John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott EymanDrawing on interviews that author Scott Eyman conducted with John Wayne before his death and more than 100 interviews with the actor’s family, co-stars, and close associates, this revelatory biography shows how both the facts and fictions about Wayne illuminate his singular life.
John Wayne was one of Hollywood’s most famous and most successful actors, but he was more than that. He became a symbol of America itself. He epitomized the Western film, which for many people epitomized America. He identified with conservative political causes from the early 1930s to his death in 1979, making him a hero to one generation of Americans and a villain to another. But unlike fellow actor Ronald Reagan, Wayne had no interest in politics as a career. Like many stars, he altered his life story, claiming to have become an actor almost by accident when in fact he had studied drama and aspired to act for most of his youth. He married three times, all to Latina women, and conducted a lengthy affair with Marlene Dietrich, as unlikely a romantic partner as one could imagine for the Duke. Wayne projected dignity, integrity, and strength in all his films, even when his characters were flawed, and whatever character he played was always prepared to confront injustice in his own way. More than thirty years after his death, he remains the standard by which male stars are judged and an actor whose morally unambiguous films continue to attract sizeable audiences.
Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne’s business affairs. He traces Wayne from his childhood to his stardom in Stagecoach and dozens of films after that. Eyman perceptively analyzes Wayne’s relationship with John Ford, the director with whom he’s most associated and who made some of Wayne’s greatest films, among them She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, and The Searchers. His evaluation of Wayne himself is shrewd: a skilled actor who was reluctant to step outside his comfort zone. Wayne was self-aware; he once said, “I’ve played the kind of man I’d like to have been.” It’s that man and the real John Wayne who are brilliantly profiled in Scott Eyman’s insightful biography of a true American legend.
John Wayne, an American Icon
John Wayne was an American film actor who was known as "the Duke. He projected a ruggedness and masculinity that made him an enduring icon. Early years. His parents were Clyde and Mary Brown Morrison. Clyde was a pharmacist and Mary was a housewife.
His career as an actor took another leap forward when he worked with director Howard Hawks in Red River Wayne won his first Academy Award in for his role in True Grit. One of the most popular film actors of the 20th century, Wayne remains an American film icon to this day. The family moved again a few years later after Clyde failed in his attempt to become a farmer. Settling in Glendale, California, Wayne received his distinctive nickname "Duke" while living there. He had a dog by that name, and he spent so much time with his pet that the pair became known as "Little Duke" and "Big Duke," according to the official John Wayne website. In high school, Wayne excelled in his classes and in many different activities, including student government and football.
As a teen, he rose at four in the morning to deliver newspapers, and after school he played football and made deliveries for local stores. When he graduated from high school, he hoped to attend the U. Naval Academy. However, after the school rejected him, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Ford started to use Wayne as an extra, and he eventually began to trust him with some larger roles.