Morrison, Marion Robert well known by the stage names John Wayne and Duke, was an American actor who rose to fame in Hollywood’s Golden Age thanks to his leading performances in Western and military movies.
From the 1920s silent era to the American New Wave, his career blossomed. He performed in a total of 179 motion pictures and television shows.
For three decades, he was a top box office draw, and he shared the screen with many other significant Hollywood figures of the time. The American Film Institute named Wayne one of the top male actors in vintage American cinema in 1999.
John Wayne’s Early Life
Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, at 224 South Second Street. Wayne’s birth weight was reported by the neighborhood daily, the Winterset Madisonian, on page 4 of the edition of May 30, 1907, to be 13 lb.
When Wayne’s parents decided to name their subsequent kid Robert, Wayne claimed his middle name was shortly changed from Robert to Michael.
However, a thorough investigation has revealed no such legal alteration. Wayne lived his entire life using Marion Robert Morrison as his legal identity.
John Wayne’s Personal Life
Three times married and thrice divorced, Wayne. His three wives were all of Latin ancestry, and he spoke Spanish fluently.
He also engaged in a number of high-profile liaisons, including that with Merle Oberon, an actress, from 1938 to 1947, and Pat Stacy, his former assistant, from 1973 until his passing.
Seven children were born to him—four with his first wife and three with his second—and several of them went on to work in the film and television industries.
John Wayne’s Career Life
Appeared in 170 Movies
Wayne was a renowned actor who became a symbol of tough masculinity. He was recognizable for his tall stature, calm voice, and unusual gait. Wayne appeared in 170 movies during the course of his career and was frequently cast in Western movies.
Worked in Fox Fim Corporation
When he started working for Fox Film Corporation and director John Ford employed him as a prop boy and extra, he made his debut in the entertainment industry.
He rose through the ranks, first getting small roles and supporting parts until director Raoul Walsh noticed him lugging studio equipment and hired him as the lead in his 1930 movie “The Big Trail.”
Although it is praised by many contemporary reviewers, “The Big Trail” was viewed as a major commercial failure when it was released. It was one of the first high-budget movies of the sound era to be shot outdoors.
80 Low-Budget Horse Opera Movies
Wayne, as a result, was reduced to several minor roles after the failure of his initial movie, and from 1930 to 1939, he also acted in what he estimates to be roughly 80 low-budget horse opera movies.
Wayne’s breakout performance occurred in John Ford’s “Stagecoach” in 1939. Ford initially struggled to secure funding for the movie, in large part because of Wayne’s B-movie status and prior performance.
Twenty John Ford Movies
In the end, he was successful in having the movie made, and it was a huge success, making Wayne a well-known and mainstream actor. Over the following twenty years, Wayne would go on to make appearances in nearly twenty John Ford movies.
Wayne was not drafted into the military when the United States entered World War II because of his age and familial obligations. He did, however, spend three months with the USO touring American outposts and hospitals in the South Pacific in 1943 and 1944.
On this tour, he also assisted in the covert evaluation of whether General Douglas MacArthur was impeding the work of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the current CIA. Wayne co-starred alongside Harry Carey in “Shepherd of the Hills,” his debut color movie, in 1941.
He appeared in movies including “Reap the Wild Wind,” “Flying Tigers,” “A Lady Takes a Chance,” “Tall in the Saddle,” “Dakota,” “Red River,” “Wake of the Red Witch,” and “Sands of Iwo Jima” throughout the 1940s (1949).
He eventually went on to receive an Oscar for Best Actor for the movie “True Grit” (1969) and the Best Picture prize for producing “The Apartment” (1960).
His final on-screen appearance was in the 1976 film “The Shootist,” in which he played an elderly gunfighter battling cancer.
John Wayne’s Death
Wayne passed away on June 11, 1979, from stomach cancer. His entire left lung and four ribs were surgically removed when he underwent treatment for lung cancer in 1964.
The American Film Institute ranked him 13th among the greatest male screen legends of all time two years after his passing.
The Congressional Gold Medal, given to him on May 26, 1979, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to him posthumously on June 9, 1980, are two of the highest civilian medals recognized by the U.S. government.
John Wayne’s Net Worth
At the time of his passing in 1979, John Wayne, an American actor, director, and producer, had a $7 million net worth. That is equivalent to about $25 million in today’s money after inflation is taken into account.
Soon after his passing, the size of his estate was made known to the public. Real estate worth $1 million and personal property worth about $6 million was included in the estate.
Through investments and royalties, he was generating an annual passive income of $100,000, or $350,000 in today’s money. Wayne had real estate on the Puget Sound in Washington, in Arizona, and near Newport Harbor.
John Wayne is a well-known American icon who is thought to be worth $7 million. This American producer, director, and actor was named #13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time. He personified tough masculinity.
The Quiet Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Wings of Eagles, The Searchers, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon are some of his most financially successful movies.
John Wayne, a University of Southern California alum, has been married three times again. Esperanza Baur came next, then Pilar Pallete, and finally Josephine Alicia Saenz.
John Wayne appeared in over 170 movies during his five-decade career (1927–1976) in the entertainment industry. He was once regarded as one of the top American box office stars.