Marion Robert Morrison, better known by his stage name John Wayne and his nickname Duke, was an American actor and director who rose to fame as a leading man in films made during Hollywood’s Golden Age, particularly Westerns and war pictures.
He appeared in 179 films and television programs over his career, which spanned the silent era of the 1920s to the American New Wave. For three decades, he was a top box-office draw, and he appeared alongside many other notable Hollywood actors of the time. Wayne was named one of the finest male stars of vintage American film by the American Film Institute in 1999.
Wayne grew up in Southern California after being born in Winterset, Iowa. After a bodysurfing injury cost him a football scholarship to the University of Southern California, he went to work for the Fox Film Corporation. He generally played in supporting roles, but his breakthrough came in Raoul Walsh’s Western The Big Trail (1930), an early widescreen epic that was a box office flop.
He’s also known for his parts in The Quiet Man (1952), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Longest Day (1960). (1962). In The Shootist (1976), he played an old gunfighter battling cancer, which was his final cinematic appearance.
On April 9, 1979, he made his final public appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony before passing away two months later from stomach cancer. He was posthumously given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
Wayne died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at the UCLA Medical Center, despite enrolling in cancer vaccine research in an attempt to prevent the disease. In Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, he was laid to rest in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery.
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