Turner Classic Movies
Wayne, John
Written by Diana Saenger   

john_wayne.jpgJOHN WAYNE PROFILE

Date of Birth: May 26, 1907  

Place of Birth: Winterset, Iowa

Date of Death: June 11, 1979  

Place of Death: Los Angeles, California  

Cause of Death: lung & stomach cancer  

Wayne's Early Years  

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, arrived in Winterset, Iowa to Clyde and Mary Morrison. His father was a pharmacist who had health problems that caused the family, including John's younger brother Robert (born 1911), to move to the dry desert of the Mojave in California and take up ranching.

It was on the ranch that Wayne learned about horses, he even rode one to school. But the ranch was too much for his family to master, and they moved to Glendale, California. Wayne became very popular at school where he did well in his studies and took up football. The family dog was given the name "Duke," a name that would become Wayne's nickname throughout his career.

Wayne was a Boy Scout and held offices in high school where he also excelled in speech class. After working at a few odd jobs like helping his father deliver medicines and selling newspapers, Wayne applied to Annapolis but didn't make the cut. He did land a football scholarship in 1925


The Big Break      

johnwayne.jpgWayne started working during the summers as a prop man in Hollywood, and after meeting director John Ford, got his showbiz name and started doing bit parts. His first (uncredited) role was as a Yale Football player in Brown of Harvard in 1929. For the next 10 years Wayne had mostly bit parts in films, but he loved movies and when he was cast in Stagecoach in 1939, movie moguls learned the public loved him. During those years Wayne married Josephine Alicia Saenz. The marriage lasted 12 years, and the couple had four children (Michael, Patrick, Toni, Melinda).

In addition to filming, Wayne was heard on the radio series "The Three Sheets to the Wind" from 1942-43. He helped found and became the president of the politically conservative Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.

Wayne might have been a rough and tough ride €˜em cowboy, but he also had a great sense of humor and was know to play tricks on the set. In 1946 he married actress Esperanza Baur. The couple divorced in 1954, the same year Wayne married Pilar Palette, who had a role in his 1960 The Alamo and gave Wayne three more children (Aissa, John, Marisa).

By this time in his career, Wayne had reached star status unrivaled by most of his peers and wanted to expand his horizons. Some of his films include Rio Bravo (1959), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Sea Chase (19550, The Train Robbers (1972), McQ (1974) and The Shootist (1976).

His private time included leisurely time on his yacht and playing bridge or chess. On the work scene he started his own production company, Batjac, and stretched his talents behind the camera as a producer and director. He directed or co-directed Blood Alley (1955), The Alamo (1960), The Comancheros (1961), The Green Berets (1968), and Big Jake (1971).

His Academy Award history includes a Best Actor nomination for his Leading Role in Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and a Best Picture nomination for his film The Alamo (1960). Even with the Best Picture nod, the film didn't do well, which reflected poorly on Wayne's directing talents. Surprisingly, with more than 250 films to Wayne's credit, he earned only on Oscar for his role as the ornery one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969).

When Wayne came down with cancer in the late 70s, press reports tried to disguise his illness as lung congestion. Wayne was so outraged, he told film columnist James Bacon that the studios only think of box office and set the record straight with Bacon about his cancer. Wayne latter paid the price of his heavy smoking when he had to have a lung removed.

Western fans still hail him as the ultimate cowboy. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Wayne's highest accolade, however, is that his name brings instant recognition even more than 25 years after his passing.




Do you watch more Classic DVDs than newer films on DVD?

alliance of women film journalists
© 2017 Classic Movie Guide
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.