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Wayne, John

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John Wayne was born Marion Morrison on 26th May 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, USA, the son of pharmacist Clyde Morrison and his wife Mary. However his father soon developed a lung condition which forced him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California. Here he tried ranching in the Mojave Desert, and Marion with his younger brother Robert E. Morrison would swim in an irrigation ditch and ride a horse to school. However the ranch failed and the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He excelled at school both academically and in football, and attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship between 1925-7. It was here that he got a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets, where he befriended the director John Ford who gave him his first bit parts, and it is at this time that he began to use the name John Wayne. His first featured film was “Men Without Women” in 1930. More than 70 low-budget westerns and adventures followed until 1939 when Ford cast him in “Stagecoach”, the film that catapulted him to stardom. During his prolific career he would appear in nearly 250 films. In 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a right-wing political organization and would later become its President. His conservative political stance was also reflected in “The Alamo” of 1960, which he produced, directed as well as starred in. He received the Best Actor nomination for “Sands of Iwo Jima” in 1949 but it would be a further twenty years before he finally got an Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit”. His final appearance was in Don Siegel’s 1976 “The Shootest”. He died from cancer in Los Angeles on 11th June 1979, when a Congressional Gold Medal was struck in his honour. Although he has appeared in many genres, he will always be remembered for his Westerns, in particular his roles in Ford's cavalry trilogy of 1948-50; “Fort Apache”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Rio Grand”.
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