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John Wayne
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Birth Name: Marion Robert Morrison
Date of Birth: May 26, 1907
Birth Place: Winterset, Iowa
John Wayne Photo

John Wayne, one of the cinema's greatest stars, is also one of the cinema's greatest problems. His image as an icon of American individualism and the frontier spirit has overshadowed his career to such an extent that it is almost impossible for viewers and writers to separate Wayne the legend from Wayne the actor and Wayne the man. 5 As Marion Michael Morrison, he played football for USC and held several behind-the-scenes jobs at Fox before moving in front of the cameras in the late 1920s in a series of bit roles. Director John Ford, who had befriended "Duke" Wayne, recommended him for the lead in Raoul Walsh's 1930 western epic, "The Big Trail." But stardom did not materialize and Wayne spent the rest of the decade slogging through a series of low-budget oaters whose meager budgets and rapid shooting schedules did little to sharpen his acting skills. Still, even in the unsophisticated world of the Poverty Row studios, his easygoing authority and physical presence could command attention. 5 John Ford gave Wayne another career break in 1939 by casting him as the Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach," thus rescuing the actor from a life in serials and cheap action pictures. The role propelled Wayne into the top ranks of box-office stars and during the 1940s his legend began to take shape. Excused from military service because of physical ailments, Wayne became the film industry's exemplar of the hard-bitten, decisive soldier who could be compassionate when necessary. Wartime releases such as "Flying Tigers" (1942), "The Fighting Seabees" (1944) and "Back to Bataan" (1945) placed Wayne squarely in the larger-than-life, heroic mold. 5 But it was the movies he made at the end of the decade that established him as an actor of merit, something more than just a star of tremendous stature. Howard Hawks emphasized the willful side of Wayne's screen persona, taking it to extremes in "Red River" (1948). As the inflexible Tom Dunson, Wayne was able to eschew mock heroics and concentrate on the psychology of a man obsessed. Giving an uncompromisingly hard-edged performance, Wayne created a difficult, unlikable, yet compelling character. Two other John Ford films from the period gave Wayne the opportunity for greater depth--"Fort Apache" (1948) and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949)--the latter a particularly moving portrait of a man and an era reaching a turning point. 5 For most of the 1950s and 60s Wayne ambled through a number of mediocre pictures, standard westerns and action movies made watchable, and financially successful, because of his participation. When the script was poor and the role ill-considered, the results could be disatrous: witness "The Conqueror" (1956), which featured the unfortunate Duke as Genghis Khan. But with a carefully tailored part and a director at the top of his form, Wayne always rose to the occasion--"Rio Bravo" (1959) for Hawks, and "The Searchers" (1956) and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) ""for Ford. "The Searchers," now considered by many to be Ford's greatest picture, also features Wayne's best performance, perhaps because in the driven character of Ethan Edwards viewers can negotiate their private terms with Wayne the man, super-patriot and defender of the conservative faith. Ethan is a grotesque figure, the essence of patriarchy, a victim of his personal prejudices and blinded by an extremist code. But at the same time his skill and tenacity are admirable. Finally, one must feel compassion for him, realizing that he will never be integrated into the mainstream, will never be thought of in terms of human scale. Understanding the character of Ethan helps demystify Wayne the icon. 5 Although he won the 1969 Best Actor Oscar for "True Grit," a light-hearted if not particularly impressive performance, Wayne's best role in his last decade on screen was also his last. In "The Shootist" (1976) he played a dying gunman who is just beginning to understand his own life and legend. It was the perfect elegy for Wayne, who was himself dying of cancer, and a role which he invested with a touching simplicity and directness--the hallmarks of both his acting career and personal popularity.

I Love Lucy: The Star Upstairs
Young Duke: The Making of a Movie Star (1993)
John Wayne: American Hero of the Movies (1990)
John Wayne: Bigger Than Life (1990)
Saturday at the Movies (1988)
Hollywood Home Movies (1987)
Smoke That Cigarette (1987)
Wild West (1987)
Cowboys of the Saturday Matinee (1984)
John Wayne: The Duke Lives on (1984)
Olaf Wieghorst: Painter of the American West (1978)
No Substitute for Victory (1976)
The Shootist (1976)
America at the Movies (1976)
Brannigan (1975)
Rooster Cogburn (1975)
McQ (1974)
AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards: John Ford (1973)
Cahill: United States Marshal (1973)
Great American West (1973)
The Train Robbers (1973)
Cancel My Reservation (1972)
The Cowboys (1972)
Big Jake (1971)
Directed by John Ford (1971)
Chisum (1970)
Rio Lobo (1970)
True Grit (1969)
The Undefeated (1969)
The Green Berets (1968)
Hellfighters (1968)
The War Wagon (1967)
Hondo and the Apaches (1967)
El Dorado (1967)
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
In Harm's Way (1965)
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
Circus World (1964)
Donovan's Reef (1963)
How the West Was Won (1963)
McLintock! (1963)
Beverly Hillbillies (TV series) (1962)
Hatari! (1962)
The Longest Day (1962)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Flashing Spikes (1962)
The Comancheros (1961)
The Alamo (1960)
North to Alaska (1960)
The Horse Soldiers (1959)
Rio Bravo (1959)
The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)
Dave Garroway's Wide, Wide World (1958)
Vintage Commercials, Vol. 5 (1958)
Jet Pilot (1957)
Legend of the Lost (1957)
The Wings of Eagles (1957)
Gun the Man Down (1957)
The Conqueror (1956)
Goodbye, My Lady (1956)
I Married a Woman (1956)
The Searchers (1956)
Blood Alley (1955)
The Sea Chase (1955)
Rookie of the Year (1955)
The High and the Mighty (1954)
Track of the Cat (1954)
Trouble Along the Way (1953)
Hondo (1953)
Island in the Sky (1953)
Plunder of the Sun (1953)
Big Jim McLain (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Flying Leathernecks (1951)
Operation Pacific (1951)
The Bullfighter and the Lady (1950)
Rio Grande (1950)
Shoot 'em Up (1950)
The Fighting Kentuckian (1949)
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
Wake of the Red Witch (1949)
Fort Apache (1948)
Red River (1948)
The Three Godfathers (1948)
Red River - Restored Version (1948)
Angel and the Badman (1947)
Tycoon (1947)
Without Reservations (1946)
Back to Bataan (1945)
Dakota (1945)
Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945)
They Were Expendable (1945)
Flame of Barbary Coast (1945)
The Fighting Seabees (1944)
A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)
War of the Wildcats (1943)
The Cowboy and the Girl (1943)
The Flying Tigers (1942)
In Old California (1942)
Pittsburgh (1942)
Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
Reunion in France (1942)
The Spoilers (1942)
Lady for a Night (1941)
Lady from Louisiana (1941)
Tall in the Saddle (1941)
The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
Wheel of Fortune (1941)
The Dark Command (1940)
The Long Voyage Home (1940)
Seven Sinners (1940)
Three Faces West (1940)
Pals of the Saddle / Night Riders (193?)
Allegheny Uprising (1939)
Dawn Rider / Frontier Horizon (1939)
Frontier Horizon (1939)
Lonely Trail / Three Texas Steers (1939)
Stagecoach (1939)
Three Texas Steers (1939)
Wyoming Outlaw (1939)
The Night Riders (1939)
New Frontier (1939)
Overland Stage Raiders (1938)
Pals of the Saddle (1938)
Santa Fe Stampede (1938)
Red River Range (1938)
Conflict (1937)
Hell Town (1937)
Adventure's End (1937)
California Straight Ahead (1937)
I Cover the War (1937)
Idol of the Crowds (1937)
Frontier Horizon / Lawless Nineties (1936)
King of the Pecos (1936)
The Lawless Nineties (1936)
Western Double Feature 3 (1936)
Winds of the Wasteland (1936)
The Lonely Trail (1936)
The Sea Spoilers (1936)
The Oregon Trail (1936)
Beneath Arizona Skies / Paradise Canyon (1935)
The Dawn Rider (1935)
The Desert Trail (1935)
The Lawless Frontier (1935)
Lawless Range (1935)
The New Frontier (1935)
Paradise Canyon (1935)
Texas Terror (1935)
Western Double Feature 5 (1935)
Westward Ho (1935)
Rainbow Valley (1935)
Blue Steel (1934)
John Wayne Anthology: Star Packer / Lawless Range (1934)
The Lucky Texan (1934)
'Neath the Arizona Skies (1934)
Randy Rides Alone (1934)
The Star Packer (1934)
The Trail Beyond (1934)
West of the Divide (1934)
The Man from Utah (1934)
'Neath Arizona Skies (1934)
Baby Face (1933)
His Private Secretary (1933)
Riders of Destiny (1933)
Sagebrush Trail (1933)
The Three Musketeers (1933)
Western Double Feature 2 (1933)
Central Airport (1933)
College Coach (1933)
The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933)
The Man from Monterey (1933)
Somewhere in Sonora (1933)
The Telegraph Trail (1933)
The Hurricane Express (1932)
The Shadow of the Eagle (1932)
Texas Cyclone (1932)
Two-Fisted Law (1932)
The Big Stampede (1932)
Haunted Gold (1932)
Lady and Gent (1932)
Ride Him, Cowboy (1932)
That's My Boy (1932)
The Hollywood Handicap (1932)
The Range Feud (1931)
The John Wayne Double Feature Package (1931)
The Deceiver (1931)
Girls Demand Excitement (1931)
Maker of Men (1931)
Men are Like That (1931)
Three Girls Lost (1931)
Arizona (1931)
The Big Trail (1930)
Born Reckless (1930)
Cheer up and Smile (1930)
Men without Women (1930)
Rough Romance (1930)
The Black Watch (1929)
The Forward Pass (1929)
Salute (1929)
Speakeasy (1929)
Words and Music (1929)
Four Sons (1928)
Hangman's House (1928)
Mother Machree (1928)
Noah's Ark (1928)
The Dropkick (1927)
Annie Laurie (1927)
The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926)
Bardelys the Magnificent (1926)
Brown of Harvard (1926)

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