. Big Jake (1971), pumped up with graphic action scenes and plenty of humor, made twice as much money as either of the previous two films. However, The Cowboys (1972) struggled to find an audience when first released, despite the fact that it received positive reviews and featured a very different performance from Wayne as an aging cattleman. The Train Robbers (1973) was largely forgettable and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) garnered him his worst reviews since The Conqueror (1956). His attempts to emulate Clint Eastwood as a tough detective were generally ridiculed due to his age, increasing weight and the predictable nature of the plots. McQ (1974) was only a moderate success and Brannigan (1975), although it was a better picture, made even less money. A sequel to True Grit (1969) titled Rooster Cogburn (1975), co-starring Katharine Hepburn, was critically reviled, but managed to be a minor hit. For the first time Wayne gave serious thought to retirement; however, he was able to make one final movie, a stark story of a gunfighter dying of cancer called The Shootist (1976) which, although Wayne received some of the best reviews of his career, struggled to get its money back.
Wayne did not serve during World War II. Knee injuries he received in college kept him from running the distances required by military standards.
Was a member of the conservative John Birch Society.
Campaigned for Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election.
At the Memorial Day finale at Knott's Berry Farm in Anaheim in 1964, Wayne and Rock Hudson flanked Ronald Reagan as the future President led 27,000 Goldwater enthusiasts in a roaring Pledge of Allegiance.
In 1965, after his battle with lung cancer, Wayne moved out of Hollywood to Newport Beach, where he lived until his death 14 years later. His house was demolished after he died.
During the early 1960s Wayne traveled extensively to Panama. During this time, the star reportedly purchased the island of Taborcillo off the main coast of Panama. It was sold by his estate after his death and changed many hands before being opened as a tourist attraction.
Lauren Bacall once recalled that while Wayne hardly knew her husband Humphrey Bogart at all, he was the first to send flowers and good wishes after Bogart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 1956.
Along with Humphrey Bogart, Wayne was regarded as the heaviest smoker in Hollywood, sustaining five packs of unfiltered Camels until his first battle with cancer in 1964. While recovering from losing his lung he began to chew tobacco, and then he started smoking cigars.
He lost the leading role in The Gunfighter (1950) to Gregory Peck because of his refusal to work for Columbia Pictures after Columbia chief Harry Cohn had mistreated him years before as a young contract player (Cohn had heard a rumor, which turned out to be untrue, that Waynel was pursuing a young starlet that Cohn was already having an affair with, and had him blackballed among the other Hollywood studios). Cohn had bought the _"The Gunfighter" project specifically with Wayne in mind for it, 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 refused to bend for. When the Reno Chamber of Commerce named Peck the top western star for 1950 and presented him with the Silver Spurs award, an angry Wayne said, "Well, who the hell decided that you were the best cowboy of the year?". Wayne also reportedly turned down the lead in "Twelve O'Clock High," which also became an iconic part for Peck.
He was badly sunburnt while filming 3 Godfathers (1948) and was briefly hospitalized.
Robert Aldrich, then president of the Directors Guild of America, stated in support of awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Wayne in 1979: "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.".
He regarded Rio Bravo (1959) as the film marking his transition into middle age. At 51 Wayne was starting to get overweight and he believed he was too old to play the romantic lead any more. His last four movies since The Searchers (1956) had been unsuccessful, and he felt the only way to keep audiences coming was to revert to playing "John Wayne" in every film.
Broke his leg while filming Legend of the Lost (1957).
Fittingly, Wayne was buried in Orange County, the most Republican district in the United States. The conservative residents admired Wayne so much that they named their international airport after him. It is about four miles from the cemetery where he is buried.
At one time Wayne was considered for Rock Hudson's role as rancher Bick Benedict in George Stevens's epic western Giant (1956).
He had intended to make a trilogy of films featuring the character Rooster Cogburn, but the third film was canceled after Rooster Cogburn (1975) proved to be only a moderate hit at the box office. The third film was intended to be called "Sometime".
In the mid-1930s Wayne was hired by Columbia Pictures to make several westerns for its "B" unit. Columbia chief Harry Cohn, a married man, soon got the idea that Wayne had made a pass at a Columbia starlet with whom Cohn was having an affair. When he confronted Wayne about it Wayne denied it, but Cohn called up executives at other studios and told them that Wayne would show up for work drunk, was a womanizer and a troublemaker and requested that they not hire him. Wayne didn't work for several months afterward, and when he discovered what Cohn had done, he burst into Cohn's office at Columbia, grabbed him by the neck and threatened to kill him. After he cooled off he told Cohn that "as long as I live, I will never work one day for you or Columbia no matter how much you offer me." Later, after Wayne had become a major star, he received several lucrative film offers from Columbia, including the lead in The Gunfighter (1950), all of which he turned down cold. Even after Cohn died in 1958, Wayne still refused to entertain any offers whatsoever from Columbia Pictures, including several that would have paid him more than a a million dollars.
The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, issued a proclamation making 26 May 2007 "John Wayne Day" in California.
Bought a 135-foot yacht called "The Wild Goose" in 1962. Wayne agreed to make Circus World (1964), a film he hated, just so he could sail the vessel to Europe.
In 1962 he was paid a record $250,000 for four days work on The Longest Day (1962), and in the following year he was paid the same amount for two days work on The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
On 20 August 2007, the Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced that Wayne will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento on 5 December 2007.
After undergoing major lung surgery in 1964, Wayne would sometimes have to use an oxygen mask to breathe for the rest of his life. An oxygen tank was always kept in his trailer on locations. His breathing problems were particularly severe on airplanes, and while filming True Grit (1969) and Rooster Cogburn (1975), due to the high altitude. No photographs were allowed to be taken by the press of the veteran star breathing through an oxygen mask.
Often stated how he wished his first Oscar nomination had been for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) instead of Sands of Iwo Jima (1949).
Ranked #11 in the 100 Most Influential People in the History of the Movies, according to the authors of the Film 100 Web site.
He has 25 appearances in the Top 10 at the US Box Office: 1949-1957 and 1959-1974.
Prior to making The Big Trail (1930), director Raoul Walsh told Wayne to take acting lessons. Wayne duly took three lessons, but gave up when the teacher told him he had no talent.
He was a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Voice actor Peter Cullen based the voice of his most famous character, heroic Autobot leader Optimus Prime from Transformers (2007), on the voice of John Wayne.
In the late 1970s Wayne made a series of commercials for the Great Western Savings Bank in Los Angeles. The day after the first one aired, a man walked into a GW Bank branch in West Hollywood with a suitcase, asked to see the bank manager, and when he was shown to the manager's desk, he opened up the suitcase to reveal $500,000 in cash. He said, "If your bank is good enough for John Wayne, it's good enough for me." He had just closed his business and personal accounts at a rival bank down the street and walked to the GW branch to open accounts there because John Wayne had endorsed it.
Actor and later California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cited Wayne as a role model from his childhood.
On Wednesday, January 25th, 1950, he became the 125th star to put his hand and footprints outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
His Oscar win for True Grit (1969) was widely seen as more of a lifetime achievement award, since his performance had been criticized as over-the-top and hammy. In his Reader's Digest article on Wayne from October 1979, Ronald Reagan wrote that the award was both in recognition of his whole career, and to make up for him not receiving nominations for Red River (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Searchers (1956).
The Shootist (1976) is widely considered the best final film by any major star, rivaled only by Clark Gable's role in The Misfits (1961) and Henry Fonda's role in On Golden Pond (1981).
During his career his movies grossed an estimated half a billion dollars worldwide.
Spoilers: Of the near 200 films Wayne made, he died in only eight: Reap the Wild Wind (1942) (octopus attack), The Fighting Seabees (1944) (gunshot/explosion), Wake of the Red Witch (1948) (drowning), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) (gunshot wounds), The Alamo (1960) (lance/explosion), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) (natural causes), The Cowboys (1972) (gunshot wounds) and The Shootist (1976) (shotgun wounds). His fate in The Sea Chase (1955) is undetermined - he may have died when his ship sank, or he (and Lana Turner) may have made it to shore.
His father died of a heart attack in March 1937.
He very much wanted the role of Wild Bill Hickok in The Plainsman (1936), which he felt certain would make him a star, but director Cecil B. DeMille wanted Gary Cooper instead.
Michael Caine recalled in his 1992 autobiography "What's It All About?" that Wayne gave him two pieces of advice when they first met in Hollywood early in 1967. Firstly, on acting, Wayne told him, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't talk too much." Then Wayne added, "And never wear suede shoes. One time I was taking a piss when a guy next to me turned round and said, 'John Wayne!', and pissed all over my shoes.".
His first wife Josephine Alicia Saenz died of cancer in 2003, at the age of 94.
Actors Steve McQueen, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris all cited Wayne as a huge influence on them, both professionally and personally. Like Wayne, each man rose to fame playing men of heroic action. Also, like Wayne, each man is a supporter of conservative causes and the Republican party, the exception being McQueen who, although a lifelong Republican, died in 1980.
Gave Sammy Davis Jr. the first cowboy hat he ever wore in a film.
After leaving the stage, during 1979's Academy Awards ceremony, he was greeted by his old pal Sammy Davis Jr., who gave him a big bear hug. Davis later told a friend he regretted hugging Wayne so hard in his fragile condition, but he was told that "Duke Wouldn't have missed that hug for anything" (the idea of the 125-pound Davis worrying about hugging him "too hard" was a sad commentary on Wayne's failing health).
Wayne was asked to be the running mate for Alabama Governor George Wallace, who was running for the US presidency on a segregationist ticket in 1968, but Wayne vehemently rejected the offer and actively campaigned for Richard Nixon. He addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in August 1968.
In his later years Wayne lived near Newport Beach, just south of Los Angeles, where he had a beach house and a yacht, "The Wild Goose". His house has been torn down, but The Wild Goose sails on. It's now a tour boat offering dinner cruises to Wayne fans young and old alike. Originally a decommissioned Navy minesweeper, it was rebuilt and customized by Wayne as a yacht; the custom interior has polished wood almost everywhere you look. It was there that in his later years he often entertained, hosting card games with his good friends Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and other name stars of the time.
On Monday, May 18th, 1953, during divorce proceedings from his second wife Esperanza Baur, Wayne's annual gross income was publicly revealed to be $502,891.
Visited Stepin Fetchit in hospital in 1976 after the actor had suffered a stroke which ended his career.
He considered Maureen O'Hara one of his best friends; over the years he was more open to her than anyone. When asked about her he always replied, "The greatest guy I ever knew." They were friends for 39 years, from 1940 until his death in 1979. Today she is considered by many to be his best leading lady; they starred in five films together. She referred to a wing in her home as the "John Wayne Wing".
Great Western Savings erected a bronze statue by Harry Jackson of Wayne on a horse at its headquarters in Beverly Hills. Although the building was later bought by Larry Flynt, the statue still stands at its original location.
He appeared in at least one film for every year from 1926-76, a record of 51 consecutive years. He did not act in a movie in 1975, though both Brannigan (1975) and Rooster Cogburn (1975) were released in that year.
Aa a young man, Ethan Wayne was never allowed to leave the house without carrying cards that his father had autographed to hand out to fans.
According to Mel Brooks in his commentary of Blazing Saddles (1974), he wanted Wayne as The Waco Kid. Wayne told Brooks that he thought the script was "funny as hell", but said it was "too dirty," and his fans would never accept him in the role. He also said he would do anything he could to help him get the picture made, and be the first in line to see it when it came out.
In 1959 he was considered for the role of the sergeant in a film that director Samuel Fuller wanted to make about his war experiences, "The Big Red One". When the film was finally made in 1980, The Big Red One (1980), the role went to Lee Marvin after Fuller asked that Wayne be replaced so as not to overshadow his film's story.
In the DVD documentary for 1941 (1979), Steven Spielberg says he first met Wayne at the memorial service for Joan Crawford. The two became friends and Spielberg offered the role of Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell to Wayne. He sent Wayne the script and got a call back the same day, criticizing Spielberg for making a film that Wayne felt was anti-American. The two remained friends and never discussed the film again. Spielberg says that later on Wayne pitched him a script idea about a camel race in Morocco starring Wayne and long-time friend and co-star Maureen O'Hara. Spielberg says it sounded like a good idea. However, Wayne later passed away and the film was never made.
Longtime friend of Harry Morgan.
Was a Boy Scout.
Was the acting mentor to actor James Arness.
In April 2014, he was honored as Turner Classic Movie's Star of the Month.
When wife Chata charged that Wayne had an affair with Gail Russell in their divorce proceedings, the actor countered that Nicky Hilton Rothschild had become a constant house-guest of Chata's.
In response to the Californian senate voting against celebrating May 26 as "John Wayne Day" in 2016, the state of Texas declared that it would celebrate "John Wayne Day".
Wayne's name consistently came up over the years for proposals that he portray WWII General George S. Patton. Through the 1950's studios proposed films about Patton, but Patton's family objected to such projects and objected to Wayne specifically. In the mid 1960's he was director 'Michael Anderson''s choice to play Patton in a Columbia Pictures epic, "16th of December: The Battle of the Bulge", which had the blessing of Eisenhower and the Defence Department, but the project was abandoned after Warner Brothers appropriated the title Battle of the Bulge (1965) for a generic war film with Henry Fonda. Finally Wayne was considered in the role for Patton (1970) ultimately played by George C. Scott, turning it down at one point, a decision he reportedly later regretted.
Is portrayed by David James Elliott in Trumbo (2015).
Often billed as 6'4", although Wayne said his exact height was 6'3 3/4".
Shortly before he began filming Legend of the Lost (1957) Wayne was devastated when the US government sided with the Soviet Union during the Suez Crisis, and took no action in response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Wayne believed Richard Nixon learned from the mistakes of November 1956 to correctly handle the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
In 2014 Marc Eliot's book "American Titan: Searching for John Wayne" alleged that Wayne deliberately avoided enlisting in the armed forces during World War II because he was afraid it would end the affair he was having with Marlene Dietrich. He also feared military service might end his career as he would be too old to be "an action-oriented leading man".
According to the families of John Wayne, legendary directory John Ford, and Harry Carey Jr., Wayne's iconic "rolling walk" was developed during the filming of the classic Stagecoach (1939) by Duke and character actor Paul Fix, Carey's father-in-law (who wasn't in the film). This walk helped set Wayne apart from everyone else, and gave him more of an "edge" over other male actors of the day.
He appeared as a guest on the second episode of The Dean Martin Show (1965).
In 1960 he publicly condemned Frank Sinatra for trying to make a film version of "The Execution of Private Slovik" to be written by the blacklisted screenwriter Albert Maltz. Sinatra was forced to abandon the project after pressure from John F. Kennedy, whose presidential campaign he was actively supporting.
One of the referendum issues on the California ballot in the 1972 elections was a proposition that would have rigidly codified public obscenity laws, encouraging arrests of pornography peddlers. Wayne, and nearly two thirds of California's voters, found the proposition repressive and untenable. In a radio commercial he told voters, "You don't get rid of a bad situation with a badly written law, or cut off a foot to cure a sore toe.".
He separated from his third wife Pilar in 1967 while he was filming The Green Berets (1968). However they did not publicly announce their separation until 1973.
Plans to declare 26 May as John Wayne Day in California were rejected in April 2016 over allegedly racist comments the actor made in his May 1971 interview with "Playboy" magazine. In a State Assembly vote several legislators objected to having a day commemorating his birthday due to his "disturbing views towards race". The resolution was lost by 36-19 votes.
Publicly condemned the UK for sitting out the Vietnam War.
He paid a visited to Burt Lancaster on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands where they were filming The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977). There on the set Wayne met Exotic Animal Trainers Ralph Helfer and his wife Toni Helfer where two of their black Leopards bred and gave birth on location.
He has appeared in seven movies that have been selected by the Library Of Congress for the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant. Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), How the West Was Won (1962), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
He turned down the lead role in MacArthur (1977) that went to Gregory Peck.
He was offered Kirk Douglas' role in The Big Sky (1952), but he was unavailable.
He was considered for the role of James Averill in Heaven's Gate (1980) that went to Kris Kristofferson.
He was considered for James Stewart's role in John Ford's Two Rode Together (1961), but was unavailable.
He was the original choice for the role of Captain Jonathan Clarke in The World in His Arms (1952) that went to Gregory Peck.
He was going to star opposite Gary Cooper in Ride the High Country (1962), but Cooper's death put an end to it.
He was considered for Laurence Olivier's role in The Betsy (1978).
He was considered for the role of Dusty Rivers in North West Mounted Police (1940) that went to Gary Cooper.
He was the original choice for the role of Lewton 'Lewt' McCanles in Duel in the Sun (1946) that went to Gregory Peck.
He wanted to star as Wild Bill Hickok in The Plainsman (1936), as he was sure that it would make him a star. But Cecil B. DeMille chose Gary Cooper instead.
He turned down the cameo role of a cavalry officer in Around the World in Eighty Days (1956).
He turned down Randolph Scott's role in Seven Men from Now (1956) in order to star in The Searchers (1956).
He was considered for Humphrey Bogart's role in The Left Hand of God (1955).
He was considered for the role of George Gipp in Knute Rockne All American (1940) that went to Ronald Reagan.
He was initially going to star opposite Warren Beatty in There Was a Crooked Man... (1970).
He was considered for Charlton Heston's role in Planet of the Apes (1968).
He was considered for Richard Widmark's role in Death of a Gunfighter (1969).
He was originally cast in Welcome to L.A. (1976), but due to budget overruns and delays, he had to be replaced by Denver Pyle.
He was the original choice for the lead role in Vera Cruz (1954) that went to Gary Cooper.
He was offered the role of Sam Colton in Plainsman and the Lady (1946), but he didn't like the script--and didn't want to work with Vera Ralston again--and refused it. It was then given to Bill Elliott.
John Ford originally wanted him to star in The Long Gray Line (1955), but he was unavailable. The role went to Tyrone Power.
He was considered for Robert Mitchum's role in Young Billy Young (1969).
He was originally considered for Lee Marvin's role in Monte Walsh (1970).
He turned down Anthony Quinn's role in Across 110th Street (1972).
He was a vocal supporter of extending the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and invading eastern Europe to drive out the occupying Soviets.
He refused to make westerns outside the United States, even though many westerns were filmed in Italy and Spain, and later Israel.
Edward Asner accused him of being anti-Semitic when they made El Dorado (1967).
He said he became a committed anti-Communist after reading about the Russian Revolution.