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Monday, June 11, 2018

JOHN WAYNE died today

“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:

Ford literally changed the course of Wayne's career: 

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.




  1. I've not forgotten. He was a personality bigger than life.

  2. Wow, he was an icon of major proportions! I painted a portrait of him from a still of one of his movies, for my nephew's 30th birthday. He loved it. But besides that, I don't know a man who doesn't admire him. Thanks for the interesting facts about him, Roland. RIP, John Wayne.

    1. What a nice gift for your nephew, Lisa. Thank you so much for visiting and staying to talk for a bit. :-)

  3. I think of a young Marion Morrison age 7 to 9 years of age. In the years 1914-1916, living/working on his Dad's "Homestead" farm, while living in a "shack"; in this godforsaken Mojave Desert. Marion/John would first learn to shoot a gun in this desert. Jackrabbits made His Father's farm a recipe for disaster. Thus Dad packed up & moved to Glendale, taking a Pharmacy Job.

    I think of the sheer determination and perseverance it would take at a young impressionable age; to not only work on that farm, but survive the extreme desert heat and frigid winters of Mojave back then, no modern day amenities.

    John developed a perseverance that would endure his entire life, not just from enduring Mojave; as his entire life was a lesson that sculpted his being from womb to tomb.

    John lived but a few miles south (from the town I desert town I live in); in this godforsaken desert. I've heard John had a Dog named Duke that followed him in this desert wherever he went, including to Lancaster, Ca Grammar school, (where his dogs name was first documented, since Duke was a common guest). Tho' many a Historian states it was his nickname in Glendale on the Football team. True, it was, but I do believe he honored his best friend and pal, his dog Duke as his own nickname.

    1. Me, too, Robert. And to think that young Marion, raised in that desert, went on to study law. But his heart was not in it and was in making movies, living dreams on film so to speak. How are you doing?

  4. I've always enjoyed John Wayne movies, especially Big Jake. He was important to a generation, and I think that, while not being central, his subtle influence will remain for decades to come. Or at least I hope so.