John Wayne Biography

Marion Mitchell Morrison or John Wayne was an American actor, director and producer. This biography of John Wayne profiles his childhood, life, acting career, achievements and timeline.

John Wayne
Quick Facts

Nick Name: Marion Michael Morrison; Duke; Duke Morrison

Birthday: May 26, 1907

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By John Wayne Actors

Died At Age: 72

Sun Sign: Gemini

Also Known As: Marion Mitchell Morrison

Born in: Winterset, Iowa, U.S

Famous as: Actor, Director, Producer

political ideology: Republican


Spouse/Ex-: Esperanza Baur (m.1946–54), Josephine Alicia Saenz (m.1933–45), Pilar Pallete (m.1954–1973)

father: Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937)

mother: Mary

children: Ethan Wayne, Marisa Wayne, Mary Antonia, Michael Wayne, Patrick Wayne

Died on: June 11, 1979

place of death: Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death: Cancer

U.S. State: Iowa

epitaphs: Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.

More Facts

education: Glendale High School, University of Southern California

Continue Reading Below

John Wayne was an American actor and director who went on to become one of the greatest stars in Hollywood in a career that lasted several decades. Wayne did not set out to be an actor but it was a set of circumstances that finally saw him starting off as an extra in movies and from then on he stayed in the industry to become one of the biggest stars who specialised in typical Westerns. Initially, John Wayne struggled a lot as he had to play bit part roles but it all changed when he appeared in the film ‘Stagecoach’ and over the years he appeared in such classic films as the ones comprising John Ford’s ‘Cavalry Trilogy’ and the 1956 film ‘The Searchers’ that is regarded by movie connoisseurs as his greatest performance. John Wayne also wore the director’s hat and during the Second World War acted in a number of films that were specially made to entertain the troops engaged in the war. Throughout his career, John Wayne left behind a body of work that will forever be treasured by film lovers and would be enjoyed by people across all ages.

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Continue Reading Below
John Wayne
Childhood & Early Life
  • Marion Robert Morrison, later renamed as John Wayne, was born to Clyde Leonard Morrison and Mary Alberta Brown on 26 May, 1907 in Winterset, Iowa. His father was a pharmacist while his grandfather Marion Mitchell Morrison was a veteran of the American Civil War.
  • The family moved around in his childhood and finally settled down in Glendale, California. John Wayne studied at the Wilson Middle School located in Glendale and was also involved with the Order of DeMolay, an off shoot of the Freemasons. Later on he went on to study at the Glendale High School and also played football for them.
  • He had always wanted to serve the US Navy but was rejected by the US Naval Academy so took up a sporting scholarship to the University of Southern California in 1925. However, an injury forced him out of sports altogether and he had to quit the university after his scholarship funds were pulled.
  • After leaving the University of South California, his coach at the university Howard Jones called in a favour and got him the job of an extra with the help of actor Tom Mix. Wayne acted in plenty of films as an extra and also as football playing extras.
    Continue Reading Below
Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

  • It was in 1930 that John Wayne graduated from roles of an extra to a lead actor when Raoul Walsh cast him in the big budget film ‘The Big Trial’ and that was when he was given the name that became famous all over the world. The film failed commercially and Wayne was again forced to act in bit part roles.
  • After a period of struggle in which he appeared in some minor roles in some films and television shows throughout the 1930s, John Wayne got his first big break in the films ‘Stagecoach’ released in 1939. Following the critical appreciation and commercial success of ‘Stagecoach’, John Wayne finally became a name to be reckoned with in Hollywood. The following year he appeared in ‘The Long Voyage Home’ that further cemented his place as an A-lister.
  • When the Second World War broke out John Wayne wanted to enlist in the war effort but he wasn’t selected and instead he spent those years touring several places in order to entertain American soldiers. Some of the films of that period include ‘Flying Tigers’, ‘Back to Bataan’ and ‘Flame of the Barbary Coast’ among others. Many of those films were specifically meant to portray the valour of soldiers.
  • It was in 1948 that John Wayne teamed up with John Ford for the first of his ‘Cavalry Trilogy’ with ‘Fort Apache’. It was followed by ‘She Wore A Yellow Ribbon’ the following year and ‘Rio Grande’ in the year after to complete the trilogy. The same year he also started working with Howard Hawk, who directed the film ‘Red River’ which is regarded as a classic of the Western genre.
  • The actor-director duo of John Wayne and John Ford collaborated in many films since most of their films were successes. In 1956, John Wayne acted in ‘The Searchers’, which is considered by many to be his best performance.
  • In 1960, John Wayne acted and directed the movie ‘Alamo’. After a few years later he appeared in war films ‘The Longest Day’ and ‘In Harm’s Way’, both of which turned out to be box office hits.
  • In 1969, John Wayne starred in the film ‘True Grit’ and his role of a US Marshall was widely appreciated that led to his only Academy Award win for Best Actor. 7 years later, John Wayne appeared in his last film in his illustrious career when he was cast in the film ‘The Shootist’.
    Continue Reading Below
Awards & Achievements
  • He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1969 film ‘True Grit’.
  • In 2006, Premier Magazine ran an opinion poll of the greatest roles ever played in Hollywood and John Wayne’s role of Ethan Edwards in ‘The Searchers’ was ranked 87th.
Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Personal Life & Legacy
  • John Wayne got married to Josephine Alicia Saenz in the year 1933 but the marriage ended in divorce 12 years later. They had 4 children - Michael, Mary Antonia, Patrick and Melinda.
  • Thereafter, he married Esperanza Baur, a Mexican actress in 1946 but the marriage wasn’t a happy one and often took a violent turn. They divorced 8 years into their marriage.
  • Wayne married Pilar Pallette, a Peruvian actress in 1954 but the couple separated 19 years after their marriage. They had 3 children - Aissa, John Ethan and Marisa.
  • John Wayne was a vocal supporter of the Republican Party and held deep rooted anti-communist views.
  • On 11 June, 1979 John Wayne died of stomach cancer.
Net Worth
  • John Wayne had an estimated net worth of $50 million.

1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

  (Western, Action, Drama)

2. The Quiet Man (1952)

  (Romance, Comedy, Drama)

3. The Searchers (1956)

  (Western, Adventure, Drama)

4. Rio Bravo (1959)

  (Drama, Action, Western)

5. The Longest Day (1962)

  (Drama, War, Action, History)

6. Stagecoach (1939)

  (Western, Adventure)

7. Brown of Harvard (1926)

  (Romance, Drama)

8. The Shootist (1976)

  (Western, Romance, Drama)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
1970 Best Actor in a Leading Role True Grit (1969)
Golden Globe Awards
1970 Best Actor - Drama True Grit (1969)
1953 World Film Favorite - Male Winner
People's Choice Awards
1978 Favorite Motion Picture Actor Winner
1977 Favorite Motion Picture Actor Winner
1976 Favorite Motion Picture Actor Winner
1975 Favorite Motion Picture Actor Winner

See the events in life of John Wayne in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- John Wayne Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- July 24, 2017

People Also Viewed

Pilar Pallete
Patrick Wayne
Brie Larson
Robert Downey Jr.

Jason Momoa
Joe Jonas
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lopez