John Wayne (May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979) was born Marion Robert Morrison (later Marion Mitchell Morrison, after his parents decided to give his middle name to his new younger brother). He was an actor and filmmaker. Wayne was a 1925 graduate of Glendale High School, in Glendale, CA, where he was a member of the football team and participated in student government and drama, among other activities. Nicknamed “Duke” as a child, he found work as a prop boy and an extra when an injury led to the loss of his USC football scholarship. After being cast in his first starring movie role (in 1930’s The Big Trail), Duke Morrison received his soon-to-be-famous screen name, John Wayne. His career got off to a slow start, though, with Wayne mostly relegated to minor roles and low-budget films throughout the ‘30s. His big breakthrough came about in 1939, when he starred in Stagecoach. Wayne went on to star in 142 films, the majority being westerns, and was one of the most popular box office stars for decades. Among his best-known films are Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), The Alamo (1960), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Green Berets (1968), and True Grit (1969). Wayne’s last film performance was in The Shootist (1976). Viewed by many as an American icon, Wayne was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1979, less than a month before his passing. President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.
Awards (partial list):
- Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for True Grit. 1969
- Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award. 1966