... that when he was born, John Wayne's mother, Mary, named him Marion Robert Morrison. Five years later, when John's younger brother was born his mother decided that she wanted to name the baby "Robert" so she changed young Marion's name to Marion Mitchell Morrison. Much much later, a movie studio publicity person made a mistake in a press release and listed his "real" name as Marion Michael Morrison. Instead of getting mad, the Duke decided that he liked Michael better than Mitchell and had his "legal name" officially changed to Marion Michael Morrison.
... how John Wayne got the nickname the Duke? The Morrison family had a huge Airedale named Duke and the dog would walk along with Marion everyday as he walked to school. Since dogs weren't allowed at school Marion would have him spend the day at a Fire Station nearby. The dog would hang out there with the firemen until Marion came back by again on his way home. The fireman began calling Marion "Little Duke" as opposed to "Big Duke" the dog. Then they shortened it to just "Duke". Marion liked the sound of that better than the "girl's name" he had and he started insisting that his friends and family call him Duke also. That lasted his entire life - anybody who knew him called him Duke. Only fans called him by his screen name John Wayne.
... that John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa. There is a fundraiser going on to raise $5.5 million dollars to build the John Wayne Museum. They have devised a unique way to raise some of this money. "You can sponsor a laser engraved granite block, one for each film starring John Wayne, that will be set in concrete to form our Walk of Fame which will connect the Birthplace home with the new Museum" Different movies are going for different prices. The Searchers is a $2500 donation but we could get Blood Alley or Circus World for $1000. Maybe we should all chip in and have Destination Hollywood get a block.
... that the famous Western star Tom Mix was inadvertently responsible for John Wayne's acting career. Mix wanted his own personal box at the Coliseum to watch the popular USC football games. He approached football coach Howard Jones and asked if such a thing could be arranged. Coach Jones told Mix that he could have his private box if Mix would agree to put some USC football players on Fox Studio's payroll during the summer, Howard Jones would see to it that the star had his own personal cluster of box seats. John and good friend Ward Bond got two of the first jobs. Their pay - $35 per week.
... that in the fall of 1968, Govenor George Wallace, who was running for President on the American Party ticket, asked John Wayne to be his Vice Presidential running mate. John Wayne, politely refused, explaining that he was a "Nixon Man".
... that there is yet another story about how John Wayne got that screen name. It happened at the time his first big movie The Big Trail was being made in 1930. Up to this point, John had been acting under the name Duke Morrison but the producer of this particular movie didn't think that Duke Morrison sounded American enough. The movie's director Raoul Walsh was a big fan of the Revolutionary War and greatly admired General "Mad Anthony" Wayne. Unfortunately, the producer thought that Anthony Wayne sounded "too Italian" and Tony Wayne "sounded like a girl's name." Somebody in the room suggested John Wayne - and a screen persona was born.
... that John Wayne was recruited to play football for USC in 1925. He was given a full scholarship and played tackle for Coach Howard Jones for two years. An injury during training camp of his junior year caused him to be cut from the team. The loss of his scholarship forced him to pursue acting full-time.
... that Stagecoach was the movie that made John Wayne a star. He had been befriended by famous director John Ford. Ford had been looking for a good role to give to John but wasn't really considering him for the role of The Ringo Kid. Fortunately for John Wayne, the movie's low budget ($550,000) was too low to attract the kind of talent (for example Gary Cooper) that John Ford really wanted. Ironically, it was John's $3,000 price tag that got him the role.
... that John Wayne named his production company Batjak Productions after the fictious "Batjak Trading Company" in the Wake of the Red Witch.
... that John Wayne lived for many years in Newport Beach in Orange County, California. He was such a popular member of the community that the airport was named after him and there is a commemorative statue inside the terminal.
... John Wayne got a new neighbor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most appropriately it is one of his old costars. Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (seen here with John Wayne in Rio Bravo). Pedro will receive his star next to John Wayne. John Wayne spotted Pedro as a contestant on the Groucho Marx Show and signed him to a contract with his production company The two appeared together in Rio Bravo, The High and the Mighty, McClintok, Hellfighters and Chisum and now their stars will shine on the sidewalk together at 1555 Vine Street.
... We love lists just as much as the next guy but we think Esquire magazine has gone around the bend with their latest. It's called the 75 Movies Every Man Should See and claims that these are the movies that have shaped American men. We had to scroll through 48 movies until John Wayne appeared in The Searchers. While we would agree that every man AND woman should see The Searchers surely the men of America have been shaped by John Wayne in more movies than this. And we don't even want to think about the men who have "been shaped" by Shakes the Clown.
... That John Wayne has a Trail. It's called the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. It's 100 miles long located in Washington State. One of the highlights of the trail were the darkened tunnels riders and hikers passed through. Now the state has closed the tunnels because of disrepair and the fate of the Trail is unknown. You may not be able to ride it anymore but you still can see pictures here.
... that in an unlikely pairing Dean Martin and John Wayne made two westerns together (Rio Bravo and The Sons of Katie Elder) Here John Wayne visits his friend on his weekly variety show.
... that you can see John Wayne introducing the very first episode of Gunsmoke in 1955 (the series ran for 20 years.)
Grauman's/Mann's Chinese Theater Footprints
John Wayne is just one of the many legendary celebrities to leave hand and footprints outside the famous Grauman's (now Mann's) Chinese Theater. These same footprints became
the main plot point for a funny episode of the classic television
show I Love Lucy.
Mann's Chinese Theater
6925 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA SEE MAP
If you walk around to the west side of Mann's Chinese Theater, you'll see this mural of John Wayne creating his prints.
Hollywood Walk of Fame Star
In the early 1960's, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce developed the idea of the "Hollywood Walk of Fame." The sidewalks of the most famous streets in the heart of Hollywood were lined with "stars" recognizing celebrities' life-long contributions to the entertainment industry. Receiving a star is still to this day considered a huge honor. Here's where you can find John Wayne's star:
Walk of Fame Star (Motion Pictures)
1541 Vine St.
John Wayne Airport
On June 20, 1979, the Orange County Airport was renamed
John Wayne Airport by the Orange County of Supervisors to
honor the late actor John Wayne. A nine-foot bronze statue
was commissioned as well, and was dedicated on November 4,
John Wayne Airport
18601 Airport Way
Santa Ana, CA SEE MAP
Great Western Savings Statue
In the late seventies John Wayne agreed to be the commercial
spokesperson for Great Western Savings, a California savings
and loan company. He made many commericials for the
company. After John Wayne's death in 1979, Great Western
Savings commissioned a seven-ton bronze statue to
commemerate his life and accomplishments. The statue
debuted during the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics in
front of the main branch of The Great Western Savings office in
Los Angeles, California.
Great Western Savings Building
Corner of Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA SEE MAP
The house in which John Wayne was born has been turned into
a museum and popular tourist site.
The Birthplace of John Wayne
216 So. Second Street
The Burial Place of John Wayne
John Wayne was buried in Newport Beach, where he lived
most of his adult life. Until recently the grave was completely
Pacific View Memorial Park
3500 Pacific View Drive
Newport Beach, CA SEE MAP
Date Posted: April 20, 2000 ConTributed by: Larry Torreodor - Los Angeles, California
"I met John Wayne, once. It was back in 1967. My friends and I had just graduated from college and were attending the wedding of one of our "group". The wedding reception took place at a bayside home in Newport Beach harbor - a home that just happened to be next door to John Wayne's house. The house was very crowded so my friends and I stepped out in front of the house to have a beer by the pool. (The pool was in front, the harbor was in back!) We'd been out there about 10 minutes when John Wayne (I guess he had the same idea) came outside. He wandered over to us in that unmistakable walk. Spotting a fellow Trojan one of my friends went up to him - stuck out his hand and said "Peter James, USC, Class of '67." "John Wayne, nice to meet you," he replied. He had a beer with us and couldn't have been more polite and gracious. It didn't take long for the guests to realize that he had snuck outside and they quickly descended upon him. I realized then how hard it must be to be famous and what a remarkable achievement it was for him to have remained such a genuinely nice man."
Date Posted: May 6, 2000 Posted by: Cindy Galveston - Burbank, California
"I never actually met John Wayne but we were once in the hospital together. It was the end of May 1964. I was giving birth to my first child and he was in the room one floor directly below me. He was suffering from pneumonia and had to be hospitalized for a few days. (This was before he was diagnosed with lung cancer.) What I remember most was how all of the nurse where in an uproar and how you couldn't get any of them to help you because they were all wandering around on his floor trying to get a glimpse of him. "