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John Wayne’s Ethan Is Really Debbie’s Father – My Blog

A popular theory for The Searchers suggests that John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards is really the father of his kidnapped niece Debbie. Wayne spent many years starring in low-budget, “poverty row” Westerns when his career began. This includes Wayne’s only “horror” movie Haunted Gold, but it was the success of 1939’s Stagecoach that made him a star.This John Ford directed Western featured an ensemble cast, but it was Wayne’s Ringo Kid who stood out to audiences. Wayne later cited Stagecoach as one of his personal favorites and acknowledged how much it – and his many collaborations with director Ford – changed his life and career. Wayne and Ford went on to work together over a dozen times, which included movies like They Were Expendable, The Quiet Man – another favorite of Wayne’s – while the three movies Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande formed Ford’s so-called “cavalry trilogy.”Of the many collaborations between Ford and Wayne, The Searchers is often considered their masterpiece. This 1956 epic cast Wayne as Ethan Edwards, a bitter Civil War vet who returns to his family home after eight years. Shortly after his arrival, his brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew are all killed in a Comanche raid. His youngest niece Debbie was also kidnapped, so Ethan and his adopted nephew Martin set out on a years-long rescue mission. The Searchers is considered one of the greatest Westerns and greatest American movies ever made. It was an influence on filmmakers like David Lean, Martin Scorsese and even George Lucas, with the original Star Wars borrowing several ideas from it. It’s also been suggested that Ethan is Debbie’s father following an affair with his brother’s wife Martha, but is there any substance to this theory?Ethan’s Relationship To His Family In The Searchers

the searchers ethan and martha subplot

The Searchers is a movie that trusts audiences to pick up on character and story details without spoon-feeding exposition. This can be seen in the opening, where Ethan returns after an eight-year gap. In the years since the Civil War ended, it’s heavily implied Ethan became a mercenary in Mexico, and that he and his brother Aaron share a slightly strained relationship.His nieces and nephews are thrilled he’s back, however, and Ethan appears especially warm with young Debbie; he even gifts her one of his medals. The Searchers explores Ethan’s racism also, and he is depicted as having an obsessive hatred of Native Americans, even making veiled comments to nephew Martin (Jeffrey Hunter, who played Pike in Star Trek’s pilot) about being one-eighth Cherokee. The headstone for his mother reveals she was killed in a Comanche attack, which is likely where this hatred began.What’s intriguing to note in these early scenes is the relationship between Ethan and Martha (Dorothy Jordan). While they rarely exchange dialogue they often give each other meaningful glances. When Ethan leaves to inspect a local cattle theft, Martha is seen lovingly looking at his coat in another room before handing it to him, and the two embrace as Rev. Capt. Johnson (Ward Bond) tries his best to ignore the obvious charge between the two. This moment would turn out to be the last time Ethan sees her alive.
Could Debbie Be Ethan’s Secret Daugther?

ethan and debbie in the searchers
Aside from the implied romance between Ethan and Martha, The Searchers reveals that Debbie is eight years old and that Wayne’s – who regretted playing Genghis Khan in The Conquerer – Ethan just happened to be away for eight years. This is far from proof, but Ford himself is said to have framed the relationship between Ethan and Martha in a way that audiences could imply something had happened between them; the eight-year timeframe is unlikely to be an accident on this front either.Debbie being Ethan’s daughter doesn’t change the story of The Searchers much, but it does add an interesting subtext to Ethan’s quest. Throughout the film, Martin questions if Ethan actually wants to save his niece or if he plans on killing her for integrating with a Native American tribe. Racism and fear of miscegenation is a major theme throughout, which was introduced early over Ethan’s discomfort with Martin’s heritage and it’s repeated throughout, even by “civilized” characters. When Ethan finally finds Debbie – played by Natalie Wood – she has become a wife to Scar (Henry Brandon, of John Carpenter movie Assault On Precinct 13), the Comanche chief who led the attack on the Edwards homestead.Scar is also a mirror of Ethan’s prejudice, and of his actions he states that after two of his sons were killed by white men that “For each son, I take many scalps.” Ethan’s revulsion at the mere idea of Debbie becoming part of a tribe sees him attempting to kill her, only for him to be wounded in the process. After becoming absorbed by his own single-minded need for revenge, The Searchers‘ ending sees Ethan chase after Debbie following a Texas Ranger raid on Scar’s camp. Instead of killing her, Ethan picks her up in his arms and carries her home.Why Ethan Could Never Return Home
the searchers doorway ending
The Searchers closes on one of the most iconic final shots in movie history. Ethan carries Debbie back to the ranch of their neighbors the Jorgensens; Debbie enters, as does Martin with his love interest Laurie (Vera Miles from the original Psycho movie), but instead of joining them, Ethan turns and walks into the distance as the door closes behind him.In The Searchers final scene, Ethan fulfilled his vow to bring Debbie back but likely realized his bitterness and rage has isolated him from his family and that he could never lead a normal life. His love for Debbie overrode his destructive impulse to kill her for becoming Scar’s wife – even if it was against her own will. The Searchers is easily one of the darkest roles Wayne played, and is far from the unambiguous hero he played in many of his Westerns.The reading that Debbie is the secret daughter of Wayne’s – who thought Cahill U.S. Marshal was his worst Western – Ethan adds another texture to The Searchers, but it was left ambiguous by design. Earlier in the story, Ethan vindictively shot out the eyes of a dead Comanche warrior so his soul would be left to “… wander forever between the winds.” This becomes his own fate in a way, as he returns to the desert following Debbie’s return, knowing Martin, Laurie and Debbie represent a future he can never be a part of.

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Rin Tin Tin

When I was very young, my grandfather kept a Rin Tin Tin figurine sitting on his desk. I wanted desperately to play with it, and even more desperately I wanted to have a German shepherd dog of my own, a dog just like the star of “The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin”, which debuted on television in 1954. I knew nothing about Rin Tin Tin other than that he was the perfect dog, and that he was a character on television.

When by chance I learned that Rin Tin Tin was a real dog, not just a television character—a real dog with a real life that was extraordinary—I was drawn into the story and eventually to the idea of writing this book. After digging through hundreds of pages of archives and files and photographs, I came to understand that this was not just a story about a dog, or even the many different dogs who make up the Rin Tin Tin legacy; this is a story about a beloved icon who has played a role in decades of American popular culture.

“‘He believed the dog was immortal.’ So begins Susan Orlean’s sweeping, powerfully moving story of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon. From the moment in 1918 when Corporal Lee Duncan discovers Rin Tin Tin on a World War I battlefield, he recognizes something in the pup that he needs to share with the world. Rin Tin Tin’s improbable introduction to Hollywood leads to the dog’s first blockbuster film and over time, the many radio programs, movies, and television shows that follow. The canine hero’s legacy is cemented by Duncan and a small group of others who devote their lives to keeping him and his descendants alive.

“At its heart, Rin Tin Tin is a poignant exploration of the enduring bond between humans and animals. But it is also a richly textured history of twentieth-century entertainment and entrepreneurship and the changing role of dogs in the American family and society. Almost ten years in the making, Susan Orlean’s first original book since The Orchid Thief is a tour de force of history, human interest, and masterful storytelling—the ultimate must—read for anyone who loves great dogs or great yarns.”

Publishers Weekly
“Stirring … A tale of passion and dedication overcoming adversity … Even readers coming to Rin Tin Tin for the first time will find it difficult to refrain from joining Duncan in his hope that Rin Tin Tin’s legacy will ‘go on forever.’”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[Orlean] combines all her skills and passions in this astonishing story … A terrific dog’s tale that will make readers sit up and beg for more.”

Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin and Einstein

“Rin Tin Tin was more than a dog. He embodied the core paradoxes of the American ideal: He was a loner who was also a faithful companion, a brave fighter who was also vulnerable. I was astonished to learn from this delightful book that he has existed for eleven generations over a century. By chronicling his amazing ups and downs, Susan Orlean has produced a hugely entertaining and unforgettable reading experience.”

Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto
“Not only does Susan Orlean give us a fascinating and big-hearted account of all the many incarnations of Rin Tin Tin, she shows us the ever-changing role of American dogs in times of war and peace. This book is for anyone who has ever had a dog or loved a dog or watched a dog on television or thought their dog could be a movie star. In short— everyone.”

Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“I adored this book. It weaves history, war, show business, humanity, wit, and grace into an incredible story about America, the human-animal bond, and the countless ways we would be lost without dogs by our sides, on our screens, and in our books. This is the story Susan Orlean was born to tell—it’s filled with amazing characters, reporting, and writing.”

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John Wayne ‘punished’ The Longest Day producer for publicly insulting him – My Blog

John Wayne was famous for his tough guy image on and off screen, mostly being known for playing cowboys and military men.By the early 1960s, Duke was in his fifties, struggling with health problems yet continuing to insist on not only doing his own stunts but also playing characters – including historical figures – he was now much older than.

This was especially the case when he was cast in the 1962 D-Day epic The Longest Day, which was released 61 years ago this week.The World War II film featured an incredible all-star cast including Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery and Richard Burton. Yet Wayne’s inclusion proved divisive.Incredibly, former President Dwight D Eisenhower almost played himself, but makeup artists couldn’t make him look as young as he did in 1944. Nevertheless, a set decorator with no acting experience with the spitting image of the Supreme Allied Commander was cast.Awkwardly, the real Ike ended up walking out of The Longest Day after just a few minutes, frustrated with all the inaccuracies. Although Eisenhower was considered too old to play his younger self, that didn’t stop Wayne from being cast as 27-year-old Lt Col Benjamin Vandervoort, who was very disappointed to find out he was being portrayed by the overweight 54-year-old Duke.Originally Charlton Heston, who was only a decade older than the real-life paratrooper, had actively sought the part. However, Wayne’s last-minute decision to take on the role blocked him and it came at a huge price to the film’s producer.The Longest Day producer Darryl F Zanuck had managed to negotiate $25,000 fees from his ensemble cast for what was mostly cameos. However, Wayne demanded $250,000 or he’d refused to appear in the movie – a request that was granted.The reason Duke “punished” the producer with this action was because he’d been quoting in an interview calling the Western legend “poor John Wayne” over 1960’s The Alamo.

That blockbuster was produced, directed and largely funded by the star himself. And Zanuck had said he didn’t think much of actors forming their own production companies, citing Wayne’s as an example. Not only was Wayne’s non-negotiable fee request on The Longest Day an act of revenge, but also was a way of him getting a quick payday after all the money he spent on The Alamo.

Aside from being three decades too old for his role in the World War II blockbuster, Duke’s contract also included a clause that made his casting even more controversial.Alongside his whopping $250,000 fee, Wayne insisted on getting separate billing on The Longest Day from the other actors. However, to his dismay, this was got around by having the other stars billed first followed by “and John Wayne”, meaning that Duke’s name appeared last on the credits.Even so, it was highly controversial even then as the Hollywood star did not serve in World War II, something he tried to redeem across his career by acting in very patriotic movies.

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Injured John Wayne struggled to breathe with oxygen mask on movie with Katharine Hepburn – My Blog

After winning the Best Actor Oscar for 1969’s True Grit, John Wayne returned for a sequel with 1975’s Rooster Cogburn – which celebrates its 48th anniversary this week – alongside Katharine Hepburn.However, Duke had serious health issues going back to when he had a cancerous lung removed a decade prior.Earlier in 1974, Wayne headed to London to shoot cop movie Brannigan, but had a severe bout of pneumonia and was diagnosed with heart problems before production began.During filming, Duke met Hepburn who, despite being just two weeks older than him, had never met the Western star let alone starred in a movie with him. She had been filming 1975’s Love Among the Ruins with Sir Laurence Olivier and despite their political differences greatly admired Wayne.The two stars agreed to make True Grit sequel Rooster Cogburn together later that year, although like Brannigan it would not be an easy production.Alongside pneumonia, Wayne had coughed so hard at one point that he damaged a valve in his heart, an issue that wouldn’t be diagnosed until 1978, a year before he died of cancer.Rooster Cogburn’s filming took place in Oregon and Duke had to rely on his oxygen mask for high altitudes, something he tried to keep hidden from the public. In fact, on another movie, he screamed at a photographer and demanded the film that captured the truth of his ailments; desperate to maintain his macho image.If this wasn’t bad enough, the 67-year-old injured himself on the Rooster Cogburn set while teaching his eight-year-old daughter to play golf. But lucky for him, his character’s eye patch covered the mark.rooster cogburn posterRooster Cogburn poster (Image: GETTY)Dealing with all these physical problems took a toll on Wayne’s patience and he would become seriously frustrated with Rooster Cogburn director Stuart Miller’s insistence on doing multiple takes. In one outburst, Duke ranted: “God damn it Stuart, there’s only so many times we can say these awful lines before they stop making any sense at all.”His co-star Hepburn, who largely respected the actor most of the time, would become bemused by his argumentative nature on set and told him at the wrap party: “I’m glad I didn’t know you when you had two lungs, you must have been a real b*****d. Losing a hip has mellowed me, but you!”

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