John Wayne remains a cultural force almost 40 years after his passing

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    • John Wayne remains a cultural force almost 40 years after his passing

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      In an age in which pop culture icons seemingly have the shelf life of a loaf of bread, John Wayne is very much the exception.

      The legendary Western film star died nearly 40 years ago but remains a formidable presence in American life, serving as the embodiment of masculine individualism. Farmington Museum curator Jeffrey Richardson, who has delivered presentations on a wide variety of Western subjects all around the country during his career, said every time he talks about Wayne, he usually does so to a large, rapt audience. In his estimation, the Duke has lost hardly any of his star power.

      "He's almost as big a star today as he was 50, 60, gosh, 70 years ago," said Richardson, who will discuss Wayne's legacy in his "God Bless America and John Wayne" presentation at 3 p.m. Saturday, November 10th 2018 at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St., as part of the Curator's Choice Lecture Series.

      Richardson characterizes Wayne as "a movie star like no other," and that explains why he remains such a cultural force in this country. There were plenty of other big Hollywood stars from Wayne's era, Richardson noted, including such esteemed, beloved actors as James Stewart and Clark Gable. But even though they are remembered fondly and continue to be held in high regard, they can't begin to approach Wayne's immortal status, he said.

      Just how far reaching was Wayne's influence? Richardson likes the relate a story from the fall of 1959, when Nikita Khrushchev accepted…
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