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Marion Mitchell Morrison

(born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979)


Marion Morrison better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. An Academy Award-winner, Wayne is the biggest box office draw of all time. An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanour, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.


Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison at 216 South Second Street in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert.


Wayne's father, Clyde Leonard Morrison (1884–1937), was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison (1845–1915). Wayne's mother, the former Mary "Molly" Alberta Brown (1885–1970), was from Lancaster County, Nebraska. Wayne was of Scots-Irish and Scottish descent on both sides of his family, and he was brought up as a Presbyterian.


Wayne's family moved to Palmdale, California, and then in 1911 to Glendale, California, where his father worked as a pharmacist. A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him "Little Duke" because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke.  He preferred "Duke" to "Marion", and the name stuck for the rest of his life.


As a teen, Wayne worked in an ice cream shop for a man who shod horses for Hollywood studios. He was also active as a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth organization associated with the Freemasons. He attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale. He played football for the 1924 champion Glendale High School team.


He found work at local film studios when he lost his football scholarship to USC as a result of a bodysurfing accident. Initially working for the Fox Film Corporation, he mostly appeared in small bit parts. His acting breakthrough came in 1939 with John Ford's Stagecoach, making him an instant star. Wayne would go on to star in 142 pictures, primarily typecast in Western films.


Among his best known films are The Quiet Man (1952), which follows him as an Irish-American boxer and his love affair with a fiery spinster played by Maureen O'Hara; The Searchers (1956), in which he plays a Civil War veteran who seeks out his abducted niece; Rio Bravo (1959), playing a Sheriff with Dean Martin; True Grit (1969), playing a humorous U.S. Marshall who sets out to avenge a man's death in the role that won Wayne an Academy Award; and The Shootist (1976), his final screen performance in which he plays an aging gunslinger battling cancer.


Wayne moved to Orange County, California in the 1960s, and was a prominent Republican in Hollywood, supporting anti-communist positions. He died of stomach cancer in 1979. In June 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne 13th among the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time.

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