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John Wayne was as big as he was on the screen and he treated me like his little princess William Holden was very private – My Blog

Constance Towers has led a decadeslong career in Hollywood – and her work is far from over.

While many fans recognize her as vengeful Helena Cassadine on “General Hospital,” the statuesque blonde originally lassoed in fame with two John Ford Westerns, “The Horse Soldiers” (1959) and “Sergeant Rutledge” (1960). In “The Horse Soldiers,” she starred alongside heavy hitters John Wayne and William Holden, whom she still remembers fondly to this day.
Towers, 88, spoke to Fox News about being discovered, working with Wayne and Holden, how she coped with tragedy on set, as well as transforming into a villain.
Fox News: How did you get discovered as an actress?Constance Towers: Oh gosh, that goes way back. I was born in a place called Whitefish, Montana, which is way up in the northwest corner of the state on the Canadian border. My family was all Irish immigrants. I was a first-generation American. They came to the United States through Philadelphia and saw signs that said, “Irish need not apply.” So the only jobs that they could find were railroad jobs. Whitefish was a housing town for the workers. And I was born there.

I had a grandmother who felt it was so important that children learned how to read as early as possible. So I started on my education very early… By the time I was in the first grade, I could read quite well. Two producers came to my little school and asked if there was a child who could act or at least read. I put my hand up. I didn’t know what acting meant, but I could certainly read. They took me outside and in the hallway, I read this little script. I got the part probably because I was the only one who could read it. That started on my path to acting. My parents were wonderfully supportive and they did everything they could to find the best coaches and teachers. I was lucky.
Fox News: You worked with both William Holden and John Wayne. What was your initial impression of them?Towers: That was my second movie, “The Horse Soldiers”… And the director was John Ford, the highly respected and famous Irish director. It was pure luck. I could hardly speak when I first met them. And yet they were both wonderful to me. John Wayne was as big as he was on the screen and he treated me like his little princess. William Holden was very private. But he was also a gentleman and very willing to help a newcomer. I was in total awe of working with these two stars, but they were both just wonderful. They both got along very well with each other too.
Fox News: Is it true that John Ford expected all the actors to be gentlemen and they weren’t allowed to swear in front of the women on set?Towers: True. Women had his total respect. He never used bad language and didn’t expect anyone else to do so either on his set. I don’t think John Wayne would have used it anyway, but he didn’t and neither did William Holden. But John Ford ran a very tight ship. He would stop production at 4 o’clock every day so we could all have tea with cookies. It was so dignified. One day, I asked him, “Why do you stop production? It costs money.” He said, “Ah, I get more work out of everybody because by 4 o’clock everyone is tired. So you get a little sugar and then you’ll get back on that high energy until 6 or 6:30.” There was a method to his madness. But it was a delightful set.
Fox News: There was a tragedy on set involving stuntman Fred Kennedy. What happened?Towers: I was riding sidesaddle and had to do a lot of my stunt work. But the insurance people from the studio always made sure their actors were safe. And so John Ford assigned two wonderful actors and stuntmen to be my protectors. Whenever I was on a horse, I had Slim Hightower on one side and Freddy Kennedy on the other. They were the two cutest men you’d ever seen. They played tricks on me and they just had fun.
Fred had lost his forefinger [in a previous accident]. So he only had up to the big knuckle on his right hand. He would stand behind the camera and have that knuckle up his nose just to make me laugh. They were silly like that. But I had a wonderful relationship with them because they protected me. On the last shot of the film on location, John Ford and John Wayne came to me and said, “Look, we’re not going to call cut. When Freddy does his last fall… you’re going to give him a big kiss on the cheek.”
He was really shy, so it was their way of having fun with him. So Freddy came over the fence and did this fall into the bonfire. I ran in, picked him up and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. But as I did, I felt as if I had a thousand breaking bones in my hands. He had broken his neck. I turned around and said, “He’s dying.” And this is all on film somewhere by the way. We immediately picked him up, put him in the back of a truck and rushed him to the hospital. But by the time we got there he was gone… It was a very traumatic moment. We were all very devastated.
Fox News: How did you all cope at the time?Towers: The company gathered all of these toys and silly
things from the set. We went to the grocery stores and bought staples like lard, sugar, flour, milk and water. We took it to the Black family that had been in the film with us. I remembered there was no flooring in the house. They had a horse, a cow and maybe some chickens. We also gathered enough money to buy them a bell for their little Baptist church. There were crowds of people in town who were upset about us doing this. You had to remember the time this took place. You just didn’t do that for people of color in those days. So our company left in a hurry. But it was a beautiful experience for us together as a group during this very sad time.
Fox News: You later found fame in soap operas thanks to “General Hospital.” How does it feel to play a villain?Towers: The role was originated by Elizabeth Taylor. So when I was offered the part, I went to my drama coach and said, “I don’t know how to do this. I’ve always played the purest heroine.” … But my character is over the top. So I went over the top. And it was so successful. I enjoy her.
ou can’t take her too far. She’s just a delicious, wonderful, evil woman. But no one has ever said to me, “I hate you.” Instead, someone will stop me on the street and say, “I just love to hate you.” I keep experimenting with her because every villain has a weakness somewhere… They killed her four times and yet I keep coming back. It’s fun and the audience loves it. At the moment I’m dead again, but that’s why I could also make a phone call from home and wake up the characters in their nightmares *laughs*.
Fox News: What was the secret behind your lasting marriage with John Gavin?Towers: We really loved each other. For a long time, I was in New York and he was in California. So we commuted before we got married. He had two children, I had two children and we blended our families. And they just love each other. I always recognized his ex-wife and she was fabulous. His children accepted me with no guilt. Just love.
… We also trusted each other. When he was in Mexico, I was performing in Los Angeles. When I was in New York, he was in Los Angeles. And despite being apart by distance, we never had one moment of uncertainty. Every weekend, he would get on a plane and spend time with me and I would do the same. It was a lot of give and take, but we supported each other’s ambitions. He may have left this Earth, but he’s still very much a part of our lives. He was wonderful and such a dream.

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John Wayne’s Son Couldn’t Watch 1 of His Dad’s Movies After His Death – My Blog

John Wayne is a legendary actor who successfully personifies Western movies. He has a very loyal fan base, but some of his critics claim that he plays the same character in every movie. However, Wayne delivered several nuanced performances over the course of his career. His son, Patrick, had difficulty watching one specific movie after his father’s death.

John Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies
Wayne entered the entertainment industry working as an extra, prop man, and a stuntman. He primarily worked for Fox Film Corporation, but ultimately got his first shot with Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail. However, the film was a box office failure. Fortunately, Wayne’s huge success at the movies would later come to be.
Wayne ultimately starred in popular Western and war movies over the course of the 1940s onward. Some of his most notable performances include titles such as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, True Grit, and Sands of Iwo Jima. All together, Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies over the course of his extensive career.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, couldn’t watch ‘The Shootist’ after his dad’s death

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick via Medium to talk about what it was like growing up in the Wayne family. He talked about some personal stories involving his father, as well as the collection of Wayne movies. The interviewer asked him if he had any difficulty revisiting any of his dad’s movies after his death.
“I’d have to say no to that question with the exception of one film, The Shootist,” Patrick said. “I couldn’t watch that Western as it was so close to reality. He played an old gunfighter who was an anachronism dying of cancer.”
Wayne plays J.B. Books in The Shootist, who is an aging gunfighter diagnosed with cancer. He heads into Nevada at the turn of the 20th century. Books rents a room from a widowed woman named Bond Rogers (Lauren Becall) and her son, Gillom (Ron Howard). When people pursue Books with questionable motives, he decides that he isn’t going to die a silent death.
Patrick continued: “Too many of the elements in there were just too close to what actually happened to him in his real life, so that film took me about 10 years to watch again [of course I saw it when it was originally released in 1976].”
Patrick Wayne thinks ‘The Shootist’ is his dad’s ‘finest performance’

Wayne earned Oscar nominations for his movies Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, he wouldn’t take home the gold statue until his work on True Grit. Patrick believes that the iconic film isn’t quite his father’s best work. He gives that title to Wayne’s work in The Shootist, which he didn’t even earn an Oscar nomination for.
Patrick said, “When I did finally watch it for the second time, I have to say that it’s probably his finest performance as a pure actor, using all his skills and being more than just a cardboard cutout, but more of a real human being — a vulnerable human being — and I think he pulled it off really well.”

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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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