72 (passed away Jun. 11th, 1979)
May. 26th, 1907
Winterset, Iowa, USA
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Host
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Sergeant-Umpire in Korea
John Wayne (born Marion Morrison) was the son of pharmacist Clyde Morrison and his wife Mary. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert. Until the ranch failed, Marion and his younger brother Robert E. Morrison swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. When the ranch failed, the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford (I) for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne (I). His first featured film was Men Without Women (1930). After more than 70 low-budget westerns and adventures, mostly routine, Wayne's career was stuck in a rut until Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939), the movie that made him a star. He appeared in nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions. From 1942-43 he was in a radio series, "The Three Sheets to the Wind", and in 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a right-wing political organization, later becoming its President. His conservative political stance was also reflected in The Alamo (1960), which he produced, directed and starred in. His patriotic stand was enshrined in The Green Berets (1968) which he co-directed and starred in. Over the years Wayne was beset with health problems. In September 1964 he had a cancerous left lung removed; in March 1978 there was heart valve replacement surgery; and in January 1979 his stomach was removed. He received the Best Actor nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and finally got the Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969). A Congressional Gold Medal was struck in his honor in 1979. He is perhaps best remembered for his parts in Ford's cavalry trilogy - Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950).
- 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.
- According to Michael Munn's "John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth", in 1959, Wayne was personally told by 'Nikita Khrushchev' (qv), when the Soviet Premier was visiting the United States on a goodwill tour, that 'Joseph Stalin' (qv) and China's 'Mao Zedong' (qv) 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.
- Wayne publicly criticized director 'Sam Peckinpah' (qv) for his film _The Wild Bunch (1969)_ (qv), which he claimed "destroyed the myth of the Old West".
- His TV appearances in the late 1960s showed that Wayne had overcome his indifference to television. In addition to appearing on _"The Dean Martin Show" (1965)_ (qv), _"The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (1969)_ (qv), he became a semi-regular visitor to _"Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1967)_ (qv), often good-naturedly spoofing his macho image and even dressing up as The Easter Bunny in a famous 1972 episode.
- Allegedly thrust his Best Actor Oscar for _True Grit (1969)_ (qv) to 'Richard Burton (I)' (qv) at the _The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970) (TV)_ (qv), telling the Welsh actor, "You should have this, not me."
- Upon being cast by 'Raoul Walsh' (qv) in Fox's _The Big Trail (1930)_ (qv) 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.
- While visiting the troops in Vietnam in June 1966, a bullet struck Wayne's bicycle. Although he was not within a hundred yards of it at the time, the newspapers reported he had narrowly escaped death at the hands of a sniper.
- Honored with an Army RAH-66 Helicopter, named "The Duke". Many people attended the naming ceremony in Washington D.C. on 12 May 1998, including his children and grandchildren, congressmen, the president of the USO Metropolitan Washington, dignitaries and many military personnel. His eldest son 'Michael Wayne (I)' (qv) said at the ceremony, "John Wayne loved his country and he loved its traditions.".