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John Wayne

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John Wayne

Born on 26 May 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, Marion Michael Morrison was a star athlete at the University of Southern California when, in the late 1920s, he began playing bit parts in films under the name of John Wayne.

In 1930, director, John Ford, recommended him for a starring role in a Western epic, The Big Trail. Throughout the 1930s, John "Duke" Wayne played lead roles in a series of unchallenging, low budget movies. (The nickname "Duke" was given to him as boy when he was inseparable from a dog named Duke. People would say "Here comes Duke" and the name came to apply to both boy and dog.)

He married Josephine Saenz in 1933. They had four children but divorced in 1945.

In 1939, John Ford gave Wayne a second major break when he cast him in the lead role in Stagecoach. This role made John Wayne a major star

During the War, although he was exempted from military service on medical grounds, he played roles (such as Flying Tigers, The Fighting Seabees and Back to Batan) in which he exemplified the tough, heroic fighter. In 1942 and 43, John Wayne played in the radio series Three Sheets to the Wind.

In 1941, he helped found the right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, of which he later became president. His political ideals were reflected in movies such as The Alamo (which he produced, directed and starred in) and The Green Berets (which he co-directed and starred in).

In the late forties, John Wayne played a number of roles (such as Red River, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande) which showed his ability to portray depth of character. He married Esperanza Bauer in 1946. They divorced in 1954. In the same year, he married Pilar Palette with whom he had three children..

Throughout the fifties, sixties and early seventies, John Wayne played in films of widely varying quality. He was at his best in films like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers and, particularly, The Shootist, in which he played a dying gunman beginning to understand his life. At the time, John Wayne was himself dying of cancer. He died three years later (on June 11 1979).

In all, John Wayne played a leading role in 142 movies. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1969 for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit

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