John Wayne was a Hollywood icon who appeared in over 170 films and won an Academy Award for his role in “True Grit.” However, his personal life has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.
One of the most significant criticisms of John Wayne was his views on race and politics. Wayne was a staunch conservative who expressed support for the controversial Senator Joseph McCarthy and was a vocal opponent of the Civil Rights Movement. He once stated in an interview, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”
Furthermore, Wayne’s portrayal of Native Americans in his films has been heavily criticized for perpetuating harmful stereotypes and promoting racism. He frequently played characters who were violent towards Native Americans and was known for his portrayal of cowboys who “tamed the West” through force.
Wayne’s personal life also had its share of controversy. He was married three times and had numerous affairs throughout his life. In his later years, Wayne suffered from lung cancer, which he attributed to his heavy smoking habits. Despite this, he continued to smoke until his death in 1979.
In 2019, there was renewed criticism of John Wayne when an interview he gave in 1971 resurfaced. In the interview, Wayne made derogatory comments about Black people, Native Americans, and the LGBTQ+ community, sparking calls for his name to be removed from an Orange County airport named after him.
Despite the criticisms surrounding John Wayne, he remains a beloved figure in American cinema and is remembered for his iconic roles in films such as “The Searchers” and “Stagecoach.” However, his legacy is complicated by the controversies surrounding his life and views.
John Wayne was married three times in his life. His first marriage was to Josephine Alicia Saenz, with whom he had four children. They divorced in 1945. In 1946, he married Esperanza Baur, a Mexican actress, but the marriage ended in 1954 due to her controlling and violent behavior. His last marriage was to Pilar Pallete in 1954, and they remained together until his death in 1979. They had three children together.
Wayne was also known for his conservative political views and was a vocal supporter of the anticommunist movement in Hollywood during the 1950s. He was a member of the conservative group, the John Birch Society, and even produced and starred in the pro-Vietnam War film, “The Green Berets,” in 1968.
Despite his successes in Hollywood, Wayne had his share of personal struggles. He was a heavy smoker and drinker and had a reputation for being difficult to work with on set. He was also rumored to have had multiple affairs during his marriages, including one with Marlene Dietrich.
In his later years, Wayne faced health problems, including lung cancer, which ultimately led to his death on June 11, 1979, at the age of 72. Despite his flaws, he remains an icon in Hollywood and is remembered for his contributions to the film industry.