They say Hollywood is quite small. And, that in showbusiness, if you don’t know someone, you know someone who knows someone. This is especially true if you’re someone who everyone wants to know, such as The Duke himself, John Wayne.
It’s all about who you know in the business, from big-screen films to the smaller, but still-so-important, television screens. And, this connection even seems to span across different types of stars, from people actors to animal actors, alike.
Such is the case when The Duke found himself sharing the stage with one of Hollywood’s most adorable stars, Lassie, during the 24th Annual Golden Globes awards in 1967. It’s a wonderful memory. One that the official John Wayne Instagram was happy to share with fans earlier this week.
“Duke and Lassie at the 1967 Golden Globe awards,” the Inta post said.
The photo on the Tuesday post features John Wayne sans cowboy gear and clad in a dapper tux, standing next to a very famous, and very famous stage-mate.
The post goes on to explain the connection these two stars have that landed them on the same stage all those years ago.
“Do you know Duke’s connection to Lassie?” the John Wayne Official Insta page asks.
“The dog that played Sam in Hondo was the original on-screen Lassie,” the post explains. “Also, one of the 2 dogs that played Dog in Big Jake was one of Lassie’s pups!”
Did John Wayne ‘Win’ Lassie In a Poker Game?
There is a sort of Hollywood legend that tells the story of the night The Duke came upon the famous dog trainer whose pups were well-known in the business.
In fact, the trainer’s male Collie, Pal would go on to portray the original Lassie in the 1943 film, Lassie Come Home.
The trainer’s name was Rudd Weatherwax, and, as legend has it, he had a very memorable poker hand playing against John Wayne in 1953.
While working on the set of the 1953 John Wayne hit, Hondo, the trainer found himself going up against John Wayne in a high-stakes poker game.
“Rudd got in a poker game with John Wayne and it went [all the way],” says Frank Inn who was also working on the Hondo set as a trainer.
“Rudd had a beautiful hand, and he just knew he was going to win,” Inn continued. “But they had table stakes, and [Rudd] didn’t have the money in his pocket.”
Despite not having any cash to hold up his bet, Weatherwax’s confidence in his own poker hand pushed the trainer to take the risk. Especially, after Wayne suggested the trainer put his dog up for the bet instead.
“So they wrote out a deal there about Lassie and all the dogs in his kennel,” Inn explains of the unbelievable moment. “And this was a terrific bet – $5-6,000 dollars.”
This five to six-thousand bet would be akin to about $59,000 today.
“Sure enough, John Wayne won,” Inn says of the wayward bet. “And he never said anything about it.”