“Myth is much more important and true than history.
History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
- Joseph Campbell
Oddly enough, we tend to disapprove of figures from yesteryear for not living according to the mores of today.
All the while not realizing that the accepted conventions of today will be different decades from now,
and we may well find ourselves tarred with the same brush with which we have stained others from the past.
If we are remembered at all.
John Wayne became a star because of a friendship believe it or not.
John Ford was a hard man, deeply flawed but loyal to his friends.
I wrote of Ford in my science fantasy, HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS:
starting as his prop man and stunt man, he gradually progressed until he became his major star, especially in Westerns.
The relationship between Ford and Wayne was unique, going beyond director-actor collaboration.
Ford molded Wayne into a distinct screen personality in a manner that sculptors work with clay.
Ford also served as a father figure.
Wayne's parents divorced when he was in high school
and Ford fulfilled parental functions at a time when Wayne was confused about his career and lacked direction for the future.
Salute (1929), in which Wayne had his first speaking role, marked the beginning of that friendship.
An incident during the shooting accounted to a large extent for the mutual respect they held for each other.
Wayne enjoyed telling it in great detail:
“They'd always ask how I'd crouched to bust the line as a football player, and then they'd trip you.
It was a corny joke, but I always tried to be patient.
Ford tried it and I went flat on my face in the mud.
I said, 'let's try it again,'
only this time I turned suddenly and let him have my foot right where it would do the most good.
This was daring with an important director, but Ford loved it.”
After this picture, Ford and Wayne “learned to share all the secrets of friendship.”
I hope you enjoyed learning a little known part of John Wayne's life.
IS "JOHN WAYNE" A FORGOTTEN NAME TO YOU?
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEAR HIS NAME?