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John Wayne

John Wayne’s heartbreaking message on tomb not seen by public for 20 years

JOHN WAYNE’s tomb was meant to be inscribed with a heartbreaking message, a note not known about by the public for 20 years over fears his grave could be raided, unearthed accounts show.

Western legend John Wayne’s iconic turn in the 1969 classic True Grit airs today on ITV4 at 1.50pm. The Hollywood actor stars as the one-eyed US Marshal Rooster Cogburn, who is persuaded to track down a killer after a young girl finds out her father has been robbed and murdered. It is one of Hollywood’s most cherished westerns, and boasts an incredible cast, with the likes of Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper starring opposite Wayne.

For his role, Wayne also won the Oscar his career demanded, collecting the Best Actor gong in 1970.

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes said the film had achieved 89 percent positive ratings, adding: “True Grit rides along on the strength of a lived-in late-period John Wayne performance, adding its own entertaining spin to the oft-adapted source material.”

Wayne was already a household name, with the star going on to appear in nearly 150 films and TV productions during a long and distinguished career.

Cinema fans the world over were left heartbroken, however, when Wayne passed away aged 72 in 1979 from stomach cancer.

John Wayne's heartbreaking message on tomb not seen by public for 20 years

John Wayne’s heartbreaking message on tomb not seen by public for 20 years (Image: GETTY)

John Wayne appears in True Grit on Saturday

John Wayne appears in True Grit on Saturday (Image: GETTY)

Those who had followed his career were unable to say their goodbyes after Wayne’s family decided to hide his grave’s location amid fears robbers could target it.

In 2016’s Grave Tidings: An Anthology of Famous Last Words, author Paul Berra discussed what was originally placed on Wayne’s grace.

A report from Berra suggested that Wayne “wanted a Spanish epitaph engraved on his grave”, with the words “Feo, Fuerte, y Formal” placed on it.

This translated into English as “ugly, strong and dignified”.

John Wayne coined the term the Big C

John Wayne coined the term the Big C (Image: GETTY)

He continued: “However, his children, Patrick and Ethan Wayne, left him in an unmarked grave.

“They didn’t want grave robbers or the public to crowd his resting place.

“It ran the risk of becoming a tourist spot or a shrine, which they didn’t want.”

Some two decades later, the Wayne family had a change of heart, and in the end placed a plaque on his grave, but not with the words he wished for.

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas

John Wayne and Kirk Douglas (Image: GETTY)

Instead, they took a quote from an infamous Playboy interview he had made decades before.

It now reads: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean.

“It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

Married three times and divorced twice, Wayne had seven children in total, including his daughter Aissa, who once recalled her final encounter with her father.

In his final days, Wayne’s battle with stomach cancer became worse, and as he deteriorated, he was asked by Aissa whether he knew who she was.

He replied: “Of course, I know who you are.

“You’re my girl. I love you.”

Wayne coined the term The Big C in 1964, to describe cancer, years before he passed.

Wayne had his left lung removed as a result of his condition, as well as four ribs.

While he began his recovery well, he continued smoking and chewing tobacco, and sadly died just before the turn of the Eighties.

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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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