John Wayne

Biography: John Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, was the son of Clyde and Mary Morrison of Iowa. Due to health reasons, the family moved early in Marion's life to a warmer, cleaner climate in southern California, where they attempted parcel ranching in the Mojave Desert. Unfortunately, the ranch failed and the family was forced to move on to Glendale, California. Young Marion took to delivering medications for his father, who was a pharmacist by trade in Iowa. With assorted odd jobs, the entire family scraped by while John (Marion) continued his schooling. He had an aptitude for sports and when he narrowly missed gaining admission to Annapolis, John opted to go to USC on a football scholarship.

Tom Mix was a rising star in the movie business at the time and he managed to get Marion summer work as a prop man in exchange for USC football tickets. While on the set, the future icon became close friends with director John Ford and soon was doing small parts in various low
John Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, was the son of Clyde and Mary Morrison of Iowa. Due to health reasons, the family moved early in Marion's life to a warmer, cleaner climate in southern California, where they attempted parcel ranching in the Mojave Desert. Unfortunately, the ranch failed and the family was forced to move on to Glendale, California. Young Marion took to delivering medications for his father, who was a pharmacist by trade in Iowa. With assorted odd jobs, the entire family scraped by while John (Marion) continued his schooling. He had an aptitude for sports and when he narrowly missed gaining admission to Annapolis, John opted to go to USC on a football scholarship.

Tom Mix was a rising star in the movie business at the time and he managed to get Marion summer work as a prop man in exchange for USC football tickets. While on the set, the future icon became close friends with director John Ford and soon was doing small parts in various low budget films for Ford, sometimes being billed as John Wayne. He starred in his first feature film, Men Without Women, in1930. However, with over 70 films to his credit in nine years, Wayne's career was at a standstill until Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939). After that, John Wayne's career took off like a firecracker, eventually encompassing not only movies, but film, radio and television as well.

His on and off-screen persona soon resulted in Wayne achieving iconic status. In the minds of many, he came to stand for American values and integrity. Although controversial for his pro-American stands in the 1960's, his name has become part of the American lexicon and his films have become an enduring part of America's movie heritage - for many he has come to represent Hollywood's Golden Age.

John Wane was eventually felled by cancer. It has been suggested that the red dust used during the filming of his worst film ever, The Conqueror (1956), may have been trucked in from a newly created and active Nuclear Test site and may have been radioactive. It would've made a great story, the man who they couldn't kill in the movies being killed by a movie. However, even The Duke himself acknowledged that it was his five-pack-a-day ciggerette habit that caused his cancer. Ironically or not, the last character he played, John Bernard Books, in The Shootist (1976), was dying of what Wayne called "the Big C" - before choosing instead to go out in a blaze of glory - one of only eight times Wayne died in nearly 200 films. However, in real life, after 12 years in remission, the disease he thought he had beaten returned to take him home on June 11, 1979. But he will be remembered - for as long as long as Hollywood and movie heroes are remembered.
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