Marion Robert Morrison, a.k.a. John Wayne, was an American actor and filmmaker born on May 26, 1907. This Golden Age actor’s career dates back to 1926 and he featured in many war movies then. Wayne was, and still is, a celebrated Hollywood actor who starred in multiple film and television productions. His poise, charisma, and talent made him one of the greatest male stars in American cinema history. So we have many reasons to celebrate him on his special day!
Marion Robert Morrison
John Wayne, Little Duke
May 26, 1907
June 11, 1979 (age 72)
John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa to war veteran Clyde Leonard Morrison and Mary Alberta Brown. Wayne was of English, Irish and Scotch-Irish descent. In 1916, his family moved to Glendale, California, and he attended Glendale Union High School. Wayne excelled in sports and academics, and was on the football team. He also played for the team in the 1924 league championship. After high school, he enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he received an athletic scholarship and majored in pre-law. However, a bodysurfing accident, which broke his collarbone, truncated his athletic dreams and degree.
He soon began working for Fox Film and was given small parts. However, in 1930, he received his first lead role in “The Big Trail.” He chose the alias “John Wayne” as his screen name. After his debut lead role, Wayne was relegated to smaller parts again. He landed his second breakthrough role in 1939 in “Stagecoach.” After World War II, at which time Wayne’s age was an exempting factor, he starred in his first color film, “Shepherd of the Hills” (1941). By 1949, Wayne was nominated for an Oscar, and by 1952 he had co-founded a production company called Batjac. Through this company, Wayne produced several of his films. His company was responsible for “Seven Men From Now” (1956) and “Gun the Man Down” (1956). Wayne appeared in multiple films after this. In 1960, he was nominated for Best Picture for “The Alamo” as its director and producer. In his late career, Wayne starred in “The Cowboys” (1972), “The Shootist” (1976), and several more films.
He was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died on June 11, 1979. Wayne was survived by seven children from two marriages and several grandchildren. He was married thrice, but his second wife, Esperanza Baur, bore no children.
Wayne gets his first lead role in “The Big Trail” and receives $105 per week.
The actor secures a role in this film, which becomes a financial success.
Wayne appears in “Shepherd of the Hills” as a co-star.
He stars in “The Shootist,” which becomes one of the year’s 10 best films.
Why We Love John Wayne
He is a legend
Wayne will always be remembered. His movies are still enjoyed by the younger generations.
He was an American icon
Wayne was more than an actor or a filmmaker. He was a celebrated American who advocated for his country’s values.
Supporting cancer research
The John Wayne Cancer Foundation, posthumously founded in 1985, was created to promote the fight against cancer. His family granted the use of his name for this foundation.
5 Surprising Facts
His middle name was changed
Wayne’s birth middle name, Robert, was changed to Michael, and his brother was given the name Robert.
He was raised Presbyterian
Wayne was raised in a Presbyterian household but converted to Roman Catholicism before his death.
He was president of the Latin club
While in high school, Wayne served as the president of the Latin club.
He was nicknamed by a fireman
Wayne got the nickname “Little Duke” from a local fireman because he was always with his dog, an Airedale Terrier.
He had a normal job
Wayne worked at an ice cream shop in his teens.
John Wayne FAQs
How many film and television productions did John Wayne appeared in?
He appeared in 179 productions.
What were John Wayne’s last words?
Wayne replied to his daughter, Aissa, with “Of course, I know who you are” before passing on.
Who received John Wayne’s money?
Wayne was generous and left something for his whole family, even his secretaries.
John Wayne’s birthday dates