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John Wayne

John Wayne’s Mentor Showed Up on ‘The Alamo’ Uninvited to Micromanage the Duke’s Directing Style

John Wayne is a legendary Western actor who stepped behind the camera a few times, including for The Alamo. He learned plenty from John Ford, who was his mentor and longtime friend. However, Ford came to the set of The Alamo uninvited to micromanage Wayne regarding his directing style which made things difficult.

John Wayne stepped behind the camera for ‘The Alamo’

'The Alamo' director John Wayne in Western costume sitting behind the camera

John Wayne | United Artists/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth dives into the professional and personal lives of the iconic actor. Wayne sat in the director’s chair for The Alamo, which he was very passionate about bringing to the silver screen. Cinematographer William H Clothier opened up about the Duke’s process.

“Every morning Duke and I would get up early and have breakfast, and then we’d go out on the set or to a location, and we’d discuss and plan every shot we were going to use that day,” Clothier said. “Duke knew the entire script, and we were able to plan each shot, so when we began work with the cast and crew, we knew exactly what we were going to do.”

Clothier continued: “Duke would even tell me what kind of natural light he wanted, so we were able to plan which shots to start with to get the morning light, and which shots we’d do in the afternoon so the light would be right. He learned that from Ford. And he knew in his head what he wanted.”

However, Wayne had some specific habits that he had to try and shake while filming The Alamo.

“I’d say the biggest problem he had was that during a take, he’d mouth the other actors’ lines, like he was willing them to get it right first take,” Clothier recalled. “And I’d make a motion to him, and he’d suddenly realize what he’d been doing, and he’d get mad at himself.”

John Ford showed up uninvited to micromanage John Wayne directing ‘The Alamo’

John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth revealed that Ford showed up to the set of The Alamo uninvited to micromanage Wayne. However, the actor remained very calm about the situation and ultimately figured out how to deal with the situation.

“A week or two after we started, John Ford arrives on the set,” Clothier said. “He wasn’t invited, he didn’t ask if he could come down. He just turned up. Now, that would have been okay if he hadn’t brought his director’s chair with him and set it up next to me. He’d sit there watching Duke direct, and this intimidated Duke which didn’t help his concentration.”

Clothier continued: “Ford would loudly say, ‘Jesus Christ, Duke, that’s not the way to do it.’ Duke was very patient with Ford who began telling him how to make the film. Duke just didn’t want to hurt the old man’s feelings, but he said to me, ‘He’s gonna take over the whole goddamn picture. What the hell am I gonna do?’”

However, Clothier had the perfect solution for Wayne to keep Ford busy on the set of The Alamo: “‘Give the old man a second unit.’ Duke said, ‘Bill, why didn’t I think of that?’ I said, ‘Because you’ve got enough to think about.’”

The actor-turned-director gave instructions to his son to handle John Ford

While filming The Alamo, John Wayne’s long time mentor & friend, John Ford, showed up unannounced. Duke always had great respect for Ford so he sent him off to get B Roll for the movie that ended up not making the final cut of the film. 🎥— John Wayne Official (@JohnDukeWayne) October 10, 2018

Clothier said in John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth that Wayne’s son, Michael, had a specific job on The Alamo.

“Michael Wayne told me, “When JW decided Ford could direct a second unit, he gave me the job of watching over him,’” Clothier remembered. “‘That was a pretty rough situation to be put in, trying to keep John Ford in line. My father said to me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t let him near any of the principal actors.’ I said, ‘Why me?’ He said, ‘You’re not afraid of him.’”

However, Michael had some “rough moments” with Ford because he kept asking to bring over Richard Widmark or Laurence Harvey. Wayne’s son had to come up with excuses for why they weren’t available for filming.

“Ford shot a lot of stuff, most of it expensive wastage, just because Duke didn’t want to upset him,” Clothier said. “There are one or two moments in the film that Ford directed. Like the two guys who are always saying, ‘Do it mean what I think it do?’ ‘It do.’ Ford shot their death scene during the final battle, and that’s in the film. But so much of what he shot wasn’t used that he was furious at Duke. For a long time after, he was rough on Duke.”

John Wayne

John Wayne’s Cause of Death and His Last Words

John Wayne is a legendary Western movie star who the world will always recognize for his contributions to the medium. However, his final words on his deathbed didn’t have anything to do with movies or his career. Rather, he used them to speak sentimental, heartfelt words aimed at his daughter, Aissa Wayne, who stayed at his bedside.

John Wayne’s cause of death was stomach cancer

John Wayne wearing a cowboy hat

John Wayne | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

According to, Wayne died on June 11, 1979, of stomach cancer at the age of 72. However, it wasn’t his first encounter with cancer, as he fought it for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the doctors reported that the actor was too weak to begin chemotherapy and experimental treatment, which the actor approved of.

Wayne coined the term “The Big C” for cancer in 1964. He ultimately needed to have his left lung and four ribs removed. Wayne seemed to recover at the time, despite regularly being short of breath. However, he didn’t stop his habit of smoking and chewing tobacco regularly, which certainly didn’t help with his situation.

John Wayne’s last words were to his daughter, Aissa Wayne

Outsider confirmed that Wayne was surrounded by his family during his stay in the hospital. He was never left alone, as the doctors tried to do all they could to strengthen his physical state. However, their efforts ultimately failed. Wayne spent his last days before his death in and out of consciousness.

Wayne’s name is generally associated with a tough sense of masculinity, but he also had a sentimental side of him. These stories particularly come from his family, including Wayne’s final words.

Wayne’s daughter, Aissa, was at his bedside at the time of his death. She was holding her father’s hand and asked him if he knew who she was. He responded with his last words, “Of course, I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”

‘The Shootist’ was his final acting role

Wayne’s final movie role before his death was starring as J.B. Books in The Shootist. The film follows his character, who is an aging gunfighter who has cancer. He heads to Nevada and rents a room from the widowed Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her son, Gillom (Ron Howard). Many folks confront Books for various reasons involving his notoriety. However, Books doesn’t plan to die quietly but will go out with a bang.

Wayne surprised critics and audiences with his performance, as many folks previously believed that he simply played himself in all of his roles. However, he wouldn’t ultimately earn an Oscar nomination for his role.

Wayne earned his first two Oscar nominations for Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, it wouldn’t be until 1969’s True Grit that he would finally earn the golden statue. Many of his fans still believe that he deserved to get an Oscar nomination for his final work on The Shootist.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Miserable’ Because of ‘Venomous Remarks’ on ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Western genre went through a series of changes over the years. However, John Wayne will always remain one of the most iconic depictions of the Western film genre with performances in big titles, such as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Unfortunately, he didn’t have such an easy time on the set. Wayne had a “miserable” time filming because of John Ford‘s “venomous remarks.”

John Wayne played Tom Doniphon in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' John Wayne as Tom Doniphon and James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard shouting at assembly

L-R: John Wayne as Tom Doniphon and James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance follows Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) as he returns to a small town for a funeral. The press questions his arrival, but they’re about to hear the story of his connection to a local man named Tom Doniphon (Wayne). The story brings audiences back in town when Tom saved Stoddard from Liberty Valance’s (Lee Marvin) crew of outlaws. However, Stoddard and Tom are the only two willing to stand up to him and his crew.

Wayne’s performance in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is iconic. He once again delivers his Western charm along with his repeated use of the line “pilgrim.” As a result, popular culture continues to refer back to the legendary actor’s performance.

John Wayne was ‘miserable’ because of John Ford’s ‘venomous remarks’ on the set

Wayne worked with Ford on many films, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, the filmmaker often targeted Wayne with “venomous remarks,” verbally attacking him. Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth detailed some of the comments that Ford made toward the actor, which really made him angry.

“But the most damage Ford did was to the friendship me and Duke Wayne might have had,” co-star Woody Strode said “He kept needling Duke about his failure to make it as a football player, and because I had been a professional player, Ford kept saying to Duke, ‘Look at Woody. He’s a real football player.’”

However, the comments didn’t stop there. Ford brought up Wayne not serving in the military while on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. As a result, he praised Stewart’s service. This is a particular weak spot for the actor, who deeply regretted not serving in the military when he had the chance.

Strode continued: “It’s like he’d needle him about whatever reasons he had for not enlisting in the war by asking Jimmy, ‘How many times did you risk your life over Germany, Jimmy?’ And Jimmy would kind of go, ‘Oh, shucks’ or whatever, and Ford would say to Duke, ‘How rich did you get while Jimmy was risking his life?’ … What a miserable film to make.”

‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ goes down as one of the best Westerns of all time

Ford never came forward with a specific reason for verbally attacking Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Perhaps it was to get a better performance out of the actor. However, it clearly left an impact on the cast and crew.

Fortunately, that didn’t negatively impact the finished product. Wayne fans often assert that The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of the best Western films of all time. It continues to impact filmmaking to this day. The film only earned an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, but it remains a classic that many viewers rewatch.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Ready For a Fight’ With His ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ Co-Star

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of John Wayne‘s most iconic roles. However, he didn’t have the most enjoyable time behind-the-scenes. Wayne’s frequent collaborator, John Ford, gave him a difficult time. As a result, he was “ready for a fight” with co-star Woody Strode, who once explained the severity of the situation.

John Wayne plays it tough as Tom Doniphon in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance finds Wayne playing a local man named Tom Doniphon in a small Western town. Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) comes into town for his funeral, which confuses the press. However, the distinguished man tells the story of how Tom helped protect him against a crew of outlaws led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin).

Moviegoers embraced Wayne’s signature dialogue delivery. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance includes one of Wayne’s most iconic words: “pilgrim.” He repeatedly calls Stewart’s Stoddard this, which was an insult within the time period. Nevertheless, Tom maintains Western masculinity as shown in both his narrative and the way the actor plays the part. The character is typically accompanied by his handyman, Pompey (Strode)

John Wayne was ‘ready for a fight’ with co-star Woody Strode

Michael Munn’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth chronicles the iconic actor’s career, including his work on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Ford repeatedly harrassed Wayne on the set with rude remarks that intentionally pushed his buttons. However, the actor took it out on Strode.

“This really pissed Wayne off but he would never take it out on Ford,” Strode said. “He ended up taking it out on me. We had one of the few outdoor scenes where we hightail it out to his ranch in a wagon. He’s driving and I’m kneeling in the back of the wagon. Wayne was riding those horses so fast that he couldn’t get them to stop. I reached up to grab the reins to help, and he swung and knocked me away.”

Strode continued: “When the horses finally stopped, Wayne fell out of the wagon and jumped off ready for a fight. I was in great shape in those days and Wayne was just getting a little too old and a little too out of shape for a fight. But if he’d started on me, I would have flattened him. Ford knew it, and he called out, ‘Woody, don’t hit him. We need him.’”

However, Wayne ultimately calmed down to allow them to continue filming. Nevertheless, Strode felt that “miserable” tension on the set as a result of Ford’s behavior.

“Wayne calmed down, and I don’t think it was because he was afraid of me,” Strode recalled. “Ford gave us a few hours’ break to cool off. Later Wayne said to me, ‘We gotta work together. We both gotta be professionals.’ But I blame Ford for all that trouble. He rode Wayne so hard, I thought he was going to go over the edge. What a miserable film to make.”

James Stewart has top billing on ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ultimately gives Stewart top billing over Wayne in all of the promotional materials. However, the film itself and the theatre marquees place Wayne’s name above his co-star. Some audiences contemplate which role is truly the main character of the story, as they both experience hardship and change.

However, neither actor would get an Oscar nomination for their performances in one of the greatest Western movies ever made. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance only earned a nomination for Best Costume Design, although it lost to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Nevertheless, the movie remains a vital part of cinema history.

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