Copyright 2012 by Movie-Magic
Before Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, James Bond’s incarnation, and Chuck Norris, there was John Wayne, the original action hero. John Wayne represented the everyman; he was gritty, uncompromising, wholly masculine and hard-working. He played characters that typically exuded decisiveness, virility, and an American “can-do” spirit in over 75 films.
American actor John Wayne (1907-1979) was born May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. He is a star football player on the Glendale High School team. An accident ended his playing career and scholarship; without funds, he left the university in 1927 after two years there. He had spent some time while at college working at the Fox studio where met John Ford, the director, who took an interest in him. He received his first leading film role in The Big Trail (1930). Working with John Ford, he got his next big break in Stagecoach (1939). His career as an actor took another leap forward when he worked with director Howard Hawks in Red River (1948). Wayne won his first Academy Award in 1969.
As a box-office superstar he had his choice of roles and vehicles, but he chose to remain with the genre he knew best. As the years passed his only concession to age was the gradual elimination of romance from the roles he played. He went from wooing leading ladies such as to more mature roles as rowdy families, an older brother and an avuncular marshal. Wayne’s politics were not always right-of-center, but in the latter part of his life he became known for his active anti-Communism. Wayne was married three times. He had four daughters and three sons by two of his wives. Wayne was the recipient of many awards during his career. Plagued by various illnesses during the last few years of his life, he publicly announced his triumph over lung cancer in 1964. But a form of that disease claimed him on June 11, 1979.