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John Wayne

Real name: Marion Michael Morrison
Birthdate: May 26, 1907
Status: Married
Partner: Pilar Wayne

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In 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne thirteenth among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. A Harris Poll released in 2007 placed Wayne third among America's favorite film stars, the only deceased star on the list and the only one who has appeared on the poll every year.

Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, but his name was changed to Marion Michael Morrison when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. His family was Presbyterian. His father, Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884-1937), was of Ulster-Scots descent and the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (20 Jan 1845-05 Dec 1915). Marion Mitchell was born in Cherry Fork, Adams, Ohio as the son of Robert Morrison and Mary Mitchell. Wayne's mother, Mary Alberta Brown, was of Irish descent.

In later years, Wayne was recognized as a sort of American natural resource, and his various critics, political and film, looked on him with more respect. Abbie Hoffman, the radical of the 1960's paid tribute to Mr. Wayne's singularity. Reviewing The Cowboys, made in 1972, Vincent Canby, film critic of the New York Times, who did not particularly care for the film, wrote, "Wayne is, of course, marvelously indestructible, and he has become an almost perfect father figure." But years before he became anything close to a father figure, Wayne had become a symbolic male figure, a man of impregnable virility and the embodiment of simplistic, laconic virtues, packaged in a well-built 6-foot-4-inch, 225- pound frame. (His height has been disputed since he was known to wear lifts).

An urban legend has it that John Wayne was offered the leading role of Matt Dillon in the longtime favorite television show Gunsmoke, but he turned it down, recommending instead James Arness for the role. The only part of this story that is true is that Wayne did indeed recommend Arness for the part. Wayne introduced Arness in a prologue to the first episode of Gunsmoke. Wayne was approached by Mel Brooks to play the part of The Waco Kid in the film Blazing Saddles. After reading the script he said, "I can't be in this picture, it's too dirty...but I'll be the first in line to see it." Wayne reportedly refused the role that Lee Marvin played in The Dirty Dozen and chose instead the part in the The Green Berets. He also turned down the title role in Dirty Harry, although the film's director Don Siegel said Wayne would have been too old to play the part anyway. Wayne later made two cop movies of his own which were not successful.

Wayne was married three times and divorced twice. His wives, all of them Hispanic women, were Josephine Alicia Saenz, Esperanza Baur, and Pilar Pallete. He had four children with Josephine and three with Pilar, including the producer Michael Wayne and actor Patrick Wayne. Wayne is also the great-uncle of boxing heavyweight Tommy Morrison.

In his birthplace of Winterset, Iowa, the John Wayne Birthday Centennial Celebration was held on May 25-27, 2007. The celebration included chuckwagon suppers, concerts by Michael Martin Murphey and Riders in the Sky, a Wild West Revue in the style of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, symposiums with John Wayne co-stars, cavalry and trick horse demonstrations as well as many of John Wayne's films. This event also included the groundbreaking for the John Wayne Museum and Learning Center at his birthplace house.


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