Categories: Iowa Project | Sperry's of Connecticut | Famous Actors of the 20th Century | Academy Award Winners of the 20th Century | Hollywood Walk of Fame | Congressional Gold Medal | Presidential Medal of Freedom | This Day In History May 26 | This Day In History June 11.
Marion Robert Morrison was born 26 May 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, to parents Clyde Leonard Morrison and Mary Alberta Brown. An interesting tidbit about Marion's middle name is that his parents changed it to Mitchell upon deciding that they wanted to name their next son Robert.
The world knows Marion better as John Wayne, the famous actor, director and producer. He started using the name upon the suggestion of the studio where he got his first big film role. John also carried the nickname "The Duke" with him throughout his life, a nickname that stemmed from his childhood, given to him by a local fireman he passed every day on his way to school who called him "Little Duke" because he never went anywhere without his large Airedale Terrier named Duke. John attended Glendale High School, and his football career there led to a scholarship to University of Southern California.
On June 26th, 1933, John married Josephine A Saenz in Los Angeles. Their children were Michael Anthony, Mary Antonia, and Patrick John. He married two more times to Esperanzo Bauer and Pilar Palette, and had four more children, Melinda, Marissa, Aissa, and Ethan.
John was young when his family moved from Winterset, Iowa to Los Angeles. Later, after losing a football scholarship due to an injury from a body surfing accident, he was able to get odd jobs at local film studios. John played small bits for awhile until his first leading role came in the 1930 movie The Big Trail. From there John would go on to star in 142 films (he had participated in some form in over 200), primarily Westerns, though some of his most beloved films were The Quiet Man and True Grit, which he won an Oscar for in 1969.
John was among the top box-office draws for three decades and was an Academy Award winner. The actor was the epitome of rugged masculinity and easily distinguishable by his demeanor, his calm voice, his walk and his height (6 ft 4 inches).
John Wayne died on 11 June 1979 after a battle with stomach cancer. John had battled lung cancer earlier in life, as well. He requested that his headstone read "Feo, Fuerte y Formal", a Spanish epitaph translated as "ugly, strong, and dignified". The stone went unmarked for 20 years but now bears this quote from his controversial 1971 Playboy interview: "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
In June 1999, the American Film Institute named John Wayne the 13th Greatest Male Screen Legend of All Time. Posthumously, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. John's legacy also lies in the work he did to influence the US support of the Panama Canal Treaties. Most notably, John lives on in the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, created in 1985.
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