Forty years John Wayne worked tirelessly and left an indelible mark on the American psyche
Marion Morrison began his career in Hollywood as a prop man, helping to move furniture, stage sets, and equipment around for filmmakers. With a physique built for football, it was not long before he was asked to serve as an extra occasionally. Fittingly, one of his first roles was as a football player in the 1926 film Brown of Harvard and again the following year in Drop Kick. Soon, the great director, John Ford, noticed him and began casting him in bit parts in his films, kindling a lifelong friendship between the two men
A Star is Born
While The Big Trail was a commercial flop, it marked a turning point in the career of a young John Wayne. He spent the better part of the next decade acting in more minor roles – largely Westerns – and used the time to develop his signature acting style. Wayne worked closely with real-life cowboys and Hollywood stuntmen, developing skills that would make him appear more authentic. He performed many of his own stunts and found his signature walk for which he would become famous. Wayne was launched to stardom in 1939 when John Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid in the classic film, Stagecoach.
Over the next forty years, Wayne worked tirelessly and left an indelible mark on the American psyche. Through his many roles in Western and War films he embodied American self-determination and strength of character. He showed his commitment to our Armed Forces by relentlessly performing for troops through the USO. Touring the world and churning out hit films, he still managed to start a family and raise four children: Michael, Toni, Patrick, and Melinda.
As he began to mature in age and style, so did the films and roles he created. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he expanded his range to include romantic comedies and historical dramas. Ultimately, Wayne earned three Academy Award nominations, winning the award for best actor in 1969 for his performance as Rooster Cogburn in the classic film, True Grit.
John Wayne the Freemason
Duke was drawn to fraternal organizations throughout his life. Growing up, he was a member of the Glendale DeMolay chapter and belonged to the Trojan Knights and Sigma Chi fraternities at the University of Southern California. Later in life, he followed in the footsteps of his father and became a Freemason in 1970. He would come to relish the time he spent among his Brothers, remarking
that he felt at home in the lodge as if his fame melted away. John Wayne’s Masonic lodge was Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56 in Tucson, Arizona.