John Wayne’s Stunt Double Reflects on Doubling for Maureen O’Hara

by Lauren Boisvert

Earlier this month, Dean Smith, John Wayne’s stunt double on “McLintock!” and many other films, spoke with A Word on Westerns about his time as a stuntman. Specifically, what it was like doing stunts dressed as Maureen O’Hara’s character.

“How did the dress fit?” joked interviewer Rob Word. Dean Smith then launched into the story, starting, “I remember when Cliff Lyons called me to do ‘McLintock!’ He said he wanted me to double Strother Martin and he said, ‘Yes, and I would like you to double this leading actress Maureen O’Hara.’ And he said, ‘You need to go down to Max Factor down on Sunset and get those fittings.”

He continued, “I went down there and they gave me these leotards and they had me in this bustle and I went and got that big red wig […] and stuntmen they just kidded me all over the place […] but I made more money on ‘McLintock!’ than any of the other stuntmen so you can’t complain on that.”

Smith then went on to tell a story about merging his talents in “McLintock!”. He actually won a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics as a sprinter, and he tells the story of sprinting in the movie as Maureen O’Hara.

“At the end of the picture when Duke told her to shut up or get out, and he took off with Chill Wills down there in that barouche and Maureen had to start chasing him down the street. And that was me on the back of the barouche doing all this thing up and down.” He mimed bouncing up and down on the back of the wagon, what he does as Maureen O’Hara in the film.

John Wayne’s Stuntman Dean Smith Spoke About Landing Role in ‘The Alamo’

In the same interview, Smith opened up about landing his role in “The Alamo.” He worked with John Wayne as his stuntman for 7 or 8 films, but “The Alamo” is still an iconic film today.

“Once I got in the unions, then I went over to see Duke about […] that movie The Alamo,” said Smith. “So I go over and get acquainted with Bob Morrison and [Wayne’s eldest son] Michael Wayne, and Patrick [Wayne], and all of them, and got on that movie ‘The Alamo.’”

“The Alamo” was definitely a labor of love for all those involved. John Wayne spent 15 years in talks with journalist James Edward Grant on the script, and in the 40s pitched the film to Republic president Herbert J. Yates. Yates kept putting the film off.

It wasn’t until 1959 that John Wayne finally settled with everything he needed to make “The Alamo”; cast, crew, location, studio, and script. And finally, a lasting film was born.