His nickname was “The Duke,” but do you know how he got that nickname? I’ll tell you in a minute. Many people who never met the man do not like him because of his politics.
The people who were politically opposite AND worked with him said he was one of the nicest and most genteel men they ever met.
When Mel Brooks was casting the movie “Blazing Saddles” the first star he wanted was John Wayne. But The Duke turned him down. He told Mel he couldn’t be in a movie that used bad language – but he’d buy the first ticket to see it.
John Wayne was like that. He knew that people looked up to him, specially young boys, and he was worried about setting a good example on screen and off. That sort of thing has “gone out of fashion” now and it is too bad.
One of my favorite John Wayne lines comes from “The Cowboys.”
He’s riding past the battlefield of the Little Bighorn and this kid asks him what’s that. When The Duke answers the kid complains they didn’t even dig them a descent grave.
“Well – it’s not how they bury you, it’s how they remember you.”
And so 37 years (and one day) after his death I’d like to say thank you Mr. Wayne for showing me that good does eventually triumph over evil, for teaching me that everyone deserves respect and that honor, integrity, and courage do matter.
And thank you from me and all the other men and women who have great memories of watching you at the drive-in movies in our PJ’s when we were kids. Or climbing up on daddy’s lap for a Sunday afternoon TV movie with John Wayne.
Thank you, those were great memories we had with our parents and we treasure them.
You sir are well remembered.
Oh yeah, how did The Duke get his nickname. Well when he was a little boy (about the age I was when I saw my first John Wayne movie) he had a dog. John & his dog used to go down to the fire department quite regularly. The dog was named Duke, and being a big dog the firemen called him “Big Duke” and little Marion Morrison (John Wayne) “Little Duke.”
Eventually the dog died and the firemen dropped the “Little” but the nickname Duke stuck.