John Wayne as an American Icon Essays

John Wayne as an American Icon Essays

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John Wayne as an American Icon

Marion Morrison, also known as John Wayne, is perhaps one of the most popular movie personalities ever. He began as a mere stagehand, but by the end of his career he had developed himself as a very successful actor, producer, and director.

Marion Michael Morrison was born on May 26, 1907, in Winterest, Iowa. His father, Clyde, worked as a pharmacist, and John Wayne thought of his father as the “kindest, most patient man I ever knew.” Later on in life, John Wayne’s father developed a critical lung disease. Wayne said that his mother, Mary was “a tiny, vivacious redheaded bundle of energy.” John Wayne was nicknamed “The Duke” after his pet as a child that was named Airedale. Early in his life, John and his parents moved to California. After graduating from high school and failing admission to Annapolis, John Wayne went to the University of Southern California (USC) and played on a football scholarship from 1925-27.

During this time, Tom Mix, a friend of John’s, got him a job as a prop man for a director by the name of John Ford. Ford and Wayne became close friends and Ford used Wayne for small parts in some of his movies. Then finally in 1930, Ford suggested to Raoul Walsh that Wayne star in The Big Trail. The film bombed, but it was a start to Wayne’s career as an actor in leading roles. Wayne’s first feature film was also in 1930. It was titled Men Without Women. After more than seventy low-budget adventures, John Ford cast Wayne in Stagecoach in 1939. This movie is where John Wayne emerged as a major star. From this point on, there was no turning back for “The Duke.” But in 1963, Wayne began to have health problems. He had a cancerous lung removed during in 1963. Then in 1978, he had open-heart surgery. He then had his stomach removed in 1979, just before dying from lung and stomach cancer on June 11, 1979.

Throughout his career as an actor, John Wayne won a variety of different awards, achievements and accomplishments. In 1950, at the Photoplay Awards, John Wayne won his first award when he received the award for the Most Popular Male Star because of his work in the 1949 film, Sands of Iwo Jima. Also in 1950, “The Duke” was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for Sands of Iwo Jima. In 1953, Wayne was named the World Film Favorite male actor at the Golden Globe Awards. Seven ...


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...eared in a number of Coors Beer commercials. Of course, this was done through the use of computerized virtual images. But, it’s still nice to see that he still has an influence on us.

It is still very common to see “The Duke’s” face lingering around on television. Perhaps, he paved the way for such movie stars as Clint Eastwood, who also has made a name for himself through western films. Without a doubt, there will never be anyone quite as influential and all-American as “The Duke”. Everyone respected John Wayne. You might even say that some people were frightened by the rugged western and the war roles that he played. When our country was off fighting World War II, John Wayne was unable to be in the military because of an inner ear problem, but reports say that his movies about war kept everyone’s spirits up. He was a very patriotic man in real life, not only in film, and in my opinion, he is definitely an American icon.

Bibliography:

“The Wages of Virtue.” Time Magazine 3 Mar. 1952: 64-69

Freer, Ian and Hamilton, Jake. “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time.” Empire Magazine Oct. 1997: 190

Nardo, John. John Wayne. Chelsea House Publishers, 1995.

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