'Marion' learned to ride at the family ranch in Arizona at the age of 7. His family was always on the edge of poverty, his Dad could not get the hang of manageing money. after that the family moved to Glendale California. His Mom and Dad divorced after 20 years of strife in their marriage.
Marion had an Airdale Setter named Duke. Duke was always with Marion so the locals named Marion, 'Big Duke'. big Duke was pretty popular and was the football star as well as the class president at Glendale High. He was pretty smart to boot. Duke applied for an appointment at The Naval Academy but got rejected. A scholarship for football at USC helped him get over the rejection. In his Sophomore year he suffered an injured shoulder doing something that probably would have made a good vid for Google. That little discretion cost him his 'Trojan' football scholorship at USC.
"It is interesting how something that seems devastating to a person in his life can turn out to be a great opportunity". (Blogengeezer's Words of Wisdom to my youngest Son)
Duke had to now find real work. Tom Mix apparently liked him enough from his little odd jobs around the film lot where he hung out, to get him a job as a Prop Boy. It did not take the film industry long to recognise, tall good looking 'Marion'. Duke? He liked that better than Marion for obvious reasons, even though it probably taught him how to fight. Remember Johnny Cash's song, 'A Boy Named Sue'?
The name John Wayne was bestowed on him 'after' he was in a few low budget films. The film 'Stagecoach' in 1939 brought him to Stardom where he remained for over 25 years. John Ford probably did more to promaote John Wayne than any one.
'John' was always going against the flow in 'Hollyweird'. He was, of all things, a Conservative while H..W went Communist.
Controversy surrounded him for not enlisting in WWII like a lot of other Stars did. In spite of all of this he remained Patriotic to the core. In around 1949 John played a sort of good guy/bad guy, in Red River. The film industry switched from the Superhero Stars to the more real life type, that are a reflection of society at large. Today that is the agenda, rather than the older 'idealistic' view. Personally I liked the older 'Role Model' type Stars.
John did not like scripts that portrayed the Hero as a misfit in society. He turned down those rolls after He became a Star. It cost him awards at times when the film was a hit. In the Movie, 'The Shootist' John refused to shoot a guy in the back, like the book portrayed. John was like that. At one of the latest acadamy awards ceremonies in his life, John stood at the podium and said "I'm John Wayne and I work with my clothes on". He also dealt 'harshly' with an intruder in his home. I'll bet the guy never forgot 'that old man' open'in a well deserved can of 'Whupass' on him.
Rodeo Rider, 'Yakima Canutt', worked with John for many years as his stunt partner and horseback riding mentor. When the 'crawling under the wagon tongue' scenes between the galloping, 6 horse hitch, was deemed too dangerous, and for the studio to lose John, Yakima did the crawling and jumping. The realistic fight scenes were a direct result of John and Yakima practising untill it was real, from a viewers perspective. It still is done that way today, computer enhanced of course.
Duke was married three times, always to a spanish speaking woman. Patrick Wayne and Alisa Wayne, followed in Dad's footsteps when the film industry came up as an option in their lives. John smoked five packs of cigs a day. that is untill He had a lung removed in about 1969. Cigars followed, Stomach Cancer finally whipped the 'Duke' in 1979. Happy 100th 'Duke'