In the Golden Age of Hollywood, Charlton Heston and John Wayne were two of the biggest stars to grace the silver screen. Each actor had dozens of acting credits to their name before the end of the period and a combined 300 by the end of their careers.
As two of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, a movie starring both Heston and Wayne seemed like an obvious choice. And in 1960, just before the Golden Age came to an end, the day finally came.
John Wayne was directing and starring in The Alamo, a biopic depicting the 1836 Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. As he wanted top stars for his film, Charlton Heston was at the top of his list, and he offered Heston the role of Jim Bowie. Heston, however, turned him down.
Wayne was a devoted member of the conservative party and never shied away from discussing his views. Heston, on the other hand, was an ardent democrat and disagreed with many of the director’s opinions. When asked about his decision to decline the film, Charlton Heston said he had “good reasons” and later added that he did not view “having John Wayne” as a director as a positive.
The Alamo went on without Heston, John Wayne casting Kiss of Death star Richard Widmark as Jim Bowie in Heston’s place. Years later, Charlton Heston wasn’t as certain about the decision as he had been in years past. Rather than standing by his earlier opinion, he expressed regret in missing out on the biopic. And five years later, the two worked together on the Biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Sophia Loren Praises Co-Star John Wayne: ‘He Always Stuck Up for Me’
Though John Wayne wasn’t Charlton Heston’s cup of tea, it can’t be denied that he won the hearts of many of his co-stars throughout his career in Hollywood. One such devotee is Sophia Loren, who had nothing but kind things to say about her Legend of the Lost colleague.
The 1957 film was one of Loren’s first English-speaking roles, as she was born and raised in Italy and spent much of her early career in Italian films. Because she was new to the States, her English wasn’t yet perfected, which led to many of her co-stars teasing her about her Italian accent. John Wayne, however, was always there for her.
“My English was not great,” Loren explained in an interview with The Wrap. “The crew would sometimes make fun of me, but John Wayne always would stick up for me.”
Jerry Van Dyke, who worked with John Wayne on the film McClintock! was a John Wayne fan as well. In an interview with Pop Dose, Jerry Van Dyke recalled what it was like to work with The Duke. “Well, it was fantastic,” he said. “We really hit it off. We were friends, and we went out drinking together and everything. He took to me, and to me, he was just a great guy.”