John Wayne: About the Duke and His Cowboy Silver Screen Roles

John Wayne: About the Duke and His Cowboy Silver Screen Roles

Last updated by Ori Adler on

Did you know that John Wayne appeared in nearly two-hundred-fifty different films throughout his life? For many, this actor, director, and family man has become synonymous with the image of the American cowboy. 

However, as the years go by, many people seem to need to remember or learn about the storied career of John Wayne. That’s why we made this article. In it, we’ll be exploring the Duke’s life by looking at some of his most iconic cowboy silver screen roles. 

That way, you get a better sense of the role he played both in Western-genre cinema and in the mythology of the American cowboy. Let’s dive in!

The Duke’s Early Hollywood Career

John Wayne was born under the name Marion Morrison, though he got the nickname Duke from his dog. Morrison entered his Hollywood career in the late 1920s in a humble position: as an extra and prop professional.

Morrison would meet legendary director John Ford in this position when he herded geese in the movie Mother Machree. Morrison wouldn’t receive his first starring role until he caught the eye of Raoul Walsh in 1930.

The film was called The Big Trail, and on set, Morrison adopted the name John Wayne, which he used for the rest of his career. Wayne wasn’t a star right away. Over the course, he worked in over seventy movies, from Conflict to Baby Face.

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His Big Break With Stagecoach

After honing his acting craft for nearly a decade, John Wayne got a massive break with the film Stagecoach. This 1939 film saw him reunited with classic Western director John Ford.

And while the scenery in the movie is incredible, Wayne’s performance as Ringo the Kid really stole the show.

Aside from having a fantastic on-screen entrance of John Wayne, the film also revolutionized the Western genre as we know it. Make sure to check out this article if you want to learn more about the film’s important legacy.

Want to look just like John Wayne does in the movie Stagecoach. All you need to do is shop from a quality cowboy hat supplier like the kind found here.

His Peak Achievement With The Searchers

The year 1956 saw John Wayne reunited with former director John Ford, who made the incredibly successful Stagecoach. Together, the two created The Searchers, which is considered Ford’s best movie, as well as the most prestigious Western ever made.

The film is set in Monument Valley, which contrasts the beauty of the environment with the isolation of Wayne’s performance. It’s a must-watch movie for any American film lover.

Later John Wayne Movies: The Alama, Hatari!, and True Grit

Following the success of The Searchers, Wayne became a sought-after movie star. There are many high points in his movie career, from Rio Bravo to Donovan’s Reef. However, personal achievement came after he both directed and starred in The Alama.

The film won him seven Academy Award nominations, including the prestigious Best Picture category. This would be far from the last time John Wayne’s pictures were nominated for the Oscars. In 1962, Wayne took audiences on an exploration of East Africa in Hatari!

The film secured the nomination for Best Cinematography. True Grit, the notable Western film, also secured him the title of Best Actor at the Academy Awards. However, it’s important to remember that not all John Wayne pictures were great. 

Often he was miscast for roles, like when he played Genghis Khang in the movie The Conquerer. Rumor has it that Wayne would visibly shudder anytime someone brought up the movie title.

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John Wayne’s Last Film

Despite both a lung and cancer diagnosis, Wayne refused to retire. In his last movie, The Shootist, same he reunited with screen star Jimmy Stewart in 1976. He died at the age of 72 on June 11th, 1979.

How to Look Like John Wayne

After watching a classic John Wayne Western movie, no one would blame you for wanting to look like a cowboy. So how do you do it? One of the most critical pieces is the cowboy hat. First, you’ll want to choose a seller that supports American heroes

Wayne was an incredibly patriotic actor, so you want to keep up with his ethos. Next, choose a cowboy hat style that you like. 

There are plenty of modern versions you can choose from, or you can keep it classic. A good pair of boots are also a must. From there, a workshirt and rough pants are all you need to complete the look!

Interested in learning more about the handcrafted hats we offer here at American Hat Makers? Contact us today, and we’ll tell you everything you want to know about them.

The Legacy of John Wayne’s Career

You can’t discuss Western-genre movies without talking about John Wayne and John Ford. These two professionals helped create some of the most iconic pictures within the genre that are still watched and beloved today.

However, it was John Wayne who helped cement the stereotypical image of an American cowboy into people’s minds. Did Wayne often portray a realistic portrait of the West? Not really. But what he did do is help craft much of the mythology that still surrounds cowboys in our media today.

The only person that compares to the cowboy persona is the Marlboro Man (and his legacy hasn’t aged as well). And on top of that, he was a generous man that cared deeply about his family. So watch a John Wayne movie today!

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