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John Wayne

John Wayne Knew His ‘Marriage Was Over’ When He Fathered 4th Baby & His Wife Asked Priest for Help

John Wayne knew his marriage to Josephine Saenz was over when she would not stop talking about his extramarital affairs even though she promised to do so in front of a priest she had invited to try and save their marriage.

Before John Wayne became a bankable star in Hollywood, the veteran star had won a football scholarship to the University of Southern California in 1925, where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Sadly, after about two years at the School, he suffered an injury that took him off the football field and ended his scholarship. Shortly after that, one of his fraternity brothers set him up on a blind date with a beautiful girl called Carmen Saenz.

[Left] A portrait of John Wayne; [Right] John Wayne on set | Source: Getty Images

After they had gone to the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa and returned to the girl’s home, Wayne met her sister Josephine Saenz, and he was immediately attracted to the girl.

However, the beautiful girl was skeptical about his intentions. Her parents were also not supporting their relationship because Wayne was just a football player from a broken marriage who had lost his scholarship.

John Wayne holding a rifle in a publicity photo for the movie Shepherd of the Hills.| Source: Getty Images


Wayne’s friend William Bakewell was dating Loretta Young, and he became very close to her sisters, who were all devout Catholics.

The sisters had a friend called Josephine Sáenz, who had attended Convent with them. She was very close with the Youngs and was always at their home, where she became like a family member.

It allowed Wayne to meet Sáenz, and the pair started going out together. The actor was swooned by Sáenz because she was unlike any other woman he had met.

Film actor John Wayne on his wedding day with his wife Josephine Saenz and Loretta Young (1913 - 2000) | Source: Getty Images

Unlike his mother, Sáenz was classy, and she embodied intelligence, breeding, and composure. Her father, a doctor, was also very accomplished. He had been appointed as consul for Los Angeles by Haiti, Panama, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.

Wayne fell in love with Sáenz very quickly, but the latter was skeptical about him. Also, her family was not in full support of their relationship.

The actor’s reputation of being a football player from a broken marriage who had lost his scholarship and was living in Glendale did not help his cause. Wayne and Sáenz were from different social classes, and they felt the former was punching above his weight.

John Wayne, motion picture actor, and his bride, the former Miss Josephine Saenz, daughter of Dr. Jose Saenz, Panamanian Counsul in Los Angeles,| Source: Getty Images

Sáenz’s parents, however, liked that Wayne was sincere, and their daughter, on her part, was quite impressed by the actor’s looks. Sáenz and Wayne found a way to keep their relationship alive for years, although her parents would not agree to marriage until Wayne proved he could take care of their daughter.

In December 1932, Wayne and Sáenz finally announced their engagement. It was also reported by The New York Times. They exchanged marital vows on June 24, 1933, at Loretta Young’s Bel Air home. The ceremony was conducted by a priest from the Church of Immaculate conception.

The couple’s friends were present at the ceremony, including Henry Fonda and Grant Withers. The best men and ushers were from Wayne’s Sigma Chi Fraternity brothers.

 Screen actor Weds Daughter Of Latin American Consul. John Wayne, motion picture actor, and his bride, the former Miss Josephine Saenz, Panamanian Consul in Los Angeles, shown after their marriage at the Los Angeles home of Loretta Young,| Source: Getty Images


After tying the knot, the new couple moved to a three-bedroom apartment somewhere in Hancock Park, close to the bride’s parents’ house, so that they could be within her social circle.

As they were setting up the housekeeping in their new apartment, Wayne told his wife he would not handle tasks like fixing light bulbs or doing yard work and plumbing since he made enough money to have professionals do that.

Spencer Tracy reclines in a deck chair next to John Wayne, and his wife, Josephine Wayne. The three relax at El Mirador in Palm Springs, California, on January 29, 1934.| Source: Getty Images

The actor associated doing tasks around the house like that with poverty, a life he had lived growing up, and something he had no desire to replicate.

Soon after their marriage, they became parents when they welcomed their first child, Michael, in 1934. Anthonia followed him in 1936, Patrick in 1939, and Melinda in 1940.

Portrait of actor John Wayne, with his son Michael, daughter-in-law Gretchen, and granddaughters Alicia, Maria, Teresa and Josephine, March 19th 1968 | Source: Getty Images

Wayne loved his wife, but the actor could not reject the temptations of Hollywood, and he occasionally cheated on Sáenz. However, he was not an unrepentant womanizer and always felt guilty about his transgressions. According to his friend, Paul Fix:

“Duke [Wayne] would occasionally stray, but he always felt so guilty about cheating on Josephine, he usually broke it off as quick as he could.”

Their marriage was allegedly problematic because while Wayne was marrying someone in a higher social class, Sáenz was marrying someone below, and she ultimately did not respect her husband’s profession.

John Wayne, well-known screen actor, dines with his bride, the former Josephine Saenz, daughter of Dr. Jose S. Saenz, the Panamanian Consul in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images


Wayne started having an affair with his co-star, actress Marlene Dietrich, and during this period, he neglected Sáenz, who took up the role of the suffering wife.

Although his affairs were much-publicized, Sáenz tried to keep their marriage together, and she asked a priest, Father McCoy, to come to their home and counsel her husband about his extramarital affairs.

The movie star was appalled that his wife had turned to a priest for domestic advice. Nonetheless, he listened to Father McCoy and promised he would deter from seeing Dietrich if his wife would stop talking about his relationship with the actress.

John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich on the set of "The Spoilers" directed by Ray Enright circa 1942  | Source: Getty Images

However, as soon as the priest left, Sáenz raised the issue again, and it was at this point Wayne realized their marriage was over.

John Wayne

Here Are the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Westerns of All Time

The American Film Institute decided the top 10 Westerns of all time and we’ve got the 411 on the ones that ranked. People have always loved Westerns, and we’ve listed 8 of the most popular according to AFI.

First up, Cat Ballou, the 1965 Western comedy from Elliot Silverstein. It starred Jane Fonda as Cat and Lee Marvin in a dual role as both the man who killed Cat’s father and the gunslinger who helps her get revenge. Narrated through song by Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye, what made “Cat Ballou” so special was the female lead, which was rare for a Western.

Next, John Ford’s turning-point 1939 film, Stagecoach. It starred John Wayne and Claire Trevor. The film follows a group of interesting characters as they travel in a stagecoach together, which paved the way for the road trip trope. The passengers have to contend with the Ringo Kid, an outlaw, and the threat of Apache attack as they travel to New Mexico in the 1880s.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Robert Altman’s 1971 film, was a Revisionist Western piece starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. The film follows gambler John McCabe as he upstarts a successful brothel in a Washington town with Constance Miller’s help. The two strike up a romance, but when a mining company offers to buy his property, McCabe refuses.

No list of Westerns would be complete without Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The 1969 film from George Roy Hill starred Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid. The two got into all sorts of trouble, fleeing from the law after train robbing. The pair escape to Bolivia, but find they must fight the urge to commit crimes.

AFI’s Top Ten Westerns: Stagecoaches, Shoot-Outs, and Searchers

Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch comes up next. The 1969 Western starred William Holden, with Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, and Ben Johnson as his gang. The outlaws prepare to go through with a heist, only to find out the whole thing is a setup. The film is full of gratuitous violence and bloody shootouts; sure to satisfy fans of more gory Westerns.

Up next on the list, Red River. This 1948 Howard Hawks film follows John Wayne as Thomas Dunson, who aims to drive his cattle to Missouri for a better price. Montgomery Clift stars as Matt Garth, an orphaned youth whom Thomas takes under his wing. The film was shot on a grand scale, with sweeping landscapes and plenty of cattle. This is a must-watch for those who love big Westerns.

Then, Western star Clint Eastwood took a stab at directing his own with 1992’s Unforgiven. Starring Eastwood and co-starring Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris, the film follows Eastwood’s William Munny as he comes to town to catch a group of bandits. Harris’ English Bob comes to town as well, for the same reason, and the two outlaws clash with the local sheriff.

Additionally, the 1953 film Shane takes the American cowboy and turns him on his head; the cowboy retires to a ranch in Wyoming, but while working there falls in love with the ranch owner’s wife. He realizes that to save the ranch he has to fight the big cattle baron threatening to take the land. There’s something about watching a kid shout “Shane! Come back!” over an echoing, barren wasteland that tugs on the heartstrings.

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John Wayne

John Wayne: Which of the Duke’s Films Made the Most Money?

During his iconic Hollywood career, John Wayne made many popular films. These filmed are remembered for their drama, action, locations, scenes of heroism, and of course, for the Duke himself.

His films were usually Westerns or were about war. Wayne’s was a career that pretty much anyone hoping to make it in the movie business would envy.

Here’s an interesting question: Out of all of those popular movies, which of the Duke’s films was the most successful financially? Let’s find out.

According to, that title goes to the 1962 film, “How the West Was Won.” This film also starred James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Gregory Peck in this movie about the expansion into the American West. It made $440 million. (The website has adjusted the earnings of each of these films. The figures presented here are the films’ domestic grosses.)

Interestingly, the second most financially successful film of Wayne’s career was also released in 1962. It was “The Longest Day” and made $382 million. This film told stories from D-Day during World War II. The cast also included Fonda, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Eddie Albert, and Richard Beymer.

Bringing in the third-highest gross of the Duke’s career was “Reap the Wild Wind.” It was released in 1942 and made $361 million. It also starred Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland and followed the events that took place after a shipwreck in Key West.

The 1954 film “The High and the Mighty” comes in fourth place on the list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films. It made $347 million. In fifth place is the 1955 film “The Sea Chase.” It also starred Lana Turner and “Gunsmoke” star James Arness.

List of John Wayne’s Most Financially Successful Films Also Includes One That Won Him an Oscar

The top 10 list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films includes some of his most popular, as well as the film that won him an Academy Award.

Rounding out the top 10 highest-grossing John Wayne movies include “The Alamo” from 1960 in sixth place with $300 million. “The Sands of Iwo Jima” from 1949 comes in seventh place with almost $296 million. “Red River,” which was released in 1948 is in eighth place with almost $270 million.

The 1969 film “True Grit” is in ninth place with $262 million. It was his role as Rooster Cogburn that won John Wayne an Academy Award. The movie also starred Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and Kim Darby.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Duke’s 1959 film “Rio Bravo” with almost $251 million.

Now we know which John Wayne’s movies were his biggest financial successes in the United States. So, which film came in last on that list? This title goes to the 1929 film “Words and Music.” It reportedly grossed $13.6 million.

Interestingly, the list of John Wayne’s highest-grossing films worldwide is different from the domestic list shared above. The top five films on this list, from No. 1 to No. 5, are: “How the West Was Won”; “The Alamo”; “The High and the Mighty”; “Rio Bravo”; and “The Sea Chase.”

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John Wayne

John Wayne Turned Down ‘Waco Kid’ Role in 1974’s ‘Blazing Saddles’: Here’s Why

“Blazing Saddles” fans, you almost had John Wayne playing the “Waco Kid” in Mel Brooks’ classic film. But “The Duke” said no.

Mel Brooks, who directed and co-wrote the script for “Blazing Saddles,” was asked about Wayne turning down the role in a 2016 interview with Philly Metro.

“He did,” Brooks said in confirming Wayne turned down the role. “I wanted him to play the Waco Kid, because the Duke was such a good actor. His reality is that he is the cowboy Western.

“We were in the commissary at Warners, I gave him the script and he promised he’d read it overnight,” Brooks said. “The next morning I saw him and he says that he loves it — every beat, every line — but that it’s too blue, that it would disappoint his fans. He said, though, that he would be the first one in line to see it.”

Gene Wilder Takes Over Role In ‘Blazing Saddles’

When Wayne passed on it, Brooks initially looked to actor Gig Young to play the “Waco Kid.” Young, who battled alcoholism, showed up for the first day of filming. It did not go well. He collapsed during his first scene while dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

So, who did Brooks eventually turn to for this role? It just took one phone call to Gene Wilder, who flew out to Los Angeles and started filming.

Brooks and Wilder had worked together on an earlier Brooks film, “The Producers.” Wilder actually turned down another role in the film, that of Hedley Lamarr. Comedian Harvey Korman, who made a name for himself on “The Carol Burnett Show,” eventually was cast in that role.

Cleavon Little Role Originally Set For Richard Pryor

Of course, Cleavon Little plays Sheriff Bart in the movie. It was a role that Brooks wanted to give to Richard Pryor, who was a co-writer of the movie script. Warner Bros., though, was reportedly scared off by his drug arrests.

They wouldn’t insure Pryor for the movie, so the part went to Little. Other cast members include Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens, and former National Football League star Alex Karras.

The studio gave Brooks a $2.6 million budget for his 1974 release. As of 2012, “Blazing Saddles” had earned $119.6 million in the United States and Canada combined.

One could say that Warner Bros. earned back what it put out, and then some, from the witty, wild mind of Mel Brooks.

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