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John Wayne: A Life in Cinema

During the 1950s he was the president of the Motion Picture Alliance and teamed up with the president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan to vehemently fight communist influence in Hollywood. Ronald Reagan once made a pilgrimage to Wayne’s birthplace and would often inform White House visitors that Wayne “understood what the American spirit was all about,” (Grenier 1996, 85).

Wayne was quintessentially American, America personified in the roles he played on screen. Even though Wayne was diametrically opposed to the ideology of the Hollywood Left-liberals, even Jimmy Carter admitted Wayne was one of his idols. Despite the numerous differences on issues between the two, when speaking at his funeral Carter maintained, “Wayne reflected the best of our national character. In an age of few heroes, he was the genuine article,” (Grenier 1996, 84). One of the reasons for such popularity was Wayne’s ability to understand the societal values of a majority of Americans. He was adamantly opposed to anything that he considered un-American. Wayne supported and admired politicians like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Spiro Agnew, and Douglas McArthur, believing communism was ultimately a threat to American values. He was gregarious and democratically sociable more than most movie stars of his stature, often spending time on location drinking a beer with local blue-collar workers. When he saw High Noon, Wayne could not believe Americans would write such a screenplay. As he maintained, “Four guys come into town to gun down the sheriff. The sheriff is refused help everywhere so [Gary] Cooper goes out alone. It’s the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life! The last thing in the picture is ole Coop putting the U.S. Marshall’s badge under his foot and stepping on it! I’ll never regret having helped Foreman [the screenwriter] out of this country,” (Grenier 1996, 87).

Wayne often received a gr...

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John Wayne: A Life in Cinema. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 00:01, August 20, 2017, from
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