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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.

John Wayne

Why John Wayne Turned Down the Chance to Work With Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne are the two biggest legends in the history of Western movies, however, they never worked together. The duo did have the opportunity to work together once in the 1970s. Here’s why the film never came to fruition.

How John Wayne responded when Clint Eastwood tried to work with him

Firstly, a little background. According to the book John Wayne: The Life and Legend, it all starts with Larry Cohen. Though Cohen is not a widely known director like Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino, he’s a huge name to fans of B movies. He directed famous B movies like The Stuff, Q: The Winged Serpent, It’s Alive, and God Told Me To. He also wrote a script called The Hostiles shortly after Eastwood released his classic High Plains Drifter.

The Hostiles was about a gambler who wins half of an estate of an older man. The gambler and the older man have to work together despite the fact that they don’t like each other. Eastwood optioned the screenplay with the intent of playing the gambler alongside Wayne as the older man.

Eastwood sent a copy of the script of The Hostiles to Wayne. Although Eastwood felt the script was imperfect, he saw its potential. However, Wayne was not interested. Eastwood pitched the film to Wayne a second time and Wayne responded with a letter. Wayne’s letter complained about High Plains Drifter. Wayne was offended by the film and its portrayal of the Old West as a cruel, violent place.

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John Wayne

Ann-Margret Refused to Call John Wayne ‘Duke’ While Introducing 1 of His Movies

Ann-Margret once starred in one of John Wayne’s lesser-known movies. However, she refused to call him by his popular moniker Duke. Here’s a look at the film they made together — and why she declined to call him by a nickname.

The one time Ann-Margret and John Wayne made a movie together

Ann-Margret is probably most known for her work in musicals, specifically Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, and The Who’s Tommy. However, she also dabbled in the Western genre. She starred alongside Wayne in the mostly forgotten movie The Train Robbers.

Wayne was also known as The Duke or just Duke. According to USA Today, the nickname was derived from his childhood dog. It stuck with him for many years. It continues to be used today — even on the box covers of the DVDs for his movies.

John Wayne | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

During an interview with Interview Magazine, Ann-Margret explained why she didn’t refer to the Rio Bravo star by this famous name. “When I came to this country, first of all, mother and I didn’t know English,” she said. “I would curtsey, then say, ‘Thank you,’ and then when I was leaving, curtsey. For example, we went to Dallas to introduce a film I did with John Wayne. And I never called him Duke. I just couldn’t. That’s the way I was raised. When you meet someone, you say either Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. You stand up.”

Ann-Margret revealed she treated other famous people in much the same way. For example, she worked with director George Sidney on Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas. She always called him Mr. Sidney.

What Ann-Margret thought about John Wayne

Ann-Margret refused to use Wayne’s most famous moniker. However, she had a positive view of the actor. During an interview with Fox News, she was asked what she expected when she met Wayne. “Oh, I didn’t know what to expect,” she revealed. “But when he hugged me, it’s like the world was hugging me. He was so big and wide with that booming voice. 

“We were shooting in Durango, Mexico and my parents came down to visit me,” she added. “He was so great with my parents. So absolutely welcoming and gentle with them. And anybody who was great to my parents was on a throne in my eyes.”

How the world reacted to ‘The Train Robbers’

Wayne starred in many classic Westerns, including The Searchers, Stagecoach, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, The Train Robbers is mostly forgotten. It didn’t gain a cult following like Once Upon a Time in the West or Dead Man. It wasn’t a critical success either, garnering a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Ann-Margret had some fond memories of making the film — even if she refused to call Wayne by his famous nickname.

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John Wayne

True Crime on Amazon Prime: ‘Lorena’ Reexamines a 90s Tabloid Sensation

True crime might not be the first type of show that comes to mind when you think of the offerings on Amazon Prime Video. The perpetually buzzy genre is usually more associated with the likes of Netflix and HBO.

However, the streaming service boasts at least one standout docuseries from 2019. It’s one that can scratch the true crime itch for fans, but also give them a much needed new perspective on a well-worn tabloid sensation from the 1990s.

‘Lorena’ was produced by Jordan Peele of ‘Get Out’ fame

Jordan Peele, Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, and Lorena Gallo attend the 'Lorena' Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Jordan Peele, Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke, and Lorena Gallo attend the ‘Lorena’ Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. | Rich Fury/Getty Images

Lorena, as the simple, to-the-point title suggests, chronicles the sordid story of Lorena and Jon Bobbit. The series was produced by Jordan Peele, the comedian-turned-director best known for Get Out and Us, and released on Amazon Prime Video in early 2019 following a premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt infamously cut her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis off in his sleep with a kitchen carving knife. She drove off with it, tossed it out the car window into a field, and eventually called 911 to report the incident. After a search followed by 9.5 hours of surgery, John Bobbitt was able to get his penis reattached and functioning normally.

Thanks in large part to the salacious and sexual nature of the Bobbittss story, it quickly became a tabloid and late-night talk show sensation. Sadly, as one might expect from a male-dominated culture, the media spectacle largely focused on John Bobbitt as a sympathetic victim and cast Lorena as a hysterical victim. John Bobbitt went on to become something of a cult figure for a time, even starring in two pornographic films.

Part of the mission statement of Lorena, the series, was to use the true crime format to recontextualize the Lorena Bobbitt story. Despite the prevailing perception of the incident beforehand, in reality, John Bobbitt had subjected Lorena to years of domestic abuse and rape, up to and including the night of her attack.

John Bobbitt was eventually acquitted on rape charges. Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty by a jury for reasons of insanity.

“25 years later, Lorena is a groundbreaking re-investigation of the deep moral issues and painful human tragedies buried at the heart of this infamous American scandal,” Amazon’s official description of the series reads, as reported by Deadline. “Lost in the tabloid coverage and jokes was the opportunity for a national discussion on domestic and sexual assault in America.”

Lorena saw a positive reaction upon its release, currently boasting an 82% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the biggest project yet from director Joshua Rofé, who previously helmed Lost for Life, a documentary about juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison.

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