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Christopher Reeve’s family remembers ‘Dad’s dearest friend’ Robin Williams

Before Robin Williams was a comedy giant or an Oscar winner, he was an aspiring actor at Juilliard in the 1970s, when he befriended another up-and-comer named Christopher Reeve.
The two remained close during their respective ascents to movie fame, and behind all the laughs was a deep friendship.
Robin Williams helped lift the spirits of old friend Christopher Reeve after Reeve's 1995 accident that left him with quadriplegia.

Robin Williams helped lift the spirits of old friend Christopher Reeve after Reeve’s 1995 accident that left him with quadriplegia.Today
Williams was by Reeve’s bedside to make his old friend crack a smile before surgery in the aftermath of an accident in an equestrian competition in 1995 that left Reeve with quadriplegia.
“He was the first one to show up down in Virginia when I was really in trouble,” the late Reeve told then-TODAY anchor Katie Couric in an interview that aired Nov. 27, 1995, six months after his accident.
“He came here one afternoon and just— thank God I wear a seatbelt in this chair because I would have fallen out laughing,” Reeve continued. “It’s funny. In the middle of a tragedy like this, in the middle of a depression, you can still experience genuine joy and laughter and love.”
When Reeve died in 2004, Williams was there to console the actor’s family. And on Tuesday, the Reeve family mourned the loss of their good friend at the age of 63.
“The Reeve family, like many, will remember Robin for the humor, energy and brightness he brought into our lives through the screen,” the family said in a statement issued by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
“We will cherish him, though, for the quiet and unwavering support he showed our family through the hardest times. The world knew Robin as a comedic titan, but to our family, he was simply one of our Dad’s dearest friends.”
The family recalled a time after Reeve’s accident when Williams visited him at the hospital jokingly dressed as the proctologist he played in the movie “Nine Months,” saying he needed to give Reeve an immediate exam. Reeve was preparing for a surgical procedure that would re-attach his skull and spine — and come with only a 50-50 chance of survival. Williams showed up, snapped on a latex glove and broke out his character’s Russian accent to lighten the mood.
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 8: Christopher Reeve presenting Robin Williams of \"Mork and Mindy\" with the Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Program on the 197...Christopher Reeve presenting Robin Williams of \”Mork & Mindy\” with the Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Program at the 1979 People’s Choice Awards.CBS Photo Archive / Today
“After our father’s accident, Robin’s visit to his hospital room was the first time that Dad truly laughed,” the family said in its statement. “Dad later said, ‘My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.’”
Such loyal support was nothing new for the two friends. Back in their Juilliard days, when they had been roommates, they had promised one another that whichever actor became famous first would always help the other.
Robin Williams also was a member of the board of the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation working toward the goal of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.Robin Williams served on the board of the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation, working toward the goal of finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.Evan Agostini / Today
“(T)heir friendship transformed into a brotherhood that was built on a mutual admiration for the theater, the arts and, most importantly, laughter,” the Reeve family statement said.

As board members of the Reeve Foundation, Williams and his former wife, Marsha Garces, were tireless in their fundraising efforts aimed at researching spinal cord injuries and improving quality of life for people living with paralysis.
“Robin’s unparalleled legacy on screen will last through the ages,” the Reeve family said. “But beyond the gift of laughter, he gave our family and the Reeve Foundation the gift of his simple, steadfast friendship. It’s a gift we’ll treasure forever.”
“While our hearts ache with the loss of our friend, it is unlikely Robin would want us to mourn his passing with silence, but to celebrate his life through laughter,” Reeve Foundation president and CEO Peter Wilderotter said in a statement. “Together, let’s remember Robin for the man who made the world laugh.”

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John Wayne

John Wayne Pushed Through a Severe Injury to Ensure ‘The Train Robbers’ Premiered on Schedule

John Wayne is known around the world as one of the most iconic cowboys of all time. Decades after his death, John Wayne continues to be praised for his nearly 200 unforgettable appearances in film and television. And though his larger-than-life presence, good looks, and husky voice took him far in Hollywood, it was his commitment to his films that led to John Wayne playing such a large role in cinema history.

The Duke began his career in 1926. As time went on, the stoic superstar developed a reputation as a stunt man. Many of his Westerns involved action-heavy scenes, and the technology to make stunt work easier to fake didn’t yet exist. As such, many legendary John Wayne films were extremely physically demanding.

Hiring a stunt man was an option used by many in Hollywood. But The Duke refused. Instead, he insisted on doing his stunts himself. Though this was an admirable step to take, it led to many injuries for Wayne throughout his career.

The audience knew that the hero would win in the end, but reaching victory often involved getting punched, kicked, shot, and stabbed along the way. He was even blown up and crushed by a bulldozer (on separate occasions, of course).

John Wayne Filmed ‘The Train Robbers’ With Broken Ribs

Perhaps the most horrifying injury of John Wayne’s career occurred on the set of the 1973 Western The Train Robbers. In the film, Wayne plays the starring role of Lane, the leader of a group of cowboys hunting down a dastardly train robber.

According to the John Wayne biography entitled Duke by Ronald L. Davis, The Duke broke two ribs mere days before filming began on The Train Robbers. As Wayne was an irreplaceable star, the injury led to a rearranging of the film. Rather than focusing on high-speed chases and deadly battles between cowboys and outlaws, The Train Robbers honed in on dialogue and character building.

That said, it was still a Western, and every Western needs a certain amount of action. For The Duke, it was essential that “the action scenes looked believable”. Wayne was so committed to his scenes that he flat-out refused to work around his injury. “He wasn’t a crybaby,” his wife Pilar Wayne told The LA Times. “He could tolerate pain.”

And tolerate pain, he did. John Wayne pushed through the broken ribs, determined to keep the film as close to the original script as possible. While filming, he was clearly limited with his movements and he appeared somewhat ill on set.

On-screen, however, no one could tell the difference. The Duke still gave a fantastic performance. Three years later, his Hollywood career came to an end, but John Wayne will always be remembered as the tough-as-nails actor he truly was.

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John Wayne

Original Cast of John Wayne’s ‘The Cowboys’ to Celebrate Film’s 50th Anniversary With The Duke’s Family

The career of John Wayne is one of the most revered in all of American filmmaking regardless of genre. Even long after his death, his unmatched contributions to the Western film genre are still a thing of legend.

John Wayne: An American Experience, The Cowboy Channel, Stockyards Heritage, and Hotel Drover have partnered up with the members of the cast of The Cowboys and Wayne’s family. Together, they will host a celebratory festival in honor of the 50th anniversary of the fan-favorite film. The official John Wayne Instagram page announced the event by paying tribute to one of Wayne’s many iconic moments.


“In honor of the 50th Anniversary of The Cowboys, celebrate with members of the original cast & the Wayne family June 24, 25, & 26 in the Fort Worth Stockyards! For a list of events and tickets, head to JohnWayne.com”

The 1972 film is based on the book of the same name by William Dale Jennings. Wayne stars alongside Roscoe Lee Browne, Slim Pickens, Colleen Dewhurst, and Bruce Dern. The Cowboys tells the story of a down on his luck rancher being forced to hire a group of inexperienced cowboys to get his herd to market on time. It’s one of Wayne’s most enduring films with his performance often regarded as one of his best.

The Cowboys Still Holds A Special Place in Hearts of Film Fans

Fans of the film will no doubt be thrilled by the opportunity to hear directly from the people who worked and lived alongside Wayne during the making of the classic film. One member of the cast, A Martinez who played Cimarron, took to his own Instagram account to post a message about his experience shooting The Cowboys for its 50th anniversary.


“It was a thrill and an honor to be a part of this project,” said Martinez in his post. “A haunting, timeless theme, adapted from the novel by William Dale Jennings, brilliantly directed by Rydell. With gorgeous cinematography by Bob Surtees, an indelible score by John Williams –– and a great performance by John Wayne –– the power of #TheCowboys abides.”

The 3-day celebration includes outdoor screenings after sunset on the Livestock Exchange lawn all three nights. Fans will have meet and greet opportunities with 9 members of the cast. Then, A live televised film panel with a studio audience will film at The Cowboy Channel Studio Sunday night. In addition, there will be special installations and reception at John Wayne: An American Experience, a sprawling 10,000 square foot exhibit providing an intimate look at the life of The Duke.

Any fan of John Wayne who can make it to Fort Worth, Texas for this celebration of a beloved piece of Wayne’s filmography should purchase tickets as soon as possible. Relive the memories of this classic film alongside cast members and Wayne’s family with the special event.

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John Wayne

This John Wayne Western Almost Starred Elvis Presley

When you hear the names Elvis Presley and John Wayne, the word icon undoubtedly comes to mind. Although they were famous figures in their own right, they had more in common than you might think. For instance, they nearly starred alongside one another in one of Wayne’s many westerns.

As the undisputed King of rock ‘n’ roll, Presley became a worldwide viral sensation for his gyrating hips and rock-n-roll music. Yet, he also dipped his toes into the world of movies.

He had performed in various movies like King Creole and Blue Hawaii in the past. In addition, he had some Western movie experience when he starred in Love Me Tender. According to IMDb, the movie is a Western set during the end of the American Civil War.

Elvis plays the role of Clint Reno, the brother of a Confederate soldier who becomes involved in a train robbery. The movie was released in 1956, just as Elvis became a rising star. As a result, he grabbed the attention of another acting veteran.

Love Me Tender was the hitmaker’s first movie role. Little did he know, John Wayne was watching at home. As a result, Wayne decided he wanted to collaborate with the rising star.

Elvis Presley’s manager decides on True Grit role

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

Billy Smith, Elvis’ cousin, once answered whether John Wayne asked Presley to star with him in a movie more than once. According to Smith, via his Youtube channel, co-starring alongside Wayne wasn’t Presley’s style, or rather, it wasn’t his manager’s preference.

As Smith described, anytime anyone wanted to collab with The King, it was “always carried through Colonel.” Presley was at the height of his fame around this time. According to Smith, “Colonel didn’t want him to play … second star with anybody else.” 

Sadly, Presley would miss out on the role of LeBoeuf. In addition, he wouldn’t get to join forces with one of the genre’s most beloved figures. Glen Campbell would instead take on the part. 

However, maybe the decision happened for a better reason. When the film was released in 1969, it was a critical moment for Presley’s career. In December of 1968, just before True Grit premiered, Presley embarked on his now-legendary “comeback special.” In 1969, he delivered almost 60 performances at the magnificent International Hotel in Las Vegas. 

During this whirlwind of a year, Presley proved the point of his manager: Elvis Presley would play second fiddle to nobody, even John Wayne. 

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