The War Wagon: John Wayne stars in trailer for 1967 film
Today, Wayne, often known by his nickname The Duke, stars in 1960’s epic historical war film The Alamo, airing from 1.50pm on ITV4. Also starring Hollywood actor Richard Widmark, The Alamo tells the tale of a San Antonio town in 1836, and the band of Texans aiming to protect it against a group of Mexican troops. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and a Golden Globe, though it failed to collect any prizes at either event.
Wayne remains one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, with his career beginning in the silent movie era of the Twenties, and on to global stardom throughout the following decades.
In total, he starred in 179 films and television productions, and by 1970 had collected the Oscar gong he had so craved for his performance in True Grit.
He was so influential that the American Film Institute selected Wayne as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.
Married three times and divorced twice, Wayne had seven children in total, including his daughter Aissa, who once recalled her final encounter with her father.
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Wayne, often known by his nickname The Duke, stars in 1960’s epic historical war film The Alamo
According to the John Wayne Official Twitter account, Aissa noted how Wayne was “really a loving dad and granddad”.
She noted how “was cute seeing him with the grandkids” as “he would get all ‘goo-goo’ and ‘gaga'”, adding: “He was just a jolly guy.”
But when Wayne was in his final hours, and Aissa holding his hand while she sat patiently with him, his daughter noted how she wanted to know if he still recognised who she was.
In his final days, Wayne’s battle with stomach cancer became worse and he passed away in 1979.
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John Wayne won an Oscar for True Grit
Years before his death, Wayne coined the term The Big C in 1964, to describe cancer.
Due to his condition, Wayne had to have his left lung removed, as well as four ribs, and while he began his recovery well, he continued smoking and chewing tobacco.
As he deteriorated, Wayne was asked by Aissa whether he knew who she was.
In his final words, he replied: “Of course, I know who you are.
“You’re my girl. I love you.”
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John Wayne was nominated for a further two Oscars
While Wayne’s final moments were clearly emotional charged, his temper was well known throughout Hollywood during his earlier years.
This was perhaps best demonstrated in 1973, when Wayne had to be reportedly restrained by security guards as he attempted to remove Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather from the Academy Awards stage.
At the time, actor Marlon Brando had turned down his Oscar win for The Godfather due to the treatment of Native Americans in film.
His gesture was also aimed at ensuring the events at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, where Native Americans were massacred in 1890, were highlighted.
Filming locations in UK
But Wayne was incensed with the move.
According to Littlefeather, a furious Wayne then attempted to remove her from the stage before being restrained by security.
She told the Guardian in 2021: “During my presentation, he was coming towards me to forcibly take me off the stage, and he had to be restrained by six security men to prevent him from doing so.”
She added: “It all happened so fast when it was announced that he had won.
“I had promised Marlon that I would not touch that statue if he won. And I had promised Koch that I would not go over 60 seconds.
“So there were two promises I had to keep.”
The Alamo airs today on ITV4 from 1.50pm.