Friday, February 22, 2019

John Wayne: “I believe in white supremacy…” Wayne’s Famous, Amazing, 1971 Playboy Interview, Uncut


In his Oscar-winning role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969)

The young Duke Morrison, on the cover of Scott Eyman's towering biography, John Wayne: the Life and Legend

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

Part I

“… until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

“There’s a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to us at midnight very clean, ya know. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

I read somewhere that the foregoing statement, about tomorrow, is on Wayne’s gravestone, even though he had said that he wanted a simple Mexican saying that went, I believe, “He was strong, he was ugly, he had dignity.”

John Wayne: Playboy Interview / MAY 1971

Accessed from a forum post at
The New Effort

For more than 41 years, the barrel-chested physique and laconic derring-do of John Wayne have been prototypical of gung-ho virility, Hollywood style. In more than 200 films—from The Big Trail in 1930 to the soon-to-be-released Million Dollar Kidnapping [? Possibly, Big Jake]—Wayne has charged the beaches at Iwo Jima, beaten back the Indians at Fort Apache and bloodied his fists in the name of frontier justice so often—and with nary a defeat—that he has come to occupy a unique niche in American folklore. The older generation still remembers him as Singing Sandy, one of the screen’s first crooning cowpokes; the McLuhan generation has grown up with him on The Late Show. With Cooper and Gable and Tracy gone, the last of the legendary stars survives and flourishes as never before.

His milieu is still the action Western, in which Wayne's simplistic plotlines and easily discernible good and bad guys attest to a romantic way of life long gone from the American scene—if indeed it ever really existed. Even his screen name—changed from Marion Michael Morrison—conveys the man’s plain, rugged, cinematic personality. Fittingly, he was the first of the Western movie heroes to poke a villain in the jaw.

Wearing the symbolic white Stetson—which never seemed to fall off, even in the wildest combat—he made scores of three-and-a-half-day formula oaters such as
Pals of the Saddle in the Thirties before being tapped by director John Ford to star in Stagecoach—the 1939 classic that paved the way for his subsequent success in such milestone Westerns as Red River, the ultimate epic of the cattle drive, and The Alamo, a patriotic paean financed by Wayne with $1.5 million of his own money.

By 1969, having made the list of Top Ten box-office attractions for 19 consecutive years, Wayne had grossed more than $400 million for his studios—more than any other star in motion-picture history. But because of his uncompromising squareness—and his archconservative politics—he was still largely a profit without honor in Hollywood. That oversight was belatedly rectified when his peers voted the tearful star a 1970 Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, the tobacco-chewing, hard-drinking, straight-shooting, patch-eyed marshal in
True Grit—a possibly unwitting exercise in self-parody that good-naturedly spoofed dozens of his past characterizations.

President Nixon remarked several months later at a press conference that he and his family had recently enjoyed a screening of Chisum, adding: “I think that John Wayne is a very fine actor.” Long active in Republican politics, Wayne has vigorously campaigned and helped raise funds for Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Murphy, Barry Goldwater and Los Angeles’ maverick Democratic mayor Sam Yorty. Before the 1968 campaign, a right-wing Texas billionaire had urged Wayne to serve as vice presidential running mate to George Wallace, an overture he rejected. Not least among the Texan’s reasons for wanting to draft Wayne was the actor’s obdurately hawkish support of the Indochina war—as glorified in his production of
The Green Berets, which had the dubious distinction of being probably the only pro-war movie made in Hollywood during the Sixties.

Last fall, Wayne's first television special—a 90-minute quasi-historical pageant dripping with God-home-and-country hyperbole—racked up such a hefty Nielsen rating that it was rebroadcast in April. At year’s end, Wayne was named one of the nation’s most admired entertainers in a Gallup Poll. Assigned by
Playboy shortly afterward to interview the superstar, Contributing Editor Richard Warren Lewis journeyed to Wayne’s sprawling (11-room, seven-bath), $175,000, bayfront residence on the Gold Coast of Newport Beach, California, where he lives with his third Latin wife—Peruvian-born Pilar Pallete—and three of his seven children. Of his subject, Lewis writes: “Wayne greeted me on a manicured lawn against a backdrop of sailboats, motor cruisers, and yachts plying Newport harbor. Wearing a realistic toupee, Wayne at first appeared considerably younger than he is; only the liver spots on both hands and the lines in his jut-jawed face told of his 63 years. But at 6’4” and 244 pounds, it still almost seems as if he could have single-handedly mopped up all those bad guys from the Panhandle to Guadalcanal. His sky-blue eyes, though somewhat rheumy from the previous night’s late hours, reinforced the image.”

Adjourning to the breakfast room, we spoke for several hours, while Wayne enjoyed the first Dungeness crabs of the season, drank black coffee and fielded phone calls. One of the calls settled details of an imminent visit from the Congolese ambassador. (Wayne and several associates own lucrative mineral rights in the Congo.) Another call confirmed a $100 bet on the Santa Anita Handicap, to be contested later that day. (Wayne lost.) “‘Christ, we better get going,’ he said shortly before one o’clock. ‘They're holding lunch for us.’ He led the way past a den and trophy room stacked with such memorabilia as photos of his 18 grandchildren and the largest collection of Hopi Indian katcina dolls west of Barry Goldwater. Outside the house, past jacaranda and palm trees and a kidney-shaped swimming pool, we reached a seven-foot-high concrete wall at the entryway and boarded Wayne’s dark-green Bonneville station wagon, a production model with only two modifications—a sun roof raised six inches to accommodate the driver’s 10-gallon hat, and two telephone channels at the console beside him.

“At Newport harbor, we boarded Wayne's awesome Wild Goose II, a converted U.S. Navy mine sweeper that saw service during the last six months of World War II and has been refitted as a pleasure cruiser. After a quick tour of the 136-foot vessel—which included a look at the twin 500-horsepower engines, clattering teletype machines (A.P., U.P.I., Reuter’s, Tass) on the bridge disgorging wire dispatches, and the lavishly appointed bedroom and dressing suites—we were seated at a polished-walnut table in the main saloon.

“Over a high-protein diet lunch of char-broiled steak, lettuce and cottage cheese, Wayne reminisced about the early days of Hollywood, when he was making two-reelers for $500 each. Later that afternoon, he produced a bottle of his favorite tequila. One of the eight crew members anointed our glasses with a dash of fresh lemon juice, coarse salt and heaping ice shards that, Wayne said, had been chopped from a 1000-year-old glacier on a recent Wild Goose visit to Alaska. Sustained by these potent drinks, our conversation—ranging from Wayne’s early days in filmmaking to the current state of the industry—continued until dusk, and resumed a week later in the offices of Wayne’s Batjac Productions, on the grounds of Paramount Pictures—one of the last of Hollywood's rapidly dwindling contingent of major studios.”


Although Wayne could not choose a single "worst" picture, it is widely believed that The Conqueror (1956), in which he portrayed Genghis Khan, was his worst. Once upon a time, a family member promised to bury me with a few cans of Bustelo espresso grind coffee, and 10,000 DVDs of The Conqueror.

Susan Hayward desired Wayne's company off-camera, and left no doubt about her designs on her co-star. When Wayne had to kiss her, as a prelude to raping ("marrying") her character, he said that she slid her tongue down his throat, which he found disgusting. Wayne had nothing against sleeping with his co-stars, but was turned off by women (e.g., Joan Crawford) who came on so strong.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

, "a right-wing Texas billionaire had urged Wayne to serve as vice presidential running mate to George Wallace"

H.L. Hunt I suppose.