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John Wayne

John Wayne Rode His Own Horse Named Dollar in 7 Movies

Western movie star John Wayne frequently rode a horse to complete his cowboy image. However, he grew an affinity for one animal in particular. Wayne went out of his way to ensure that he could ride the same horse named Dollar across seven of his movies.

‘True Grit’ (1969)

L-R: John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn and Glen Campbell as La Boeuf | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The first time that Wayne worked with Dollar the horse on the silver screen was in 1969’s True Grit, directed by Henry Hathaway.

A 14-year-old named Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) seeks out U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn (Wayne), a man of “true grit.” He’ll need every ounce of it on a mission to track down a hired hand named Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) after he killed Mattie’s father.

Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) joins them on the hunt, looking to bring Tom to justice for killing a Texas senator.

Wayne earned his one, and only Oscar win for his performance in True Grit. Rooster rode his horse throughout the movie, but the final showdown scene is perhaps the most memorable.

‘Chisum’ (1970)

'Chisum' John Wayne as John Chisum riding a horse in a western costume

John Wayne as John Chisum | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Set in Lincoln County, New Mexico, John Chisum (Wayne) works as a successful cattle baron. His peaceful life is about to be put on the line when the unethical Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) and his business partner, James Dolan (Edward Faulkner), purchase the majority of the land and businesses nearby.

The horses in Chisum play an important part in the story, especially in a sequence where a couple of Chisum’s men are killed, and the herd is stolen.

‘Big Jake’ (1971)

'Big Jake' Bruce Cabot as Sam Sharpnose, Christopher Mitchum as Michael McCandles, John Wayne as Jacob McCandles, and Patrick Wayne as James McCandles on their horses, holding guns in front of a shack.L-R: Bruce Cabot as Sam Sharpnose, Christopher Mitchum as Michael McCandles, John Wayne as Jacob McCandles, and Patrick Wayne as James McCandles | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The villainous John Fain (Richard Boone) leads a gang of violent men to take over the McCandles Ranch. They target Jacob McCandles’ (Wayne) grandson to kidnap, demanding $1 million in ransom for his safe return. As a result, Big Jake will have to discover a way to rescue the boy.

When it comes to devising a plan, the titular hero of Big Jake wants to do things the old-fashioned way. He refuses to simply lie down and accept his fate. Wayne once again rides his horse, Dollar, to seek justice.

‘The Cowboys’ (1972)

'The Cowboys' John Wayne as Wil Andersen riding his horse in a field followed by a herd of other horses.John Wayne as Wil Andersen | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Wil Andersen (Wayne) is left in a difficult position when his ranch hands decide to chase the gold rush. Now an older rancher, he must find replacement drovers to help him on his 400-mile cattle drive. Wil makes the difficult decision to hire local schoolboys to get the job done.

The Cowboys is all about the horses and the rest of the animals, as they’re the mission that Wil set out to accomplish. The film is infamous for killing off Wayne’s character in a violent climactic scene, but it remains a truly memorable installment in the actor’s career.

‘The Train Robbers’ (1973)

'The Train Robbers' John Wayne as Lane among other travelers on horses above an image of sand dunes with broken stagecoachesJohn Wayne as Lane | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret) puts out a $50,000 reward for anybody who discovers a hidden reward after the death of her husband. Lane (Wayne) puts together a group of cowboys to head into Mexico with Mrs. Lowe, yearning for the reward money. They soon realize that they have some company from a mysterious single rider with his own agenda.

Wayne finds a trusty sidekick in his horse in The Train Robbers, as he travels into unfamiliar territory.

‘Rooster Cogburn’ (1975)

'Rooster Cogburn' Katharine Hepburn smiling on the back of the horse in a black-and-white picture.Katharine Hepburn | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Rooster Cogburn (Wayne) is preceded by his reputation, but now he’s without a badge. He sets his sights on getting it back by hunting down a gang of bandits and their stolen shipment of explosives. Cogburn’s job is only made more difficult by the daughter of one of the gang’s victims, who demands to come along on the journey.

Rooster Cogburn is a sequel to the Oscar-winning True Grit, and it’s the only film that Hepburn and Wayne made together. Nevertheless, the Western movie star still brought Dollar along for the ride.

‘The Shootist’ (1976)

'The Shootist' John Wayne as J.B. Books holding out his pistol, while sitting on horseback.John Wayne as J.B. Books | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An aging gunfighter named J.B. Books (Wayne) is shocked to discover from the local doctor that he has cancer and doesn’t have very long left to live. He decides to rent a room from a widow (Lauren Bacall) and her son (Ron Howard), hoping to die in peace with dignity. However, people with questionable motives approach him, which ultimately leads him to want to go out with a bang.

The Shootist is the final movie that Wayne made before he died in 1979 from stomach cancer. It perfectly summed up his career in the Western genre, but perhaps it hit a little too close to home for some.

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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