John Wayne -

Born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979

A top box office draws for three decades, John Wayne was an American actor, director and producer and was named the all-time top money-making star.  An American Icon - he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.

He was the son of pharmacist Clyde Morrison and his wife Mary. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Winterset,  Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California.  The family tried ranching in the Mojave Desert but the ranch failed,  they moved to Los Angeles when he was 4 years old.  Marion and his younger brother Robert E. Morrison swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. When the ranch failed, the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne. He started as a $35-a-week.

His acting breakthrough came in 1939 with John Ford's Stagecoach, making him an instant star. Wayne would go on to star in 142 pictures,  Wayne played many types of roles, including comedy and romantic lead to many of Hollywood's most beautiful women. But the characterization that would ultimately immortalize him was that of a man doing his duty — whether in military uniform, civvies or dust-encrusted western wear.

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