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Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne’s business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.
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Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa but grew up in Southern California. He was president of Glendale High School class of He lost a football scholarship to the University of Southern California as a result of a bodysurfing accident,  : 63—64 and began working for the Fox Film Corporation. He appeared mostly in small parts, but his first leading role came in Raoul Walsh 's Western The Big Trail , an early widescreen film epic which was a box-office failure. Leading roles followed in numerous B movies during the s, most of them also Westerns, without becoming a major name.
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.
A complete filmography of John Wayne from to , which also includes those films that Wayne only produced, and results pertaining to his long-running box office popularity between and , during the height of his career after a decade of starring in a succession of low-budget B movies. from film critics with the release of The Green Berets (), which Wayne.
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He worked summers at the Fox Film Corporation as a propman and developed a friendship with director John Ford , who cast him in some small film roles starting in During the next eight years Wayne starred in more than 60 low-budget motion pictures, mostly in roles as cowboys, soldiers, and other rugged men of adventure. He reached genuine star stature when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the classic western Stagecoach After that film his place in American cinema was established and grew with each successive year. Speculation exists as to whether Wayne purposely avoided military service during World War II , but evidence suggests that his attempts to enlist in the Navy were rejected because of his age, an old football injury, and a federal government directive to draft boards to go easy on actors whose talents could be used for building morale.