Thanks to his successful career, John Wayne rose to become one of the most famous movie stars in history. The “True Grit” actor started off in a completely different field of employment before becoming the biggest cinematic star of his generation.
John Wayne was not only a well-known movie star but also a renowned family man. He had seven kids from three different marriages. And it turns out that John Wayne was one of the outliers, as several actors’ children may remember not having their mother or father around when they were young.
Several of his children have made public comments about him since his terrible death, exposing the truth for everyone to read. Here is all you need to know about the iconic John Wayne, including his untimely death.
Actually, John Wayne was not born John Wayne. The well-known performer was really born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa. His first “name change” happened when he was a small child, all because of the Airedale Terrier dog named Duke that his parents, Clyde and Mary, owned.
“There is a picture of him in the book, and Marion was Little Duke. He appeared to weigh around 80 pounds. For the remainder of his life, he insisted on being called Duke because he enjoyed the moniker, according to his biographer Scott Eyman.
Wayne’s family decided to relocate to Glendale, California, while he was between the ages of nine and ten. Although the family encountered many difficulties along the way, his father started working there as a pharmacist. Simply put, it turns out that it wasn’t all that easy to succeed in California. In the end, John Wayne had the chance to witness a variety of events that would influence his morals and character.
His stay there undoubtedly benefited him greatly later in life for this reason alone.
“This little child and his ill father relocate to the Mojave Desert in the west to try to produce. Ethan, Wayne’s dad, described his father’s upbringing: “That’s a hard place to farm, and they fail, and he has a really hard, charging mother.”
“The father finds it difficult and is never content. They eventually settle in Glendale, which at the time was located in a different small, rural community. The mother was somewhat of a taskmaster, while the father was social. And I believe that [John] found comfort in his relationships and in school.
John attended Glendale High School, where he initially discovered his love for acting. Among other things, he played football and did exceptionally well in school. He also took part in student theater productions.
He led the debate team, served on the dance committee, and was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.
As the squad’s captain, Wayne helped the football team win a championship and secured a football scholarship to the University of Southern California. He was a wonderful student at first, but the tuition was pricey, so he eventually quit to go work. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason he decided against going to college.
No, it appeared like the young John Wayne would pursue a career in the National Football League. Despite having the talent and the will, he was hurt in a bodysurfing accident in 1926.
Wayne then secured employment at the nearby film studios, appearing in multiple movies as both an extra and a prop guy. It was there he came into contact with some significant people in the movie world, notably John Ford, who taught him a lot.
“I was a juicer and a carpenter. I helped construct sets and rig lights. brought props. Hauled furniture. John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman quotes Wayne as saying, “I learned the ins and outs of filmmaking.
On the set of the 1928 motion picture Mother Machree, where he was tasked with herding geese, Wayne first collaborated with the aforementioned Ford. He had spent a number of years working at the studio and was well known to many individuals. One such person was the director Raoul Walsh, who offered John his first job when he was still known as Marion Morrison.
Soon after, he was cast as the star of the 1930 picture The Big Trail, and it was on that set that his name underwent a permanent alteration.
The studios back then preferred names that sounded somewhat classical; they didn’t like ethnic names.
The name “John Wayne” just sort of came up in chats because it appeared to go with “Wayne,” according to Winfield Sheehan, the head of Fox Studios. “Mad Anthony” Wayne, the Revolutionary War general, is where the name “Wayne” originated. It was nicely symmetrical.
Since that time, Marion—also known by his family as Duke—has gone by the name John Wayne. It also signaled the beginning of one of the most illustrious careers in movie history.
Wayne then watched a number of old films. He first appeared in the timeless 1939 film Stagecoach before going on to star in several other 1950s hits, including The Quiet Man, Rio Bravo, and later The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He appears in True Grit in 1969.
John Wayne didn’t consider himself to be a major star, despite the fact that he became the talk of the town very soon. Instead, he consistently believed that “John Wayne” and “Duke Morrison” were two entirely different people, two entities existing within the same body.
In 1957, Wayne remarked, “The character you see on the TV isn’t actually me.
“My name is Duke Morrison, and I have never been and will never be a movie star like John Wayne. I am familiar with him. I’m among his closest pupils. I’ve got to be. I depend on him to support me.
Nowadays, a lot of actors try to physically embody the character they will play in order to prepare for the part. Authenticity plays a big factor in impersonating another person, thus any excellent actor will want to know their character inside and out.
For John Wayne, this was just partially the method. Eyman claimed that he insisted on being addressed by his boyhood nickname, Duke.
According to Eyman in the memoirs, “in Wayne’s own mind, he was Duke Morrison.” As the Tramp was to Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne was to him a role that complemented but did not completely replace his own personality.
The actor claimed in 1975, “I’ve always been Duke, or Marion, or John Wayne. “JohnWayne is a name that works nicely together and sounds like one word.”
John also established himself as a successful actor and parent. His personal life, though, had taken many unexpected turns.
He had four children with his first wife, Josephine Wayne, whom he married in 1933. Their names were Patrick, Mary, Michael, and Melinda. Twelve years after the couple’s breakup, Wayne married Esperanza Baur, his second wife. Eight years passed during their marriage.
Wayne was married a third time in 1954. Aissa, Ethan, and Marisa were his three children with Peruvian actress Pilar Pallet. The two of them remained wed till his dying.
It goes without saying that having a famous Hollywood actor as a father must have been a fairly unusual experience for his kids. But Wayne never believed he was superior to anyone else.
One of his younger children, Patrick, provided an account of his father in a 2017 interview with Jeremy Roberts.
“My dad was one of these people whose presence was show-stopping. He could enter into a room and everything would come to a stop. Similarly, he could seduce you into being completely at ease and comfortable in just five minutes. He was inherently nice and laid back,” she remarked.
The fact that Patrick’s father was the one and only John Wayne wasn’t a huge thing to his pals.
“They were aware of who my father and I were. In a way, my dad was also developing and becoming more significant, he said. “More and more popular. All of the people in my tight group of friends were experiencing it.
Sadly, doctors delivered some devastating news to John Wayne at a time when his cinematic career was undoubtedly at its height.
Wayne received a diagnosis of lung cancer in 1964. He had his left lung and four ribs removed, and there was briefly hope that he may make a full recovery. The actor continued to chew tobacco and smoke, though, which undoubtedly didn’t help.
John Wayne starred in The Shootist in 1976. In the end, it was his final movie, and in the years after its release, the actor’s health rapidly deteriorated. His daughter Aissa admitted that she found it difficult to watch.
Wayne had died countless times in prior flicks. But The Shootist was different for Aissa.
In the book John Wayne: My Father, Aissa stated, “In this movie, he was dying of cancer, and that was extremely unsettling.
“If not quite a family curse, the threat of cancer had never completely vanished for us. Since my Uncle Bob had passed away from cancer by the time of The Shootist, I have constantly lived in worry that my father will develop the sickness as well. I believe my father had similar concerns when he wrote The Shootist, even though his cancer would not be discovered for another two years.
John Wayne’s voice was failing him by 1978, and he was unable to perform. He did his utmost to conceal the fact that his cancer had returned. John Wayne, who was 79, passed away on June 11, 1979. His stomach cancer was the official cause of death, according to History.com.
Doctors determined that the actor was too frail to start chemotherapy and experimental treatment when the cancer was found.
At UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, John Wayne passed away. He passed away while being surrounded by family and spent his final days drifting in and out of consciousness, according to Outsider.
Although John Wayne is frequently portrayed as a big, dangerous Western character and a role model for men, he also had a tender side.
When Wayne passed away, his daughter Aissa was in his bed. He gave her some lovely last words when she clutched his father’s hand and inquired about his knowledge of who she was.
“I am aware of who you are, of course. I love you, girl. Aissa recalls her father telling her, “I love you.”
In Newport Beach, California’s Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery, Wayne was laid to rest. Though the precise location was kept a secret for many years, it is situated on a hillside with a stunning ocean view.
His grave’s location was unknown for many years, according to an article in the LA Times. Fans couldn’t attend his burial because of security measures, so his final farewell remained a private event. His burial went 20 years without a marker.