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How Artists Pay Homage to ‘Cowboy’ John Wayne: Lady Gaga, Billy Idol and More

Originally posted by Leslie Richin on

If you’ve listened to Lady Gaga’s Joanne over the past few days, you might have found yourself moving to an upbeat track called “John Wayne.” The song begins with Gaga stating, “I just love a cowboy” and then shouting, “Can you go a little faster!” The “real wild man” she craves, of course, is legendary actor and international icon John Wayne.

In 1996, Paula Cole asked, “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” — specifically, “Where is my John Wayne?” But the song was called anti-feminist by those who didn’t grasp the song’s message. She told The Baltimore Sun, “There is a melancholy woven in there, and the story of a woman who was disappointed in her marriage. It’s been widely interpreted, and I kind of like that. It’s anthropologically interesting for me.” The song peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for three Grammy Awards; Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Even Billy Idol called on Wayne to save him, singing “I am not afraid, tonight I’m gonna be John Wayne.” The song “John Wayne” appears on The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself (2008). He told the New York Post, I enjoy singing “John Wayne,” because I always think about some of the characters he played that had to rise above their own limitations, so it’s fun to take a little bit of that magic for yourself.”

But who was this “cowboy figure” that artists continue to reference in their music? Well, over his six-decade career, John Wayne (1907–1979) became America’s hero. A larger than life force to be reckoned with, Wayne once said, “When you stop fighting, that’s death.”

Wayne (aka “The Duke”) left behind a legacy filled with accolades. Not only did he win an Academy Award for Best Actor for True Grit (1969), he’s been referenced in films and TV shows from The Birdcage to Family Guy. He has a home in The Hall of Great Western Performers, is part of an upcoming exhibit at The National Cowboy Western & Heritage Museum called “Hollywood and the American West,” and has been awarded both The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. There’s even a nine-foot bronze statue of the icon at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.

Then there’s his less-renowned music career.

Wayne’s album America: Why I Love Her peaked at No. 66 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 13 on the Top Country Albums chart in 1973. On the album, Wayne is reading patriotic speeches over accompanying music. Post 9/11, the album charted again on the Internet Albums chart (which ranks the top selling albums of the week through Internet sellers like, peaking at No. 18 in 2002.

Though music is healing in itself, artists have always turned to seemingly immortal icons to raise them up in troubled times. Wayne’s light in particular, has never dimmed. It’s safe to say we will continue to hold out for a hero.

John Wayne’s Plea for Civil Political Discourse

by Michael Goldman

In early 2012, when John Wayne Enterprises asked me to begin researching John Wayne: The Genuine Article, a New York Times Bestselling book published in 2013, I had the privilege of going into John Wayne’s personal Archive and examining his private papers first-hand. The book was conceptualized to be a “personal” look at Duke in his own words and point of view on various topics of deep importance to him. And few subjects were more important to John Wayne than the welfare of the country that gave him the opportunity to become a movie star and one of the most famous people who ever lived. He was, in other words, a deeply political creature.

More specifically, Duke was, as most people know, a rock-ribbed Conservative who, from the time he first campaigned for Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950’s, routinely befriended, supported, raised money for, campaigned for, and voted for Republican candidates and causes. This was not news when I found his letters concerning the political causes he was passionate about. What was enlightening, however, was the fact that his Archive contained irrefutable proof that John Wayne considered himself an American first, Republican second, and was committed to the principles of civility and respect even when standing up for his ideals.

Indeed, I learned that a huge number of his closest friends were Hollywood Liberals: Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, just to name a few. Duke would debate them in his letters, as he did Newman on December 13, 1961, when they exchanged views as to whether the Kennedy Administration was “Socialistic” or doing enough to defend the Middle Class. The debates were never personal—they were always respectful, intimate and caring even. When I thought about it, Duke’s mentor and lifelong best friend was famed director John Ford, known to sometimes have very liberal leanings, and yet, two men in Hollywood could not have been closer.

I was blown away to find in Duke’s datebook that in the 1970’s, John Wayne regularly had lunches with famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who wrote Duke a thank-you note in December of 1977 for “the horse poetry gift” John Wayne had given him, promising that “you have love from all of us who worked with you.” I knew Wexler was a legendary Hollywood Liberal in that era, and until he died last year, and that they ferociously disagreed about the Vietnam War. So in 2012, as I documented, I called Wexler and demanded an explanation for his friendship with John Wayne. Why were they wining, dining, and exchanging poetry?

Wexler explained that he was the director of the series of Great Western Bank commercials that Duke starred in in the 1970’s, and the two realized they had far more in common than not during that association—the Old West, horses, poetry, filmmaking, and much more. He insisted John Wayne was consumed with the notion of “fairness and humaneness” in all things, political and otherwise, and that the notion of Duke refusing to consider “the other side” of issues or to have respect for those who disagreed with his strongly held views was merely “a caricature.”

I also learned how John Wayne sent President Nixon many letters of support as Watergate broke. Then, as letters and speeches suggest, he appeared to become disappointed in Nixon when he realized not only were the charges against Nixon true, but that perhaps even worse, he had taken Nixon’s word for it when he said they were not true. To John Wayne, a man’s word was his bond. And so, some later letters and speeches, including a notable speech in 1974 that we quote in the book, indicate an increasing plea for civility, truthfulness, and mutual understanding that, he argued, was more important than mere politics.

Thus, if you haven’t already read John Wayne: The Genuine Article, don’t be surprised to learn that President Jimmy Carter penned the foreword—a politician who, as Carter articulates, John Wayne never voted for, and whom he largely disagreed with on a whole host of issues. We detail how and why Duke broke with his Republican brethren to lobby Senators of both parties to ratify Carter’s drive to approve the Panama Canal Treaties, solely because he felt they were good for the country. As he supported Carter on that issue, his close friend, Ronald Reagan, who was preparing to run against Carter, was angered, and a back/forth letter exchange broke out between them, as we document. What is instructive is, what ended their disagreement had nothing to do with one man giving in or changing his position. It had to do with two friends eventually comprehending that their dispute might be harmful to their relationship. And so, they simply knocked it off.

As John Wayne eventually became sick, the Archives indicate that Carter visited him and called to check up on him when he was hospitalized, and of course, he signed the bill granting Duke posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal and eulogized him to the country as “the genuine article,” which is where the book’s sub-title comes from. And it was Carter who stated in in his foreword that what we need today is “more John Waynes.”

Being just a couple weeks from a hugely divisive, bitter national election, Duke’s example of courtesy and country first is not a bad one to emulate. After all, his relationship with Carter began exactly the same way that he welcomed the other Democratic presidents who were elected during his years in the national spotlight into office—Kennedy and LBJ. All three of them received a telegram from him upon winning. That telegram was identical in all three cases, and read simply, “Congratulations sir, from one of the loyal opposition.”

Michael Goldman wrote the 2013 award-winning book that examined letters and documents from John Wayne’s personal archive—John Wayne: The Genuine Article. Goldman has authored six books about major media-related topics, legends, and institutions, including co-authoring a textbook on filmmaking, an acclaimed coffee-table book on director Clint Eastwood’s filmmaking techniques called Clint Eastwood: Master Filmmaker at Work, an authoritative history of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and more. He has also written for acclaimed film journals like American Cinematographer, CineMontage, Millimeter, Post magazine, Variety, and consumer publications like the LA Times, Orange County Register, Philadelphia Inquirer and others. Goldman podcasts interviews with filmmakers monthly at the Studio Daily site in a series called Podcasts from the Front Lines. You can learn more about his work at his Website—

A Look Inside Volume 13

On newsstands now, the latest issue of John Wayne: the Official Collector’s Edition is all about John Wayne’s words of wisdom, tough talk and life lessons. We’ve asked Senior Editor, James Ellis to give our fans insight on how this issue was put together.

When it comes to John Wayne, there’s a whole lot of the legend for his fans to love. The classic movies he starred in. His unabashed patriotism. His common sense, tell-it-like-it-is attitude. These aspects of Duke’s greatness live on today, mainly in the plainspoken words uttered by the man himself and recorded in history. And while nobody would argue John Wayne’s all-American drawl wasn’t part of his timeless appeal, it’s the content of what he said that make his words so legendary. Never a man to beat around the bush, John Wayne always cut straight to the heart of the matter, whether he was jawing with friends about the state of the country he loved, dispensing some heartfelt advice to his children, or nailing a poignant scene in one of his beloved films. At a time where we as a country seem to agree on less and less, it was an easy choice to dedicate the next issue of the Official John Wayne Collector’s Edition to the words of a man who brought so many of us together as Americans.

What wasn’t easy was winnowing down Duke’s countless pearls of wisdom into a selection that would fit in the magazine. Everyone in the office has their favorite John Wayne quote (well, quotes, if we’re being honest) and they all wanted to give them a place of prominence. In the end, we focused on the subjects most important to the man himself—family and friends, America, and his work in Hollywood. Researching the John Wayne archives and rewatching many of his classic films, we were able to put together a collection Duke’s wisdom and wit that stands the test of time. We hope when you read through the pages, the love and care we took with his legacy shines through. But most of all, we hope you take with you a little bit of what made John Wayne so special into your everyday life. Because we could all stand to be a little more like Duke.

John Wayne: His Words of Wisdom is available wherever magazines are purchased and on


James Ellis, Senior Editor at the Official John Wayne Collector’s Edition

John Wayne: Most Patriotic Person in America

Originally posted on, this article is a study on consumer values in America.  John Wayne’s character and unwavering patriotism still stands the test of time, as consumers answered, unaided, that John Wayne is the most patriotic person in 21st century America. See the full article reposted in its entirety below.


Name anyone – alive or dead – you feel best personifies the value of “patriotism” in the United States.

For the first time since this survey was conducted 10 years ago – in addition to asking consumers to evaluate the 248 brands included this year – we asked that question. We asked respondents to name “anyone – alive or dead – who they felt best personified the value of ‘patriotism’ in the United States,” because – particularly in light of some of the political rhetoric this year – we thought it would be provocative to see how people put a human face on such an extraordinary value. So a national sample of 4,750 consumers, 16-65, stood up to be counted, with the research conducted May 16th – June 15th 2016.

The question was asked on an unaided basis, that is, we didn’t give anyone a list to choose from. We did, however, edit out historical, likely suspect mentions, like Washington, Lincoln, Betsy Ross, Nathan Hale, Abigail Adams, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton. They’ve already earned their place in history, and besides, we were looking for a more contemporary list.

And, for all the obvious reason you can think of, we ducked the current crop of presidential hopefuls and candidates running for office, although in fairness, none of the major candidates were mentioned enough times to vote them into the top 20 list. That, in and of itself, should say something about our political process and Americans’ views of patriotism!

When we did all that, we ended up with a list of people Americans felt best personified and humanized the value of patriotism. It’s an interesting mix of entertainers, soldiers, athletes, explorers, and cultural influencers and commentators. We think it says a lot about how people view patriotism.

  1. John Waynepatriotism-2
  2. Tom Hanks
  3. John Stewart
  4. Taylor Swift
  5. Stephen Spielberg
  6. Oprah Winfrey
  7. Neil Armstrong
  8. Eleanor Roosevelt
  9. Stephen Colbert
  10. Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  11. Martin Luther King
  12. Dwight D. Eisenhower
  13. Antonin Scalia
  14. Angelina Jolie
  15. Lin-Manuel Miranda
  16. Jackie Robinson
  17. Bill O’Reilly
  18. Tim Cook
  19. Gloria Steinem
  20. John Oliver

And sure, with the exception of someone in the military, patriotism may not a top-of-mind value when it comes to personifying anyone, but if you move beyond the immediate, emotional connections that exist, it’s highly likely you can find all the rational reasons citizens thought of these people first. Or at all.

John Wayne was never shy about his love for America – on or off the screen. Bill O’Reilly has written four books dealing with American history. Tom Hanks standardly plays unlikely American heroes and has worked tirelessly to strengthen the legacy of the Greatest Generation. Won an American Spirit Award, too. John Stewart has railed against false patriotism, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has reframed American history and created a new paradigm for patriotism. And the first man to walk on the moon? Com on, this is the moon we’re talking about! If you take a moment to think about it, everyone on the list ultimately has a valid and significant stake when it comes to how americans see patriotism.

Remember these were people and not brands we were asking about. The term “brand” is one that has become grossly overused. It seems today anything that has a degree of awareness or celebrity calls itself a “brand.” But the reality is a real “brand” must be imbued with something more than talent or celebrity, and certainly more than awareness or notoriety. It needs to be a value people recognize and desire.

As to the actual brand part of the study, consumers identified the following real brands as leading 2016’s patriotism parade. Percentages indicate brands’ emotional engagement strength for the individual value of patriotism.

  1. Jeep/Disney (98%)
  2. Levi Strauss (96%)
  3. Ralph Lauren (95%)
  4. Ford (94%)
  5. Coca-Cola/Jack Daniels (93%)

For a complete list of 2016’s top 50 Most Patriotic Brands, click here.

Look, patriotism isn’t a campaign. It isn’t changing the name of your brand to “America.” It’s not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion. That’s more promotional than patriotic. Based on this year’s list, one could reasonably agree with the position that real patriotism is the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime’s work – whether you’re speaking of a brand or about a person. Some approaches can be categorized as “liberal,” and others “conservative.” But looking at the list respondents generated, we think that statement is true about every one of the names, no matter where you personally stand on the political spectrum.

Although, perhaps, Mark Twain’s definition works best for everyone; “Patriotism is the support of your country all the time – and the government when it deserves it!”


Originally posted by Robert Passikoff on

Duke’s Last Film Turns 40

“The Shootist” was released to movie theaters 40 years ago on July 19, 1976. He played the role of a gunfighter dying of cancer who spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity. Duke did lose one lung and a few ribs after having a bout with cancer back in 1964. Although he didn’t have any life threatening health problems at the time of this filming he seemed to be feeling his age. As did Jimmy Stewart who was only a year younger than Wayne at the time.

ShootistBlogSince this was to be Duke’s last motion picture you may have seen a few special references during the film. First Stewart only did this film because Wayne personally asked him. Jimmy’s career had actually stopped several years before this film. Jimmy was having some hearing problems. At the beginning of the film when Ron Howard is describing J. B. Books legacy we see scenes from 4 of Duke’s previous films: Red River, Hondo, Rio Bravo, and El Dorado. A couple other items you may or may not have caught, when he sees Doc Hostetler/Jimmy Stewart in his office the first time Duke mentions that they hadn’t seen each other for 15 years, now that number is no coincidence. The inside joke is that Wayne and Stewart last worked together on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), nearly 15 years before. Another item is the part of Mrs. Rogers, played by Lauren Bacall. During the film she tells us her first name is “Bond”. This is also no coincidence as it was done as a tribute to Ward Bond who passed away in 1960 and was one of Wayne’s closest friends.

For many people this film is still very hard to watch these days. Those that were close to Duke back then knew his health was failing so it was a tough film to do. Last year we did a LIVE Q&A with Duke’s son Patrick Wayne on Facebook for Patrick’s birthday. One of the fans mentioned that he still missed Duke and that he felt that The Shootist was one of his best. Patrick responded: “I agree with you about The Shootist, for this reason, I couldn’t look at the film for ten years until after my father died. It was just too close to reality. But when I finally watched the film, I would have to say it was my father’s finest performance, purely as an actor. He was more vulnerable in this film than any prior film. And in my opinion, a better candidate for an Oscar than the Rooster Cogburn character in True Grit. Just my opinion.”

I’m sure many of us agree that Wayne should have received several Oscars, that True Grit was not his only award winning role. Personally I feel his roles in Sands of Iwo Jima, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, True Grit and The Shootist are all award winning roles. I’m sure all of you also have your favorites.


This film was released by Warner Bros. to DVD on July 24, 2001.


Michael Waack

Daily Pilot – January 30, 2013

The Day John Wayne Called My Mother

John Garrity

In September of 1976 my mother was in the hospital for a mastectomy. Her long bout with cancer had methodically progressed so that surgery was the only answer. 

I cannot recall a time when I saw my mother so tired, afraid and depressed. It is at these times when you hope, but realize there is not enough candy or flowers in the world to take your mind off the fact that you are about to lose part of your body and maybe your life. If only there was something I could do for her.

My mom had always been a big movie fan and John Wayne was the one of her all-time favorites. I have been a peace officer in the Southern California area for many years and I just happened to know where Wayne lived. The thought of telling him about my mother’s plight seemed crazy and impossible. Who was I to burden one of the biggest movie stars ever with my personal problems? Nevertheless, thoughts of my mother’s condition compelled me to try; besides, what did I have to lose? All he could say was no.

The day before surgery, I found myself at Wayne’s door-step. As I knocked on the door, thoughts of running away entered my mind.

His secretary answered the door. I identified myself with my badge and asked if I could speak to Wayne about a personal matter. She quickly responded that Wayne was quite busy at the moment opening his mail. With a look of dejection on my face, I apologized for the inconvenience and started to leave.

About half way down the walk way I heard her say , ”Oh hell, he’s not that busy. Come on in.”

She showed me into a large room where Wayne was sitting. As he stood up and looked toward me, my heart seemed to stop as I stared directly into the face of my hero for the past 35 years. He was bigger than life.

Following a few moments of uncomfortable silence, I identified myself once again and briefly explained to Wayne the physical and emotional condition of my mother. It was only a few years before that Wayne apparently won his own personal battle with cancer. 

I asked if he could take the time to call before she went into surgery. His gracious response brought tears to my eyes as he assured me that he would call her and try to lift her spirits. He personally walked me out of the house and we said goodbye. As I drove away, I was trying to comprehend what had just taken place. Would John Wayne really call my mother?

I went straight to the hospital to visit my mother. I know I could not say one word about Wayne. As I walked down the hospital corridor, there seemed to be a great deal of commotion among the nurses and orderlies near the entrance to my mother’s room. Considering her medical status, I immediately sensed a serious problem. 

When I got to the door of her room, there was mom sitting up in her bed holding court for anyone who would listen, reciting every word Wayne had said on the phone. When she saw me, she wanted to know why I hadn’t told her that John Wayne was going to call. 

I have never seen my mom so excited, and for a few brief moments she forgot all about all of her fears and pain.

A few weeks later, I saw Wayne in the front of his house. I stopped by and thanked him for the kindness he showed to my mother. She died just three years later, but she never tired of telling her John Wayne story. Thanks again, John Wayne, wherever you are – you are still my hero. 

Midnight Rider x John Wayne Collection

As a part of John Wayne Enterprises growing initiative for Made In America products we have partnered with Midnight Rider for John Wayne inspired fashion tee shirts.

Following on the heels of incredible collections for the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Tom Petty, The Band, Waylon Jennings and more, Midnight Rider introduces their newest collaborative line: The John Wayne Collection!  Inspired by what modern day western-wear has become, a mix of high fashion, street style, and rugged, genderless workwear,

Khayyam worked with graphic designer Christian Watson to create a line that will delight Wayne fans old and new. Working with fashion photographer Ramon Felix and model Terra, Khayyam drew inspiration from Alfred Stieglitz’s iconic photos of Georgia O’Keeffe for the collection’s incredibly alluring lookbook and video shoot.
As we launch the campaign and t-shirts this week, we sat down with Mitra Khayyam for her thoughts on John Wayne the icon, her inspiration for the collection and her personal and business commitment to manufacturing in America.

JWE:  How were you first introduced to John Wayne? Was it a particular movie?

Mitra:   I don’t how or when I first discovered John Wayne, as a child of immigrants, I wasn’t raised watching Westerns. I somehow stumbled onto the man, but I remember the Searchers was the first film of his I ever watched.

JWE:  As a woman, what appeals to you about John Wayne?

Mitra:  I think John Wayne often played the perfect archetype of an American hero, our own version of “Prince Charming”

JWE:  What do you think John Wayne represents today?

Mitra:  I think John Wayne represents that we can be whoever we want to be, our stories are our own to tell. You can be a boy named Marion playing football in Glendale one day, and a cowboy who goes by Duke the next.

JWE:  What was your inspiration for the collection?

Mitra:  I was inspired by playing with the idea of what modern day western-wear has become; a mix of high fashion, street style, and sexy androgyny.

JWE:  We enjoy partnering with you because of your Americana designs combined with your Made in America commitment. Will you describe this process (design and/or production) and what it means to you?

Mitra:  That’s right, all our goods are made in Los Angeles. I work with a factory in Vernon, CA that’s reasonable for cutting and sewing all our tee shirts, the tees are then dyed custom colors for us less than a mile away, printed in factories locally, hand distressed, and washed again for softness all within a 5 mile radius. It was really important for us to support our local economy, and it felt like Made in the USA would be the only way to create tees that honor so many influential icons.

Midnight Rider for John Wayne Summer 2016 from Midnight Rider on Vimeo.

The Midnight Rider x John Wayne Collection is available now at and

The Wayne Family on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a time where we come together to honor the father figures in our lives.  For the Wayne family, this means a reflection on the values John Wayne passed down to his children.  We asked Patrick, Melinda, and Marisa Wayne to share with us what the most memorable piece of advice their father shared with them.

What is the most memorable piece of advice your father shared with you?

Patrick:  My father valued the character of a person…how each strives to live up to the core values (honesty, loyalty, trustworthiness, compassion, kindness, etc.).  We’re none of us perfect.  But each morning if we aspire to live up to those values, we are worthy of respect, regardless of success, wealth, education, breeding or popularity.

Marisa:  He told me don’t hurry, don’t worry, and don’t forget to smell the roses.  He also encouraged being active on a regular basis.

Melinda:  What comes to mind is the time I asked my father: “What is a virtue you value?” His reply was “Wisdom.”



Wishing you all a happy and thoughtful Father’s Day on behalf of John Wayne Enterprises and the Wayne Family.  We hope you enjoy the day surrounded by family and loved ones.



John Wayne Cancer Foundation announces #ShowYourGrit


Grit: Courage and Resolve; Strength of Character


A word that so accurately reflects many and for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation (JWCF) it embodies the struggle of so many patients, families, survivors and caregivers as they navigate a cancer diagnosis and journey.

John Wayne’s last wish was to find a cure for cancer and we are hard at work to accomplish that goal, but we need your help. This month, JWCF will launch Show Your Grit, a fundraising and awareness campaign to attract, engage and retain a new generation of John Wayne cancer fighters.

For 25 days, beginning on John Wayne’s Birthday, May 26th 2016, and ending on Father’s Day,

June 19th 2016, we challenge you and your extended network to put on your cowboy hat or boots, get involved, create awareness, raise money, show support and join the John Wayne movement in the fight against cancer.

How do you do this? It’s simple:

  • Put on your Cowboy Hat or bandana, take a selfie and post it in honor of John Wayne or someone you know who has battled cancer. Use our hashtag, #ShowYourGrit and challenge your friends to do the same. Spread the word to join the John Wayne movement.
  • And, on June 19th, Father’s Day, plan to honor someone in your life— just as the Wayne family children have honored their father—by taking them to a special screening of True Grit. Find a location here: ______.


Raise Funds, Create Awareness, Join the Movement— Show Your Grit! Be part of John Wayne’s Cancer Fighting Legacy.



John Wayne Day

The City Council of the City of Newport Beach, California and County of Orange Board of Supervisors each officially adopted resolutions today declaring May 26, the birthday of the enduring American icon John Wayne, as “John Wayne Day.” Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon was instrumental in delivering the accolade in the late actor’s name.


quoteblockI want to thank Kevin Muldoon, Duffy Duffield, Mayor Dixon and the entire City Council of Newport Beach, also supervisor Michelle Steel and the rest of the Orange County Board of Supervisors for recognizing May 26th, my fathers birthday, as John Wayne Day in Newport Beach and Orange County, a place my father started visiting in the early 1920’s. He loved this area and was eventually able to make Newport Beach his home. It’s where my sisters and I were raised and where our father is buried. I know he would be appreciative and honored by the recognition of the City of Newport and the County of Orange. His good work continues in the fight against cancer through the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, based here in Newport Beach.

Ethan-Sig 2015

Remembered as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, Wayne is a symbol of self-reliance, determination and patriotism. A loving family man and great friend, Wayne was an avid adventurer – a hunter, horseman and fisherman. Nearly forty years after his death, his legacy is still alive in Newport Beach, the place he called home for the last 15 years of his life and visited since high school. His beloved yacht, Wild Goose, is anchored in Newport Beach Harbor and the airport in Orange County bears his name as John Wayne Airport. It’s also the place where he was laid to rest, at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar.

“John Wayne was a true American icon, and beyond that, a Newport Beach local whose interests and values mirror everything that makes this community so special,” states Kevin Muldoon, Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem. “He symbolized all that is great in America and our city so it is only fitting that we should honor such a great man.”

“John Wayne is a local hero for those of us in Orange County,” adds Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel. “He helped so many while he was alive and even after his passing continues to improve the lives of others through the legacies created in his honor, like the John Wayne Cancer Foundation that has made groundbreaking advancements in cancer research.”

“Newport Beach is a community that my father loved,” says Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s son. “I know that if he were here today he would be humbled by such an incredible honor and excited that the legacy that he built will be forever remembered on ‘John Wayne Day.’”

John Wayne still remains one of America’s most renowned larger than life luminaries whose name appears at the top of the Harris Poll’s annual listings of America’s favorite movie stars’ year after year. With a career spanning over five decades John Wayne appeared in more than 175 films. The incredibly versatile actor starred in just about every genre but it was the Western, the American cinema, where Wayne made his lasting mark. He was nominated three times for the Academy Award, winning the Oscar for Best Actor in 1969 for True Grit. Wayne was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and in 1980 President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In his memory, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation was founded in 1985 by Wayne’s children and is an organization that brings courage, strength and grit to the fight against cancer.