John Wayne

John Wayne

72 (passed away Jun. 11th, 1979)
May. 26th, 1907
Born in
Winterset, Iowa, USA
6' 4

John Wayne's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour TV Show
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
Dateline: Hollywood TV Show
Dateline: Hollywood

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Marion Morrison "John Wayne" (born May 26, 1907) 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, Wayne 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 Wayne 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' for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as 'John Wayne'.

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).

  • Had plastic surgery to remove the lines around his eyes in 1969, which left him with black eyes and forced him to wear dark glasses for two weeks. He also had surgery to remove the jowls around his mouth.
  • During the 1968 presidential election Wayne narrated a television advertisement vilifying the Democratic candidate 'Hubert H. Humphrey' (qv). The commercial was so controversial that the Republican National Committee had to stop it being shown, following thousands of complaints.
  • Ranked in the top four box office stars, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars, an astounding 19 times from 1949 to 1972. (Only 'Clint Eastwood' (qv), with 21 appearances in the Top 10 to the Duke's 25, has been in the Top 10, let alone the top four, more times.) He made the top three a dozen times, the top two nine times, and was the #1 box office champ four times (1950, '51, '54 and 1971).
  • The inscription on the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to him in 1979 reads, simply, "John Wayne, American."
  • Re-mortgaged his house in Hollywood in order to finance _The Alamo (1960)_ (qv). While the film was a success internationally, Wayne personally lost a great deal of his own money on it, because in order to obtain final financing for the film he had to reduce or even sign away much of his profit participation in it. For the next four years he had to made one film after another, including _The Longest Day (1962)_ (qv), for which he was paid $250,000 for four days work. By early 1962 his financial problems were resolved.
  • He allegedly turned down _Dirty Harry (1971)_ (qv) 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)_ (qv) and _Brannigan (1975)_ (qv). Director 'Don Siegel' (qv) later commented, "Wayne couldn't have played Harry. He was too old. He was too old to play McQ which was a poor copy of Bullitt.".
  • Cited as America's Favorite Movie Star in a Harris Poll conducted in 1995.
  • His performance as Ethan Edwards in _The Searchers (1956)_ (qv) is ranked #87 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

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