Is the former Duke Morrison the most famous and enduring Hollywood star ever?
No matter what you thought about his politics, an exceptionally strong case can be made that John Wayne was Hollywood’s foremost star, the leading man in 142 movies over a half century. That’s a record.
In the process, Wayne defined to the world through his many of his characters the best of America: independence, toughness, fairness and a grand spirit of democratic generosity. While he was something less than a heroic stereotype offscreen, he was a superbly professional actor who always showed up on time and had his (an everyone else’s) line down cold.
Wayne was also a talented director and producer, the pivotal force behind Batjac Productions which developed into a real “player” among the major Hollywood studios from the early Fifties. Although wed three times, he took each of his marriages seriously while at the same time romancing some of the screen’s most glamorous actresses.
There is no better way to fully appreciate this great actor than to pick up author Scott Eyman’s new biography, JOHN WAYNE The Life and the Legend (Simon & Schuster, 2014). It’s hugely informative, a great read and is the inspiration for today’s quiz.
So how much do you know about John Wayne? Tackle this quiz, and find out. As usual, answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Which one of the following did NOT pass muster with Wayne as a screen cowboy? a) Randolph Scott; b) William Boyd; c) Roy Rogers; or d) Gene Autry.
2) Question: How did Marion Robert Morrison wind up with the screen name of John Wayne? a) His agent pulled names out of a hat, settling on the one we know; b) It was director Raoul Walsh’s choice before casting him in 1930’s The Big Trail; c) Wayne himself chose his screen name: or d) “John Wayne” was the brainchild of Fox film head Winfield Sheehan.
3) Question: Wayne nursed a lifelong dislike of vintage cowboy star Tom Mix. Why? a) Wayne didn’t like his politics; b) Mix badmouthed him an aspiring actor; c) Mix reneged on a promise of a job; d) Wayne found his Mix’s stinginess objectionable.
4) Question: Which one of Wayne’s female costars enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy and passionate affair with Wayne offscreen? a) Maureen O’Hara; b) Gail Russell; c) Marlene Dietrich; or d) Geraldine Page.
5) Question: Throughout his life Wayne felt a tinge of guilt for not serving in the military in World War II. Why didn’t he sign up? a) Movie stars then were considered ipso facto important and automatically draft exempt; b) Wayne was too old; c) Wayne had a recurring ear infection that rendered him 4F; or d) Wayne was exempt because he had a family.
6) Question: Wayne was highly critical of one well known actor, but had high praise for another. Can you identify the actors? a) Al Pacino and Jackie Gleason; b) Clark Gable and Gary Cooper; c) Gene Hackman and James Garner; or d) Paul Newman and Bob Hope.
7) Question: Wayne couldn’t stand Montgomery Clift, his costar in the classic western Red River. a) True; or b) False.
8) Question: A reasonably well-kept secret was the fact that Wayne sported a toupee onscreen by 1950 because he was so sensitive about going bald. a) True; or b) False.
9) Question: Wayne never particularly liked Spencer Tracy. Why? a) Tracy once sucker-punched Wayne while drunk; b) Tracy stiffed Wayne on a loan; c) Wayne disliked the fact that Tracy got belligerent when inebriated; or d) Wayne was not a fan of Tracy’s acting style.
10) Question: Wayne was enormously wealthy when he died in 1979 at age 72. a) True; or b) False.