John Wayne showed a softer center to many of his colleagues, which allowed him to develop deep connections with them – My Blog
Movie star John Wayne had a hug at his final public appearance at the 1979 Academy Awards that he said he wouldn’t miss for anything else in the world. He presented a tough exterior that became popular on the silver screen through his Western and war movie roles. However, Wayne showed a softer center to many of his colleagues, which allowed him to develop deep connections with them.
Wayne had conservative morals and values that he brought from his real life onto the silver screen. He represented a specific view of America, standing for more than a movie star. Hollywood initially turned its back on Wayne, believing that he could only play himself. However, his impact on moviegoing audiences and popular culture was undeniable.
The actor had a certain charm that many of his colleagues swooned for, even though they didn’t all agree with him politically. Additionally, Wayne also proved them wrong regarding his acting ability. He finally won an Oscar for his lead performance in True Grit, but other legendary roles in movies such as Red River and The Shootist also cemented him as a Hollywood legend.
Actor Sammy Davis Jr. gave Wayne a hug at the 1979 Academy Awards that would go down in the history books. The legendary Western star made his final public appearance there, which members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had the opportunity to experience.
Wayne was selected to announce the winner of the Best Picture category, which included The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Midnight Express, An Unmarried Woman, and Heaven Can Wait. The Deer Hunter took home the coveted category, although Wayne himself couldn’t stand the film.
According to Michael Munn’s book, John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, was noticeably frail due to his health falling into a rapid decline.
Wayne went to the press room after making the announcement, which is where the hug took place, but Davis Jr. initially thought he made a mistake.
Oscar-nominated Ava Garnder explained, “Sammy felt really bad because he’d given Duke a really tight hug, not knowing that Duke was in such terrible pain.” However, it was a hug that Wayne wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world from a dear old friend.
After the night Davis Jr. gave Wayne a hug, the Western actor didn’t live for much longer. He died only two months later from stomach cancer on June 11, 1979.
Wayne’s final performance on the silver screen was playing a dying gunfighter looking to maintain as much of his dignity in the process in The Shootist, which hit a little too close to home for some.
Hollywood and moviegoing audiences mourned the loss of one of its greatest stars. However, the actor earned one of the most prestigious awards he could have ever dreamed of – the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor any civilian could achieve.