Special – 1939 To 1973 – NBCs Tribute To Hollywoods Duke – The Story Of John Wayne


The way Bone Daddy puts it….there is simply not enough space herewith to tell how much the  Duke influenced the lives of dang near all young boys growing into manhood in West Texas during the 1950’s and 1960’s….cuz in BD’s opinion….there were two American heroes of whom the vast majority of the West Texas boys became when Mom told them to go outside and play….so, when the whiffle ball game was on the line in the backyard….and it was the bottom of the 9th….and the home team was down a run with a man on 1st base with two outs….and it was The Mick who came to the plate….then while playing “battle games” with your army defending your home….while facing off against your best bud’s army across the street….with a continuous barrage of “dirtclod bombs” descended on your fortifications…..and who did dang near every boy call on to save the day….Duke.…so, this page is our ImaSportsphile salute to the John Wayne….Duke in West Texas.

Marion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979) was known professionally as John Wayne…..while being nicknamed Duke….was an American actor and filmmaker ….who was an Academy Award winner for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969)….for the most important aspect of Duke had nothing to do with awards….it had to do with box office receipts….and there never has been….nor ever will be one quite like Duke….who was among in the top 10 box office draws for every year from 1949 to 1973 except in 1958….as he was # 1 at the turnstiles a record 4 times and in the top 10 a record 23 years spanning three decades.         

Born in Winterset, Iowa, Wayne grew up in Southern California….where he was president of Glendale High class of 1925….who went to the University of Southern California (USC) on football scholarship….but had to find work at local film studios when he lost his scholarship resulting from a body surfing accident. Initially working for the Fox Film Corporation….he appeared mostly in small bit parts…when his 1st leading role came in Raoul Walsh‘s The Big Trail (1930)….which led to leading roles in numerous B-rated movies throughout the 1930’s….which were mostly Westerns…..so, he kinda cut his teeth “being a cowboy on the big screen”.  Wayne started becoming Duke‘s as his career took off in 1939 with John Ford’s Stagecoach….making him an instant star….as his career went on to star in 142 motion pictures. Biographer Ronald Davis said, “John Wayne personified for millions the nation’s frontier heritage. Eighty-three of his movies were Westerns, and in them he played cowboys, cavalrymen, and unconquerable loners extracted from the Republic’s central creation myth.”       

Wayne’s other well-known Western roles include a cattleman driving his herd north on the Chisholm Trail in Red River (1948)….a Civil War veteran whose young niece is abducted by a tribe of Comanches in The Searchers (1956)….a troubled rancher competing with a lawyer for a woman’s hand in marriage in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). He is also remembered for his roles in The Quiet Man (1952), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Longest Day (1962).  In his final screen performance, he starred as an aging gunfighter battling cancer in The Shootist (1976). 

All that John Wayne accomplished as a result of his incredible Hollywood career is what this video tribute to Duke is about….but, for Bone Daddy and the boys in West Texas back in the day….thanks for Dan Roman from The High and The Mighty….and Temujin (Genghis Khan) in The Conqueror ….and Frank “Spig” Wead in The Wings of Eagles….and John T. Chance in Rio Bravo….and Col. John Marlowe in The Horse Soldiers….and Jake Cutter in The Commancheros….and Col. Davey Crockett in The Alamo….and Rooster Cogburn in True Grit…..and so many more….cuz boys like Bone Daddy wouldn’t have had any heroes to be like….if it wasn’t for Duke and The Mick…..but we’ve got one question….where are The Dukes The Mick’s of today!?!….we know they are out there….they just need to show up.  

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