John WayneShow Count: 4
Series Count: 0
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Born: May 26, 1907, Winterset, Iowa, USA
Died: June 11, 1979, Los Angeles, California, USA
Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. An Academy Award-winner, Wayne was among the top box office draws for three decades, and is the highest grossing film star of all time. An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.
Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa but his family relocated to the greater Los Angeles area when he was four years old. He found work at local film studios when he lost his football scholarship to USC as a result of a bodysurfing accident. Initially working for theFox Film Corporation, he mostly appeared in small bit parts. His first leading role came in the widescreen epic The Big Trail (1930), which led to leading roles in numerous films throughout the 1930s, many of them in the western genre. His career rose to further heights in 1939, with John Ford's Stagecoach making him an instant superstar. Wayne would go on to star in 142 pictures, primarily typecast in Western films.
Among his best known later films are The Quiet Man (1952), which follows him as an Irish-American boxer and his love affair with a fiery spinster played by Maureen O'Hara; The Searchers (1956), in which he plays a Civil War veteran who seeks out his abducted niece, played by Natalie Wood; Rio Bravo (1959), playing a Sheriff with Dean Martin; True Grit (1969), playing a humorous U.S. Marshal who sets out to avenge a man's death in the role that won Wayne an Academy Award; and The Shootist (1976), his final screen performance in which he plays an aging gunslinger battling cancer.
Wayne moved to Orange County, California in the 1960s, and was a prominent Republican in Hollywood, supporting anti-communistpositions. He died of stomach cancer in 1979. In June 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne 13th among the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time.
The house in Winterset, Iowa in which Wayne was born in 1907
John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907 at 216 South Second Street in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. Wayne's father, Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937), was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (1845–1915). Wayne's mother, the former Mary "Molly" Alberta Brown (1885–1970), was from Lancaster County, Nebraska. Wayne's ancestry included Scots-Irish, Irish, Scottish and English. He was brought up as a Presbyterian.
Wayne's family moved to Palmdale, California, and then in 1911 to Glendale, California, where his father worked as a pharmacist. A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him "Little Duke" because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke. He preferred "Duke" to "Marion", and the name stuck for the rest of his life.
As a teen, Wayne worked in an ice cream shop for a man who shod horses for Hollywood studios. He was also active as a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization associated with the Freemasons. He attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale. He played football for the 1924 champion Glendale High School team.
Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, but was not accepted. He instead attended the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in pre-law. He was a member of theTrojan Knights and Sigma Chi fraternities. Wayne also played on the USC football team under coach Howard Jones. A broken collarbone injury curtailed his athletic career; Wayne later noted he was too terrified of Jones's reaction to reveal the actual cause of his injury, a bodysurfing accident. He lost his athletic scholarship and, without funds, had to leave the university.
Wayne began working at the local film studios. Prolific silent western film star Tom Mix had found him a summer job in the prop department in exchange for football tickets. Wayne soon moved on to bit parts, establishing a longtime friendship with the director who provided most of those roles, John Ford. Early in this period, Wayne appeared with his USC teammates playing football in Brown of Harvard (1926), The Dropkick (1927), and Salute (1929) and Columbia's Maker of Men (filmed in 1930, released in 1931).
Early career and breakthrough
While working for Fox Film Corporation in bit roles, he was given on-screen credit as "Duke Morrison" only once, in Words and Music(1929). In 1930, director Raoul Walsh saw him moving studio furniture while working as a prop boy and cast him in his first starring role in The Big Trail (1930). For his screen name, Walsh suggested "Anthony Wayne", after Revolutionary War general "Mad Anthony" Wayne. Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected it as sounding "too Italian". Walsh then suggested "John Wayne". Sheehan agreed, and the name was set. Wayne himself was not even present for the discussion. His pay was raised to $105 a week.
You can <a href='//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Angel_and_the_Badman_1947_John_Wayne.ogv'>download the clip</a> or <a href='//www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:TimedMediaHandler/Client_download'>download a player</a> to play the clip in your browser.</video></div>">
(video) The manner and voice of John Wayne (right) showcased in a short clip from the film Angel and the Badman, 1947.
The Big Trail was to be the first big-budget outdoor spectacle of the sound era, made at a staggering cost of over $2 million, using hundreds of extras and wide vistas of the American southwest, still largely unpopulated at the time. To take advantage of the breathtaking scenery, it was filmed in two versions, a standard 35mm version and another in the new 70 mm Grandeur film process using an innovative camera and lenses. Many in the audience who saw it in Grandeur stood and cheered. Unfortunately, only a handful of theaters were equipped to show the film in its widescreen process, and the effort was largely wasted. Despite being highly regarded by modern critics, the film was considered a huge box office flop at the time.
After the commercial failure of The Big Trail, Wayne was relegated to small roles in A-pictures, including Columbia's The Deceiver(1931), in which he played a corpse. He appeared in the serial The Three Musketeers (1933), an updated version of the Alexandre Dumas novel in which the protagonists were soldiers in the French Foreign Legion in then-contemporary North Africa. He played the lead, with his name over the title, in many low-budget "Poverty Row" westerns, mostly at Monogram Pictures and serials for Mascot Pictures Corporation. By Wayne's own estimation, he appeared in about eighty of these horse operas from 1930 to 1939. In Riders of Destiny (1933) he became one of the first singing cowboys of film, albeit via dubbing. Wayne also appeared in some of the Three Mesquiteers westerns, whose title was a play on the Dumas classic. He was mentored by stuntmen in riding and other westernskills. He and famed stuntman Yakima Canutt developed and perfected stunts and onscreen fisticuffs techniques still used today.
Wayne's breakthrough role came with director John Ford's classic Stagecoach (1939). Because of Wayne's B-movie status and track record in low-budget westerns throughout the 1930s, Ford had difficulty getting financing for what was to be an A-budget film. After rejection by all the top studios, Ford struck a deal with independent producer Walter Wanger in which Claire Trevor—a much bigger star at the time—received top billing. Stagecoach was a huge critical and financial success, and Wayne became a mainstream star. Cast member Louise Platt credits Ford as saying at the time that Wayne would become the biggest star ever because of his appeal as the archetypal "everyman".
America's entry into World War II resulted in a deluge of support for the war effort from all sectors of society, and Hollywood was no exception. Wayne was exempted from service due to his age (34 at the time of Pearl Harbor) and family status, classified as 3-A (family deferment). He repeatedly wrote to John Ford, asking to be placed in Ford's military unit, but consistently postponed it until "after he finished one more film", Wayne did not attempt to prevent his reclassification as 1-A (draft eligible), but Republic Studios was emphatically resistant to losing him; Herbert J. Yates, President of Republic, threatened Wayne with a lawsuit if he walked away from his contract and Republic Pictures intervened in the Selective Service process, requesting Wayne's further deferment.
Wayne toured U.S. bases and hospitals in the South Pacific for three months in 1943 and 1944. By many accounts, Wayne's failure to serve in the military was the most painful experience of his life. His widow later suggested that his patriotism in later decades sprang from guilt, writing: "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home."
Wake of the Red Witch
Wayne's first color film was Shepherd of the Hills (1941), in which he co-starred with his longtime friend Harry Carey. The following year, he appeared in his only film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the Technicolor epic Reap the Wild Wind (1942), in which he co-starred with Ray Millandand Paulette Goddard; it was one of the rare times he played a character with questionable values. He would appear in more than twenty of John Ford's films throughout the next two decades, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956),The Wings of Eagles (1957), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
In 1949, director Robert Rossen offered the starring role of All the King's Men to Wayne. Wayne refused, believing the script to be un-American in many ways. Broderick Crawford, who eventually got the role, won the 1949 Oscar for best male actor, ironically beating out Wayne, who had been nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima.
He lost the leading role in The Gunfighter (1950) to Gregory Peck due to his refusal to work for Columbia Pictures because its chief, Harry Cohn, had mistreated him years before when he was a young contract player. Cohn had bought the project for Wayne, but Wayne's grudge was too deep, and Cohn sold the script to Twentieth Century Fox, which cast Peck in the role Wayne badly wanted but for which he refused to bend.
One of Wayne's most popular roles was in The High and the Mighty (1954), directed by William Wellman, and based on a novel by Ernest K. Gann. His portrayal of a heroic copilot won widespread acclaim. Wayne also portrayed aviators in Flying Tigers (1942), Flying Leathernecks(1951), Island in the Sky (1953), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and Jet Pilot (1957).
The Searchers (1956) continues to be widely regarded as perhaps Wayne's finest and most complex performance. In 2006, Premiere Magazine ran an industry poll in which Wayne's portrayal of Ethan Edwards was rated the 87th greatest performance in film history. He named his youngest son Ethan after the character.
John Wayne won a Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969). Wayne was also nominated as the producer of Best Picture for The Alamo (1960), one of two films he directed. The other was The Green Berets (1968), the only major film made during the Vietnam War to support the war. During the filming of Green Berets, the Degar or Montagnard people of Vietnam's Central Highlands, fierce fighters against communism, bestowed on Wayne a brass bracelet that he wore in the film and all subsequent films.
, with co-star Diana Muldaur(1974)
In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Dirty Harry, Wayne took on the role of gritty detective McQ in the 1974 crime drama. His last film was The Shootist (1976), whose main character, J. B. Books, was dying of cancer—the illness to which Wayne himself succumbed three years later. According to the Internet Movie Database, Wayne played the lead in 142 of his film appearances.
Batjac, the production company co-founded by Wayne, was named after the fictional shipping company Batjak in Wake of the Red Witch (1948), a film based on the novel by Garland Roark. (A spelling error by Wayne's secretary was allowed to stand, accounting for the variation.) Batjac (and its predecessor, Wayne-Fellows Productions) was the arm through which Wayne produced many films for himself and other stars. Its best-known non-Wayne production was the highly acclaimed Seven Men From Now (1956), which started the classic collaboration between director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott.
In the Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Money-Making Western Stars poll, Wayne was listed in 1936 and 1939. He appeared in the similar Box Office poll in 1939 and 1940. While these two polls are really an indication only of the popularity of series stars, Wayne also appeared in the Top Ten Money Makers Poll of all films from 1949 to 1957 and 1958 to 1974, taking first place in 1950, 1951, 1954 and 1971. With a total of 25 years on the list, Wayne has more appearances than any other star, beating Clint Eastwood (21) into second place.
Wayne in The Challenge of Ideas
In later years, Wayne was recognized as a sort of American natural resource, and his various critics, of his performances and his politics, viewed him with more respect. Abbie Hoffman, the radical of the 1960s, paid tribute to Wayne's singularity, saying, "I like Wayne's wholeness, his style. As for his politics, well—I suppose even cavemen felt a little admiration for the dinosaurs that were trying to gobble them up." Reviewing The Cowboys (1972), Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who did not particularly care for the film, wrote: "Wayne is, of course, marvelously indestructible, and he has become an almost perfect father figure."
Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. His wives, each of Hispanic descent, were Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. He had four children with Josephine: Michael Wayne (November 23, 1934 – April 2, 2003), Mary Antonia "Toni" Wayne LaCava (February 25, 1936 – December 6, 2000), Patrick Wayne (born July 15, 1939), and Melinda Wayne Munoz (born December 3, 1940). He had three more children with Pilar: Aissa Wayne (born March 31, 1956), John Ethan Wayne (born February 22, 1962), and Marisa Wayne (born February 22, 1966).
Wayne with third wife Pilar Pallete atKnott's Berry Farm in 1971
Several of Wayne's children entered the film and television industry; Wayne's son Ethan was billed as John Ethan Wayne in a few films, and played one of the leads in the 1990s update of the Adam-12 television series.
His stormiest divorce was from Esperanza Baur, a former Mexican actress. She convinced herself that Wayne and co-star Gail Russellwere having an affair. The night the film Angel and the Badman (1947) wrapped, there was the usual party for cast and crew, and Wayne came home very late. Esperanza was in a drunken rage by the time he arrived, and she attempted to shoot him as he walked through the front door.
Wayne had several high-profile affairs, including one with Marlene Dietrich that lasted for three years. After his separation from his wife, Pilar, in 1973, Wayne became romantically involved and lived with his former secretary Pat Stacy (1941–1995) until his death in 1979. She published a biography of her life with him entitled Duke: A Love Story in 1983.
Wayne's hair began thinning in the 1940s, and he started wearing a hairpiece by the end of that decade. He was occasionally seen in public without the hairpiece (notably, according to Life magazine, at Gary Cooper's funeral). During a widely noted appearance atHarvard University, Wayne was asked by a student, "Where did you get that phony hair?" He responded, "It's not phony. It's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real."
A close friend of Wayne's, California Congressman Alphonzo Bell, wrote of him, "Duke's personality and sense of humor were very close to what the general public saw on the big screen. It is perhaps best shown in these words he had engraved on a plaque: 'Each of us is a mixture of some good and some not so good qualities. In considering one's fellow man it's important to remember the good things ... We should refrain from making judgments just because a fella happens to be a dirty, rotten SOB.'"
Wayne biographer Michael Munn chronicled Wayne's drinking habits. According to Sam O'Steen's memoir, Cut to the Chase, studio directors knew to shoot Wayne's scenes before noon, because by afternoon he "was a mean drunk". He had been a chain-smoker of cigarettes since young adulthood and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964. He underwent successful surgery to remove his entire left lung and four ribs. Despite efforts by his business associates to prevent him from going public with his illness for fear that it would cost him work, Wayne announced he had cancer and called on the public to get preventive examinations. Five years later, Wayne was declared cancer-free.
Wayne's height has been perennially described as at least 6'4" (193 cm). He was a Freemason, a Master Mason in Marion McDaniel Lodge #56 F&AM, in Tucson, Arizona. He became a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and later joined the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple in Los Angeles. He became a member of the York Rite. During the early 1960s, John Wayne traveled extensively to Panama, during which he purchased the island of Taborcillo off the main coast. It was sold by his estate at his death and changed hands many times before being opened as a tourist attraction.
Wayne's yacht, the Wild Goose, was one of his favorite possessions. He kept it docked in Newport Harbor and it was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
Throughout most of his life, Wayne was a vocally prominent conservative Republican. Initially a self-described socialist during his college years, he voted for Democratic PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election and expressed admiration for Roosevelt's successor, fellow Democratic President Harry S Truman. He took part in creating the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in February 1944 and was elected president of that organization in 1947. An ardent anti-communist and vocal supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee, in 1952 he made Big Jim McLain to show his support for the anti-communist cause. Recently declassified Sovietdocuments reveal that despite being a fan of Wayne's movies, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered Wayne's assassination as a result of his frequently-espoused anti-communist politics.
Wayne meets with President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in San Clemente, California, July 1972
Wayne supported Vice President Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1960, but expressed his vision of patriotism when John F. Kennedy won the election: "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job." He used his iconic star power to support conservative causes, including rallying support for the Vietnam War by producing, co-directing, and starring in the critically panned The Green Berets in 1968. In a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine Wayne responded to questions about whether entitlement programs including Medicare and Social Security were good for the country:
I know all about that. In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself—but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man's responsibilities, he finds that it can't work out that way—that some people just won't carry their load ... I believe in welfare—a welfare work program. I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.
Due to his enormous popularity and his status as the most famous Republican star in Hollywood, wealthy Texas Republican Party backers asked Wayne to run for national office in 1968, as had his friend and fellow actor Senator George Murphy. He declined, joking that he did not believe the public would seriously consider an actor in the White House. Instead he supported his friend Ronald Reagan's runs for Governor of California in 1966 and 1970. He was asked to be the running mate for Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968, rejecting the offer and actively campaigned for Richard Nixon; Wayne addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in August 1968. For awhile, he was also a member of the conservative, anti-communism group the John Birch Society.
Wayne openly differed with the Republican Party over the issue of the Panama Canal, as he supported the Panama Canal Treaty in the mid-1970s; conservatives had wanted the U.S. to retain full control of the canal, but Wayne believed that the Panamanians had the right to the canal and sided with President Jimmy Carter and the Democrats. Mr. Wayne was a close friend of the late Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos Herrera and Wayne's first wife, Josephine, was a native of Panama.