By: Sam Jacobs | Ammo.com
John Wayne is an American Hollywood icon every bit the equal of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. He is also a man from another era, a man whose conservatism came as naturally as walking down the street. Affectionately known as “The Duke,” he spent three decades as a top box office draw with 179 film and television credits to his name
Before The Duke: Marion Robert Morrison
His story is as American as his values. Born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa at a whopping 13 pounds, his family relocated to Southern California. His family first arrived in America from Ireland in 1799 and his grandfather was a Civil War veteran. His nickname was bestowed upon him in childhood (“Little Duke” at the time) by a milkman amused by the omnipresence of Wayne’s Airdale Terrier, Duke.
Wayne attended the University of Southern California where he studied pre-law and played football for the Trojans before a broken collarbone from a bodysurfing accident ended his college athletic career. Losing his athletic scholarship forced Wayne to drop out of school.
Becoming the Duke: John Wayne’s Early Film Career
Wayne was hired as a favor to the equally legendary USC coach, Howard Jones, who later portrayed himself in Knute Rockne, All American, the famous Ronald Reagan film. Wayne soon graduated from an extra and prop boy to bigger parts – this began his life-long working relationship with director Ford. Director Raoul Walsh renamed Marion Robert Morrison “John Wayne,” though Wayne would keep his birth name for the rest of his life. Wayne was not present at the meeting where his stage name was crafted.