John Wayne’s brutal quip at Dean Martin comparing him to a worn saddle
Nicknamed The Duke, Wayne is one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, and thanks to his turn in the 1969 flick True Grit, became an Oscar winner, collecting the Best Actor gong.
He and Martin starred in one of the pair’s most cherished films, 1959’s Rio Bravo, which helped cement their status among the industry’s elite.
They followed this up with the 1965 western The Sons of Katie Elder, playing two brothers in the flick. And after these two films, the pair became close, and it led to Wayne once roasting Martin in a speech.
In an unearthed clip on YouTube, Wayne made a series of jokes about Martin’s appearance, tearing into how different they were as actors, and stars.
Addressing Martin as “old timer,” the star said as he looked at his friend: “Wait a minute, what happened? You must have crammed in a lot of living since our last picture. I got a 60-year-old saddle that looks better than you do.”
He described Martin as making “a lot of musical junk” in his films, that led to him “kissing girls, guys leaping all over, singing and dancing, fancy costumes, you know that red silk handkerchief”.
This led Wayne to recalling their time together on the set of Rio Bravo, where Martin turned up on set in “an authentic cowboy outfit”. However he “had that red silk handkerchief hanging out his holster”, Wayne continued.
He said: “I pointed out to him that his pretty jingling silver spurs sounded musical, but that he had them on backward. Incidentally, partner, that … motel says you still owe them $200 (£162) in ripped sheets.
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“And the cocktail waitress figures that $9 (£7.28) oughta about do for the pantyhose.”
Yet, he also reflected on their friendship, admitting that he would “be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I love” Martin, adding: ” been my friend for the best years of my life. He’s done for me what he’s done for millions of people all over the world because, like so many of you, I feel good every time I see him. I’m entertained by him, I laugh with him, as well as at him.”
Other stars Wayne enjoyed a close friendship with included Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, who once revealed how the Duke ripped apart one of the films he had recently finished shooting.
It was the 1956 film Lust for Life, which saw Douglas portray the revered Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Though a fan of Douglas, Wayne despised the film.
John Wayne: Dean Martin collects an award (Image: GETTY)
According to Douglas, who outlined Wayne’s reaction during a conversation with James Bawden and Ron Miller on their Conversations with Classic Film Stars show, Wayne made his opinion clear.
After showing Wayne the film, he reportedly asked Douglas out onto the veranda and then “berated” his friend. Douglas said: “He said, ‘How the hell could you play a goddamn character like that?’
“And I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m an actor. He’s a fascinating character.’
“And Wayne said, ‘No, no. We should never play those kinds of weak, snivelling characters. I don’t ever want to see you in a part like that again! They have no dignity!’”