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John Wayne


A photo of John Wayne from the 1940 film, “The Long Voyage Home.”Courtesy | Wikimedia Commons
When a tycoon tried to take a family’s land in the movie “El Dorado,” an alcoholic sheriff did nothing to help – but John Wayne did.
“Your gun hand’s no good,” gunman Nelse McLeod said.
“Just give me time to get down off of this wagon and we’ll find out,” Wayne replied.
While Wayne embodied the character of the American frontier, few Americans know the story behind his own character.
Wayne was born in 1907 to a pharmacist in the small town of Winterset, Iowa. His parents, who struggled financially and often fought, gave him the name Marion Michael Morrison at age five.
His grandfather, a Union Civil War veteran, bought a homestead in California’s Mojave Desert, and his father moved there to help tend the land in 1914. The rest of the family followed soon after and lived on a farm in what Wayne called a “glorified shack.”
“Didn’t have gas nor electricity nor water,” Wayne said, according to The Washington Post. “A stranger visiting from Iowa wouldn’t have believed he was in the 20th century.”
Wayne rode a horse to school until his family moved to Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb, in 1916. He went to Glendale Union High School, where he was president of the Latin society, on the debate team, on the football team, and wrote sports news for the school paper. During these years, his dog Duke never left his side. Locals started calling him “Duke,” and the name stuck.
Wayne’s family kept struggling with finances, which strained the relationship between his mother and father.
“Mom was just not a happy woman,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “No matter what I did, or what Dad did, it was never enough.”
He went to study at the University of Southern California in 1925, where he continued playing football. He worked for the Fox Film Corp. during the summer, where he made inroads and eventually got minor roles in Western films under the name “John Wayne.” He made his first major appearance in the 1939 movie “Stagecoach.”
When America entered World War II, however, he never enlisted. The Japanese struck Pearl Harbor when he was 34 years old, and he was the sole provider for his family, so he got an exemption from the draft.
When the Army later changed its mind, film studios threatened legal action against Wayne should he enlist. They convinced the military he would be more useful making war movies. So he served from the studio, making movies including “The Fighting Seabees” and “Back to Bataan.”
Wayne’s only field experience came from entertaining soldiers in the Pacific with the USO. Army Lt. Col. Fred Stofft, however, served with Wayne in the New Britain Campaign, and recalled him sneaking onto a landing craft to join soldiers invading an island.
“I turned around and there alongside me was Duke. I said, ‘What the devil are you doing here?’ And he said, ‘I want to go and see what’s going on,’” Stofft said. “There was actual fighting and he was part of that.”
Wayne applied to the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services, but was  never accepted. His wife Pilar wrote that he would become a “superpatriot” to atone for this.
He starred in patriotic films like “The Green Berets” and “The Alamo,” and classic Westerns like “El Dorado” and “Rio Bravo.” He brought a new grit to the industry, which had been stuck in the habit of simply pitting “white hats” against “black hats.”
“The heavy was allowed to hit the hero in the head with a chair or throw a kerosene lamp at him or kick him in the stomach, but the hero could only knock the villain down politely and then wait,” Wayne said. “I changed all that. I threw chairs and lamps. I fought hard and I fought dirty. I fought to win.”
Wayne applied this in other areas of his life, supporting conservative causes and pushing against Hollywood’s left-wing current.
“I thought I was a liberal,” he said. “I came up terribly surprised one time when I found that I was a right-wing, conservative extremist.”
Wayne founded the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in 1944 to obstruct efforts by “communist, fascist, and other totalitarian-minded groups to pervert this powerful medium.” He strongly supported Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, even playing the role of a HUAC investigator in the 1952 movie “Big Jim McClain.” Wayne criticized communist teaching in schools.
“You’re being conned into Keynesian socialism,” Wayne said. “It isn’t going to stop the selfishness of human behavior. It isn’t going to stop the greed.”
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, a film buff, allegedly tried to kill Wayne for his on-screen persona and his off-screen anti-communism, according to the book “John Wayne – The Man Behind the Myth.” Author Michael Munn wrote that Stalin sent two KGB assassins after Wayne in 1951, but the FBI intercepted them in Hollywood, according to The Guardian. They brought the men to Wayne, who made them defect by staging a mock execution on the beach. Munn wrote that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev apologized to Wayne in 1958 for the plots.
While these claims are disputed, Munn cited popular actor Orson Welles, who supposedly heard of the plots from imprisoned Soviet filmmakers. Welles disliked Wayne, so would have nothing to gain from spreading these rumors.
Wayne’s status as an American icon, however, is undisputed. He acted consistently with principle and true grit.
“I want to play a real man in all my films, and I define manhood simply,” Wayne said. “Men should be tough, fair, and courageous. Never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.”

John Wayne

John Wayne Refused to Return for an ‘Embarrassing’ Role That Made Him Feel Like a ‘Pansy’

John Wayne exuded a level of masculinity that continues to define an entire era of Western cinema. However, he often rejected roles that felt like they challenged that image. Wayne embraced roles in the genre that celebrated America and supported the country’s agenda. However, there is one role that Wayne refused to return to because it made him feel like a “pansy.”

John Wayne played the leading role in many Western B-movies

'Riders of Destiny' John Wayne in role of Singin' Sandy Saunders and Cecilia Parker as Fay Denton in Western clothes looking at the camera

L-R: John Wayne as Singin’ Sandy Saunders and Cecilia Parker as Fay Denton | John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

Wayne’s movie roles weren’t all winners and he knew that. He had a career full of ups and downs before finally winning the Oscar for True Grit. Wayne had high hopes for Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail, but it ultimately failed at the box office. As a result, the studios canceled the projects that they had in the pipeline with the legendary actor attached.

As a result of The Big Trail, Wayne had to work in B-movies through much of the 1930s. Most of them were Westerns, but they didn’t allow his career to grow as he wanted it to. They provided steady work, although he had the potential to do so much more. He wouldn’t hit the big time until 1939’s Stagecoach, but he had to deal with some roles in the meantime that he described as “embarrassing.”

John Wayne refused to play Singin’ Sandy Saunders again

Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth explores the various roles of the iconic actor. He explained how Wayne certainly couldn’t compete with Hollywood’s biggest stars. However, the actor’s image quickly became attached to the cowboy with his various B-movie Western adventures.

“He started at Lone Star as Singin’ Sandy Saunders, the singing cowboy, in Riders of Destiny,” Munn wrote. “It was something that would haunt Wayne for the rest of his life as the subject of his singing would often be brought up.”

Wayne’s role as Singin’ Sandy Saunders in Riders of Destiny is a government agent. He witnesses a stagecoach robbery, but not everything is as it appears. The apparent robber actually is retrieving money taken from her. As a result, the unlikely pair teams up to fight off the gang. However, Wayne didn’t know how to play the guitar or sing, making production need to dub another singer’s voice in.

“I was just so fing embarrassed by it all,” Wayne said. “Strumming a guitar I couldn’t play and miming to a voice which was provided by a real singer made me feel like a fing pansy. After that experience, I refused to be Singin’ Sandy again.”

Young fans still wanted to hear Singin’ Sandy Saunders’ voice

It’s no mystery that Wayne’s voice as Singin’ Sandy Saunders in Riders of Destiny doesn’t sound anything like his speaking voice. The actual singer was Bill Bradbury, the son of director Robert N. Bradbury. However, Wayne initially didn’t account for how Singin’ Sandy Saunders would resonate with audiences in public appearances.

Young fans would ask Wayne to sing as he did for the role of Singin’ Sandy Saunders. However, he was humiliated that he couldn’t sing for them. As a result, the studio brought in Gene Autry as Wayne’s replacement, which fixed the singing issue.

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John Wayne

”The Shootist”: John Wayne put all his heart into the final movie.

John Wayne. What can you say about him? Whether you enjoy the man’s work or not, there’s no denying that he has made a massive impact on film history and pop culture. But even as a fan, I can’t defend every aspect of the Duke, like the guy’s acting. I can’t think of anyone who’s watched a John Wayne film for his acting chops.

The man was more known for his screen persona than his acting abilities, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some good advice on acting.There are, however, a couple of films in which Duke pull off a pretty good performance . There’s his iconic role as Ethan Edwards in The Searchers (1956) where he played a cold-hearted and cynical war veteran searching for his niece.

Then there’s his Oscar-winning performance as the one-eyed, fat, drunken Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn in True Grit (1969). But in this column, I’m going to talk about his last performance in a feature film :Тһе Տһootıѕt (1976), directed by Don Siegel.Based on the Glendon Swarthout novel of the same name, the film tells the story of an aging gunfighter named JB Books, played by Duke, who at the dawn of the 20th century finds out he has terminal cancer.

Per this news, he decided to try and spend his final days in peace. But as rumors spread about him through the tiny town of Carson City, Nevada, more people want to get a piece of him. It eventually climaxes with Books realizing that he’ll never escape his past and going out the only way he knows how.Before I go on about John Wayne in the film, I have to talk about the rest of the cast.

This film boasts an all-star ensemble, many of whom took the role purely as a favor to Wayne. There’s Dr. Hostetler (James Stewart) who delivers the bad news to Books about his health and becomes a closer friend throughout the film. “You know, Books,” he says, “I’m not an especially brave man. But, if I were you and had lived my entire life the way you have, I don’t think that the ԁеаtһ I just described to you is the one I would choose.

Then there’s the late, great Lauren Bacall as the widowed boarding house owner Bond Rogers and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard as her wide-eyed idolizing son. The film also features a slew of great TV and Western legends — Richard Boone as the vengeance seeking Mike Sweeney, John Carradine as the town’s undertaker Hezekiah Beckum, Bill McKinney as the ill-tempered Jay Cobb, Scatman Crothers as the liver-stable owner Moses Brown, and Harry Morgan as the fast-talking and loud Marshal Thibido.

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John Wayne

The reason John Wayne is labeled as ‘Draft Dodger’ by the audience in World War II.

Around the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Wayne was not the big-name actor we remember him being today. He was fresh off the box-office success of the 1939 film “Stagecoach.” According to author Garry Wills’ 1998 book, “John Wayne’ America: the Politics of Celebrity,” the actor received a chorus of boos when he walked onto the USO stages in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Those audiences were filled with combat veterans. Wayne, in his mid-30s, was not one of them.

Being drafted or enlisting was going to have a serious impact on his rising star. Depending on how long the ԝаr lasted, Wayne reportedly worried he might be too old to be a leading man when he came home.Other actors, both well-established and rising in fame, rushed off to do their part. Clark Gable joined the Army Air Forces and, despite the studios’ efforts to get him into a motion picture unit, served as an aerial ɡսոոеr over Europe. Jimmy Stewart was initially ineligible for the draft, given his low weight, but like some amazing version of Captain America, he drank beer until he qualified.

In his 2014 book, “American Titan: Searching for John Wayne,” author Marc Eliot alleges Wayne was having an affair with actress Marlene Dietrich. He says the possibility of losing this relationship was the real reason Wayne didn’t want to go to ԝаr.

But even Dietrich would do her part, smuggling Jewish people out of Europe, entertaining troops on the front lines (she crossed into Germany alongside Gen. George S. Patton) and maybe even being an operative for the Office of Strategic Services.Wayne never enlisted and even filed for a 3-A draft deferment, which meant that if the sole provider for a family of four were drafted, it would cause his family undue hardship. The closest he would ever come to Worւԁ Wаr II service would be portraying the actions of others on the silver screen.

With his leading man competition fighting the ԝаr and out of the way, Wayne became Hollywood’s top leading man. During the ԝаr, Wayne starred in a number of western films as well as Worւԁ Wаr II movies, including 1942’s “Flying Tigers” and 1944’s “The Fighting Seabees.” According to Eliot, Wayne told friends the best thing he could do for the ԝаr was make movies to support the troops. Eventually, the government agreed.

At one point during the ԝаr, the need for more men in uniform caused the U.S. military brass to change Wayne’s draft status to 1-A, fit for duty. But Hollywood studios intervened on his behalf, arguing that the actor’s star power was a boon for ԝаrtime propaganda and the morale of the troops. He was given a special 2-A status, which back then meant he was deferred in “support of national interest.”

The decision not to serve or to avoid it entirely (depending on how you look at the actor) haunted Wayne for the rest of his life. His third wife, Pilar Wayne, says he became a “super-patriot for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying at home.”After the ԝаr, he made a number of films set in Worւԁ Wаr II, including some of his most famous, like “The Longest Day,” “They Were Expendable” and “Sands of Iwo Jima.”

When actor John Wayne visited American soldiers in Vietnam in the summer of 1966, he was warmly welcomed. As he spoke to groups and individuals, he was presented gifts and letters from American and South Vietnamese troops alike. This was not the case during his USO tours in 1942 and ’43. Despite his post-ԝаr patriotism, many labeled Wayne a draft dodger for the rest of his life. He succumbed to stomach cancer in 1979. His enduring influence on American media and the perception of American fighting men led President Jimmy Carter to award Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980

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