John Wayne is part of Newport Beach's history, and now, its geography.
City officials past and present dedicated a renamed park Friday in honor of the late film legend and Newport resident. The former Ensign View Park at Cliff Drive and El Modena Avenue is now John Wayne Park.
Evelyn Hart was mayor in 1979 when Wayne died of cancer. Around that time, the city looked into commissioning a Wayne statue, but it didn't happen. She spoke Friday of her daughter's friendship with Aissa Wayne, one of the actor's daughters, and the time her mother-in-law fitted John Wayne for a sweater to be knitted by his wife, Pilar.
Wayne lived in Newport Beach from the 1960s until his death. Friday would have been his 110th birthday. Newport started celebrating May 26 as John Wayne Day last year. And last month, after some debate about procedure, the City Council approved the name change for the park.