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John Wayne

John Wayne began his career under his real name, Marion Morrison, nicknamed “Duke” as a student on vacation.

He first became a star when he played the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939).

His approach to filmmaking was characteristically straightforward: “I play John Wayne in every picture regardless of the character, and I’ve been doing alright, haven’t I?”.


John Wayne lost his long and painfully fought battle against cancer on 11 June 1979, at the age of 72.

He made his last film, The Shootist (1976), three years before – playing an ageing gunfighter who is dying of the same affliction.

Later he appeared in TV advertisements for cancer research funds.

He left behind a number of imperishable performances, notably as abrasive and solitary men, in Red River (1948), Rio Bravo (1959) and – unforgettably – in The Searchers (1956), where the character of Ethan Edwards was mapped so closely to Wayne’s own gestures that he hardly seemed to be acting at all.

In his later years his right-wing views often stirred controversy, but his death – and the brave manner of his departing – moved the film world and his fans.

Wayne was married three times and had seven children.