2011-09-24

JOHN WAYNE'S LIFE (4)

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As a member of the right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, Wayne gave himself the role of super-personnel chief - ostensibly acting on behalf of political virtue, in "reviewing" the hiring of writers, actors and technicians with known or suspected left-wing sympathies.
Wayne appeared in a very uncomplimentary light in the Public Enemy song "Fight the Power," from the 1990 album "Fear of a Black Planet". Wayne has frequently come under fire for racist remarks he made about black people and Native American Indians in his infamous Playboy magazine interview from May 1971. He was also criticized for supporting Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, after Goldwater had voted against the Civil Rights Act, and for supporting segregationist former Alabama governor George Wallace during his presidential campaign in 1968.
Wayne denounced the subject of homosexuality in Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) as "too disgusting even for discussion"--even though he had not seen it and had no intention of seeing it. "It is too distasteful," he ....
claimed, "to be put on a screen designed to entertain a family, or any member of a decent family." He considered the youth-oriented, anti-establishment film Easy Rider (1969) and Midnight Cowboy (1969), which to his dismay won the Best Picture Oscar in 1970, as "perverted" films. Especially when early in "Midnight Cowboy" Jon Voight dons his newly acquired Western duds and, posing in front of a mirror, utters the only words likely to come to mind at the moment one becomes a cowboy: "John Wayne!" Wayne told Playboy magazine, "Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of these two men in 'Midnight Cowboy', a story about two fags, qualifies as a perverse movie?".
In 1971, owing to the success of Big Jake (1971), Wayne was Number 1 at the US Box Office for the last time.
By the early 1960s, 161 of his films had grossed $350 million, and he had been paid as much as $666,000 to make a movie.
Due to his political activism, in 1968 Wayne was asked to be the segregationist Governor of Alabama George Wallace's running mate in that year's presidential election. Wayne's response made headlines: "Wayne Wallace candidates? Wayne SAID 'B------t!'", as if he was shouting to the reporters.
While visiting the troops in Vietnam in June 1966, a bullet struck Wayne's bicycle. Although he was not within a hundred yards of it at the time, the newspapers reported he had narrowly escaped death at the hands of a sniper.
In December 1978, just a month before he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, he joined Bob Hope and Johnny Carson in offering his services to speak out publicly against government corruption, poverty, crime and drug abuse.
Producer-director Robert Rossen offered the role of Willie Stark in All the King's Men (1949) to Wayne. Rossen sent a copy of the script to Wayne's agent, Charles K. Feldman, who forwarded it to Wayne. After reading the script, Wayne sent it back with an angry letter attached. In it, he told Feldman that before he sent the script to any of his other clients, he should ask them if they wanted to star in a film that "smears the machinery of government for no purpose of humor or enlightenment", that "degrades all relationships", and that is populated by "drunken mothers; conniving fathers; double-crossing sweethearts; bad, bad, rich people; and bad, bad poor people if they want to get ahead." He accused Rossen of wanting to make a movie that threw acid on "the American way of life." If Feldman had such clients, Wayne wrote that the agent should "rush this script . . . to them." Wayne, however, said to the agent that "you can take this script and shove it up Robert Rossen's derrière." Wayne later remarked that "to make Huey Long a wonderful, rough pirate was great, but, according to this picture, everybody was shit except for this weakling intern doctor who was trying to find a place in the world." Broderick Crawford, who had played a supporting role in Wayne's Seven Sinners (1940), eventually got the part of Stark. In a bit of irony, Crawford was Oscar-nominated for the part of Stark and found himself competing against Wayne, who was nominated the same year for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). Crawford won the Best Actor Oscar, giving Rossen the last laugh.
His image was so far-reaching that when Emperor Hirohito visited America in 1975, he asked to meet the veteran star. Wayne was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times as saying, "I must have killed off the entire Japanese army."
Allegedly thrust his Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969) to Richard Burton at the The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970) (TV), telling the Welsh actor, "You should have this, not me."
During the Vietnam War he was highly critical of teenagers who went to Europe to dodge the draft, calling them "cowards", "traitors" and "communists".
Despite his numerous anti-gay remarks in interviews over the years, Wayne co-starred with Rock Hudson in The Undefeated (1969), even though he knew of the actor's homosexuality. In this Civil War epic, the champion of right-wing political conservatism worked well with and even became good friends with Hudson, Hollywood's gayest (although it wasn't publicly known at the time) leading man.
In 1971 Wayne and James Stewart were traveling to Ronald Reagan's second inauguration as Governor of California when they encountered some anti-war demonstrators with a Vietcong flag. Stewart's stepson Ronald had been killed in Vietnam in 1969. Wayne walked over to speak to the protesters and within minutes the flag had been lowered.
In the final years of his life, with the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the end of the Vietnam War, Wayne's political beliefs appeared to have moderated. He attended the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter on 20 January 1977, and along with his fellow right-winger James Stewart he could be seen applauding Jane Fonda at AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Henry Fonda (1978) (TV). Later in 1978, Wayne uncharacteristically sided with the Democrats and President Carter against his fellow conservative Republicans over the issue of the Panama Canal, which Wayne believed belonged to the people of Panama and not the United States of America.
Offered Charlton Heston the roles of Jim Bowie and Colonel William Travis in his film The Alamo (1960), saying the young actor would be ideal for either part. Heston declined the offer because he did not want to be directed by Wayne, and because he feared the critical response to the right-wing movie. Wayne intended the epic to be an allegory for America's Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Separated from his wife Pilar Wayne in 1973, though they never divorced. When Louis Johnson, his business partner, sold all of their holdings in Arizona, The 26 Bar Ranch and the Red River Land and Cattle Company, Wayne's children got one half of it, $24,000,000. Pilar had already been taken care of at their separation.
Although media reports suggested he was to attend Elvis Presley's funeral in August 1977, Wayne didn't show up for it. Presley had once been considered for Glen Campbell's role in True Grit (1969).
Re-mortgaged his house in Hollywood in order to finance The Alamo (1960). While the movie was a success internationally, it lost him a great deal of money personally. For the next four years he had to made one film after another, including The Longest Day (1962) for which he was paid $250,000 for four days work. By early 1962 his financial problems were resolved.
Honored with an Army RAH-66 Helicopter, named "The Duke". Many people attended the naming ceremony in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, May 12th, 1998, including his children and grandchildren, congressmen, the president of the USO Metropolitan Washington, dignitaries and many military personnel. His eldest son Michael Wayne said at the ceremony, "John Wayne loved his country and he loved its traditions".
In 1973 he was honored with the Veterans of Foreign Wars highest award - The National Americanism Gold Medal.
Produced and starred in a 1940s radio show about an alcoholic detective titled "Three Sheets to the Wind".
When he was honored with a square at the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood the sand used in the cement was brought in from Iwo Jima, in honor of his film Sands of Iwo Jima (1949).
"The Greatest Cowboy Star of All Time" was the caption to a series of comic books dedicated to him. The "John Wayne Adventure Comics" were first published in 1949.
His image appeared on a wide variety of products including: 1950 popcorn trading cards given at theaters, 1951 Camel cigarettes, 1956 playing cards, Whitman's Chocolates and - posthumously - Coors beer. The money collected on the Coors beer cans with his image went to the John Wayne Cancer Institute. One of the most unusual was as a puppet on "H.R. Pufnstuf" (1969), who also put out a 1970 lunch box with his image among the other puppet characters.
Barry Goldwater visited the set of Stagecoach (1939) during filming. They had a long friendship and in 1964 Wayne helped in Goldwater's presidential campaign.


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