Many never noticed, but 6 foot 4 inches tall American iconic actor John Wayne raised many eyebrows about the authenticity of his height. When he first came to Hollywood to play the role of a cowboy, he was said to be so small that he had to ride a small horse to look taller. Later it was claimed that the secret of his great size was a 4-inch lift built into his shoes.
Before his death, the veteran entertainer starred in over 75 films, most of which were war and western movies. He portrayed characters who embodied a heroic American and was able to achieve icon status in the American entertainment industry.
John Wayne Bio
The eldest son of Mary and Clyde Morrison (pharmacist) was born on May 26, 1907, as Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. He got his nickname Duke from a dog he had as a child. He loved his dog so much that people called them little Duke and big Duke. In one of his early movies, he even called himself Duke Morrison.
John attended the University of Southern California in LA where he was very active in soccer. While studying at the university, he worked as a prop man for the Fox Film Corporation during the summer months and then developed a lasting friendship with John Ford, who was a film director. Ford began to give him small roles in 1928 and his big breakthrough came in 1930 when he was cast as the leading actor in The Big Trail. On the set of this movie, his name was changed to John Wayne.
John starred in 60 other movies over the next eight years, but his place in the American entertainment industry was consolidated with his role as Ringo Kid in Stagecoach (1939). From here he grew by leaps and bounds with each following year.
His Family – Wife and Children
John left three marriages in his life, he married Josephine Alicia Saenz on June 24, 1933, and before their divorce on December 25, 1945, they already had four children – Patrick and Michael (sons); Melinda and Anthonia (daughters).
His next marriage attempt was with the former Mexican actress Esperanza Baur; their marriage took place on January 17, 1946, and ended in November 1954 without children. His divorce from Esperanza was the most turbulent, she was always jealous of John’s alleged extramarital affairs and tried to shoot him one night when he came home late.
John Wayne had three other children, Marisa, Ethan, and Aissa from his third marriage to Pilar Wayne. The duo married on November 1, 1954, and although they were separated in 1973, they remained married until his death on June 11, 1979.
In 1985, his children joined together to form the John Wayne Cancer Foundation in honor of their father’s charitable contributions to the fight against cancer. The goal of the organization is to provide the necessary support for cancer-related programs and also for the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center.
Was He Gay?
There is a simple answer to the question of whether the celebrated actor was gay: With three marriages with three women and seven biological children, there is no reason to believe that he was attracted to men. Moreover, he had several high-profile affairs both before and between his marriages. Above all, it has been confirmed that all his affairs with the opposite sex took place.
The actor with the distinctive cat-like gait stood at a height of 1.93 m (6 feet 4 inches). However, his height has always been a controversial issue, with many attributing his high frame to a 4-inch lift that he had built into his shoes. Whatever the case, his height certainly dropped a little over 6 feet. His last reported weight was 212 pounds.
John Wayne’s Death
In his last film, the iconic actor was cast in The Shootist (1976) as an aging gunslinger who dies of the ravages of cancer. He portrayed the character of John Bernard Books, who wanted to spend his last days in peace but got involved in a final shootout. And lo and behold, the fiction became reality in 1978 when the actor-veteran was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
To fight the disease, John Wayne signed up for a cancer vaccine study, but unfortunately, he died in LA on June 11, 1979. The Hollywood giant was buried in the cemetery of Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach. In 1980, the U.S. Congress awarded his family a Congressional Gold Medal in his honor, and in the month of his passing, the government renamed Orange County Airport after him. In 1990 and 2004, the film icon was depicted on a stamp and in 2007 he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.