John Wayne’s simple character trick that transformed Hollywood cliché


Eliot argued that Wayne did not want to fight Germany because of his relationship with Marlene Dietrich, a German actress he reportedly had an affair with.

Another moment that left Wayne conflicted came in 2014’s, John Wayne: The Life and Legend, written by Scott Eyman. The author claimed Wayne, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 1970 for True Grit, had an encounter that severely affected him.

He wrote: “Duke Morrison [Wayne]’s learning experiences were not always pleasant, but deeply imprinted on his ethical compass. He remembered catching a bee, and tying a thread around the creature so all it could do was fly in circles. A boy who was about three years older and had recently arrived from Poland walked by and said, ‘Don’t do that.’

“Morrison ignored him and kept tormenting the bee, at which point, he remembered, ‘The roof fell in.’”

He added: “[Wayne] found himself lying on the ground with the Polish boy standing over him. With a heavy accent, the boy said, ‘I’ve just come from a war, from Poland. Don’t ever be cruel to animals. Or people.’

“‘It was quite a lesson,’ Duke said. ‘I’ll never forget it.’”

Despite his approval, Wayne was often jeered because of his absence from duty. This included when he was booed by military personnel, as outlined by Garry Wills in his 1998 book John Wayne’s America: The Politics of Celebrity.

On one occasion, when walking out on the USO stages in Australia and the Pacific Islands. In front of a packed house of veterans, Wayne was widely mocked. But Mr Eliot argued it was Dietrich’s influence that was the real reason for his snub.

He said: “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. Dietrich made him not just like sex with her but crave it.”

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