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Birthday: May 26, 1907
Place: Winterset, Iowa, USA
Height: 6' 4"
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| Arguably the most popular — and certainly the busiest — movie leading man in Hollywood history, John Wayne entered the film business while working as a laborer on the Fox lot during summer vacations from U.S.C., which he attended on a football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford, a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films, comedies, and dramas. Wayne was cast in small roles in Ford's late-'20s films, occasionally under the name Duke Morrison. It was Ford who recommended Wayne to director Raoul Walsh for the male lead in the 1930 epic Western The Big Trail, and, although it was a failure at the box office, the movie showed Wayne's potential as a leading man. During the next nine years, be busied himself in a multitude of B-Westerns and serials — most notably Shadow of the Eagle and The Three Mesquiteers series — in between occasional bit parts in larger features such as Warner Bros.' Baby Face, starring Barbara Stanwyck. But it was in action roles that Wayne excelled, exuding a warm and imposing manliness onscreen to which both men and women could respond. In 1939, Ford cast Wayne as the Ringo Kid in the adventure Stagecoach, a brilliant Western of modest scale but tremendous power (and incalculable importance to the genre), and the actor finally showed what he could do. Wayne nearly stole a picture filled with Oscar-caliber performances, and his career was made. He starred in most of Ford's subsequent major films, whether Westerns (Fort Apache , She Wore a Yellow Ribbon , Rio Grande , The Searchers ); war pictures (They Were Expendable ); or serious dramas (The Quiet Man , in which Wayne also directed some of the action sequences). He also starred in numerous movies for other directors, including several extremely popular World War II thrillers (Flying Tigers , Back to Bataan , Fighting Seabees , Sands of Iwo Jima ); costume action films (Reap the Wild Wind , Wake of the Red Witch ); and Westerns (Red River ). His box-office popularity rose steadily through the 1940s, and by the beginning of the 1950s he'd also begun producing movies through his company Wayne-Fellowes, later Batjac, in association with his sons Michael and Patrick (who also became an actor). Most of these films were extremely successful, and included such titles as Angel and the Badman (1947), Island in the Sky (1953), The High and the Mighty (1954), and Hondo (1953). The 1958 Western Rio Bravo, directed by Howard Hawks, proved so popular that it was remade by Hawks and Wayne twice, once as El Dorado and later as Rio Lobo. At the end of the 1950s, Wayne began taking on bigger films, most notably The Alamo (1960), which he produced and directed, as well as starred in. It was well received but had to be cut to sustain any box-office success (the film was restored to full length in 1992). During the early '60s, concerned over the growing liberal slant in American politics, Wayne emerged as a spokesman for conservative causes, especially support for America's role in Vietnam, which put him at odds with a new generation of journalists and film critics. Coupled with his advancing age, and a seeming tendency to overact, he became a target for liberals and leftists. However, his movies remained popular. McLintock!, which, despite well-articulated statements against racism and the mistreatment of Native Americans, and in support of environmentalism, seemed to confirm the left's worst fears, but also earned more than ten million dollars and made the list of top-grossing films of 1963-1964. Virtually all of his subsequent movies, including the pro-Vietnam War drama The Green Berets (1968), were very popular with audiences, but not with critics. Further controversy erupted with the release of The Cowboys, which outraged liberals with its seeming justification of violence as a solution to lawlessness, but it was successful enough to generate a short-lived television series. Amid all of the shouting and agonizing over his politics, Wayne won an Oscar for his role as marshal Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, a part that he later reprised in a sequel. Wayne weathered the Vietnam War, but, by then, time had become his enemy. His action films saw him working alongside increasingly younger co-stars, and the decline in popularity of the Western ended up putting him into awkward contemporary action films like McQ (1974). Following his final film, The Shootist (1976) — possibly his best Western since The Searchers — the news that Wayne was stricken ill with cancer (which eventually took his life in 1979) wiped the slate clean, and his support for the Panama Canal Treaty at the end of the 1970s belatedly made him a hero for the left. Wayne finished his life honored by the film community, the U.S. Congress, and the American people as had no actor before or since. He remains among the most popular actors of his generation, as evidenced by the continual rereleases of his films on home video.
- Holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts - 142. In all but 11 films he played the leading part.
- His appearance on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968) in 1969 showed he had a sense of humor by agreeing to appear in a pink fluffy bunny suit.
- Ranked #16 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. (October 1997)
- Born at 1:00pm-CST
- Children with Pilar: Aissa Wayne, John Ethan Wayne and Marisa Wayne.
- Sons with Josephine: Michael Wayne (producer) and Patrick Wayne (actor); daughters Toni Wayne and Melinda Wayne.
- Most published sources refer to Wayne's birth name as Marion Michael Morrison. His birth certificate, however, gives his original name as Marion Robert Morrison. According to Wayne's own statements, after the birth of his younger brother in 1911, his parents named the newborn Robert Emmett and changed Wayne's name from Marion Robert to Marion Michael. It has also been suggested by several of his biographers that Wayne's parents actually changed his birth name from Marion Robert to Marion Mitchell. In "Duke: The Life and Times of John Wayne" (1985), Donald Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer state that when Wayne's younger brother was born, "the Duke's middle name was changed from Robert to Mitchell. . . . After he gained celebrity, Duke deliberately confused biographers and others by claiming Michael as his middle name, a claim that had no basis in fact."
- His production company, Batjac, was originally to be called Batjak, after the shipping company owned by Luther Adler's character in the film Wake of the Red Witch (1948). A secretary's typo while she was drawing up the papers resulted in it being called Batjac, and Wayne, not wanting to hurt her feelings, kept her spelling of it.
- In the comic Preacher, his ghost appears in several issues, clothed in his traditional gunfighter outfit, as a mentor to the hero of the series, Jesse Custer.
- Great-uncle of boxer/actor Tommy Morrison, aka "The Duke".
- An entry in the logbook of director John Ford's yacht "Araner", during a voyage along the Baja peninsula, made a reference to one of Wayne's pranks on Ward Bond: "Caught the first mate [Wayne] pissing in [Ward] Bond's flask this morning - must remember to give him a raise."
- He and his drinking buddy, actor Ward Bond, frequently played practical jokes on each other. In one incident, Bond bet Wayne that they could stand on opposite sides of a newspaper and Wayne wouldn't be able to hit him. Bond set a sheet of newspaper down in a doorway, Wayne stood on one end, and Bond slammed the door in his face, shouting "Try and hit me now!" Wayne responded by sending his fist through the door, flooring Bond (and winning the bet).
- His favorite drink was Sauza Commemorativo Tequila, and often served it with ice that he had chipped from an iceberg during one of his voyages on his yacht, "The Wild Goose".
- He was offered the lead in The Dirty Dozen (1967), but went to star in and direct The Green Berets (1968) instead. The part was eventually given to Lee Marvin.
- The evening before a shoot he was trying to get some sleep in a Las Vegas hotel. The suite directly below his was that of Frank Sinatra (never a good friend of Wayne), who was having a party. The noise kept Wayne awake, and each time he made a complaining phone call it quieted temporarily but each time eventually grew louder. Wayne at last appeared at Sinatra's door and told Frank to stop the noise. A Sinatra bodyguard of Wayne's size approached saying, "Nobody talks to Mr. Sinatra that way." Wayne looked at the man, turned as though to leave, then backhanded the bodyguard, who fell to the floor, where Wayne knocked him out by crashing a chair on top of him. The party noise stopped.
- He was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
- His spoken word RCA Victor album "America: Why I Love Her" became a suprise best-seller, and Grammy nominee, when it was issued in 1973. Re-issued again, in the wake of September 11, 2001, it became a best-seller all over again.
- Pictured on one of four 25¢ US commemorative postage stamps issued 23 March 1990 honoring classic films released in 1939. The stamp featured Wayne as The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939). The other films honored were Beau Geste (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939).
- Upon being cast by Raoul Walsh in Fox's The Big Trail (1930) the studio decided his name had to be changed. Walsh said he was reading a biography on General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and suggested that name. The studio liked the last name but not the first and decided on "John Wayne" as the final rendition.
- He once made a cameo appearance on "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962) and when asked how he wanted to be paid, replied, "Give me a fifth of bourbon - that'll square it."
- In 1973 he was awarded the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation for his days playing football for Glendale High School and USC.
- Arguably Wayne's worst film, The Conqueror (1956), in which he played Genghis Kahn, was based on a script that director Dick Powell had every intention of throwing into the wastebasket. According to Powell, when he had to leave his office at RKO for a few minutes during a story conferance, he returned to find a very enthused Wayne reading the script, which had been in a pile of possible scripts on Powell's desk, and insisting that this was the movie he wanted to make. As Powell himself summed it up, "Who am I to turn down John Wayne ?"
- Among his favorite leisure activities were playing bridge, poker, and chess.
- He was buried at Pacific View Cemetary in Corona del Mar, California, not far from his hometown of Newport Beach. His grave finally received a plaque in 1999.
- Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1974.
- Grandfather of actor Brendan Wayne.
- Referenced in the Paula Cole song "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" (1996).
- In a May 1971 Playboy magazine interview, on the subject of blacks making strides towards equality in the U.S., he stated that he believed in "white supremacy" until blacks were educated enough to take a more prominent role in American society.
- He was voted the 5th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- Just on his sheer popularity and his prominent political activism, the Republican party in 1968 supposedly asked him to run for President of the USA, even though he had no previous political experience. He turned them down because he did not believe America would take a movie star running for the President seriously. He did support Ronald Reagan's run for governor of California, though.
- Wayne was initiated into DeMolay in 1924 at the Glendale Chapter in Glendale California.
- Received the DeMolay Legion of Honor in 1970.
- He was a Master Mason. In other words, he was a good man who became a member of the Masonic Fraternity.
- Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, issued 9 September 2004. The first-day ceremonies were held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
- Was a member of the first class to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on November 13th, 1986.
- Although he complained that High Noon (1952) was "un-American", when he collected Gary Cooper's Oscar on his behalf, he also complained that he wasn't offered the part himself. He later teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story his way in Rio Bravo (1959).
- Despite his association with being solely Irish, he was equal parts Scottish, Irish and English.
- While making The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958), he apparently became so enraged with director John Huston (who was something of a tough guy himself and was nearly as tall as Wayne but not as massive) that he throttled and punched him out. It is unknown what Huston did to earn the beating, but the director was known to have a mean streak. Wayne later re-enacted the incident for Peter Bogdanovich, who was somewhat terrified to be used as a substitute for Huston.
- He was voted the 4th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
- Was named the #13 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute
- Eagerly sought the role of Gen. George S. Patton in Patton (1970), but was turned down by the producer.
- Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
- Shares a birthday with Aaron Michael Lacey and Miles Davis.
- In 1953, he accepted the Oscar for "Best Actor in a Leading Role" on behalf of Gary Cooper, who wasn't present at the awards ceremony.
- Brother of Robert E. Morrison.
- Addressed the Republican National Convention in 1968.
- On 11 June 1979, the flame of the Olympic Torch at the Coliseum in Los Angeles was lit to honor his memory. It remained lit until the funeral four days later.
- Maureen O'Hara presented him with the People's Choice Award for most popular motion picture actor in 1976.
- During the filming of The Undefeated (1969), he fell from his horse and fractured three ribs. He couldn't work for almost two weeks. Then he tore a ligament in his shoulder and couldn't use one arm at all. The director, Andrew V. McLaglen, could only film him from an angle for the rest of the picture. His only concern throughout was not to disappoint his fans, despite being in terrible pain.
- According to movie industry columnist James Bacon, Wayne's producers issued phony press releases when he was hospitalized for cancer surgery in September 1964, claiming the star was being treated for lung congestion. "Those bastards who make pictures only think of the box office," he told Bacon, as recounted in 1979 by the columnist. "They figure Duke Wayne with cancer isn't a good image. I was too doped up at the time to argue with them, but I'm telling you the truth now. You know I never lie." After Bacon broke the story of the Duke's cancer, thousands of cancer victims and their relatives wrote to Wayne saying that his battle against the disease had given them hope.
- He underwent surgery to have a cancerous left lung removed on 16 September 1964, in a six-hour operation. Press releases at the time reported that Wayne was in Los Angeles' Good Samaritan Hospital to be treated for lung congestion. When Hollywood columnist James Bacon went to the hospital to see Wayne, he was told by a nurse that Wayne wasn't having visitors. According to a June 27, 1978 "Us" magazine article, Wayne said to his nurse from his room, "Let that son of a bitch come in." When Bacon sat down in his room, Wayne told him, "Well, I licked the Big C." Wayne confessed that his five-packs-a-day cigarette habit had caused a lung tumor the size of a golf ball, necessitating the removal of the entire lung. One day following surgery, Wayne began coughing so violently he ruptured his stitches and damaged delicate tissue. His face and hands began to swell up from a mixture of fluid and air, but the doctors didn't dare operate again so soon. Five days later they drained the fluid and repaired the stitches. On 29 December 1964, Wayne held a press conference at his Encino ranch, against the advice of his agent and advisers, where he announced, "I licked the Big C. I know the man upstairs will pull the plug when he wants to, but I don't want to end my life being sick. I want to go out on two feet, in action." Before he had left the hospital on 19 October, Wayne received the news that his 52-year-old brother Robert E. Morrison had lung cancer.
- Regretted playing Temujin in The Conqueror (1956) so much that he visibly shuddered whenever anyone mentioned the film's name. He once remarked that the moral of the film was "not to make an ass of yourself trying to play parts you're not suited for."
- He made several films early in his career as a "singing" cowboy. His singing voice was supplied by a singer hidden off camera.
- All of his wives were of Hispanic descent.
- In 1977 he had a script commissioned for a film called "Beau John" in which he would star with Ron Howard, but due to his declining health it never happened.
- In November 2003 he once again commanded a top-ten spot in the annual Harris Poll asking Americans to name their favorite movie star. No other deceased star has achieved such ranking since Harris began asking the question in 1993. In a 2001 Gallup Poll, Americans selected Wayne as their favorite movie star of all time.
- Increasingly by the early 1960s Wayne used to wear three- or four-inch lifts in his shoes, a practice that mystified friends like Bobby Darin and Robert Mitchum because he stood over 6'4". It was possibly due to his increasing weight, health problems, and age that he wasn't able to loom as tall without lifts.
- In 1971 he displayed a sense of humor when he appeared on "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (1969) in his usual western screen costume, flashing the peace sign to the show's other guests that week, the then-hot rock band Three Dog Night.
- Of his many film roles, his personal favorite was that of Ethan Edwards from The Searchers (1956). Wayne even went so far as to name his son Ethan after that character.
- In 1979, as it became known that Wayne was dying of cancer, Barry Goldwater introduced legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal. Maureen O'Hara and Elizabeth Taylor flew to Washington to give testimony, and signed statements in support of the motion from Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Kirk Douglas, James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn were read out. The bill was passed unanimously, and the medal was presented to the Wayne family in the following year.
- In 1974, with the Vietnam war still continuing, The Harvard Lampoon invited Wayne to The Harvard Square Theater to award him the "Brass Balls Award " for his " Outstanding machismo and a penchant for punching people". Wayne accepted and arrived riding atop an armored personnel carrier manned by the "Black Knights" of Troop D, Fifth Regiment. Wayne took the stage and ad-libbed his way through a series of derogatory questions with adroitness, displaying a agile wit that completely won over the audience of students.
- On 9 June 1979, the Archbishop of Panama arrived at the hospital and baptized Wayne into the Roman Catholic Church. Wayne was given a Catholic funeral service, but his grave went unmarked until 1999 when he finally received a headstone.
- Mentioned in many songs, including Jimmy Buffet's "Incommunicado", Tom Lehrer's "Send The Marines", Ray Steven's "Beside Myself", Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", Queen's "Bicycle Race", and Bruce Dickinson's (of Iron Maiden fame) "Sacred Cowboys".
- Along with Charlton Heston, Wayne turned down the role of General Stillwell in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979), owing to the fact that he felt the film was an insult to World War II veterans, and due to his own declining health.
- Underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate in December 1976.
- The story that Wayne turned down the role of Marshal Dillon on "Gunsmoke" (1955) because he did not want to commit to a weekly TV series is an urban myth. As one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Wayne would never have been offered a television series in 1955. He did however recommended his friend James Arness for the role, and gave the on camera introduction in the pilot episode.
- His performance as Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers" (1956) is ranked #87 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
- After meeting the late Superman star Christopher Reeve at the 1979 Academy Awards, Wayne turned to Cary Grant and said "This is our new man. He's taking over."
- In 1973 Clint Eastwood wrote to Wayne, suggesting they star in a western together. Wayne wrote back an angry response criticizing the revisionist style and violence of Eastwood's latest western, High Plains Drifter (1973). Consequently Eastwood did not reply and no film was made.
- His final public appearance was to present the Best Picture Oscar to The Deer Hunter (1978) at The 51st Annual Academy Awards (1979) (TV). It was not a film Wayne was fond of, since it presented a very different view of the Vietnam War than his own movie, The Green Berets (1968), had a decade earlier.
- He turned down Dirty Harry (1971) because he felt the role of Harry Callahan was too far removed from his screen image. When he saw the movie he realized it wasn't so different from the roles he had traditionally played, and made two cop dramas of his own, McQ (1974) and Brannigan (1975). Director Don Siegel later commented, "Wayne couldn't have played Harry. He was too old. He was too old to play McQ which was a poor rip-off of Dirty Harry."
- He made three movies with Kirk Douglas, despite the fact that the two men did not like each other and had very different ideologies. Wayne was a conservative Republican while Douglas was a very liberal Democrat. In 1960 Wayne publicly criticized Douglas for hiring blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten", to write the screenplay for Spartacus (1960). Douglas later praised Wayne as a true professional who would work with anybody if he felt they were right for the part.
- One of the most unusual Oscar moments happened when major liberal Barbra Streisand presented Vietnam war hawk Wayne with his Best Actor Oscar at The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970) (TV).
- Wayne publicly criticized director Sam Peckinpah for his film The Wild Bunch (1969), which he claimed "destroyed the myth of the Old West".
- Eventually the line between his personal views and his screen image blurred beyond recognition. His active membership in organizations like the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals allowed him to use his celebrity to further causes he deemed worthy. In the 1950s, Wayne joined Walt Disney, Clark Gable, James Stewart and other entertainers to assist Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee in exposing Communists working in the film industry. He began hand-picking roles and financing the production of certain films, like Big Jim McLain (1952), which made overt anti-Communist statements. These "message films" would often cost him, both personally and professionally; Wayne lost a small fortune on the Vietnam War film The Green Berets (1968), allowing an errant sense of patriotism to oversimplify the story of soldiers conducting covert military actions in Southeast Asia. As television images exposed the horrors of battle to Americans, the films romantic portrait of "gung-ho" optimism was often cited as an example of how completely out of touch Wayne and many of his conservative contemporaries were with the complexities of the conflict.
- The inscription on the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to him in 1979 reads, simply, "John Wayne, American."
- Although never hailed as a great actor in the classic sense, Wayne was quite accomplished on stage in high school. He even represented Glendale High School in the prestigious 1925 Southern California Shakespeare Competition, performing a passage from "Henry VIII".
- Despite being best known as a conservative Republican, Wayne's politics throughout his life were fluid. He later claimed to have considered himself a socialist during his first year of college. As a young actor in Hollywood, he described himself as a liberal, and voted for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election. In 1938 he attended a fund raiser for a Democratic candidate in New York, but soon afterwards "realized Democrats didn't stand for the same things I did". Henry Fonda believed Wayne called himself a liberal just so he wouldn't fall out with director John Ford, an activist liberal Democrat. It really wasn't until the 1940s that Wayne moved fully to the right on the political spectrum. But even then, he was not always in lockstep with the rest of the conservative movement - a fact that was nonetheless unknown to the public until 1978, when he openly differed with the Republican Party over the issue of the Panama Canal. Conservatives wanted America to retain full control, but Wayne, believing that the Panamanians had the right to the canal, sided with President Jimmy Carter and the Democrats to win passage of the treaty returning the canal in the Senate. Carter openly credited Wayne with being a decisive factor in convincing some Republican Senators to support the measure.
- According to Michael Munn's "John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth", in 1959, Wayne was personally told by Nikita Khrushchev, when the Soviet Premier was visiting the United States on a goodwill tour, that Joseph Stalin and China's Tse-tung Mao had each ordered Wayne to be killed. Both dictators had considered Wayne to be a leading icon of American democracy, and thus a symbol of resistance to Communism through his active support for blacklisting in Hollywood, and they believed his death would be a major morale blow to the United States. Khrushchev told Wayne he had rescinded Stalin's order upon his predecessor's demise in March 1953, but Mao supposedly continued to demand Wayne's assassination well into the 1960s.
- His performance as Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers" (1956) is ranked #23 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- After seeing Wayne's performance in Red River (1948), directed by rival director Howard Hawks, John Ford is quoted as saying, "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act."
- During his right-wing political rants in the late 60s and early 70s, many Universities, when showing one of his films, would have unprecedented walk-outs and boycotts.
- Returned to Harvard in January 1974, at the height of his political activism, for a celebrity roast of himself. During the ceremony, the head said, "We're not here to make fun or you, we're here to hurt your feelings." Later, Wayne said jokingly, "You know, I accepted this invitation over a wonderful invitation to a Jane Fonda rally."
- Wore a toupee in every film from Wake of the Red Witch (1948) onwards. For some scenes towards the end of The Wings of Eagles (1957) he left it off in order to play his character in later life. Wayne's hairpiece can be seen to fall off during a fight scene in North to Alaska (1960).
- Following his retirement from making movies in 1976, Wayne received thousands of letters from fans who accused him of selling out by advertising insurance in television commercials. Wayne responded that the six-figure sum he was offered to star in the advertisements was too good to refuse.
- After Wayne finally won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969) his career declined. Chisum (1970), seemingly having little to do with Wayne, was released to mixed reviews and moderate business. Rio Lobo (1970) attracted poor reviews and proved to be a commercial disappointment. Big Jake (1971), pumped up with graphic action scenes and plenty of humor, made twice as much money as either of the previous two films. However, The Cowboys (1972) struggled to find an audience when first released, despite the fact that it received positive reviews and featured a very different performance from Wayne as an aging cattleman. The Train Robbers (1973) was largely forgettable and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) won him his worst reviews since The Conqueror (1956). Wayne's attempts to emulate Clint Eastwood as a tough detective were generally ridiculed due to his age, increasing weight and the predictable nature of the plots. McQ (1974) was only a moderate success and Brannigan (1975), although it was a better picture, made even less money. A sequel to True Grit (1969) titled Rooster Cogburn (1975), co-starring Katharine Hepburn, was critically reviled, but managed to be a minor hit. For the first time Wayne gave serious thought to retirement, however he was able to make one final movie, a low budget story of a gunfighter dying of cancer called The Shootist (1976), which struggled to get its money back.
- It was no surprise that Wayne would become such an enduring icon. By the early 1960s, his contemporaries Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper were dead. James Cagney and Cary Grant both retired from acting at 62. The careers of other stars declined considerably - both Henry Fonda and James Stewart ended up working on television series which were canceled on them. Wayne however continued to star in movies until 1976, remaining one of the top ten stars at the US box office until 1975.
- The fact that all three of his wives were Latin American surprised Hollywood; this was the only "non-American" aspect in his life. "I have never been conscious of going for any particular type," Wayne said in response to a challenge from the press, "it's just a happenstance."
- Wayne's westerns were full of action but usually not excessively violent. "Fights with too much violence are dull," claimed Wayne, insisting that the straight-shooting, two-fisted violence in his movies have been "sort of tongue-in-cheek." He described the violence in his films as "lusty and a little humorous," based on his belief that "humor nullifies violence." His conservative taste deplored the increasing latitude given to violence and sex in Hollywood. In the 1960s, he launched a campaign against what he termed "Hollywood's bloodstream polluted with perversion, and immoral and amoral nuances." Most of his Westerns steered clear of graphic violence.
- Wayne tried not to make films that exploited sex or violence, deploring the vulgarity and violence in Rosemary's Baby (1968), which he saw and did not like, and A Clockwork Orange (1971) or Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972) which he had no desire to see. He thought Deep Throat (1972) was repulsive - "after all, it's pretty hard to take your daughter to see it." And he refused to believe that Love Story (1970) "sold because the girl went around saying 'shit' all the way through it." Rather, "the American public wanted to see a little romantic story." He took a strong stance against nudity: "No one in any of my pictures will ever be served drinks by a girl with no top to her dress." It was not sex per se he was against. "Don't get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman are concerned, I'm awfully happy there's a thing called sex," he said, "It's an extra something God gave us, but no picture should feature the word in an unclear manner." He therefore saw "no reason why it shouldn't be in pictures," but it had to be "healthy, lusty sex."
- Wayne did not serve during World War II, unlike many of his peers including William Holden, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, and Henry Fonda. This has long been controversial, especially in light of his right-wing views and support for the Vietnam War, and has led to accusations that he was a draft dodger. Wayne was throughout his career a very vocal supporter of the military, anti-communism and the Republican Party. During the Vietnam War he criticized young men who went to Canda and Europe to dodge the draft, calling them cowards, and strongly criticized Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland for their anti-war activism. Wayne was 34 years old when the United States entered World War II, and requested a deferment as a married father of four children. It is notable that numerous other married celebrities with children, like the 37-year-old activist liberal Democrat Henry Fonda, did serve with distinction throughout the conflict. According to a recent biography of director John Ford, Wayne was worried that serving in the military would risk ending his career in Hollywood. Ford would frequently attack Wayne for his failure to enlist, calling him a coward and comparing him unfavorably with actors who did not disobey the draft, such as James Stewart. On one occasion while visiting US troops fighting in World War II, Wayne was booed off the stage. Author Gore Vidal recalled many of his comrades would laugh at Wayne's pro-war movies like Back to Bataan (1945) and They Were Expendable (1945). In one of his books, he nicknamed Wayne "The Great Draft Dodger". Many believe Wayne's embarrassment over this issue caused him to assume the position of a super hawk in later life. He directed and starred in The Green Berets (1968), the only movie ever made to support the Vietnam War. He later financed a documentary using his own money, No Substitute for Victory (1970), which alleged the United States was losing the Cold War due to a lack of willingness to fight.
- During a visit to London in January 1974 to appear on "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (1969) and "Parkinson" (1971), Wayne caught pneumonia. For a 66-year-old man with one lung this was very serious, and eventually he was coughing so hard that he damaged a valve in his heart. This problem went undetected until March 1978, when he underwent emergency open heart surgery in Boston. Bob Hope delivered a message from the The 50th Annual Academy Awards (1978) (TV), saying, "We want you to know Duke, we miss you tonight. We expect you to amble out here in person next year, because there is nobody who can fill John Wayne's boots." According to Loretta Young, that message from Hope made Wayne determined to live long enough to attend the Oscars in 1979.
- On 12 January 1979, Wayne entered hospital for gall bladder surgery, which turned in a nine and a half hour operation when doctors discovered cancer in his stomach. His entire stomach was removed. On 2 May Wayne returned to the hospital, where the cancer was found to have spread to his intestines. He was taken to the 9th floor of the UCLA Medical Center, where President Jimmy Carter visited him, and Queen Elizabeth II sent him a get well card. He went into a coma on 10 June, and died at 5:35 on the evening of the next day.
- Although it has often been written that Wayne was dying of cancer when he made The Shootist (1976), his final film, this is not actually true. Following the removal of his entire left lung in 1964, he had been cancer-free for the past twelve years. It wasn't until Christmas 1978 that he fell seriously ill again, and in January of the following year the cancer was found to have returned.
- Recorded an advertisement for Camel cigarettes on the set of Big Jim McLain (1952).
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