Just when we thought the old cowboy mystique couldn’t get any weirder, enter a John Wayne story that is leaving traditional southerners and fans of the “Duke” reasons to scratch their heads. Known formally as Marion Robert Morrison, born in 1907 in Winterset, Iowa, the legendary John Wayne was an American icon who became incredibly popular during Hollywood’s Golden Age. By starring in roles in famous western and war movies, the Duke earned accolades with his signature voice, walk, and overall style. Yet today, this beloved actor and hero is embroiled in the scandal that overshadowed his career–and it’s not even fair since he’s no longer with us. And who would have thought the entire debacle has to do with a 1971 Playboy interview that has resurfaced and created a stir for those who know him best. It’s also causing the Orange County, California airport that’s so poignantly named after him to want to change John Wayne Airport to something else.
Celebrities are notorious for causing scandals, at least those who have made a significant impact on society and the world. The Duke is no different. The 1971 piece that has come under the spotlight involves not just the mere fact the heroic cowboy sat for an interview, but what he said that’s dividing California in general. The Oscar-winning actor blatantly stated–and this was 48 years ago, mind you–that he believes in white supremacy until the African American population is educated enough to be responsible. Ouch! Nowadays, in our cancel culture environment, these words are stinging and ringing throughout southern California. The Duke went on to say that “We can’t all of the sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.” If those words and thoughts weren’t enough in such a volatile climate we currently live in, consider that he also added his two cents on the gay population by declaring that movies such as “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy” played right into the hands of a perverted homosexual theme that Hollywood seemed to be embracing.
John Wayne, although is long gone, his family has to now deal with the outrage of his comments from that 1971 interview. His son, Ethan, is staunchly supportive of his late father and abides by the legacy that the Duke laid out before him. However, Ethan Wayne does attest to the awfulness of his Dad’s statements and believes that it would be an injustice to submit to the judgment of the elder Wayne, as most of his statements were taken out of context. By defending his father, Ethan let the media know that the Duke was extremely supportive of those who did their job and he never discriminated against any employee based on their sexual orientation, race, or gender. In fact, John Wayne was a true blue-caring cowboy who lived up to his roles as an actor in accordance with how he lived his life. The John Wayne fans of today and of days gone by stand by their man, regardless of this latest scandal. In fact, not a single person who has thrived on the legacy of the Duke and his movies and his mannerisms will have their minds changed at all. Take that, California.