The anniversary of John Wayne’s death was yesterday, on June 11, 2022. The iconic American actor wowed audiences around the world for decades. And when the cameras weren’t rolling he made a number of famous friends throughout Hollywood.
There were some exceptions, though. Namely: Frank Sinatra, a person Wayne truly did not like. To begin with, they had very different political views – the Duke was a republican, while Ol’ Blue Eyes was a democrat – and they had a few heated words with one another over the years.
But one event in Las Vegas finally heated up their relationship enough to start a fight.
It all started when the pair were staying at the same Las Vegas hotel in the 1960s.
Wayne didn’t stay in his hotel room much at the time, because he was filming a movie nearby. But his room was directly above Sinatra’s, who had gone to Las Vegas to blow off some steam, have a party, and generally get very rowdy.
On one occasion, Wayne returned to his hotel room with the hopes of getting some sleep. But the constant noise and partying beneath his feet kept him awake.
Sinatra was hosting one of his famous parties in his hotel suite, complete with constant talking, dancing, singing, drinking, and smoking.
Before long, Wayne had had enough. He called Sinatra’s room to ask them to quieten down, which they did – for a short amount of time.
When the noise returned in full force, Wayne called again, and again, but nobody would answer.
Finally, Wayne lost his temper.
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Carol Lea Mueller’s book, The Quotable John Wayne: The Grit and Wisdom of an American Icon, recalled the next heated events.
Wayne went downstairs and rapped his fist on Sinatra’s door. Once it swung open he demanded that the singer keep the noise down – or else.
Sinatra stayed cool, but his guard did not like this.
He stood up and approached Wayne while saying: “Nobody talks to Mr Sinatra that way.”
Wayne’s following actions proved he had the guts to stand up for himself.
Carol wrote: “Wayne looked at the man, turned as though to go [leave], then turned back swiftly and backhanded the bodyguard, who dropped to the floor.”
After this – miraculously – the party’s noise stopped.
Sinatra’s response was not documented, but he absolutely knew where he stood with the extremely tired Duke on that night.
Despite the pair’s tense relationship, something changed between them in the years that followed.
Eventually, they grew closer. Sinatra would even take his fourth wife, Barbara Marx, and visit Wayne at his home in Newport Beach.
Barbara remembered the pair’s special relationship in the Scott Eyman book John Wayne: The Life and Legend.
She said: “They were buddies. I don’t know why, because they were completely different in almost everything. But they liked each other a great deal, and they kidded a lot.”
After Wayne was diagnosed with stomach cancer, Sinatra and his wife even visited the star in his hospital room. Sinatra was apparently “devastated” to see his friend in such a bad way.