Wayne, John

orig. Marion Michael Morrison

born May 26, 1907, Winterset, Iowa, U.S.
died June 11, 1979, Los Angeles, Calif.

U.S. film actor.

While a member of the University of Southern California football team, he worked summers at the Fox Film Corporation as a propman and developed a friendship with director John Ford, who cast him in small parts from 1928. After his leading role in The Big Trail (1930), he played in more than 80 low-budget movies before winning acclaim for his starring role as the Ringo Kid in Ford's Stagecoach (1939). Noted for his image as the strong, silent man, Wayne, nicknamed "Duke," became one of the top box-office attractions in movie history. He starred in other westerns (many directed by Ford) such as Red River (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), and True Grit (1969, Academy Award), as well as in The Quiet Man (1952), The Alamo (1960), which he also directed, Hatari! (1962), and The Green Berets (1968), which he codirected.

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▪ American actor
byname  Duke , original name  Marion Michael Morrison (see Researcher's Note)  
born May 26, 1907, Winterset, Iowa, U.S.
died June 11, 1979, Los Angeles, California

      major American motion-picture actor, who embodied the image of the strong, taciturn cowboy or soldier, and who in many ways personified the idealized American values of his era.

      Marion Morrison was the son of an Iowa pharmacist; he acquired the nickname “Duke” during his youth and billed himself as Duke Morrison for one of his early films. In 1925 he enrolled at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles), where he played football. He worked summers at the Fox Film Corporation as a propman and developed a friendship with director John Ford (Ford, John), who cast him in some small film roles starting in 1928. His first leading role—and his first appearance as “John Wayne”—came in director Raoul Walsh (Walsh, Raoul)'s The Big Trail (1930). During the next eight years Wayne starred in more than 60 low-budget motion pictures, mostly in roles as cowboys, soldiers, and other rugged men of adventure. He reached genuine star stature when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the classic western Stagecoach (1939). After that film his place in American cinema was established and grew with each successive year. Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), a film based on several Eugene O'Neill (O'Neill, Eugene) one-act plays, featured one of Wayne's most praised performances from the early years of his stardom and offered further evidence of his commanding screen presence.

      Speculation exists as to whether Wayne purposely avoided military service during World War II, but evidence suggests that his attempts to enlist in the Navy were rejected because of his age, an old football injury, and a federal government directive to draft boards to go easy on actors whose talents could be used for building morale. He spent the war years entertaining troops overseas and making films such as the popular action-adventures Flying Tigers (1942), The Fighting Seabees (1944), They Were Expendable (1945), and Back to Bataan (1945), all of which featured Wayne as quintessentially American fighting men who overcome great odds. He also appeared during this period in melodramas such as The Spoilers (1942) and Flame of the Barbary Coast (1945). By the end of the war, Wayne was firmly established as one of Hollywood's top stars.

      Wayne's screen image was permanently defined in the many classic films he made with directors Ford and Howard Hawks (Hawks, Howard) during the postwar years and into the early 1960s. For Ford, Wayne starred in what has come to be known as the “Cavalry Trilogy”: Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and Rio Grande (1950), three elegiac films in which Wayne portrays stoic cavalry officers of the Old West. Wayne's roles in these and other films for Ford offer a somewhat complex representation of the American character in that they exhibit unflagging patriotism but are disillusioned by, and resigned to, the inherent hypocrisies within America. In this manner the Ford-Wayne films both honour and undermine the mythology of the Old West, nowhere more so than in The Searchers (1956), a film considered by some to be the greatest western ever made. Wayne's character in this film pursues a noble goal (rescuing his kidnapped niece from a renegade Comanche tribe), but his obsessive behaviour and blatant bigotry reveal him to be as mad as he is heroic. Ford's exploration of the dark underbelly of Old West legends culminated in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), a film that both questions and justifies the “when the truth interferes with the legend, print the legend” philosophy of 19th-century journalists of the American West. In all, the Ford-Wayne films present an Old West rendered obsolete by the very society it helped to create. Wayne also appeared in films for Ford that were not westerns, including standouts such as The Quiet Man (1952) and Donovan's Reef (1963).

 Howard Hawks (Hawks, Howard)'s collaborations with Wayne are less iconoclastic than Ford's, but no less revered. Red River (1948), another candidate for the greatest western of all time, features Wayne as an autocratic, monomaniacal cattle baron at odds with the orphan boy he has reared (portrayed in adulthood by Montgomery Clift (Clift, Montgomery) in his first screen role) and the modern values he represents. Wayne did not work with Hawks again until Rio Bravo (1959), a film born of Hawks's and Wayne's dissatisfaction with the popularity of High Noon (1952), the Gary Cooper (Cooper, Gary) western in which citizens of a western community are portrayed as weak-willed and cowardly when their sheriff asks their help in forming a posse. The sheriff portrayed by Wayne in Rio Bravo, conversely, is determined to do his duty with or without help from anyone. Although greeted with lukewarm reviews upon its release, Rio Bravo is now regarded as a classic western. Hawks and Wayne remade essentially the same story twice, in El Dorado (1967) and in Rio Lobo (1970), Hawks's final film.

      Wayne's standout films for other directors include Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), in which his performance as an uncompromisingly tough Marine sergeant earned an Oscar nomination; Hondo (1953), perhaps the only classic western filmed in 3D; The Alamo (1960), an epic-length film that Wayne himself directed and in which he starred as Davy Crockett (Crockett, Davy); The Longest Day (1962) and In Harm's Way (1965), two hugely successful World War II epics; and McLintock! (1963), a slapstick western farce that was his only successful comedy. After a screen career of more than 40 years, Wayne was honoured with an Academy Award for his portrayal of the drunken, cantankerous, but endearing U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969), a role he reprised opposite Katharine Hepburn (Hepburn, Katharine) in Rooster Cogburn (1975), a partial remake of the Hepburn–Humphrey Bogart classic The African Queen (1951). Wayne's final film, The Shootist (1976), in which he portrays an aging gunfighter who is dying of cancer, was praised by many as his best western since Rio Bravo. This role was a poignant screen farewell for an actor who himself would succumb to cancer three years later.

      Wayne endured criticism throughout his career from those who questioned his versatility as an actor. His ability to convey quiet tenderness, however, and his capacity for multilayered portrayals of complex characters, as in Red River and The Searchers, was often overlooked. Wayne himself was also the subject of controversy: his outspoken right-wing politics were admired by conservatives but derided by liberals as being naively jingoistic. His politics notwithstanding, he is considered a towering cinematic icon and, to some, the greatest Hollywood star of all time. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Additional Reading
Steve Zmijewsky, Boris Zmijewsky, and Mark Ricci, The Complete Films of John Wayne (1983, reissued 1995); Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, John Wayne, American (1995, reissued 1997); Ronald L. Davis, Duke: The Life and Image of John Wayne (1998); Emanuel Levy, John Wayne: Prophet of the American Way of Life (1988, reissued 1998).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wayne,John — Wayne, John. Known as “Duke.” 1907 1979. American film actor who played tough heroes in Westerns such as Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), and True Grit (1969), for which he won an Academy Award. * * * …   Universalium

  • Wayne, John — [ weın, dʒan ] a U.S. actor who played strong brave men, especially in COWBOY movies made between the 1930s and the 1970s …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • WAYNE, John — (1907–1979)    Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne, nicknamed “the Duke,” is for many the name most associated with movie cowboys. A star University of Southern California football player, he turned a summer job as general… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • Wayne, John — (1907 1979)    Born Marion Robert (later Mitchell) Morrison in Iowa, actor John Wayne grew up in California, and after two years at the University of Southern California in 1927, he began working in film studios as an extra. In 1930, he appeared… …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Wayne, John — • УЭ ЙН (Wayne) Джон (наст. имя и фам. Мэрион Майкл Моррисон, Morrison) (26.5.1907 11.6.1979)    амер. актёр, режиссёр. Учился в ун те Юж. Калифорнии. В кино начинал с кон. 20 х гг. каскадёром. Первая значит. роль в ф. Большая тропа (1930), за к… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Wayne, John — ► (1907 79) Actor cinematográfico estadounidense. Fue el prototipo del hombre del Oeste, rudo y viril, a la vez que romántico y algo irónico. Películas: La diligencia (1939) y Río rojo (1948), entre otras. * * * orig. Marion Michael Morrison (26… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Wayne, John — pseud. di Morrison, Marion Michael …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • John Wayne — bei einem Australien Besuch im Dezember 1943 John Wayne (* 26. Mai 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, Vereinigte Staaten; † 11. Juni 1979 in Los Angeles; geboren als Marion Robert Morrison, später umbenannt in Marion Michael Morrison) war ein US amerik …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John Wayne — Wayne en The Challenge of Ideas (1961) Nombre real Marion Robert Morrison Nacimiento 26 de mayo de 1907 …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Ford (cinema) — John Ford Pour les articles homonymes, voir John Ford (homonymie). John Ford J …   Wikipédia en Français

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