John Wayne’s heartbreaking admission on ‘failure’: ‘Disappointed two he cared for most’


“Duke felt that he’d disappointed the two people he cared for most: Josephine Saenz, the girl he loved, and John Ford, the man he admired above all others.

The row with Cohn was over a young female actress, who the executive demanded “every male on the studio lot [to] keep their distance from”.

Wayne was reportedly unaware of the rule and spoke to the actress, who found the western star “irresistible”.

He was subsequently turned away from the Columbia film studio gates after filming ceased for 1931’s Arizona.

Wayne told Pilar he “thought it was all some kind of mistake”, adding: “All I knew was I had to talk to Cohn and clear things up–or my career was finished.”

Wayne and Cohn endured a “hostile” encounter, the latter telling the star: “Keep your goddamn fly buttoned on my studio.”

But the row was not over, as up until his contract was finally cancelled by Columbia, Cohn forced Wayne to star in a series of minor B-movie roles, including making him be a corpse in a coffin.

Wayne’s career in Tinsel Town nearly did not start at all, as he originally intended to become an American Football player.

But after an accident where he attempted to impress some girls before a training session, the star got himself seriously injured.

Eugene Clarke, speaking in Scott Eyman’s 2014 book John Wayne: The Life and Legend, said: “One day we went to Balboa and there were a lot of pretty USC sorority girls down there and we decided to do a little showing off.

“We jumped in the water — it was Duke’s idea — and started to do what the kids nowadays call body surfing.

“The waves were pretty high, real rough, and one of them caught Duke and tossed him ashore with a badly wrenched right shoulder.”

Clarke noted how he and Wayne had to report to football training a few days later, and the star’s shoulder was “still in pretty bad shape”.

Wayne’s position in the side was as a tackle, and the side’s coach Howard Jones “always insisted that when you blocked the opposing lineman, you hit him with your right shoulder… real hard”.

Clarke added: “If Duke tried to do that with his injured shoulder it would have killed him.”

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