Today, John Wayne is back on screens as The Comancheros airs from 1.50pm on 5Action. The 1961 western sees Wayne star as Texan Ranger Jake Cutter, who finds a surprising ally in a tough gambler as he attempts to track down a gang of ruthless outlaws. The Comancheros was a hit with critics, including Bosley Crowther, who described it as “so studiously wild and woolly, it turns out to be good fun”.
He added: “[T]here’s not a moment of seriousness in it, not a detail that isn’t performed with a surge of exaggeration, not a character that is credible.”
At the time of its release, Wayne was already one of Hollywood’s most revered stars, and an almost guarantee of box office success.
Wayne was also a hit with the opposite sex.
And according to author Marc Eliot, who wrote American Titan: Searching for John Wayne, even his co-stars were infatuated with the legend, including Marlene Dietrich.
Marlene Dietrich made John Wayne ‘recite allegiance pledge with face between her thighs’
Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne
In his book about Wayne, Eliot recalled a time in 1940 when the star was filming The Long Voyage Home, at a time when other Americans were signing up to fight the Nazis in Germany.
Wayne was well-known as a “super patriot”, though his apparent snub of enlisting did enrage some fans of his films.
At the time of the film’s release during World War Two, Wayne began an affair with German-born actress Marlene Dietrich, who Eliot remarked the star had an “insatiable desire” for.
The author noted that Dietrich enjoyed intimacy with married men in order to “humiliate and disgrace” them, including Wayne.
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The pair on set together
This included one encounter between the actors, where Wayne was left a little red-faced.
Eliot wrote: “It was said by friends of the actress that she liked to put Wayne on his knees and hold his face close between her thighs and make him recite the Pledge of Allegiance to something higher even than his flag and his government.”
The pair first met while filming the 1940 film Seven Sinners, which this time saw Wayne star as a Navy official.
Reports suggest Wayne, who would claim an Oscar for True Grit, fell in love with Dietrich, who was up for the challenge of being with a married man.
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The pair had an affair
Eliot continued: “When she came into Wayne’s life, she juicily sucked every last drop of resistance, loyalty, morality, and guilt out of him, and gave him a sexual and moral cleansing as efficiently done as if she were draining an infected sore.”
He added: “He had never before had a real whiff of the kind of feral sexuality Dietrich exuded.
“He was crazy for Dietrich from the first time she led him to her bed. He stayed there, at her beck and call, for the next three years and didn’t appear to care who knew it.
“She was the bad girl he’d never had, the forbidden fruit he’d never tasted.
Filming locations in UK
“Dietrich made him not just like sex with her but crave it.”
Wayne, who died in 1979, was married three times, divorced twice and in total had seven children, including his daughter Aissa.
Wayne remains one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, with his career beginning in the silent movie era of the Twenties, and on to global stardom throughout the following decades.
In total, he starred in 179 films and television productions, and by 1970 had collected the Oscar gong he had so craved for his performance in True Grit.
He was so influential that the American Film Institute selected Wayne as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.
According to the John Wayne Official Twitter account, Aissa noted how Wayne was “really a loving dad and granddad”.
She noted how “was cute seeing him with the grandkids” as “he would get all ‘goo-goo’ and ‘gaga’”, adding: “He was just a jolly guy.”