John Wayne: A Life in Cinema
Hurt in a surfing injury, Wayne lost his football scholarship and took a job as grip at the Fox Film Corporation. Director Raoul Walsh admired the way Wayne moved and offered him a role in a Western. The rest is history as by 1939 Wayne starred in John Ford’s Stagecoach and became a first-magnitude star.

In large measure, John Wayne’s success stems from his purposeful choices of roles that portrayed him as heroic. Never mean, petty or cowardly, Wayne’s screen persona included lawmen, military men, and empire builders. Wayne understood cinema as a means of projecting an ideal or a core set of ideological values that would resonate with filmgoers. As he once said in an interview, he knew he was acting and never confused himself with the roles he played, “This Wayne thing was as deliberate a projection as you’ll ever see,” (Grenier 1996, 3). If Wayne was considered the most significant star of his time, it was because he portrayed the values and ideologies most associated with America, from democracy, justice, honor and freedom to might, frontier spirit, and victory.

Wayne’s personal values often coincided with a large number of Americans, particularly during the Eisenhower issue with its anti-communist leanings. Wayne personally was representative of a conservative Republican, opposed to big government and in favor of efforts like the Vietnam to control communist influence in other parts of the world. During the 1950s he was the president of the Motio

 
 
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