John Wayne: An American icon

Published 6:29 AM ET, Thu May 26, 2016
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John Wayne holds a rifle in this publicity photo taken for the 1941 movie "The Shepherd of the Hills." The iconic actor, who starred in many popular Westerns and won an Academy Award for his role in "True Grit," was born on this day in 1907. Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne, left, sits with his younger brother Robert in this photo circa 1915. Wayne was born as Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, but he preferred to go by his nickname "Duke" -- which was started by firefighters who always saw him with his Airedale dog of the same name. He would later take the name John Wayne for his acting career. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Before his acting career, Wayne attended the University of Southern California and played offensive lineman on the football team. USC/Collegiate Images/Getty Images
Wayne talks to a Native American on the set of the 1930 movie "The Big Trail." It was Wayne's first starring role. Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne spends time with his new wife, Josephine, at an exclusive swimming club in Santa Monica, California, in 1933. Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne rides a horse in 1935. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
Wayne and other actors from Universal Studios visit a winter resort in Big Pines, California, in 1937. From left are Michael Fitzmaurice, Barbara Read, Wayne, Fay Cotton and Emily Lane. Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne, center, appears on the set of the 1939 film "Stagecoach" with George Bancroft and Louise Platt. Wayne's "portrayals of men of duty, honor and courage, coupled with his own off-camera brand of personal true grit, endeared him to nearly three generations of Americans," wrote Robert Kistler of the Los Angeles Times. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Wayne reads a comic with his four children in 1942. Wayne's children, from left, are Patrick, Melinda, Toni and Michael. He would father three more children in a later marriage. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Wayne, right, acts out a fight scene for the 1948 film "Red River." "Mr. Wayne seemed the embodiment of those qualities of spirit and character that Americans aspired to and admired," wrote Martin Weil of the Washington Post. "They were the frontier virtues, as America knew them or believed them to be: energy, rugged honesty, self-reliance and a willingness -- above all, perhaps -- to fight for what he believed in." Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne smokes on the set of "The Alamo" in 1959. Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos
"The Alamo" was Wayne's first as a director. He also starred in the film as Davy Crockett. Dennis STOCK/MAGNUM PHOTOS
Wayne holds his daughter Aissa on the set of "The Alamo." Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne spanks actress Maureen O'Hara, playing his wife Katherine, in the 1963 Western-comedy "McLintock!" "Some captious critics complained over the years that Mr. Wayne did not act, that he only played himself," Weil wrote in the Washington Post. "It scarcely mattered. The public liked the roles he played on the screen and they liked Mr. Wayne off the screen, seeing the film character and the public figure as one and the same -- gruff, good-humored, plainspoken and admirable." Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne takes cover during an action scene in the 1968 film "The Green Berets." John Springer Collection/Corbis/Getty Images
Wayne laughs on stage with singer Dean Martin, center, and host Andy Williams during the Golden Globe Awards in 1967. Frank Carroll/NBC/Getty Images
Wayne stands next to actress Barbra Streisand after winning the best actor Oscar in 1969. He won the award for his role as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit." "Ladies and gentleman, I'm no stranger to this podium," he said in his acceptance speech. "I've come up here and picked up these beautiful golden men before, but always for friends. ... I feel very grateful, very humble." STAFF/AFP/Getty Images
Wayne performs with comedian Bob Hope for one of Hope's TV specials in 1971. Bettmann/Getty Images
Wayne aims a gun during a scene from "The Shootist" in 1976. It was his last film. He was 72 years old when he died from stomach cancer in 1979. "In terms of longevity and popular appeal, both in the United States and elsewhere, there simply never was an actor like him," Kistler wrote then in the Los Angeles Times. Hulton Archive/Getty Images