How John Wayne Reacted After Once Being Mistaken for Steve McQueen by a Fan

by Caitlin Berard
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As one of the biggest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood and one of the actors to shape the entire Western genre, it’s no surprise that John Wayne received an enormous amount of fan mail over the years. Fans of all ages reached out to the Western icon hoping for a reply from their favorite actor.

And, knowing that his thriving career in acting wouldn’t even exist without his fans, John Wayne did his best to reply to each every letter he received. He was so dedicated to this cause, in fact, that at one point, he had four secretaries whose job was to reply to his fan mail.

One of the most memorable pieces of fan mail The Duke ever received was also one of the funniest. A small child wrote to John Wayne, praising him for his performance in Bullitt. The only problem was, John Wayne wasn’t the actor behind the titular role in Bullitt, Steve McQueen was.

The adorable letter reads, “Dear Mr. Wayne, I have the movie Bulit (Bullitt) and I thought your acting was great. I would like to know if I could have a autographed picture of you. I would like to see you some day.”

“Sincerely, Ross Brook, age 10,” the letter concludes before giving the young fan’s return address.

Though Ross Brook was undoubtedly a fan of The Duke, he got his action stars mixed up. In the year Bullitt premiered, John Wayne was hard at work on The Green Berets and Hellfighters, with True Grit on the horizon.

Despite the mixup, John Wayne didn’t leave the young boy without a response. On the contrary, he went as far as to forward the letter to Steve McQueen along with a note of his own. “Would you please send him a picture of me from ‘Bullit,'” The Duke wrote. “I will be forever grateful.”

Fellow Actor Says ‘Every Single Person Loved’ John Wayne

If going out of his way to ensure that a young Steve McQueen fan received the autographed picture he desired isn’t enough to convince you of John Wayne’s character, his former costars only have positive things to say about working with The Duke.

Ann-Margret, the actress who starred alongside John Wayne in the 1973 film The Train Robbers, shared with Fox News that John Wayne couldn’t have been more beloved. “When he hugged me, it’s like the world was hugging me,” Ann-Margret gushed. “He was so big and wide with that booming voice.”

The actress went on to describe Wayne’s kindness, even to complete strangers. “We were shooting in Durango, Mexico, and my parents came down to visit me. He was so great with my parents. So absolutely welcoming and gentle with them. And anybody who was great to my parents was on a throne in my eyes. He has so many friends and every single person loved him.”

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