John Wayne’s way to protect ‘man he loved more than anybody’ from humiliation

John Wayne’s way to protect ‘man he loved more than anybody’ from humiliation

Today, Wayne stars as US marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn, in the iconic 1969 western True Grit, which airs on ITV4 from 4.15pm. It follows the hard-drinking Cogburn as he is persuaded to help a young child try and find the person responsible for robbing and murdering her father. The classic earned Wayne his solitary Academy Award for Best Actor, and capped a stunning career in Hollywood that saw him become one of the world’s most profitable stars.

In total, he starred in 179 films and television productions, and was selected as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute.

His relationships and family life were well documented, with Wayne marrying three times and divorcing twice.

But what is often unknown is the huge affection he had for director John Ford, and the decision he made that would save his friend from embarrassment.

Ford, born in 1894, was the director behind the 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which starred Wayne as the movie’s hero Tom Doniphon.

The pair had originally teamed up in 1939’s Stagecoach, which began Wayne’s love affair with the cinemagoing public.

But by the time The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was released and earning rave reviews, Ford was struggling with his health.

According to Closer News Weekly this year, Ford’s biographer, Scott Eyman, noted how during the film’s production Wayne was due to be given an award and he asked his director to present him with it.

He said: “Ford was announced to go introduce Wayne and he came up a couple steps to the dais and stumbled over one of the steps and slid right back down the dais. He recovered.

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“Wayne had done it to make it look like a setup so it wouldn’t look like John, his mentor, his father figure, the man he loved more than anybody on Earth, he didn’t want him to look bad in front of an audience.”

Ford and Wayne worked in the movie industry together for 23 years, until the former retired in 1966, sadly passing away some seven years later.

Author Michael Munn further explored Wayne’s relationship with Ford in 2001’s John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth.

He detailed how on the set of the 1959 flick The Horse Soldiers, Ford had to “bully” Wayne in order to get a decent performance from the actor.

The book noted that William Holden, who referred to Wayne by his nickname of Duke, remarked on Ford’s “cruel behavior” towards the film star, including that actors wouldn’t be allowed to have any alcohol during filming.

Holden continued: “I was pretty disgusted with the way Ford treated [Wayne].

“Ford would yell at him and treat him like he was a newcomer. I said to Duke, ‘Why do you let that old bastard treat you like that?’ He said, ‘Aw, Bill, that’s just his way of making sure I give him a good performance.’”

Holden added: “I said, ‘Duke, you’ve been at this longer than me. You got nominated for an Oscar, didn’t you?’

“He said, ‘Yeah!’ I said, ‘And what film was that for?’ Of course I knew the answer. Sands of Iwo Jima. I said to Duke, ‘Did Ford get a good performance out of you for that?’

“He said, ‘Ford didn’t direct Iwo Jima.’ I said, ‘That’s what I mean.’ But Duke would just do anything for Ford, and I admired his loyalty.”

True Grit airs at 4:15pm on Saturday, May 21, on ITV4.

Published at Sat, 21 May 2022 13:00:00 +0000