John Wayne is shown aboard his boat, the Wild Goose, in 1977. (Bert Minshall)

John Wayne is shown aboard his boat, the Wild Goose, in 1977. (Bert Minshall)

In May 2012, I interviewed writer-producer A.J. Fenady (1), known for The Rebel, Branded, Hondo and Chisum (1970) et alia, about his friend “Duke.”

We met at his offices in Hollywood near Paramount Pictures. Fenady, while developing Chisum (1970), accompanied Duke during and between the filming of Hellfighters (1968),True Grit (1969) and The Undefeated (1969). He was with him the night he won his Oscar and the day he celebrated with friends after being declared “cancer free” five years after his lung operation.

Before his Oscar win, Fenady said, they were having a drink at the bar and “Duke tipped his hand (when) I said, ‘Good luck tonight Duke,’ and he said, ‘Well, McFenady, we gave it our best shot.’ But, I could tell he was confident.” Sure enough, Fenady said smiling, “He let something slip on stage after he presented an award. Even though he was not scheduled to appear again unless he won for best actor, “Duke nodded to the audience and said, ‘I’ll see you later.’” Read the rest of this entry »

Why John Wayne Endures

Fox Photos/Getty Images American actor John Wayne stands by the street sign honoring his name in Prescott, Ariz. The film star "was one of the defining Americans of the 20th century," says critic John Powers.

Fox Photos/Getty Images
American actor John Wayne stands by the street sign honoring his name in Prescott, Ariz. The film star “was one of the defining Americans of the 20th century,” says critic John Powers.

Given all the heroes and soldiers he played over his half century in film, this year, it’s only fitting that John Wayne’s birthday should fall on Memorial Day.

Around the world he still enjoys steady popularity like no other long-deceased movie star. In 2003, over two decades after his death from cancer in 1979, he was listed on the Harris Poll’s top ten list of movie stars. Just two years before, a Gallup Poll voted him the top movie star of all time. He is a symbol — a touchstone — still used to define the American spirit, here and abroad.

The Duke was not an actor of great range, and would have been first to admit it. In the vast majority of his pictures, he played himself — and that was enough.

Before his first real break in “The Big Trail”(1930), he’d toiled in bit parts under the name Duke Morrison. (He’d earned the nickname “little Duke” as a boy in Glendale, California, because he was inseparable from his beloved Airedale, “Big Duke.”)

It’s no surprise the name “Duke” stuck: it was a far sight better than his given name, Marion (it’s no wonder he was so tough) — and unquestionably fitting for this tall, well-built young man who played football at USC before being indefinitely sidelined by a collarbone injury (legend has it that he did not receive the injury on the field, but rather while body surfing).

Read the rest of this entry »

John Wayne Film Fest April 24-27

John Wayne Film Fest – April 24-27
Hosted by LOOK Cinemas, benefiting John Wayne Cancer Foundation with VIP Ann-Margret

All movie screenings at LOOK Cinemas – Dallas, Texas.
LOOK Cinemas
5409 Belt Line Rd
Dallas, TX 75254
(214) 306-7446

Click here to view the John Wayne Film Fest Online Auction.


John Wayne – TCM ‘Star of the Month for April’

John Wayne is shown aboard his boat, the Wild Goose, in 1977. (Bert Minshall)

John Wayne is shown aboard his boat, the Wild Goose, in 1977. (Bert Minshall)

For five days in April our Star of the Month spotlight shines on the legend that was and is John Wayne. Through five decades he was one of the great American icons and Hollywood’s biggest box-office star. His popularity endures today, with his name appearing often on lists of all-time greats. Our Wayne festival was programmed by TCM host Robert Osborne, who will be joined in introducing the films by Scott Eyman, who has written for the the New York Times and the Washington Post and is the author of celebrity biographies including John Wayne: The Life and Legend, due out this month.

Wayne enjoyed a versatile career that encompassed more than 175 movies ranging from war movies to romantic comedies, crime thrillers and historical epics. But it is for his Westerns–more than a dozen of which were directed by the master of the form, John Ford–that he is best remembered. Fittingly, our tribute begins with Wayne’s first starring role in The Big Trail (1930) and concludes with a Western from his mature period, Big Jake (1971). In between are such Ford/Wayne classics as Stagecoach (1939), Fort Apache (1948) and The Searchers (1956).

Born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, Wayne entered films in 1926 and served an apprenticeship in serials and low-budget movies before his role in Stagecoach elevated him to major player. Other memorable vehicles over the decades include Without Reservations (1946), Flying Leathernecks (1951) and North to Alaska (1960). His final film was The Shootist (1976), in which he plays a gunfighter dying of cancer, as Wayne himself did in 1979.|0/John-Wayne-Star-of-the-Month-4-21-4-25.html

Free screening of the 1953 Western “Hondo,” starring John Wayne

John Wayne, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall all can be seen on a big screen this weekend in Shawnee County for little or no money.

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library will present a free screening of the 1953 Western “Hondo,” starring Wayne in the title role, at 2 p.m. in Marvin Auditorium of the library, 1515 S.W. 10th, as this month’s installment of its Classic Film Series.

Then at 7 p.m. Saturday in the gymnatorium of the Auburn Community Center, 121 W. 11th, Auburn Community Theater will show “Secondhand Lion,” a 2003 comedy-drama starring Caine and Duvall as the eccentric uncles of a 14-year-old boy played by Haley Joel Osment. Admission to the theater’s Movie Night is a family-friendly $5 for adults or $3 for children 12 and younger.

“Hondo,” developed by Wayne’s own production company, is based on the July 5, 1952, Colliers short story, “The Gift of Cochise,” by Louis L’Amour, who would write a best-selling novelization of the movie.

Wayne plays Hondo Lane, a despatch rider for the U.S. Cavalry, who encounters Angie Lowe (Geraldine Page), a woman deserted by her husband for months and living alone with her young son Johnny (Lee Aaker) in the midst of hostile Apache territory.

She presumes she is safe because the Apaches, under their chief Vittorio (Michael Pate), have always left them alone. Later Lane has a run-in with Angie’s reprobate husband Ed Lowe (Leo Gordon) and is forced to kill him, not knowing who he is.

Vittorio captures Lane and to save his life, Angie tells the Apache chief that Lane is her husband, unaware that Lane has killed her real husband. In order to protect her from a forced marriage with one of the Apache, Lane reluctantly goes along with the lie, though he knows the truth must eventually come out both to her and the Apache.

“Hondo” marked the screen debut of Page, who earned the first of eight Oscar nominations for her role as Angie Lowe.

Directed by John Farrow, “Hondo” was shot and released in 3D.

Set in 1962 in the Texas countryside, “Secondhand Lions” follows comedic adventures of an introverted boy, Walter (Osment), left on the doorstep of a pair of reluctant, eccentric great-uncles, Garth (Caine) and Hub (Duvall), who pass their time shooting at traveling salesmen and telling tales of their youths, including Hub’s only love, Jasmine, a princess he had to rescue from a Middle Easter sheik. The movie’s title comes from a “used” lioness the uncle purchase with the idea of shooting and having its head mounted.

However, the men adopt the lioness, who gets named Jasmine, and she plays a pivotal role in attempts by outsiders and Walter’s mother to exploit the uncles in pursuit of their legendary fortune.

People attending “Secondhand Lion” can bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating or sit in one of the center’s chairs. Popcorn, soda, candy and other movie snacks will be sold before and during the movie.

Auburn Community Theater offers movie nights when the community theater isn’t staging a live production. Visit for coming attractions.