The life story of John Wayne

The life story of John Wayne

He was most interested in girls and American football. Tall, dark-haired and handsome, as well as a good dancer, he attracted girls, but he did not engage in a permanent relationship…

Below, I will tell you the life story of John Wayne, who was and remains one of the greatest legends of Hollywood!

Earlier years

Famous actor John Wayne was born on May 26, 1907, in Iowa as Marion Mitchael Morrison. He began his career in the Fox studio in the 1920s as a props man, only to soon start acting in low-budget films. Thanks to his friendship with director John Ford, he got the lead role in a 1939 classic western called The Mail Carriage, a turning point in his career. He won the “Oscar” for the leading role in the 1969 film “True Grit”. He was the first child of pharmacist Clyde Leonard Morrison and Mary Alberta. They named their son Marion Robert Morrison, combining the names of their fathers. When their second son was born four years later, whom they named Robert, Wayne, after his paternal grandfather, changed his name to Marion Mitchell, which he bore for the rest of his life, but he never loved him, because Marion is also a female name. More than his name, as a child he was bothered by his parents’ constant quarrels. His father was charming and good-natured, but naive and careless. The quarrels, which were mainly due to Clyde’s habit of selling drugs on debt, were so fierce that Marion often left home. He boarded the train several times in order to go as far as possible, and his parents would then look for him in a panic. When Clyde Morrison ran into financial difficulties in 1914, the family moved to a farm in the village of Lancaster, on the edge of the Mojave Desert.

The life story of John Wayne

Unlike the house in Iowa, the farm in California had no electricity, running water, or telephone.

The Morrison’s were the poorest family in the county.

Wayne will later say that those years were important for strengthening his character, but no one in the family was satisfied with life on the farm. Because of that, in 1916, they moved closer to Los Angeles, to the town of Glendale, eight kilometers away from Hollywood. Their social life improved with the relocation, but not their financial opportunities. In search of cheaper accommodation, they moved several times, and the children could only have new clothes if they could earn it themselves.

Wayne did as many as two part-time jobs. He got up at half past five in the morning to deliver the newspaper, and after school he helped his father’s pharmacy, delivering medicine to customers. He earned money for his own, but also his brother’s clothes for school, but despite all that effort, he was among the best students. Later, recalling those days, he said that he was most happy when he finally rejected the name Marion.

In the summer of 1918, he got a dog named Duke. The dog followed him everywhere, and when he went to school after that summer, Wayne left him in a nearby building, with firefighters who knew the dog’s name, so they named the boy Big Duke (Grand Duke). Wayne liked that, so he told his friends to call him only Duke. Marion is gone forever.

The life story of John Wayne

Duke Morrison was one of the most popular students at Glendale High School. He participated in various activities, was the president of the class, wrote for the school sports newspaper, and represented the school at the state competition in performing Shakespeare’s works. He was most interested in girls and American football. He was taller than 190 cm, dark-haired and handsome, and a good dancer, he attracted girls, but he did not engage in a permanent relationship. Partly because he was poor, but mostly because he got drunk to the point of unconsciousness on the weekends, which he worked for the rest of his life. In Hollywood, whiskey in a two-deciliter glass was called the John Wayne cocktail.

At that time, American football played a crucial role for his future. He was on the first team of the high school that qualified for the state finals, so he managed to get a scholarship to study law at the University of Southern California, where they helped him improve his financial situation. With the help of actor Tom Mix, the then great western star, he got a job as a stage worker in the film studio “Fox”. Twenty days before Wayne’s 19th birthday, his parents filed for divorce.

The life story of John Wayne

John didn’t suffer too much because it was the first time he fell in love. It was won by Josephine Alicia Seanz, daughter of Jose Seanz, a successful businessman and Panamanian consul in Los Angeles. Wayne met her when he once accompanied her older sister Carmen home, with whom he was at a dance. He invited her to a nearby cafe, completely enchanted by her beauty. Almost fifty years later, the famous actor remembered his first love:

“I never felt that way. I think I managed to say only two words, I was so mesmerized by her beauty. I remember accidentally scratching it and it made me shiver. I knew I was in love. Love is a wonderful, but also an incredibly painful feeling. ”

Fortunately for him, 16-year-old Josephine felt the same way. They soon got engaged, despite the opposition of her father, who thought that Wayne did not deserve his daughter, because he did not earn enough for himself, let alone take care of her. Besides, he was not a Catholic but a Protestant. It got even worse when he lost his sports scholarship at the beginning of his second year of college. He was a solid player of American football, but there were also better ones, so the coach expelled him from the team, partly because he came to training’s tired of numerous part-time jobs. In addition, he earned money by selling blood, so often that he was banned from coming to the hospital.

Entering the world of film

Without money for schooling and the family home, which he lost when his parents divorced, he dropped out of school, moved to the attic of a friend’s house and decided to get a permanent job at the Fox studio. He earned only $35 a week, which barely covered his living expenses, but he knew that stage workers, if they were good, could earn up to $130, which seemed like a real fortune. He worked from morning till night, happy to be able to take Josephine out into the city. As he was on the set all the time, he starred in several films, but at that time he hadn’t even thought about acting as his life’s calling.

The life story of John Wayne

Even after he was signed as Duke Morrison for the first time in the film “Salute” by John Ford in 1929, he still considered acting only a way to “patch” the household budget. Even Ford, considered by many to be one of the greatest film directors of all time, did not recognize his acting potential. On the contrary, he often harassed Wayne.

“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” the actor said.

Only a year later, he got the lead role in the movie “Big Trail”, which, with a budget of two million dollars, was supposed to be the most spectacular western of that time. Director Raul Walsh struggled with choosing the lead actor. At that time, sound film appeared and many silent film stars could not get used to the new medium. Walsh needed an actor for the role of a hero who leads a caravan across the entire Wild West. He was already desperate, because the beginning of filming was approaching, when he noticed a young stage worker in the “Fox” studio, who was carrying two heavy chairs with ease. Two weeks later, Wayne was on a test shoot. Both Walsh and Winfield Sheen, the heads of the Fox studio, realized that he was not a good actor, but he behaved naturally in front of the camera and left an impressive impression, so they gave him a role, with a salary of $75 a week. The problem was only in his name. Shain thought that it was not glamorous enough, so he renamed it John Wayne after the hero of the American revolution, Medo Anthony Wayne.

The life story of John Wayne

A turning point in life

However, the turning point in Wayne’s career came thanks to John Ford, who insisted that he get the lead role in the western “Postal Carriage”. Although he suffered harassment on the set, due to poor acting and pronunciation, the audience was delighted with the film, which began showing in March 1939, and was awarded an Oscar. Ford harassed Wayne so much that he threatened to kill him.

“Stop mumbling your text and give some facial expressions. You look like a poached egg, “the director told him. Privately, as stated in the biography of the great actor written by Scott Ayman, Ford said for Wayne: “She will be one of the biggest stars ever.”

The role of Ringo Kid opened the door to Hollywood for him. Over the next three and a half decades, he starred in many Ford films and became the most commercial American star of the 20th century. He has made 162 films, including “The Searchers”, “True Grit”, “The Long Voyage Home”, “The Red River”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “The Forth Apache”, “Rio Grande”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, “The longest day “, “Trouble Along the Way”…

The life story of John Wayne

John Wayne became the archetype of heroes and, instead of diluting his personality in the characters he spoke through, he managed to paint all pilots, sheriffs and cowboys with endurance, honesty and individualism, not wanting to make any exceptions and identify with the villain, even if he was also fictitious. He played rude but honest people, who radiated masculinity and tenderness at the same time.

Private life

Privately, the famous cowboy, passion for alcohol and love affairs with colleagues, did not even try to hide, so there was talk of his romances with Marlene Dietrich and Lana Turner. He divorced Josephine in 1945, when he was already madly in love with the 20-year-old Mexican actress Esperanza Diaz Ceballos, whom he later married. After a year of living apart due to his recordings and infidelity, Esperanza filed for divorce and demanded huge alimony, and the media reported on their mutual accusations of infidelity. They divorced on October 28, and on November 1, 1953, the day his divorce was confirmed, John married the young actress Pilar Pallet Weldhy. He had seven children.

He was very superstitious, he loved to play chess, he constantly cheated in all games and he did not like to wear suede shoes. He was a great lover of literature, especially the novel by Agatha Christie, by Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. He was not superstitious when it came to cigarettes and smoked five packs a day, thanks to which he developed a chronic cough and later lung cancer.

The life story of John Wayne

One of the many things that drove Wayne crazy, besides women, is when someone leaves a hat on the bed. Also, none of the members of his family were allowed to add salt directly to him, but the herring had to be left on the table so that he could reach it.

When he won the “Oscar” for the role of Rooster Cogburn in the film “True Grit”, Wayne whispered in the ear of Barbara Streisand, who presented him with the award – “beginner’s luck”. He then spent the night drinking with Richard Barton, who was among the nominees in 1969 for the role of Henry VIII in “Anna of a Thousand Days”.

Wayne allegedly burst into his room, shoved the Oscar in his hands and shouted, “You should have won this, not me”.

Doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer in 1964, but the disease was slowed down by removing his left lung and four ribs. Once again, John did not want to follow Hollywood rules. He refused to cover up the disease and did the exact opposite – he called for a fight against the invisible enemy and asked that his body be used in search of a cure after death. Anti-smoking campaigns followed, but a few years later, the habit prevailed and Wayne returned to his vice.

The life story of John Wayne

When he accepted the role of a cancer-dying revolver in 1976, he had no idea that “The Shootist” would be his last film.

“I am not looking forward to death, because I do not know what God will be like for me. He may not be as good as I hope – he said in one of the last interviews and added that he would prefer to be remembered as a man who believed in justice, instead of being a great actor. ”

He last appeared in public on April 9, 1979, when he presented the award for best film to Michael Cimino, the director of “Deer Hunter”, at the “Oscars”.

He passed away on June 11 of the same year, in Los Angeles. He was buried in the presence of family members and several friends at Pacific Memorial Park. Fearing an influx of fans, the tomb was unmarked until 1999, when a tombstone was placed on which his statement in a 1971 Playboy interview was written:

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. She comes to us at midnight, completely clean. She is perfect when she comes and settles in our hands, with the hope that we learned something yesterday”.

The life story of John Wayne


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