Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Happy Birthday to the Duke!

Today, May 26, we honor the birthday of one of Hollywood's and America's greatest icons. John Wayne would be 97 years old today. John Wayne, born with the name Marion Morrison, acquired the nickname "the Duke" during his pre-Hollywood days when he earned his paycheck as a prize fighter. Although he is one of the biggest legends the silver screen has ever known, the Duke won is one and only Oscar in 1969 for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in the movie True Grit. Even though John Wayne is one of my favorite actors of all time, I have no argument with his lack of awards. By his own admission, Wayne was not much of an actor. He once said that he played himself in every movie. And that is why fans loved him. His fans also loved him because he was a true patriot. Wayne once recorded a spoken-word album entitled "America: Why I Love Her." He also made the film The Green Berets during the height of the Vietnam War. In fact, John Wayne turned down the lead role in the Dirty Dozen in order to star in and direct the flattering portrayal of Vietnam-era Marines. John Wayne was also active in the Republican party.

I realize that many readers of this blog probably consider John Wayne's movies to be simplistic and trite. But, I think there is something to be said for unadulterated heroism on the big screen. John Wayne's characters stand for self-sacrifice, bravery, honesty and, of course, toughness.

Thank you, John Wayne.