John Wayne: An American Treasure
35 years ago today, one of the most iconic public figures in American history left this world. John Wayne died in Los Angeles after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 72. Born Marion Robert Morrison in 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, Wayne got his first big break from famed director John Ford. The two remained friends until Ford's death in 1973. Ford's 1939 classic 'Stagecoach' was the film that propelled Wayne to international stardom.
I've been a fan of The Duke's movies for as long as I can remember. My first memory of seeing a movie (that wasn't a cartoon) was Wayne's last movie "The Shootist" in 1976. I've seen most, if not all, of Wayne's films. For myself and millions of others the world over, John Wayne represents the ideal American: tough, honest, resilient, respectful, determined, patriotic, decent and genuine.
I've heard other actors say that the man you met on the street was the same man you saw on the screen. John Wayne was really, all along, just being John Wayne. Today, we've tried to feminize men on the screen as much as possible. Watch a couple of hours of television and try to find a truly masculine male character. Aside from 'Duck Dynasty', I don't think there are any left. It's a sad testament to what we've allowed our great Republic to become.
America needs some more John Wayne types. We need the western hero, the good guy who always prevails and films with a moral center that are both entertaining and inspiring. Wayne was ranked # 13 on the American Film Institutes '100 Years...100 Stars' survey of most popular actors. And he has never fallen out of the top 10 on the Harris Poll of America's favorite actors, coming in at # 7 in 2013. Wayne remains head and shoulders above virtually every living actor today.
Below are some YouTube memories of The Duke; some of more famous movie quotes and an interview with Maureen O'Hara and Stefanie Powers about the making of 'McLintock'. Just be warned; there is some use of foul language here, albeit quite tame by 2014 standards. Just the same, it's enough to potentially make it NSFW
Rest in peace, Duke. Hope to meet you on the other side someday.