The Longest Day: How John Wayne ‘punished’ WW2 epic’s producer for publicly insulting him
The Longest Day producer Darryl F Zanuck had managed to negotiate $25,000 fees from his ensemble cast for what was mostly cameos. However, Wayne demanded $250,000 or he’d refused to appear in the movie – a request that was granted.
The reason Duke “punished” the producer with this action was because he’d been quoting in an interview calling the Western legend “poor John Wayne” over 1960’s The Alamo.
That blockbuster was produced, directed and largely funded by the star himself. And Zanuck had said he didn’t think much of actors forming their own production companies, citing Wayne’s as an example. Not only was Wayne’s non-negotiable fee request on The Longest Day an act of revenge, but also was a way of him getting a quick payday after all the money he spent on The Alamo.
Aside from being three decades too old for his role in the World War 2 blockbuster, Duke’s contract also included a clause that made his casting even more controversial.
John Wayne didn’t serve in World War II, something he would regret for the rest of his life (Image: GETTY)
Alongside his whopping $250,000 fee, Wayne insisted on getting separate billing on The Longest Day from the other actors. However, to his dismay, this was got around by having the other stars billed first followed by “and John Wayne”, meaning that Duke’s name appeared last on the credits.
Even so, it was highly controversial even then as the Hollywood star did not serve in World War II, something he tried to redeem across his career by acting in very patriotic movies.