Born: 26 May 1907
Died: 11 June 1979 (stomach cancer)
Birthplace: Winterset, Iowa
Best known as: Western movie icon and star of True Grit
Name at birth: Marion Michael Morrison
John Wayne is one of the genuine icons of 20th-century American film. Famed as a star of westerns, especially the westerns of director John Ford, "The Duke" also played cops and soldiers with regularity. No matter what the role, Wayne nearly always played the same character: a big, tough, but sentimental hero who talked straight and met the bad guys head on. Offscreen Wayne was considered a superpatriot and was closely associated with conservative political causes. His many films include classics such as Stagecoach (1939, with Wayne as the Ringo Kid), the Irish fable The Quiet Man (1952), and The Searchers (1956, with a young Natalie Wood). Wayne won an Oscar late in his career for his portrayal of hard-drinking marshal Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 film True Grit.
Extra credit: Wayne was honored with a United States postage stamp released in April of 2004... Wayne was married three times, all to Latinas... Wayne was the uncle of heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison, who also starred in the movie Rocky V... Wayne did not serve in World War II; though he was within draft age (34) at the time of Pearl Harbor, he was eventually classified 3-A (deferred for family dependency -- Wayne had four children) and later 2-A (deferred in the national interest). The issue is a touchy one, and many of Wayne's fans insist that he was actually classified 4-F due to an old football knee injury, a bad ear, or a chronic back injury... A heavy smoker, Wayne recorded a famous anti-smoking TV ad after being diagnosed with lung cancer... After surving lung cancer and heart surgery, Wayne developed gastric cancer, his final illness.
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