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John Wayne lost his fortune twice, both times in a way you could lose, too – My Blog

If all-powerful movie star John Wayne can lose his life savings not once but twice to people he trusted, what chance do you have?In a Watchdog tradition, every December I profile a prominent American who got snookered, looking for clues to how to make sure the same financial tragedy doesn’t happen to us.I started in 2019 with my personal hero, Benjamin Franklin, who as a 19-year-old printer believed a British governor’s promises to set him up in a London print shop. Franklin never got a penny.

In 2020, I wanted to know if circus master P.T. Barnum actually said a sucker is born every minute. Turns out a competitor said that about him. Barnum said a customer is born every minute. Barnum lost half a million dollars in a failed clock factory scam. He filed for bankruptcy.
Last year, I studied the life of Dallas founder John Neely Bryan, Dallas’ first known white resident who also served as the town’s chief promoter. He didn’t get scammed. No, he did the scamming. He promoted Dallas as a great city to come and stay, but when travelers arrived they were stunned to see two small log cabins and a population of about 12. To lessen the sting, he offered every visitor free whiskey, bear meat and honey.Manager for the starsJohn Wayne’s final financial unraveling began with a 1965 shopping trip to the Neiman-Marcus store in Dallas. But I’ll get to that.
Let’s start during World War II when Wayne hired Bo Roos to be his business manager.“With his hair slicked straight back, his mouth full of straight white teeth and his perfect tan, Roos was pure Hollywood,” write Randy Roberts and James S. Olson in their book John Wayne: American, which served as the basis for this story.

The husky blue-eyed man whose name was pronounced Boo was quick to smile and make a new friend. He gave off the aura of a European aristocrat. His car contained one of the very first mobile phones.His clients included stars Joan Crawford, the Andrews Sisters and Marlene Dietrich, who recommended him. They were friends who drank together, went fishing and hunting and swapped stories. Wayne assumed Bo would protect his millions, maybe even make it grow.
Bo once said, “I’ve been called a gambler. … I’m only good for the client who wants action for his money.”John Wayne may have been great as a Hollywood cowboy, but when it came to his money, he...

John Wayne may have been great as a Hollywood cowboy, but when it came to his money, he couldn’t shoot straight. Here he is in True Grit, for which he won an Academy Award.(Archives / AP)
Wayne first figured something was wrong when one of the investments Bo made for him attracted a slew of bounced checks and foreclosure notices. Wayne chewed him out, and Bo promised to improve Wayne’s cash flow.The losses didn’t stop. Bo invested $700,000 in Panama. Wayne lost it plus a million more in that scheme.As a major film star in the 1950s, he was broke. He found out when he and his wife ran up a $3,500 bill at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. He told the clerk to charge it to Bo.Three months later Wayne got an overdue notice.“Bo!” he shouted, but it sounded like Boo. “Could you please pay the bill? I look like a [blankety] deadbeat.”He sent his trusted secretary, Mary St. John, to Bo’s office, to check on his portfolio.“Roos tried to stall her,” the authors write, insisting she come back at a more convenient time. But Mary was tenacious, demanding access to the file. When she saw it she was shocked. It was almost empty.A few days later Wayne met with him and asked, “Bo, exactly how much money do I have?”“Well Duke,” he said, using Wayne’s nickname, “not a great deal of cash.”“Just tell me how much money I could raise if I had to.”“That’ll take a couple of weeks,” Bo said.When they met again, Bo still couldn’t answer.Wayne slammed his fist on Bo’s desk and shouted, “I’ve given you a [blankety blank] fortune over the years. It’s a simple question.”Without looking him in the eye, Bo confessed. “It’s all gone.”Accountants who later checked the books declared that Bo didn’t steal it. He lost it through “gross mismanagement.”Wayne wasn’t the only one. Like Wayne, Red Skelton didn’t check his financial statements, schedule in-person meetings and personally inspect investments. That was their undoing.An arbitrator advised Wayne not to go to court because the publicity about his don’t-ask-questions style would make him look like a “complete ignoramus.” Plus, Bo was bankrupt, too.“Just forget about it and start all over,” he advised.A second timeWayne wanted a manager whom he could trust. He decided to go with his son-in-law Don LaCava. His job: Invest conservatively and don’t lose money.On that fateful 1965 trip to Dallas, Wayne, who treasured his annual Neiman-Marcus catalog, spent $30,000 at that store and others.When the bill came, his son-in-law chewed him out: “How could you spend so much money? You don’t have this kind of money in the bank. How am I supposed to pay these bills?”Wayne reminded he had given him millions. “There better well be money in the bank to pay these bills.”LaCava had invested in bad real estate, dry oil wells and more.Wayne fired him.It was getting to be a thing.Bo’s 1973 obituary in The New York Times mentioned “his cold blue eyes and pencil mustache,” but not that he lost his clients millions. Although there was a brief mention of ventures “not all of which were successful.”With both men, the No. 1 movie star didn’t check his financial statements, schedule in person meetings and personally inspect investments. Do you?John Wayne made about 200 movies, and he was usually paid handsomely. But he didn't watch...John Wayne made about 200 movies, and he was usually paid handsomely. But he didn’t watch his money managers like a hawk, and they left him with birdseed.(Archives / AP)

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‘It Was a Pretty Miserable Experience’ – My Blog

John Wayne has worked in a wide variety of filming locations over the course of his career. However, they didn’t all provide comfortable conditions for the cast and crew. Wayne’s son, Patrick, once noted the “worst” film location of them all, calling one of his dad’s filming locations a “pretty miserable experience.” Nevertheless, he still enjoyed making movies with his father.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, worked with his dad on film locations
'The Green Berets' filming location John Wayne pulling a wagon along

Patrick followed in his father’s acting footsteps. His first roles included uncredited roles at Wayne’s filming locations, which gained him momentum moving forward into bigger roles. Some of these include Rio Grande, The Searchers, The Alamo, and The Quiet Man. However, he later moved more into managing the John Wayne Cancer Institute, which pushes to advance research in the fight against cancer.

Patrick has a wide array of stories from the Wayne filming locations. His father remains one of the most iconic Western actors of all time. Patrick looked up to his dad, but they didn’t always have the best time on the set of the more grueling filming location.
‘The Green Berets’ was the ‘worst’ John Wayne film location for his son, Patrick

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick for Medium about some of the iconic Wayne filming locations. He explained that there was one set, in particular, that he just couldn’t stand.
“That would have to be The Green Berets,” Patrick said. “We were on location at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, which is located about 125 miles west of Atlanta. But it was nothing like Atlanta.”
Patrick continued: “Oh my God, it was pretty dreary. That’s fine but it started raining to the point of where we couldn’t even work. Boy, there was nothing to do except sit there and wait ’til it stopped raining. It was a pretty miserable experience from the weather aspect at that time [filming commenced on August 9, 1967]. It was past the worst part of the summer, so the humidity wasn’t that bad.”
Wayne’s difficult conditions on the Green Berets filming location makes sense for the movie’s story. It follows Col. Mike Kirby (Wayne), who selects two teams of Green Berets for a specific mission in South Vietnam. They must build and run a camp that the enemy seeks to capture, but that isn’t all. They must also kidnap a North Vietnamese General behind enemy lines.
‘The Green Berets’ is a controversial war movie

The Green Berets succeeded at the box office, but critics found the film incredibly controversial. They slammed the film for being heavy-handed and predictable. However, its war politics particularly upset a lot of critics. Nevertheless, The Green Berets easily sold tickets to audiences, making it a financial success.
Wayne went through some rough conditions on the filming location, but it proved to be worth his time. Despite its politics, the film made the legendary actor a large sum of money and remains a well-known war picture. It was also an opportunity for Patrick to work with his father on another film.

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Ann-Margret’s precious memories of ‘teddy bear’ Duke on The Train Robbers – My Blog

JOHN WAYNE was “slightly infirm” on The Train Robbers but tenaciously pushed through filming despite two fractured ribs, balance issues and a daily lie down, according to co-star Rod Taylor. Ann-Margret remembers Duke appearing strong despite his declining health and admitted the Western star “gave me the confidence I lacked”.

By the 1970s, John Wayne was coming towards the end of his career as a Hollywood star. In 1973, aged 65-years-old, he had been living with one lung for the best part of 10 years and was suffering from emphysema on the remaining one. That year he released two Westerns which aren’t remembered as his best but saw the ageing icon carry on with much determination. One of the films was The Train Robbers, which co-starred Ann-Margret and Rod Taylor.
The Train Robbers saw Ann-Margret’s feisty widow work alongside three cowboys in recovering a cage of gold that was stolen by her late husband.
Before shooting started, Wayne had fractured two of his ribs, which was so painful he struggled to sleep at night.

This meant that his action scenes had to be scaled down and co-star Taylor remembered Duke being “slightly” infirm during the shoot.
The Time Machine star said the Western legend had trouble with his balance and understandably needed afternoon naps.
train robbers cast

Despite his health problems on the movie, Wayne refused to delay filming and strived forwards.
Ann-Margret had fond memories of her co-star’s tenacity, recalling: “Duke was still a strong, rugged, formidable man, larger-than-life and incredibly personal. He was a big teddy bear, and we got along famously. Duke gave me the confidence I lacked.”
The Viva Las Vegas star appreciated this given that 1972 had been a very difficult time in her life, having been seriously injured when performing in her Lake Tahoe show.
john and ann
Ann-Margret felt John Wayne gave her the confidence boost she needed (Image: GETTY)
train robbers poster
The Train Robbers poster (Image: GETTY)
In terms of the confidence boost she needed, the actress had to overcome her fear of horses as there was much riding needed for her character. It was here that Wayne gave her the support she needed.
The Train Robbers had average reviews and later Quentin Tarantino would comment the film was “so light it’s barely a movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amusing.”
Wayne also released Cahill: US Marshall in 1973, which saw a significantly weakened Wayne having to use a stepladder to climb onto a horse.
That year also marked the death of his most famous collaborator, the director John Ford.
Upon news of the filmmakers’ death that August, Wayne told journalists: “I’m pretty much living on borrowed time.”
Duke would go on to make a couple of better-reviewed Westerns in True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn opposite Katherine Hepburn and The Shootist.
The latter film was his final one and saw him playing a terminally ill gunfighter.
The Hollywood icon himself died of cancer just a couple of years later in 1979.

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John Wayne Snuck An Emotional Tribute Into The Searchers’ Final Scene – My Blog

Celebrity culture has been around since the advent of film. The stars of the silver screen become our heroes, and sometimes they transcend to become almost mythical heroes. John Wayne is one of those actors, a name that instantly floods your mind with specific images and characters. Wayne would become synonymous with the Western genre during Hollywood’s classical film period and defined masculinity through memorable roles such as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” Sheriff John T. Chance in “Rio Bravo,” and Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort in “The Longest Day.”

Because he’s so well known for his iconic tough-guy image, it’s hard to imagine a young Marion Robert Morrison (Wayne’s given name) looking up to a hero. And yet, “The Duke” tipped his hat and secretly told us. A small unscripted gesture in one of his most famous films gave us a glimpse at his softer side and a clue as to just who might have been Wayne’s childhood hero.
It is beautiful in its simplicity
John Wayne standing in doorway

John Ford’s 1956 film “The Searchers” was groundbreaking in how it challenged the racist male heroes of early Westerns. The film stars John Wayne as Ethan Edwards in what many consider Wayne’s most memorable role. Edwards is not a strong, likable hero but rather a bitter, racist loner who is redeemed only in the final moments of the film. Scott Allen Nollen’s book “Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond” describes how Wayne’s unscripted gesture in the final moments of “The Searchers” was an homage to a childhood hero, early Western star Harry Carey. The final shot of the film has Wayne standing in a doorway by himself before turning to ride off alone (presumably into the sunset).
The shot is brilliantly framed and lit by Ford, with the interior of the house dark, emphasizing the solitude of Edwards’ life as he walks away from what little family he has left. Just before turning to leave, Wayne made a familiar gesture that was not in the script. Nollen writes:
“He was to look and then walk away, but just before he turned, he saw Ollie Carey, the widow of his all-time hero, standing behind the camera. It was as natural as taking a breath. Duke raised his left hand, reached across his chest, and grabbed his right arm at the elbow. Harry Carey did that a lot in the movies when Duke was a kid in Glendale, California. He’d spent many a dime just to see that.”It was beautiful in its simplicity, like the scene it occurred in. But the gesture was a nod to much more than Carey himself.
‘One of the most resonant gestures in the entire body of Ford’s work’
Harry Carey at saloon
Before Ford’s relationship with John Wayne, there was Harry Carey. To put it in a modern context, it was like Martin Scorsese collaborating with Robert De Niro before his work with Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Mostly Westerns, the pair collaborated on more than two dozen films, and Ford said that he learned a lot about the industry with Carey as his tutor. It was during these early days of the Western where Carey would develop his iconic arm pose where he grabs his right arm with his left hand at the elbow. The gesture would permeate throughout Ford’s films by other actors.
The pose can be seen at the 1:09:30 mark of Ford’s 1917 film “Straight Shooting.”

After Carey died in 1947, Ford would continue to cast Carey family members including Harry Carey, Jr. Both Harry Jr. and Carey’s widow Olive appeared in “The Searchers.” And though the brief gesture might have been inspired by Carey’s widow, it was felt far beyond the Carey family. As Nollen notes:
“Joseph McBride referred to Wayne’s spontaneous, profound re-creation in ‘The Searchers’ as ‘one of the most resonant gestures in the entire body of Ford’s work, a gesture movingly encapsulating whole lifetimes of shared tradition.’”It turns out the rough, tough cowboy John Wayne did indeed have a hero. He also showed his soft side in paying tribute to Carey, his family, and the Western icons that came before him.

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