John Wayne: An American Film Icon Adored Around The World

Herbie J Pilato

He was and remains an American icon, a Western hero of the big screen, and an inspiration to actors and others of every vocation.

His name was John Wayne. He died on June 11, 1979. But his work lives on in the hearts, minds, and memories of his fans from around the world.

According to, John Wayne, a.k.a. Duke, original name Marion Michael Morrison (see Researcher’s Note), was born May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. He "embodied the image of the strong, taciturn cowboy or soldier and who in many ways personified the idealized American values of his era," noted.

As the website continued to document, "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, 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’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 movie, Wayne's "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 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," concluded.

For more information about John Wayne and his extensive body of work, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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