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John Wayne, one of the most popular film actors of the twentieth century, remains a popular American icon to this day.
John Wayne - Mini Biography (7:48)
Montgomery Clift - Full Episode (43:44)
Watch a short video about John Wayne and learn how "The Duke" got his start in the film industry.
A short biography of John Wayne who became an American icon and Hollywood star after his performance in John Ford's 1939 film "Stagecoach."
Clint Eastwood starred on the TV western "Rawhide" before transitioning to film as "the Man with No Name" in Sergio Leone's films. Eastwood has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, for "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."
Montromery Clift won stardom in "From Here to Eternity" and became a 1950s movie icon. A car accident in 1957 changed his looks, and from then on his off-screen days were filled with pills, alcohol, and a complicated sexual identity.
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he got his next big break in in Stagecoach (1939). His career as an actor took another leap forward when he worked with director Howard Hawks in Red River (1948). Wayne won his first Academy Award in 1969. He died of cancer in 1979.
Actor. Born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. (Some sources also list him as Marion Michael Morrison and Marion Mitchell Morrison.) One of the most popular film actors of the twentieth century, John Wayne remains a popular American icon to this day. He was already a sizable presence when he was born, weighing around 13 pounds.
The oldest of two children born to Clyde and Mary "Molly" Morrison, Wayne moved to Lancester, California, around the age of seven. The family moved again a few years later after Clyde failed in his attempt to become a farmer.
Settling in Glendale, California, Wayne received his distinctive nickname "Duke" while living there. He had a dog by that name, and he spent so much time with his pet that the pair became known as "Little Duke" and "Big Duke," according to the official John Wayne website. In high school, Wayne excelled in his classes and in many different activities, including student government and football. He also participated in numerous student theatrical productions.
Winning a football scholarship to University of Southern California (USC), Wayne started college in the fall of 1925. He joined the Sigma Chi fraternity and continued to be a strong student. Unfortunately, after two years, an injury took him off the football field and ended his scholarship. While in college, Wayne had done some work as a film extra, appearing as a football player in Brown of Harvard (1926) and Drop Kick (1927).
Out of school, Wayne worked as an extra and a prop man in the film industry. He first met director John Ford while working as an extra on Mother Machree (1928). With The Big Trail (1930), Wayne received his first leading role, thanks to director Raoul Walsh. Walsh is often credited with helping him create his now legendary screen name, John Wayne. Unfortunately, the western was a box office dud.
For nearly a decade, Wayne toiled in numerous B movies-mostly westerns-for different studios. He even played a singing cowboy named Sandy Saunders among his many roles. During this time period, however, Wayne started developing his man of action persona, which would serve as the basis of many popular characters later on.
Working with Ford, he got his next big break in Stagecoach (1939). Wayne portrayed the Ringo Kid, an escaped outlaw, who joins an unusual assortment of characters on a dangerous journey through frontier lands. During the trip, the Kid falls for a dance hall prostitute named Dallas (Claire Trevor). The film was well received by movie goers and critics alike and earned seven Academy Award nominations, including one for Ford's direction.
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Got chaps? Their cowboy and cowgirl personas are tough, rugged, and wild—just like the frontier in which they come from—and in turn, they elicit the nostalgia of The Old West with its fierce individualism and sense of golden opportunity. From the indomitable swagger of John Wayne to the intimidating scowl of Clint Eastwood, explore our Wild West Film Actors group.
Notable Wild West Film Actors 15 people in this group