How John Wayne Helped This ‘Scared to Death’ Actress Conquer Her Fears on Set

by Joe Rutland
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John Wayne could be one of the most respectful actors toward his costars on numerous movie sets throughout his career. In fact, Wayne would go so far as to help one actress who reportedly was “scared to death.” Who could this be? Maureen O’Hara, who starred with The Duke in The Quiet Man? Nope. It happened to be actress Lorna Gray, who appeared with Wayne in the movie Red River Range in 1938.

According to author Scott Eyman, who wrote John Wayne: The Life and Legend, Gray had not been totally honest with the movie studio. “She had told the studio that she knew how to ride, which was a barefaced lie,” Eyman wrote. Ironically, she would reportedly rent a horse and start learning a day before her horse-riding scene.

John Wayne Played Integral Role In Helping Out Lorna Gray

Eyman wrote that, according to Express, Gray’s inexperience would leave her “so sore she could barely move” on the first day of filming. “Duke could see I didn’t know what I was doing,” Gray said in an interview. “But he was terribly, terribly nice to me anyway. He was a man who was interested in his career. He didn’t play around.

“And I was scared to death; I was just hoping my shaking wouldn’t show up on camera,” she continued. “But he helped me get through it, and on the strength of Red River Range I did a lot more pictures for Republic.” Talk about one superb actor who wanted the best for his costar. That’s one fine story about John Wayne.

Meanwhile, would you like to know which famed actor was not always on Wayne’s Christmas list? Clark Gable. One time, The Duke would call Gable, best known for Gone With The Wind, “an idiot.” Aissa Wayne shared her father’s recollections about the actor in her book, John Wayne: My Father. “Dad called Gable handsome, but dumb, at least four or five times,” Aissa Wayne writes. She adds that Wayne also called Gable an “idiot.” Aissa would add, “And now I wonder if it had something to do with my father’s friend, John Ford.” But Wayne also apparently didn’t mind working with Gable in movies.

For longtime Wayne fans, they might know the answer to this question. But there are new generations coming along all the time that are just finding The Duke’s film work. So, here’s the question. How many Academy Awards did Wayne win in his illustrious career? Five? 10? More? Nope, the famed actor only took home one Oscar. It was for his performance as Rooster Cogburn in the 1970 movie True Grit. His first Oscar nomination would come back in 1949 for his work on Sands of Iwo Jima.

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