Marion Robert Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa, on May 16, 1907. At age four, his family moved to Los Angeles. He was a gifted athlete who lost his football scholarship at USC due to a body surfing accident. Soon, he found work in small bit parts at local film studios, where he eventually changed his name to John Wayne.
John Wayne appeared in 142 motion pictures, often in Westerns as a heroic character, and won an Academy Award for his role as a U.S. Marshall in the movie TRUE GRIT.
Throughout his life, John Wayne was a staunch political conservative, opposing communism and politically liberal viewpoints of view.
He passed on to the Great Beyond in 1979 due to stomach cancer.
According to a book titled JOHN WAYNE -- THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH by Michael Munn, there were three assassination attempts on Wayne's life.
In 1949, Joseph Stalin (communist dictator of the USSR) learned about John Wayne's anti-communist fervor from Russian filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov during a peace conference in New York. Stalin soon decided Wayne should be killed.
The plot to assassinate John Wayne was also reported by Russian filmmaker Alexei Kapler (who had been imprisoned by Stalin) and Russian filmmaker Sergei Bondahuck, later confirmed by Gerasimov.
According to Munn's book, John Wayne's good friend, legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, had "saved his life" in the early 1950s. The FBI had discovered that Russian agents were being sent to Hollywood to assassinate Wayne and notified him of the problem. Supposedly, Wayne told the FBI to let the agents show up and he would deal with it. Wayne then devised a plan, with help from a screenwriter named Jimmy Grant, to dissuade the assassins from carrying out their plans.
While the details of the incident were never revealed to Munn, the prevailing rumor was that a group of stuntmen abducted the agents and drove them to a beach where they staged a mock execution. Thereafter, the agents supposedly remained in the USA and worked for the FBI.
Subsequently, Wayne rejected any FBI protection and relocated with his family to a more secure house surrounded by a large wall. Thereafter, a group of Hollywood stuntmen pals infiltrated communist cells in America and learned of additional plots to kill Wayne
In 1953, another attempt on Wayne's life was initiated in Mexico by a communist cell when Wayne was filming the movie, HONDO. This plot also failed.
Joseph Stalin died in 1953 whereby Nikita Krushchev became the new communist leader of the USSR.
In a private meeting in 1958, Krushchev told Wayne that he had cancelled Stalin's orders to assassinate him. "That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order."
The third attempt on Wayne's life occurred in 1966 when he was visiting U.S. troops in Vietnam. An enemy sniper who had been captured claimed, "There was a price on John Wayne's head, put there by Mao Tse Tung (communist leader of China).
To some John Wayne was a grand hero, emblematic of American values. To others, he was a symbol of what was wrong with America, as a self-righteous bully who conquered others through force.
From FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA by Hunter S. Thompson -- "John Wayne is a final, rotten symbol of everything that went wrong with the American dream -- he is our Frankenstein monster, a hero to millions... The brainwaves of 'The Duke' are like those of the Hammerhead Shark... He is a ruthless stupid beast with only one instinct -- to attack, to hurt & cripple & kill... John Wayne, a cowboy movie actor whose only real talent was an almost preternatural genius for brainless violence. The Duke wasn't satisfied with just killing people; he beat them into bloody, screaming hamburger."
Love him or hate him, John Wayne was bigger than life. He was a proud American who understood that communism was a form of human slavery, serving the bureaucratic masters who rule the Government Plantation.
More government control means less individual freedom. Power does not corrupt people -- position of power attract corrupt people. Those who yearn to control others, even if they regard it as benevolence, are simply demanding the right to create their own version of heaven on earth. The struggle for freedom never ends.
Whether or not John Wayne was a hero is highly debatable.
Perhaps the true heroes are those who go gently through life treating others with tolerance, compassion and forgiveness.
Quote for the Day -- "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway." John Wayne
Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where freedom is never free.