A reporter spoke to the legendary actor as he grieved over the lack of three shut mates..(INTERVIEW FROM 1962 J.W.)
That is an abridged model of an article that appeared within the within the October 27, 1962, situation of The Saturday Night Submit.
This text and different options concerning the stars of Tinseltown will be discovered within the Submit’s Particular Collector’s Version, The Golden Age of Hollywood.
John (Duke) Wayne had simply come again from his annual checkup on the Scripps Clinic in Southern California. Contemplating his age and, as he put it, “the pounding you need to take on this enterprise,” the world’s number-one box-office film star was in satisfactory form.
The eyes that when glared hate for a film critic who wrote of his footage, “It by no means Waynes but it surely bores,” nonetheless had the chilly blue glint by way of their slitted lids. The face that has stonily ignored extra enemy six weapons than Wyatt Earp was red-blotched from the solar. Though the as soon as good-looking head of hair has receded thus far that Wayne now should use a partial toupee on-screen, his deeply furrowed forehead, endlessly linked with bloody wars, fires, floods, fist fights, doomed planes and numerous different celluloid crises, nonetheless prompt unflinching pluck.
As he talked, ceaselessly cussing and utilizing the identical grim drawl that has cowed badmen from Fort Dodge to Tombstone, he compulsively lighted one cigarette after one other. “So possibly it’s six months off the tip of my life,” he stated, opening the day’s fifth pack, “however they’re not going to kill me.”
Though he will not be nervous about his well being, his twilight years — he’s 55 now — are turning up different hazards. At an age when most big-money actors, bored with the grind, are managing motels and oil wells purchased for them by farsighted managers, John Wayne remains to be tenaciously enjoying heroic leads in motion footage as a result of he desperately wants the cash.
Such singleness of objective, whereas limiting inventive achievement and ruling out such honors as Academy Awards for performing, has given Wayne a type of immortality. He has been paid as a lot as $666,000 an image, and his 161 movies have grossed about $350,000,000, a document that Hollywood historians count on to face forever. “Most movies are cash within the financial institution,” one affiliate says, “whenever you’ve acquired good ol’ Duke in there banging away.”
But when Duke does properly for others, he has hassle doing properly for himself. The current deaths of three shut mates have sapped him, and regardless of the small fortune he has made, Wayne in the present day is simply barely breaking even. His misery extends to the world at giant, which he considers to be run by a band of fuzzy minds who in all probability would have sneaked out a again archway on the Alamo.
Presumably to dispel the gloom introduced on by these ideas, Wayne absorbs a formidable quantity of alcohol with out getting drunk. In each offended second he dangers a flare — up from the ulcers that plagued him in earlier days, and he’s so delicate concerning the printed phrase that he now insists — although it didn’t apply to this text—on approving each line written about him earlier than granting an interview.
A Tough Popularity
One time, Frank Sinatra had employed screenwriter Albert Maltz, one of many “unfriendly 10,” who served jail sentences for contempt of the J. Parnell Thomas Home Un-American Actions Committee, and reporters known as Wayne for an opinion. Wayne snapped, “I don’t suppose my opinion is just too necessary. Why don’t you ask Sinatra’s crony, who’s going to run our nation for the following few years, what he thinks of it?”
Wayne’s dig at President Kennedy appeared in print and generated a lot warmth that Sinatra was compelled to fireside Maltz. Shortly afterward at a Hollywood profit present, Sinatra stalked off the stage when Wayne got here as much as the microphone.
“Frankie,” Wayne stated to Sinatra later, “What the hell did you stroll away from me
“Nicely, you cried,” Sinatra stated. “You blasted off your mouth.”
“You imply the Maltz factor?”
“Sure,” Sinatra replied.
“You wish to speak about it?” Wayne requested him in reply.
“Another time,” stated Sinatra. “Duke, we’re mates, and we’ll in all probability do footage collectively. Let’s neglect the entire thing.”
That is typical of Wayne. Though he sits on the far proper, he has many mates amongst Hollywood liberals. When Robert Ryan’s spouse and kids obtained a bomb menace final yr, as a result of Ryan had learn a part of Robert Welsh’s John Birch Society “Blue Guide” on a Los Angeles radio station, Ryan and Wayne have been in France, engaged on the Longest Day. Wayne was the primary to supply assist. He wished to hurry residence and assist Ryan discover the would-be bombers and beat them to a pulp.
Lately, Wayne has certainly had many issues on his thoughts, most of them calculated to carry on insomnia. Though he shouldn’t have to fret about being overdrawn on the financial institution, Wayne claims his tens of millions have mysteriously slipped away within the night time.
“I abruptly came upon after 25 years,” he stated sadly, “that I used to be beginning out yet again. I simply didn’t have it made in any respect. Till final yr I had a enterprise supervisor who didn’t do something unlawful, however we have been concerned in lots of unlucky money-losing offers. I might nearly break even when I bought every thing proper now.”
Wayne says he invested $1,200,000 of his personal cash — all of the money he might scrape up — in producing the ill-fated Alamo. Mates, together with Texas millionaire Clint Murchison, additionally invested large sums of cash. Wayne is assured they gained’t wind up losers, however the image should gross $18,000,000 earlier than there’s a revenue, and Wayne’s possibilities of getting all his a refund are about the identical as falling an inside straight.
Regardless of all of it, Wayne continues to dwell properly. His house is a five-acre property in Encino, the place the new San Fernando Valley solar warms an Olympic-size swimming pool and huge reaches of inexperienced grass. An electrical eye controls the gate into the lengthy, curving driveway to the large ranch-style home. Inside, Wayne and his third spouse, former Peruvian actress Pilar Palette, are waited on by three servants, additionally from Peru.
To maintain up all of the funds, Wayne works in image after image. Not too long ago he has been making them at a fee of three a yr. Up to now 12 months he has appeared in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Hatari, and The Longest Day. He has simply completed Donovan’s Reef for Paramount, and he’ll make three extra footage in 1963. He has additionally joined the forged of The Biggest Story Ever Advised.
Wayne’s frenetic filmmaking might ultimately remedy his cash ills, however his deeper woes defy treatment. Gone are three of his closest mates: actor Grant Withers, who dedicated suicide; actor Ward Bond, who dropped lifeless of a coronary heart assault in 1960 on the peak of his TV fame in Wagon Prepare; and Bev Barnett, Wayne’s longtime press agent. “Oh, God,” Wayne stated of Barnett’s loss of life, “that’s a tricky one.”
The deaths of those shut mates, the close to loss of life of his 74-year-old mom, Mrs. Sydney Preen of Lengthy Seaside, in an auto accident, and two wrenching divorces have drained among the violence out of Wayne. Within the early days of his profession Wayne’s muscular determine (six toes 4, 220 kilos) was a problem to of us who thought they may lick him. “I came upon as soon as,” he says, “that among the hardest males I knew, once they actually get mad, have slightly smile and a glance they usually’re speaking low. That is the best way I get mad. Nevertheless it occurs very seldom anymore. I actually like folks. Until folks exit of their option to insult me, they’re going to have a tough time having any hassle with me. My final road struggle was with a few boilermakers, however that was years in the past.”
Some topics nonetheless set off a flare-up. One is politics. Tv is one other. “Tv,” Wayne says, “tends to achieve slightly. Of their westerns they’re getting away from the truth that these males have been combating the weather and the rawness of nature, and didn’t have time for this sofa work. For me, fundamental artwork and ease are most necessary. Love. Hate. All the things proper on the market with out a lot nuance.”