Did you happen to notice the large number of John Wayne movies on television this past weekend? I couldn’t find any reason for it, his birthday was in May, so it must have been just a coincidence. Whatever the reason I decided to dedicate this week to the Duke and start things off with a game of True or False with John Wayne.
1 – John Wayne’s real name was Marion Mitchell Morrison
True: That was his birth name and most people agree it is not the best cowboy name out there. So, John Wayne it is.
2 – John’s nickname “The Duke” was actually his cat’s name
False: Wayne received his distinctive nickname “Duke” while living in California. He had a dog by that name, and he spent so much time with his pet that the pair became known as “Little Duke” and “Big Duke.”
3 – Body surfing changed his career.
True: John Wayne, surfer? Yep—and if he hadn’t spent a lot of time doing it, he may never have become the legend he did. Like many USC students, Wayne spent a good deal of his extracurricular time in the ocean. After he sustained a serious shoulder injury while bodysurfing, Morrison lost his place on the football team and his scholarship. Unable to pay his fraternity for room and board, Morrison quit school and, with the help of his former football coach, found a job as the prop guy at Fox Studios in 1927. It didn’t take long for someone to realize that Morrison belonged in front of a camera. John Wayne’s first leading role came in 1930 in the b-film The Big Trail.
4 – John Wayne cheated at chess
True: John Wayne was actually very good at chess and the actor had a board permanently set up on his 136 ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: “Who the hell cares if he’s queer? The man plays great chess.” Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing against Robert Mitchum. While making a move, he would use his huge hands to cover the second action of sliding a piece into a different position. Mitchum eventually got up enough courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied “I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set ’em up, we’ll play again.”
5 – John Wayne coined the phrase, “The Big C”
True: If you say “The Big C” these days, everyone knows what you’re talking about. But no one called it that before Wayne came up with the term. Worried that Hollywood would stop hiring him if they knew how sick he was, he called a press conference in his living room. Wayne had this to say, “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image. Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.” His daughter Aissa Wayne later said that the 1964 press conference was the one and only time she heard her father call it “cancer.” Sadly, Wayne lost his second battle with the Big C and died on June 11, 1979.
Well, there you have the truth of it. I hope you enjoyed this Ron’s Amazing Stories edition of True or False with John Wayne.
This Week’s Podcast:
On the podcast we will continue John Wayne week with one of his early successes. Also, we have a murder mystery on a cliff and science fiction tale too big to describe here. So, tune into the podcast this Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories. You can also download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen on your radio Friday night at 8pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.
June 02,2016 – Some People Don’t Die (RAS247)
June 09,2016 – The Carnival Case (RAS248)
June 16,2016 – Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (RAS249)
June 23,2016 – The Sportsman Show (RAS250)
June 30,2016 – John Wayne Week (RAS251)
July 07,2016 – We will have a best of the RAS this week.