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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Best Co-Star Was in All of His Final Movies

John Wayne made a lot of movies with a lot of actors, starring alongside the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Dean Martin, Robert Mitchum, Maureen O’Hara, Kirk Douglas, and Katherine Hepburn, and that barely even scratches the surface of the stars he worked with. Despite this, Wayne’s best co-star is actually a horse named Dollor, who was with him in all of his Westerns from 1971’s Big Jake until his retirement. Their partnership culminated in Don Siegel’s The Shootist in 1976, when Wayne insisted on script changes so that he could call the horse by its name, finally passing Dollor on to a young Ron Howard.
John Wayne Didn’t Like Horses

Jeffrey Hunter and John Wayne in the desert on horses in The Searchers

Image via Warner Bros

There’s a quote that Wayne gave biographer Michael Munn in his book, John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth — “I’ve never really liked horses and I daresay not many of them liked me too much.” It seems an odd feeling to have for the most famous Western star in the history of Hollywood, but even from the time he was riding his family’s horse Jenny to school, Wayne (who at that time went by his birth name of Marion Robert Morrison) never particularly liked horses. Throughout his lengthy career, Wayne rode a whole host of horses, starting with Duke the Miracle Horse in his early career B-movie westerns. Often actors would just ride whatever horse the studio gave them, however a hallmark that would stick with Wayne, who at 6’ 4” was a large man, was tall horses. The notable outlier of a small Appaloosa named Zip Cochise in El Dorado really highlights that he needed a big horse.

Is it Dollar or Dollor?

John Wayne riding his horse, Dollor, in Big Jake.

In the later stages of his career, The Duke found a horse that would be the last one he would ride in a movie. There is a lot of conflicting information swirling around about what movies this particular horse was in, but unfortunately IMDb doesn’t have a list of credits for horses, making it a little tough to pinpoint where it all started. It’s even pretty tough to tell if the horse was named Dollar or Dollor. A lot of sources claim that 1969’s True Grit was the first to feature Dollor, not throughout the bulk of the movie but at the end after Wayne’s character Rooster Cogburn has to replace Beau, who dies in the climactic shootout. While he does indeed get a new horse, and one that looks very similar to Dollor, it is actually a different horse completely — adding to the confusion, this horse is possibly named Dollar. Beau had a distinctive wide white blaze down his face with a small deviation over the right eye, so when Cogburn turns up with a new sorrel gelding with a thin white blaze many think this is Dollor, however the blaze is wider at the top on this horse’s face and gets thinner towards the nose, while Dollor’s starts thin and gets wider at the nose.
Beau is the mount Wayne uses in his next few Westerns, but it is in the 1971 George Sherman film Big Jake that Dollor made his debut. He is then featured in every western that Wayne makes until his retirement, namely The Cowboys, The Train Robbers, Cahill, Rooster Cogburn, and The Shootist. It’s interesting that it was in this late stage of his career that Wayne became so strongly taken with a horse when he had been riding them his whole life. According to a Chicago Tribune article, Wayne was so enamored with Dollor that he had a contract drawn up with the owner, Dick Webb Movie Productions, to ensure no one else could ride the horse on film. Wayne also stipulated that the script for The Shootist be changed to allow him to refer to Dollor by name, specifically calling him Ol’ Dollor repeatedly.

John Wayne’s Twilight on Film


Many of Wayne’s final films share similar themes of family, legacy and a reckoning with an inevitable end, while also being among his best. In Big Jake, The Duke plays an estranged husband and father, pairing with not just his real-life son Patrick Wayne (something he did often), but also with his younger son Ethan Wayne playing his abducted grandchild. In Rooster Cogburn, he plays a man that hasn’t evolved with the times and has been left behind by a society that thinks it no longer needs him. In some ways it’s fitting that he grapples with this in a sequel to True Grit, for which he won his only Oscar. It’s also interesting that Marshall Cogburn is the character who is least like the classic John Wayne persona, yet it wrestles with themes so pertinent in the way the film business had moved beyond what he offered. He also dies on-screen twice on film in just four years, which perhaps doesn’t sound like much, but it only happened nine times in almost half a century.
The film that most poignantly captures and mirrors the final years of The Duke’s life is his last, The Shootist. The movie is a surprisingly wrenching experience as an aging gunfighter (or shootist, as is frequently used) comes to terms with his imminent death from cancer and what his legacy will be once he is gone. When he gets the diagnosis from a doctor played by his long-time friend, Jimmy Stewart, he asks if he can cut it out. “Not without gutting you like a fish,” is the reply. It’s impossible to separate this from Wayne’s own battle with cancer, the first occasion being in 1964 when his diagnosis of lung cancer led to the removal of his left lung and a couple of ribs. The Duke would later die of stomach cancer in 1979 — something that many have attributed to the filming of The Conqueror. The way his character, J.B. Books, is received in the town in which he chooses to die is a mixture of awe, fear, and animosity, as his reputation and legend precedes him. Again, hard to separate the character from the actor, especially when the opening includes a montage of footage from previous Wayne films.
Throughout The Shootist, Dollor plays a small but crucial role, becoming a central part of the relationship between Books and his short-term landlady’s (Lauren Bacall) son, Gillom (Ron Howard). As soon as Gillom discovers that the man that moved into his house is the famous shootist, from markings underneath the saddle on Dollor, the young man is obsessed. As the film progresses and people try to make their name by taking out Books, Dollor is a constant touchpoint for Books and Gillom, with the young man alternating between feeding the horse his oats and trying to sell him out from under Books. As their bond grows, it ends with Books giving Dollor to Gillom the night before his death. Just as the film climaxes on a nod between the pair, The Duke closing out his career by passing his favorite horse to a young star like Howard seems like a fitting way to go out.

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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John Wayne

The meaning of the phrase that John Wayne requested to be engraved on his tombstone.

John Wayne lived his life exactly the way he saw fit, right down till the very end. It’s why his tombstone features an odd, but honest message.In 1979, Wayne’s days were unfortunately numbered. He had last appeared in a film three years prior in The Shootist, and after overcoming lung cancer in the mid-1960s, his bout with stomach cancer was proving to be his ultimate killer.

When making final preparations, John Wayne requested a specific phrase in Spanish to be engraved on his tombstone. The tombstone, to this day, reads, “Feo, Fuerte y Formal.”The phrase means “ugly, strong, and dignified.” We couldn’t think of anything that better fits John Wayne if we tried.

However, that isn’t the only thing that’s transcribed on the acting legend’s tombstone. In 1999, the grave was marked with a quote:“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.”

John Wayne Converted to Catholicism Late in Life

The 72-year-old acting legend was going through a journey in his final days. Years later, his grandson and Catholic priest, Matthew Muñoz, discussed his grandfather’s transition to Roman Catholicism as he struggled with cancer.“My grandmother, Josephine Wayne Saenz, had a wonderful influence on his life and introduced him to the Catholic world,” said 46-year-old Fr. Muñoz, a priest of the Diocese of Orange. “He was constantly at Church events and fundraisers that she was always dragging him to and I think that, after a while, he kind of got a sense that the common secular vision of what Catholics are and what his own experience actually was, were becoming two greatly different things.”

Further, Muñoz added that his grandfather converting to Catholocism “was one of the sentiment he expressed before he passed on”. The Catholic priest said his grandfather blamed the delay on “a busy life.”According to his grandson, Wayne was a spiritual and Christian man throughout life. This is best evidenced through his written prayers.“He wrote beautiful love letters to God, and they were prayers. And they were very childlike and they were very simple but also very profound at the same time,” Fr. Muñoz said. “And sometimes that simplicity was looked at as naivety but I think there was a profound wisdom in his simplicity.”

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