"The Greatest Cowboy Star of All Time" was the caption to a series of comic books dedicated to him. The "John Wayne Adventure Comics" were first published in 1949.
Michael Caine recalled in his 1992 autobiography "What's It All About?" that Wayne gave him two pieces of advice when they first met in Hollywood early in 1967. Firstly, on acting, Wayne told him, "Talk low, talk slow, and don't talk too much." Then Wayne added, "And never wear suede shoes. One time I was taking a piss when a guy next to me turned round and said, 'John Wayne!', and pissed all over my shoes.".
Lauren Bacall once recalled that while Wayne hardly knew her husband Humphrey Bogart at all, he was the first to send flowers and good wishes after Bogart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January 1956.
Robert Aldrich, then president of the Directors Guild of America, stated in support of awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Wayne in 1979: "It is important for you to know that I am a registered Democrat and, to my knowledge, share none of the political views espoused by Duke. However, whether he is ill- disposed or healthy, John Wayne is far beyond the normal political sharp-shooting in this community. Because of his courage, his dignity, his integrity, and because of his talents as an actor, his strength as a leader, his warmth as a human being throughout his illustrious career, he is entitled to a unique spot in our hearts and minds. In this industry, we often judge people, sometimes unfairly, by asking whether they have paid their dues. John Wayne has paid his dues over and over, and I'm proud to consider him a friend, and am very much in favor of my Government recognizing in some important fashion the contribution that Mr. Wayne has made.".
Barry Goldwater visited the set of Stagecoach (1939) during filming. They had a long friendship and in 1964 Wayne helped in Goldwater's presidential campaign.
Maureen O'Hara presented him with the People's Choice Award for most popular motion picture actor in 1976.
Pilar Wayne wrote in her book "My Life with The Duke": "Duke always said family came first, career second, and his interest in politics third. In fact, although he loved the children and me, there were times when we couldn't compete with his career or his devotion to the Republican Party.".
The Shootist (1976) is widely considered the best final film by any major star, rivaled only by Clark Gable's role in The Misfits (1961) and Henry Fonda's role in On Golden Pond (1981).
Aa a young man, Ethan Wayne was never allowed to leave the house without carrying cards that his father had autographed to hand out to fans.
According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows" (8th Edition, pg. 495), Wayne was the first choice to play Marshal Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke" (1955), but declined because he did not want to commit to a weekly TV series. He did, however, recommend his friend James Arness for the role, and gave the on-camera introduction in the pilot episode.
According to Mel Brooks in his commentary of Blazing Saddles (1974), he wanted Wayne as The Waco Kid. Wayne told Brooks that he thought the script was "funny as hell", but turned it down because he feared the role would have been detrimental to his persona.
According to Michael Munn's "John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth", in 1959, Wayne was personally told by Nikita Khrushchev, when the Soviet Premier was visiting the United States on a goodwill tour, that Joseph Stalin and China's Zedong Mao had each ordered Wayne to be killed. Both dictators had considered Wayne to be a leading icon of American democracy, and thus a symbol of resistance to Communism through his active support for blacklisting in Hollywood, and they believed his death would be a major morale blow to the United States. Khrushchev told Wayne he had rescinded Stalin's order upon his predecessor's demise in March 1953, but Mao supposedly continued to demand Wayne's assassination well into the 1960s.
According to movie industry columnist James Bacon, Wayne's producers issued phony press releases when he was hospitalized for cancer surgery in September 1964, claiming the star was being treated for lung congestion. "Those bastards who make pictures only think of the box office," he told Bacon, as recounted in 1979 by the columnist. "They figure Duke Wayne with cancer isn't a good image. I was too doped up at the time to argue with them, but I'm telling you the truth now. You know I never lie." After Bacon broke the story of the Duke's cancer, thousands of cancer victims and their relatives wrote to Wayne saying that his battle against the disease had given them hope.
Actor and later California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cited Wayne as a role model from his childhood.
Actors Steve McQueen, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris all cited Wayne as a huge influence on them, both professionally and personally. Like Wayne, each man rose to fame playing men of heroic action. Also, like Wayne, each man is a supporter of conservative causes and the Republican party, the exception being McQueen who, although a lifelong Republican, died in 1980.
Addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening day in 1968.
After Ronald Reagan's election as Governor of California in 1966, Wayne was exiting a victory celebration when he was asked by police not to leave the building - a mob of 300 angry anti-war demonstrators were waiting outside. Instead of cowering indoors, Wayne confronted the demonstrators head on. When protesters waved the Viet Cong flag under his nose, Wayne grew impatient. "Please don't do that fellows," Duke warned the assembled. "I've seen too many kids your age wounded or dead because of that flag. So I don't take too kindly to it." The demonstrators persisted, so he chased a group of them down an alley.
After he finally won the Best Actor Oscar for True Grit (1969) his career declined. Chisum (1970), seemingly having little to do with Wayne, was released to mixed reviews and moderate business. Rio Lobo (1970) received very poor critical reception and proved to be a commercial disappointment. Big Jake (1971), pumped up with graphic action scenes and plenty of humor, made twice as much money as either of the previous two films. However, The Cowboys (1972) struggled to find an audience when first released, despite the fact that it received positive reviews and featured a very different performance from Wayne as an aging cattleman. The Train Robbers (1973) was largely forgettable and Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973) garnered him his worst reviews since The Conqueror (1956). His attempts to emulate Clint Eastwood as a tough detective were generally ridiculed due to his age, increasing weight and the predictable nature of the plots.
After his third wife Pilar Wayne left him in 1973, Wayne was happily involved with his secretary Pat Stacy for the remaining six years of his life.
After leaving the stage, during the 1979's Academy Awards ceremony, he was greeted by his old pal Sammy Davis Jr., who gave him a big bear hug. Davis later told a friend he regretted hugging Wayne so hard in his fragile condition. But Davis was told: "Duke Wouldn't have missed that hug for anything" (The idea of a 125Lb Sammy Davis Jr. worrying about hugging him "too hard" was a sad commentary on Wayne's failing health).