There is no way I can compete with the many sites on the Internet devoted to John Wayne, either in materials or depth of research. But the Duke was, and is, my hero, and I want to share my pride and admiration of the quintessential American with all of you...

So listen up, Pilgrim!

To me, like many kids of my generation, John Wayne was a father figure, honest, loyal, tough, but fair. He demanded the best you could be, but would always back you up, if you believed you were right. Growing up in a less-than-ideal environment (with alcoholism and abuse constant factors), I found Wayne's strength and integrity, both on and offscreen, an inspiration!

Wayne's genre will forever be Westerns, although he made an impressive number of films without the Stetson and cowboy boots! Some may say Gary Cooper was a purer embodiment of a Westerner, or that Clint Eastwood was more honest in presenting the real West, but Wayne truly fit the genre better than anybody else! Whether cocking his Winchester in a sweeping arc, walking, unbowed, out of the fiery desolation of a desert, or downing a last drink in a saloon, as three killers gauge how many will die trying to 'take him', Wayne never simply existed in his West...he commanded!

People forget that it wasn't easy for the Duke...He spent nearly a decade making 'cheapie' westerns at the most ridiculed studio in Hollywood, often cranking out a film a week, while trying to support a growing family...that after his mentor, the legendary John Ford, gave Duke his breakthrough role, as the Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach", he'd still have to honor a contract that tied him to more 'B' films, for several years...that even after he had become the box office 'King', critics would be hard-pressed to acknowledge his acting skills, despite powerhouse performances in films like "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", "Red River", and "The Quiet Man"...even his finest portrayal, as 'Ethan Edwards', in one of the greatest films ever made, John Ford's "The Searchers", would be ignored by the Academy would be over 40 years after his first 'official' screen appearance before he would receive an Oscar, in "True Grit"...and even then, some critics would call it a 'longevity' award, refusing to admit the Duke had talent.

These critics are quick to say that Wayne simply caricatured himself, in his later film roles...obviously never having seen "The Cowboys", one of the most shaded, mature, and powerful roles in his career...and it's always irked me that these same critics would overlook the fact that Cary Grant could be accused of the same thing!

Long after his film contemporaries were dead, retired, or relegated to supporting roles, John Wayne remained Hollywood's biggest box office draw, even after the cancer surgery that costed him one lung and part of the other. His enduring popularity brings up a point that is often overlooked...The 'Lone Star' cheapies of the thirties were, despite their myriad technical faults and the sarcasm heaped upon them, the film staple of many struggling families during the Depression, all the entertainment they could afford. These 'working class' audiences could identify with young Wayne, and soon were loyal fans, no matter how bad the films were (and some were pretty grim...the "Singing Sandys", for instance). While "Stagecoach" made the major Hollywood studios finally 'take notice' of the charismatic young star, and newspapers would trumpet him as an 'overnight sensation', Duke had been building a large, devoted following for nearly a decade...and their loyalty would carry on to their children, and grandchildren.

And for some reason, a very vocal, influential group of film critics would always hate him for it!

Yet Wayne took it all with poise, and grace...despite all the sarcasm and insults, I have never read a case where he attacked these critics as virulently as they insulted him. Because of his very conservative personal beliefs, he would make many more enemies during the House 'Blacklisting' of suspected Communists and their sympathizers in Hollywood, and as the leader of the right-wing faction of the film industry, he would forever be branded as a pariah among many of his co-workers; yet he respected talent, no matter the political persuasion, and, in fact, often attempted to hire actors at odds with him, for films he would produce (Katharine Hepburn for "Hondo", Spencer Tracy for "The High and the Mighty", and Humphrey Bogart for "Blood Alley")...whether one agreed with his politics or not, if he believed in a cause, his personal integrity would never allow him to 'kiss up' or tell lies just to be a part of a fashionable 'In' crowd...and he'd never forget the friends who stood beside him when times were tough...

His sincerity and dignity could be seen as he wept at finally winning his Oscar, and even as his body was failing him, in an unwillingness, despite his pain, to simply hide and feel sorry for himself...the man had courage, and class.

Wayne's politics, particularly during the Vietnam War, would make him an easy target of ridicule for many, both here and abroad. Yet wasn't he doing the very same thing that Michael Moore and George Clooney are being praised for, today? Taking a stand on issues, and using his filmmaking skills as a forum to promote his beliefs? Is "Speaking Out" only a sin if your agenda is Conservative?

Wayne was the product of turn-of-the-century America, of Teddy Roosevelt and Manifest Destiny, when new immigrants fought bigotry to make their mark, 'family' was more than just a label, but as important as one's faith, and America was universally believed to be a golden place of unlimited opportunity, if you just worked hard enough. It was a generation tempered by the Great Depression, but still fired by the idealism and patriotism inherited from their immigrant parents. Wayne felt blessed to be an American, and was very protective of his nation, as were many others of his generation, men like Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, and Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps his attitude about Vietnam was wrong, but it was completely sincere; he frequently visited our forces, there, often at risk to his own safety, he spoke to many experts who made a very convincing case of our importance in Southeast Asia, and he felt morally compelled to take a stand, creating "The Green Berets" as his platform. He knew his position would be unpopular (over 50% of Americans opposed the War, when the film was released), but, just as with Moore and Clooney, today, Wayne believed he was right, and felt honor-bound to speak out...particularly in light of the many protesters who burned the American Flag, an act he considered detestable, and a 'slap in the face' to the thousands of young soldiers putting their lives on the line, every day, serving their country.

Over the years, many Wayne detractors have taken great pleasure in pointing out that despite his 'Pro-Military' stance, and his many films portraying soldiers, sailors, and airmen, he never actually served in the Armed Forces. These critics would question his courage, and imply that his patriotism was only skin deep. This wasn't true; at the outbreak of WWII, he was 34, with a knee injury that had derailed his USC football scholarship (ending his aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and leading him to choose a career in the movie industry, where he had worked during his summer breaks from college), he had a chronic ear problem (which would plague him throughout his life), and he had four children to support, all reasons which would have kept him out of the service; in addition, his film career, which, after 11 years, was just beginning to bear fruit, was on fragile ground, as his home studio (Republic Pictures) threatened to 'pull the plug' on it if he enlisted (knowing, full well, that his value to them as a rising star would only increase, with most of the major studios' leading men in uniform). Later in the war, when he had more 'clout', he attempted to enlist in the Navy, to serve with John Ford, but all of the studios, and, in fact, even the government strongly urged him to reconsider, as his contribution in films to the war effort was considered vital for the morale of both homefront audiences and our troops. He was told, bluntly, that if he enlisted, he'd go in as a 'buck private', costing America one of it's greatest propaganda tools.

Reluctantly, he agreed to allow his enlistment paperwork to be removed, but made as much time to visit bases as he could, between films, until his death. While he always felt great sorrow in not having served, generations of American servicemen (myself included) have considered him one of our own, and have never held it against him...and the USMC handpicked Wayne to star in "Sands of Iwo Jima", the story of a crack Marine unit in one of WWII's bloodiest campaigns.

Throughout his fifty-year career, John Wayne constantly chose roles that would honor the bravery and sacrifice made by the American Soldier, and would, both on and off-camera, staunchly support and defend the Armed Forces!


Was John Wayne really as intractable and stern as critics loved to claim? What other star of Wayne's magnitude would have risked appearing in a bunny suit on "Rowan and Martin's 'Laugh-In'"? Taken pratfalls with the Queen of TV comedy, Lucille Ball, in two of her classic series? Traded quips, croaked tunes, and allowed himself to be 'roasted' on friend Dean Martin's popular variety show? Or acknowledged, wryly, America's changing political and social climate on a Bob Hope special?

Of course, Wayne's finest hour came when ultra-liberal Harvard's "Hasty Pudding Society" invited...well, dared him, be lampooned, in 1974. He not only accepted, but played it to the hilt, riding in the opening parade not in the traditional limo, but a atop an M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier, in true superpatriotic style...and he held his own far better than they had expected! At the subsequent press conference, one Harvard writer asked, "Is that hair real?", to which Wayne quipped, "It's's not mine, but it's real...". A feminist rose, and asked, pointedly, "What do you think of Women's Liberation?" Wayne replied, tongue in cheek, "I think Women's Lib is fine, as long as they're home by six to cook my dinner." The crowd roared in laughter, although the woman was furious! A Harvard student reporter, desperate to provoke Wayne, sarcastically asked him if he looked at himself as "An American Legend". Wayne replied, "Well, not being a Harvard man, I don't look at myself any more than necessary"...

Instead of the young 'intellectuals' succeeding in making the Duke look foolish, Wayne, with his natural charm and ever-present ability to laugh at himself and poke fun at his 'image', certainly carried the day!

In 1973, Wayne released a 'spoken' LP, describing, with orchestra and chorus, how he felt about America. While critics blasted the work as devisive (singling out selections about how hyphens can divide people, and his praising young Americans for their patriotism in serving in the Armed Forces), if you listen to the album, it is truly about brotherhood, of finding common ground, and honoring the flag we all live under. It is, honestly, a beautiful, heartfelt work, and by popular demand, the Wayne family has re-released it. If you'd like to purchase the album, on cd, simply click on the image, above!

As a caricature artist, Wayne has been a favorite subject for me to draw, over the years, both for clients and for fun...

...I've created a page to display my collection of 'Duke' drawings, as well as some of my favorite Duke artwork, in caricature and portrait, from Al Hirschfeld to Norman Rockwell...

To visit my John Wayne "Gallery", simply click HERE!

An actual John Wayne autograph is way, way out of my budget, but I've endeavored, over the years, to collect signed cards and pictures from many of his best-known co-stars, both by writing the actors, and, if not possible, by purchasing them...

I now have over a hundred autographs in my collection, and for a complete view of them, over two pages, click HERE!

Every John Wayne fan has a list of his favorite films, and as a frequent reviewer for and the Internet Movie Database, I'm often asked what films I consider Essesntial 'Wayne'. I've made up a list of 25 titles I think really shows Duke at his best (as well as a brief look at "The Conqueror", his infamous worst), and if you'd like to see my selections, just click HERE!

Summer, 2006, also marked the release of the best collection of John Wayne/John Ford films ever assembled! THE JOHN WAYNE-JOHN FORD FILM COLLECTION offers eight of the legendary pairings, in a ten-disc collection every Wayne fan should own. To read more about it, click HERE!

Finally, for every Wayne fan who loves to repeat a favorite Duke quote (I do, all the time!), I've compiled WAVS and MP-3 recordings of some of his more memorable 'sound bites', to download and enjoy!

Simply click HERE!

John Wayne's spirit is still a visible, vital part of our lives...Whether in the USPS Commemorative Stamp; in Orange County, California's John Wayne Airport; Sequim, Washington's John Wayne Marina; in the John Wayne Cancer Institute, in Santa Monica, California; at his birthplace, in Winterset, Iowa; at County Mayo, Ireland's John Wayne "Quiet Man" Museum; in the Congressional Gold Medal struck to honor his love of America; in the growing list of his films available on DVD; or in his fistprint and bootprints enshrined in the cement at Hollywood's Mann Chinese Theater...television networks frequently air "Duke Film Festivals", particularly during patriotic holidays; new in-depth articles and books are published regularly, world-wide; the Wayne family carries on the Duke's legacy, with an Official John Wayne Homepage (celebrating his 100th birthday) and a business site, Wayne Enterprises; and more and more fansites devoted to his life and career appear each year (to see some of the best Wayne sites, simply click on the Webring banners, below)...Whole new generations are discovering the hero I grew up on!

And as Duke, himself, might say, "That says it all, Pilgrim!"

Thanks for letting me share a little of my feelings about John Wayne, and, perhaps, giving you a bit more insight on why he is so special to me...

Heroes are never so numerous that we can afford to take them for granted. I believe that all of us who were privileged to share our lives while the Duke was with us were a lucky group, indeed...

The world is a sadder place, without him!

John Wayne's gravesite and headstone, at Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, California; the inscription reads: "Tomorrow is the most Important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."

What is your FAVORITE John Wayne Western?
Fort Apache
Red River
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Rio Grande
The Searchers
Rio Bravo
The Alamo
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Sons of Katie Elder
El Dorado
The War Wagon
True Grit
Big Jake
The Cowboys
The Shootist
Free polls from

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In 1977, the Electric Light Orchestra's "Out of the Blue", perhaps their finest album, debuted, and one song, "Wild West Hero", struck me as the perfect backround score for a 'Tribute' collage of John Wayne western film clips. Well, I never had an opportunity to make the film, but this site gives me the chance to FINALLY combine a great song with my favorite Westerner!

Thanks to Midi Music Downloads from Rangerrob for the fabulous ELO midi! (And if you ever get the chance, listen to the song; I swear, it was MADE to showcase Wayne!)


"WILD WEST HERO" by The Electric Light Orchestra

Wish I was, yeah, a wild west hero.

Sometimes I look up high and then I think there might
Just be a better life.
Away from all we know, that's where I wanna go,
Out on the wild side
and I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero.

Ride the range all the day till the first fading light,
Be with my western girl round the fire, oh, so bright.
I'd be the Indians friend, let them live to be free,
Ridin' into the sunset, I wish I could be.

I'd ride the desert sands and through the prairie lands,
Tryin' to do what's right.
The folks would come to me, they'd say, we need you here.
I'd stay there for the night.
Oh, I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero.

Ride the range all the day till the first fading light,
Be with my western girl round the fire, oh, so bright.
I'd be the Indians friend, let them live to be free,
Ridin' into the sunset, I wish I could be.

Oh, I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero
Oh, I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero
Oh, I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero
Oh, I wish I was, o-oo-o-oh, a wild west hero
Wish I was, o-o-oo-o-o-o-oo, a wild west hero.

Copyright (1977) the Electric Light Orchestra