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John Wayne, my hero died 36 years ago today


fxreyman
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John Wayne (Marion Robert Morrison) past away on this date 36 years ago. I remember getting the news and sitting and crying like I had just lost a dear friend. The Duke had quite a life. Unfortunately for him he was addicted to cigarettes and that eventually led to his demise.

My mother and grandmother both died from Emphysema, the main cause was their cigarette smoking habit of many years. John Wayne developed Lung Cancer in the early 1960’s and had surgery that removed one lung. His six-packs-a-day cigarette habit was probably the main cause of his lung cancer. Eventually he developed stomach cancer, and that is the disease that claimed his life at the age of 72.

I sincerely hope that those of you who write and or participate on these message boards who now or in the recent past have smoked, stop with this terrible habit and proceed without these devil sticks. You all deserve to live long and happy lives. Just like the Duke could have.

These are 25 of my favorite John Wayne films. Most of the time when I watch these I get teary eyed. Can’t help it he was my hero.

Stagecoach (1939)
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Tall in the Saddle (1944)
Flame of the Barbary Coast (1944)
They Were Expendable (1945)
Red River (1948)
Fort Apache (1948)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
The Quiet Man (1952)
The Searchers (1956)
Rio Bravo (1959)
The Alamo (1960)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Hatari! (1962)
The Longest Day (1962)
Donovan’s Reef (1963)
McLintock! (1964)
In Harm’s Way (9165)
El Dorado (1967)
True Grit (1969)
Chisum (1970)
Rio Lobo (1970)
Big Jake (1971)
The Train Robbers (1973)
The Shootist (1976)

 

Please share with us your favorite films of the Duke. Maybe your favorite quotes he made on screen or off and any videos you would like to post.

 

As another of my favorite characters said in a film once...

 

"He's really not dead, as long as we remember him."
 

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I'd add The War Wagon. Great fun, Wayne and Douglas make a good pair of rivals.  Rollicking Dimitri Tiomkin score.

 

After Wayne and Douglas gun down Chuck Roberson and Bruce Dern:

Douglas: "Mine hit the ground first."

Wayne:  "Mine was taller."

 

I occasionally give an extra credit question on my final exam, asking students to identify classic actors/actresses from photos.  The one time I included Wayne, a good number of students were able to identify him, but not Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Paul Newman, Robert Taylor, or even Ronald Reagan (gee, I thought they would at least be able to identify a President).  This is a tribute to Wayne's "staying power" in the public consciousness.

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I remember hearing the news that day too.

 

I have quite a number of good Wayne roles to add to your impressive list, Rey

 

The Long Voyage Home (1940) even with that jumpin' jimminy accent

Three Godfathers (1948)

Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) Oscar nomination for the Duke

Rio Grande (1950)

Hondo (1963)

 

I think the Duke was at his best when there was a tragic element in the character such as in The Quiet Man and They Were Expendable.

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I liked Wayne in "A Lady Takes a Chance".  Besides my being a Jean Arthur fan, I loved seeing those two together; just the physical and vocal contrast made them a cute pair.

 

This is a Jean Arthur movie I would love to see (she is one of my favorites).   To me Wayne looks out of place when not wearing western clothing (like Arthur does in western clothing in films like Arizona),    but I have heard from others that the two make this film work.

 

As for my favorite Wayne,  they are were he plays more of the anti-hero:

 

Red River

Liberty Valance

The Searchers

Angel and the Badman

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Wow! So no love for "The Conqueror" here, FOLKS???!!!

 

(...sorry, couldn't resist...again) 

 

His breakthrough role in "Stagecoach", and then "Red River" and then "Fort Apache" are probably tops on my list of Big Duke favorites.

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fxreyman,

 

I saw so many of his films as a kid, and as I have revisited these films as an adult I appreciate what Wayne brought to them even more.

 

Your list covers a good many of them. Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance to name a few.

 

I would maybe add Angel and the Badman, Hondo and for a lighter side, Trouble Along the Way.

 

Rio Bravo.

 

Also The Cavalry Trilogy

 

Red River

 

His unforgettable Ethan Edwards.

 

So many good films. I've discussed him and been involved in a number of discussions of his films on this board, particularly with you, Lynn, Ro, Miss G. and others.

 

It's been enlightening and added to my appreciation of his work.   

 

 

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FxRey, he's not a favorite star of mine but I think his importance to Hollywood and, out in the world, is beyond "good or bad" issues.  He's simply too important, too identifiable as a legend.  Nothing better states that than moral-to-the-story of MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY V. 

 

LIBERTY V and WAR WAGON are interesting films for him because he sort of sits in the back-seat, coasting along while others take the lead, but each of those remain essential in my John Wayne catalog.  Neither 'move' without him, and perhaps he alone drives those films' characters along.

 

My vote for "his most powerful performance" in 1953's ISLAND IN THE SKY where his plane crash-lands in the frozen wilderness, and he loses a crewman who takes off, on his own, despite Wayne's very angry demands not to.  Anger gives way to loss and then realization that they're all facing the same doom.  I don't think he ever blubbered in another film, but he is very powerful in that scene.

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Did any other Hollywood superstar ever have quite so appropriate and poignant a valedictory performance as the Duke in The Shootist?

 

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I remember first hearing that Wayne had died over a radio playing in a store.

 

I recall telling a friend right afterwards that he had passed away and saying, "If John Wayne can die, any of us can die."

 

That statement was a reflection of the fact that the Duke had been such a seemingly indestructible presence for so many years and such a huge part of our collective consciousness.

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I remember first hearing that Wayne had died over a radio playing in a store.

 

I recall telling a friend right afterwards that he had passed away and saying, "If John Wayne can die, any of us can die."

 

That statement was a reflection of the fact that the Duke had been such a seemingly indestructible presence for so many years and such a huge part of our collective consciousness.

 

Reminds me of the time when I was about 7 y/o and a buddy of mine named Mike who was the same age as I walked into his house. His dad and uncle were watching "The Flying Tigers" being shown on some afternoon TV movie matinee, and my friend sort of recognizing the man on the TV but not knowing his name asked his dad who that big guy was on the TV.

 

His dad replied, "Why son, THAT is John Wayne!"

 

And my friend then asked, "Can he fly airplanes?", and to which his Dad then replied, "Son...John Wayne can do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, and BETTER than any other man alive!"

 

It would take me a few more years before I would realize why after Mike's dad said that, his uncle fell off the couch laughing hysterically, and probably just about the time I learned what the word "sarcasm" meant.

 

(...true story, I swear...well, unless I'm havin' one of those "false childhood memory" things you read about now days anyway, and which I don't think it is) 

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I think Wayne is my favorite movie star ever and I have only recently figured that out. 

 

I love the usual suspects like Cary, Eddie G. and so many others but John Wayne actually gives me a level of comfort that no other actor/actress has. His movies, especially the westerns are like comfort food. The cinematic version of mac n cheese or pancakes and maple syrup. 

 

When the Duke is doing his thing, whether in Red River, Stagecoach or Rio Bravo I am so at one with the screen. A big lug with a soothing Midwest voice.

 

lavenderblue, all films you noted are my faves as well along with The Shootist. I think I totallyfell for him in Trouble Along the Way. I adore that film and his performance.

 

No greater movie star /icon.  

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LOL,

Loved that story Dargo.

 

Very fine tribute thread to an American icon fxreyman.

 

I remember thinking in the 1960's that when John Wayne and Bob Hope pass it will truly be the end of an era.

Perhaps their passing didn't have as dramatic a cultural effect as I had anticipated, but it truly did have sorrowful impact on the loyal fans that grew up with them.

 

Wayne was a father figure for me, and military "inexperience" aside, he most definitely impacted my life.  When I was living in Alaska I had a friend and mentor there who was quite fond of saying, "He'll do." when either myself or somebody else behaved in a positive manner. He was a big guy himself, and quite a Wayne fan.

 

I have little to add to all of the Wayne titles previously mentioned, except I also like watching him in THE BIG TRAIL (1930), for contrasting a very young leading man Wayne with the Wayne that he eventually became.

Also, in DeMille's REAP THE WILD WIND (1942), love Wayne & Milland in that fight with a giant squid, and overall great casting and chemistry.  

Likewise WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1948), love those underwater scenes, and the magic between him and Gail Russell.

And Wayne looked good in buckskin again in THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN (1949), plus a chance to see Oliver Hardy as a non-comical side-kick (felt a bit sorry for his horse though).

Again at the helm in THE SEA CHASE (1955), this time with Lana Turner by his side. Great finale.

Loved the comedic humor in NORTH TO ALASKA (1960) and HATARI (1962).

And Duke duke'n it up with Lee Marvin again in DONOVAN'S REEF (1963), and O'Hara, again, in McCLINTOCK (1963).

 

I remember going to see THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965) primarily because Wayne was supposedly in it. Well, I must have blinked because I don't remember seeing him, but I did hear his distinctive voice saying, "Truly this man was a son of god," his only line in the entire movie.

 

But aside from his last film, THE SHOOTEST (1976), the one that still moves me to this day is THE COWBOYS (1972). Waynes father figure demise in that film really shook me, and for a long time after I "hated" Bruce Dern. 

 

So many, many, memorable John Wayne films. His characters really did make him appear "bigger-than-life" and "indestructable."

 

I suppose though, if I had to pick a single Wayne film as an all-time personal favorite, that I still will stop to watch whenever its on, would be THE SEARCHERS (1956).

BTW, one of Wayne's signature lines from that film, "That'll be the day." influenced the great Buddy Holly to write a famous song. :)  

 

Once again, great thread. Each title mentioned has brought back a string of memories...

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When he made Reap the Wild Wind, Cecil B. DeMille reassured John Wayne that he wouldn't do anything in the film that he would find humiliating.

 

"Well, losing a fight to Ray Milland is humiliating," Wayne replied.

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There is an interesting theory that he died due to the location shoot of the movie The Conqueror. Radioactive fallout happened and contaminated the crew sadly.

 

He ended up with both stomach and lung cancer.

 

I'm aware of several of the actors and crew involved in THE CONQUEROR, and the association with the radioactive fallout from being "downwind" from some testing at the time.

 

Though that no doubt wasn't healthy, it's also hard to refute that all of those associated personalities affected with cancer were also quite heavy smokers. An ill-refutable, and in this case no-longer controversial, known carcinogen.

And cigarettes don't just cause lung cancer, but also many other forms of CA as well, including types of stomach and intestinal CA. The lungs are a common primary site for tobacco smoking related cancer (and a secondary site for most other types of CA), because of their vasculature, many distant secondary (and primary) cancers erupt there with the same signature, meaning they may have started in one tissue but the same cells will show up in other tissues. Likewise, most cancers that begin outside of the lung will eventually metastasise to the lung.

 

So while we may never know what contributory affect filming THE CONQUEROR had on the demise of Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendariz, director Dick Powell, and the like, we do know that they all could have, and more than likely did die from smoking related cancer.

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When he made Reap the Wild Wind, Cecil B. DeMille reassured John Wayne that he wouldn't do anything in the film that he would find humiliating.

 

"Well, losing a fight to Ray Milland is humiliating," Wayne replied.

Ha!

And Milland claimed that having his hair curled for that movie was the reason he lost his hair! :)

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I'm aware of several of the actors and crew involved in THE CONQUEROR, and the association with the radioactive fallout from being "downwind" from some testing at the time.

 

Though that no doubt wasn't healthy, it's also hard to refute that all of those associated personalities affected with cancer were also quite heavy smokers. An ill-refutable, and in this case no-longer controversial, known carcinogen.

And cigarettes don't just cause lung cancer, but also many other forms of CA as well, including types of stomach and intestinal CA. The lungs are a common primary site for tobacco smoking related cancer (and a secondary site for most other types of CA), because of their vasculature, many distant secondary (and primary) cancers erupt there with the same signature, meaning they may have started in one tissue but the same cells will show up in other tissues. Likewise, most cancers that begin outside of the lung will eventually metastasise to the lung.

 

So while we may never know what contributory affect filming THE CONQUEROR had on the demise of Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendariz, director Dick Powell, and the like, we do know that they all could have, and more than likely did die from smoking related cancer.

 

Do we know all of them were smokers? This is how many got cancer-

 

Over 90 (of 220) cast and crew members — including co-stars Susan Hayward, John Wayne, and Pedro Armendariz, as well as director-producer Dick Powell — developed cancer; at least 46 died from the disease.

 

90 out of 220 is a big number in such a short time.

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Nice tribute, fxreyman.  Count me in as a fan.  I count 49 movies of his that I have either on DVD or from TV, and admitedly I haven't seen at least half of them, but eventially will.  The one that comes to mind for me is Rio Bravo.  It may or may not be a "seminal" John Wayne movie, but I think it is a heck of a lot of fun, considering all the talent.

John Wayne • Dean Martin • Ricky Nelson • Angie Dickinson • Walter Brennan • Ward Bond

Directed by Howard Hawks

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Nice tribute, fxreyman.  Count me in as a fan.  I count 49 movies of his that I have either on DVD or from TV, and admitedly I haven't seen at least half of them, but eventially will.  The one that comes to mind for me is Rio Bravo.  It may or may not be a "seminal" John Wayne movie, but I think it is a heck of a lot of fun, considering all the talent.

John Wayne • Dean Martin • Ricky Nelson • Angie Dickinson • Walter Brennan • Ward Bond

Directed by Howard Hawks

So true. It's always on tv somewhere and I love the entire cast. Love the jailhouse sing along with Dino, Ricky and Brennan. Angie is lovely and good and I love the actor who plays the hotel owner. So funny and his rapport with Wayne is off the charts.

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I always thought that the Duke's introductory appearance in Hondo was one of the most iconic moments of his career.

 

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And, as representative of his "man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" screen persona, the film also has some of the best dialogue the actor ever had.

 

 

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