In more than five decades, John Wayne has become one of the most iconic actors in American cinema. Detective films, genre films but especially westerns, the actor has played in nearly 200 feature films and remains, even more than 40 years after his death, which occurred on June 11, 1979, a monument of the 7th Art. But if he is very well known, John Wayne had a dark side in him. Especially when it comes to his identity. Because yes, the actor known in particular for his roles in Hundred dollars for a sheriff or Rio Grande has chosen a pseudonym to make a career. It is indeed under the name of Marion Michael Morrison that he was born. In their book John Wayne: My Life With the Duke, Pilar Wayne and Alex Thorleifson even explained that his parents first named him Robert Michael.

However, his mother, Mary Morrison, “suddenly changed her mind” and renamed him Marion Michael Morrison. The reason ? She thus hoped to acquire an inheritance from one of her wealthy relatives named Marion. But because of his first name, John Wayne was harassed. “Calling me Marion made me a target for all the bullies in town, the actor regretted. They called me ‘little girl’ – they asked why my mother dressed me in pants instead of skirts – did everything they could to make my life miserable.” When John Wayne became an actor, he first wanted to be called Duke Morrison, a “stunt name” according to him. But he eventually changed his mind.

John Wayne: “I will never be a movie personality”

“At the time, studios didn’t like ethnic names,” John Wayne biographer Scott Eyman told Yahoo! Winfield Sheehan, who ran Fox Studios, was a big fan of Mad Anthony Wayne, the general of the Revolutionary War. That’s where the ‘Wayne’ came from. And ‘John’ came up in conversations because it seemed to fit ‘Wayne’.” But in private, he has always been nicknamed The Duke. “The guy you see on the screen is not really me, he confided in 1957. I am Duke Morrison, and I have never been and will never be a cinema personality like John Wayne. I I know him well. I’m one of his closest students. I have to be him. I make a living from him.”

John Wayne: what was his real name?


Maria T.
Maria T.

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