“John Wayne was more of a mentor and a father to me in the business than my own father was”


“John Wayne was more of a mentor and a father to me in the business than my own father was…Duke did nothing but give me support. He took me from a two or three-line role to costarring with him. He basically made my career…” Chris Mitchum, the second child of the masterful Winds of War naval commander emblazoned by the late Robert Mitchum, wound up good-naturedly sparring with Wayne in three westerns filmed consecutively in Mexico — Chisum, Rio Lobo, and the legend-embellishing Big Jake — before their relationship suddenly crumbled during a joint 1972 summit on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. So pull off your spurs for the third installment of an ongoing, exclusive conversation where Mitchum examines his mentor almost 50 years since Chisum began production under the tutelage of gentle giant Andrew V. McLaglen. Previous segments in this “Next Stop, John Wayne Station” column uncovered the naturally reserved, intelligent actor’s startling encounters with Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley.

I have no idea. Jorge had been a Mexican champion body builder — the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Mexico — and started doing some movies. Somehow Howard ran into him and signed him for Rio Lobo [Rivero’s first American production was as the noble, albeit naive Cheyenne chief Spotted Wolf in director Ralph Nelson’s excessively violent Soldier Blue, filmed about three months prior to Rio Lobo].


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