John Wayne’s struck down by child from war-torn Poland after being ‘cruel’ to animal
The film was one of many roles that Wayne undertook in which he played a military man, though the star himself would snub going to take on Nazi Germany in the Forties.
The reason behind this is unclear, with different suggestions being made across the years, including by Marc Eliot, the author behind 2014 book American Titan: Searching for John Wayne.
He claimed that Wayne’s real reason for not enlisting was as a result of his relationship with German-born star Marlene Dietrich.
The possibility of their relationship breaking down as a result of his inclusion in the US military was why the snub occurred, the author claimed.
While it’s not clear exactly why Wayne did not enlist, instead staying back in Hollywood to work on films such as Stagecoach, the star reflected on his first realisation about war, and why harming others was not the way forward.
John Wayne: The Life and Legend, the 2014 book by Scott Eyman, suggests that while the Oscar winner was younger, he had an unforgettable encounter with a Polish boy, who taught him about violence.
Eyman wrote: “Duke Morrison [Wayne]’s learning experiences were not always pleasant, but deeply imprinted on his ethical compass.
“He remembered catching a bee, and tying a thread around the creature so all it could do was fly in circles.
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“A boy who was about three years older and had recently arrived from Poland walked by and said, ‘Don’t do that.’
“Morrison ignored him and kept tormenting the bee, at which point, he remembered, ‘The roof fell in.’”
He added: “[Wayne] found himself lying on the ground with the Polish boy standing over him. With a heavy accent, the boy said, ‘I’ve just come from a war, from Poland. Don’t ever be cruel to animals. Or people.’
“‘It was quite a lesson,’ Duke said. ‘I’ll never forget it.’”
Throughout Wayne’s career it was well documented that he was booed by military men and women as a result of his decision during World War Two.
This was captured in Garry Wills’ 1998 book, John Wayne’s America: the Politics of Celebrity, which claimed he was jeered when walking on USO stages in Australia and the Pacific Islands.
The audiences, Wills claimed, were full of combat veterans, and as Wayne wasn’t one of them, he was ridiculed.
Reports suggest Wayne, who would claim an Oscar for True Grit, fell in love with Dietrich, who was up for the challenge of being with a married man, during World War Two.
Eliot noted in 2014: “When she came into Wayne’s life, she juicily sucked every last drop of resistance, loyalty, morality, and guilt out of him, and gave him a sexual and moral cleansing as efficiently done as if she were draining an infected sore.”
He added: “He had never before had a real whiff of the kind of feral sexuality Dietrich exuded.
“He was crazy for Dietrich from the first time she led him to her bed. He stayed there, at her beck and call, for the next three years and didn’t appear to care who knew it.
“She was the bad girl he’d never had, the forbidden fruit he’d never tasted.
“Dietrich made him not just like sex with her but crave it.”
To make matters worse for Wayne, other legendary actors of the time made it clear they wished to serve their country, including Wayne’s rival Clark Gable, who joined the Army Air Forces.