Western Profiles: John Wayne

Born in 1907, John Wayne started his life as Marion Michael Morrison. His dramatic ability was first hailed by critics when producer/director John Ford picked him for the leading role in his Academy-Award-winning film, Stagecoach. John Wayne didn’t win an Academy Award for that film, but much later in his career, 1969, he did win the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit.

As a young man, while on a summer break from college at University of Southern California, he took a job at Fox as a property man where he was assigned to a John Ford movie. Director and prop man soon became fast friends and made many films together over their colorful careers. He began getting parts in 1928, where he was billed, sometimes unbilled, as Duke Morrison. In 1930, Raoul Walsh was looking for a newcomer to play lead in The Big Trail and Ford recommended Wayne for that role. It wasn’t too successful and Wayne lapsed into a series of lesser pictures, most notably for Lone Star Productions. In 1938, Republic signed him for the lead in eight of the Three Mesquiteers films which were popular with the public. During this early period he made some 80 films.

In 1939, he portrayed The Ringo Kid in Stagecoach for Ford. After starring in Stagecoach, the six-foot-four husky actor from Iowa, starred in all kinds of roles as a hero. He left his roles in B movies and only made A films after Stagecoach. Wayne was one of the few cowboy stars that played in both “A” and “B” Westerns. He was known for his westerns and war movies and in fact these two topics comprised almost the entirety of his career.

In 1952, he made a movie called Hondo which he produced. This was shot in 3-D! . In 1960 he began to direct as well as star in movies when he did The Alamo. In his career he made some 250 movies. He made films for over five decades, his last being The Shootist, in 1976. He died in 1979, of cancer.

John Wayne had a comic book published by Toby Press entitled John Wayne Adventure Comics. It ran 31 issues from 1949 thru 1955. The stories in this title were not all western, but also represented the war and adventure genres as well. Most issues had photo covers. He also had a series in Britain, called John Wayne Adventure Comics, in which cover paintings were utilized. This series ran 82 issues, from 1952 to 1958. AC Comics did a tribute to John Wayne in Western Movie Hero #3.



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