John Wayne

Actor, Director, Producer

One of 20th-century’s biggest Hollywood stars, an award-winning actor and director known for his role in, The Searchers, The Quiet Man, True Grit and Red River.

The legendary John Wayne, nicknamed Duke had a prolific career spanning fifty years. He appeared in nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions, and for three decades, Wayne was among the top box office draws. He holds the record for the actor with the most leading parts of 142. In all, but eleven films Wayne played the leading part.

John Wayne was posthumously presented with several awards related to his service to the nation, including the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In 1979, the Orange County Airport was renamed in his honor and is now known as the John Wayne Airport.

On June 1979, John Wayne passed away of stomach cancer, aged 72, at the UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles. He is buried at Pacific View Memorial Park, Newport Beach, California, United States.

Name:   John  Wayne May 26, 1907
Born:   26 May 1907
Star Sign: Gemini
Died:   11 June 1979
Birthplace: Iowa
Country: Iowa (IA) United States
DetailsOther Names
Marion Robert Morrison , Duke
Clyde Leonard Morrison
Mary Alberta Brown
Josephine Alicia Saenz (m. 1933 - div. 1945); Esperanza Baur (m. 1946 - div. 1954); Pilar Pallete (m. 1954; his death 1979)
Patrick Wayne, Ethan Wayne, Michael Wayne, Marisa Wayne, Mary Antonia

John Wayne, was born Marion Robert Morrison on 26 May, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, to Mary Alberta Brown and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. Weighing 13 pounds, baby Morrison was larger-than-life from the start. He was of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry and was raised in a Presbyterian home.

When his baby brother was born, his parents changed his middle name from Robert to Mitchell because the baby was named, Robert. Years later, because of his father's health, the family moved to southern California where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert.

In 1916, the Morrison family moved to Glendale, California, where his father, Clyde worked as a pharmacist. Local firemen, nicknamed young Morrison 'Duke' because his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke was always with him. Morrison attended Glendale High School and was active in sports and participated in some theatrical productions.

Duke obtained a scholarship and attended the University of Southern California (USC) majoring in pre-law. He played on the USC football team but a body-surfing injury ended his football dreams and his athletic scholarship. For financial reasons he left USC.

Early Film Roles
Duke never contemplate a life in the movies until his USC football coach, Howard Jones helped him land a part-time job as a prop man and day laborer at the Fox Studios in 1927. At 20 years old, he was no stranger to hard work and John Ford, the director at Fox Studios was impressed with Duke’s strength, tenacity and willingness to take on tough jobs.

In 1928, Ford gave Duke a minor part in his silent film 'Mother Machree'. Throughout 1928 and 1929, Duke worked as an extra on a number of Ford films including, 'Four Sons'; 'The Black Watch' and 'Salute'. During this time, Duke and Ford formed a profound friendship.

Big Break
After Ford introduced Duke to director, Raoul Walsh, Duke was given his first starring role in the 1930 film, 'The Big Trail'. During this production, the Fox executives gave him the professional name, John Wayne. Throughout the 1930’s, Wayne starred in a series of Westerns films.

In 1939, John Ford gave Wayne his big break in the classic film, 'Stagecoach'. His performance propelling the actor into better roles, and also earned John Ford an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. The following year, Wayne appeared in 'The Long Voyage Home' that further cemented his place as an A-lister.

Second World War
During the Second World War, Wayne wanted to enlist but was not selected, so he spent those years touring and entertaining troops. He was also making films - the 'Flying Tigers'in 1942; 'The Fighting Seabees' in 1944; 'They Were Expendable' and 'Back to Bataan' in 1945.

All of these films featured American fighting men who overcame great odds. Wayne’s screen image was permanently defined in many classic films during the postwar years and into the early 1960s.

Commercial Success
During the latter half of the 1940s, Wayne starred in some of his finest work, notably the 'cavalry trilogy'- 'Fort Apache,' 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,' and Rio Grande'. He also starred in the 1948 Western 'Red River,' directed and produced by Howard Hawks.

Wayne appeared in more than 20 of John Ford's films which include: 'The Quiet Man' (1952); 'The High and the Mighty'(1954) and one of his best Western, 'The Searcher' in 1956. In 1957, he starred in 'The Wings of Eagles' and in 1962, 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' with James Stewart.

Later Career
During the 1960’s and ‘70’s, Wayne added romantic comedies, police dramas, and historical dramas to his portfolio, and earned three Academy Award nominations. In 1960, Wayne portraying Davy Crockett in 'The Alamo,' which he also produced and directed. He also starred in the epic war film, 'The Longest Day in 1962, and ‘In Harm’s Way’ which were box office hits.

In 1968, Wayne co-directed and starred in 'The Green Berets' and in ‘True Grit’ which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. His last film was 'The Shootist' in 1976, bringing an end to a remarkable career which spanned more than 50 years with 169 feature length films and various other television appearances or voice-overs.

Awards & Achievements
John Wayne won numerous awards from best actor to lifetime achievement. His image graced everything from a US postage stamp to toilet paper. Along the way, he survived lung cancer that saw him lose a lung and several ribs. Later in life, he increasingly spoke out on national issues and played a central role in helping to get the United States Senate to ratify the Panama Canal Treaties in 1977, shortly before his death.

American Icon - Legacy
Posthumously, John Wayne was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But perhaps John Wayne's greatest legacy was his dying wish, which was that his family and supporters use his name and likeness to help the doctors fight cancer — a wish that led to the creation of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation (JWCF) in 1985.

Over the years, JWCF has supported research by funding the creation of the Cancer Institute that bears his name, education programs, awareness programs, and support groups.

Marriage and Family
John Wayne was married three times and had seven children. In 1933, he married Josephine Alicia Saenz, and had - Michael, Mary Antonia, Patrick and Melinda. They divorced 12 years later. In 1946, he married Esperanza Baur, a Mexican actress but divorced 8 years later. In 1954, Wayne married Pilar Pallette, a Peruvian actress, but separated 19 years later. They had three children - Aissa, John Ethan, and Marisa.

He didn’t choose his nickname and stage name. In the 1930s, studio executives decided on his stage name, John Wayne, and firefighters nicknamed him ‘Duke’ as he was always with his Airedale Terror named Duke.

John Wayne did more than just Westerns, and he and Ronald Reagan were really good friends

He Got Cancer from a Movie. Although Wayne was a 5-pack a day smoker he filmed 'The Conquerors'(1956) in Utah at a site of nuclear bomb testing 10 years prior, where 91 of the 220 people in the film died of cancer.

He was the lead actor in 142 movies - out of 175 movies, which is more than any other actor.

John Wayne was actually a very good chess player although at times he would cheat.

He loved literature and was a fan of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie.

Wayne was in awe of Churchill. Wayne would often tell friends how highly he thought of Winston Churchill and had a complete set of the British Prime Minister's prose on his bookself.

John Wayne was known for his right-wing views and was a fervent supporter of President Richard Nixon.

Wayne was deeply superstitious. He didn't like it if anyone left a hat on top of a bed. Also, no one in his family was ever allowed to pass salt directly to him, it had to be placed on the table then he would reach for it..

John Wayne never served in the military, but he played numerous roles as someone in the military and his movies and USO tours helped the morale of the men fighting the war.

"Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid."

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

"Talk low, talk slow, and don't talk too much."

"Well, there are some things a man just can't run away from."

"Snakes like you usually die of their own poison."

"All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else"

"A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by."

"Don’t pick a fight, but if you find yourself in one, I suggest you make damn sure you win."

"If everything isn’t black and white, I say why the hell not?"

"Wayne said he always followed his father’s advice. First always keep your word, never insult anybody unintentionally, and never go looking for trouble."


John Wayne died of stomach cancer at the age of 72 on June 11, 1979, at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. A bronze plaque was added 20 years later to his gravesite - at the Pacific View Memorial Park cemetery in Newport Beach, California, USA.

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