Marisa Wayne Journal Entry

When people imagine the private life of an iconic movie star like John Wayne, they might picture lavish film premieres, black-tie events—or riding off into Western sunsets. But as his daughter, Marisa Wayne, explains, her father left his strongest impressions in quieter, more personal moments. 

Though only 13 when he passed away, Marisa’s memories of John Wayne are clear and vivid. The glimpses into her father’s private life reflect the values he broadcasted to the rest of America, and to the world at large: hard work, grit, kindness, and love for family.


“People ask me all the time what it’s like to be John Wayne’s daughter and I have to say, it’s pretty darn good. He was not only an incredible family man, but he was doting, fun, playful yet also strict.

Life with him was an adventure. We were either off on some exotic location or on our boat traveling through Mexico or Canada, fishing and playing games. He truly loved having his kids around him and we were not allowed to walk by him without giving him a hug or a kiss. It was a rule and I have since imposed it upon my kids.

He would not tolerate any disrespect and he only had to look at me to make my knees tremble. You always knew when he was serious and you felt bad disappointing him. He knew this so his temper was gentle and quick. He would give you his two cents and then quickly smile and say, “Now come over here and give me a hug!”

The worst part was losing him when I was only 13 years old, but I cherish the memories and being able to watch his movies and interviews.

It was important to him that we use his name to help those with cancer so, here we are, almost 37 years later, still looking for a cure, and, I believe, with the work of the John Wayne Cancer Institute and John Wayne Cancer Foundation, we are getting closer!”

– Marisa Wayne

Marisa Wayne and her father on set.

Marisa Wayne and her father on set.


Do you have a question for Marisa? Join Marisa at 1:30pm PDT on March 29th for a live 30-minute Q&A on the official
John Wayne Facebook page at

Casey Holland