John Wayne at 110

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  • Photography: United Artists/The Kobal Collection/Ned Scott

    Below is a excerpt from the January issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine feature John Wayne and the 110th anniversary year of his birth.

    Cowboys & Indians Magazine wrote:

    A new look at one of our old favorites: On the occasion of the 110th anniversary year of his birth, we honor Duke with 110 memorable things about the actor, the icon, the man.

    John Wayne was  —  and remains  —  as much an icon of the historical West as any of the legendary figures that were actually there. He is still the most recognizable symbol of a mythical era, and the idealization of the American cowboy’s rugged individualism, resourcefulness, and heroism.

    In this, the 110th anniversary year of his birth, we celebrate his legacy with a collection of 110 moments, memories, and milestones from an extraordinary life.

    1. John Wayne’s great-grandfather Robert Morrison emigrated from Ireland to America in 1799, after his participation in the Free Irishman Movement prompted the British Crown to issue a warrant for his arrest.

    2. President Jimmy Carter on John Wayne: “In an age of few heroes, he was the genuine article. But he was more than a hero. He was a symbol of so many of the qualities that made America great.”

    3. While still in elementary school, he had a pet Airedale named Duke. Seeing the boy and his dog together, local firemen began referring to the boy as “Little Duke” and then just “Duke.” The nickname stuck.

    4. An honors student and senior class president at Glendale High School, he performed a scene as Cardinal Wolsey from Henry VIII at the annual Southern California Shakespeare Contest.

    5. He made his film debut in Brown of Harvard (1926) while still a member of the University of Southern California’s football team. As the stunt double for actor Francis X. Bushman, he is seen from the back only, running down a football field and being tackled from behind.

    6. In the Lillian Gish film Annie Laurie (1927), Wayne wears a kilt as one of dozens of extras recruited as Scottish Highlanders.

    7. The first time he received an on-screen credit was for the 1929 film Words and Music. He was billed not as Marion Morrison, his given name, but as Duke Morrison.

    8. He spoke his first words on-screen as a naval cadet in John Ford’s 1929 film about the Army-Navy football rivalry, Salute.

    9. Did John Wayne ever meet Wyatt Earp? He once mentioned having done so while still working as a prop man for John Ford, who was an acquaintance of the legendary Tombstone marshal.

    10. Wayne on how renowned stuntman Yakima Canutt influenced the way he spoke in films: “I noticed that the angrier he got, the lower his voice, the slower his tempo. I try to say my lines low and strong and slow, the way Yak did.”

    You can read the other 100 moments, memories, and milestones from an extraordinary life on the C&I website:
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