John Wayne Fought Pneumonia Just Before His Last Cop Movie

by Samantha Whidden

Not letting his personal health problems get in the way of his wildly successful film career, western movie icon John Wayne reportedly fought both pneumonia and heart problems just before his last cop film, 1975’s “Brannigan.”

Express reports that John Wayne played the role of Chicago detective Lieutenant, Jim Brannigan, in the London-set film. Wayne’s character is part of the extradition of an American mobster, who was kidnapped and taken to the UK. Brannigan goes to the UK to bring the mobster back, but the hitmen prepare an ambush for the Chicago cop.

At the time of filming, the then 67-year-old actor was suffering from a severe bout of pneumonia. The actor also was diagnosed with heart problems. Both conditions made the film’s production difficult for him. 

Along with fighting his own health struggles, John Wayne appeared in the film alongside Christopher Trumbo. He is notably the son of blacklisted Communist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. This is significant because Wayne was notably an “enforcer” of the Hollywood Black List and House Un-American Activities Committee. 

Others who starred alongside John Wayne in the film were Richard Attenborough, Judy Neeson, Mel Ferrer, John Vernon, and Daniel Pilon. 

Barbara Walters Says Her 1979 Interview With John Wayne Is One She Will Never Forget 

In March 2014, Barbara Walters reflected on the various interviews she had done over multiple decades as a journalist. Of the interviews that she will never forget is the 1979 interview with John Wayne. The discussion was done three months before Duke passed away. 

“He was so masculine and straightforward,” Barbara Walters recalled about her interview with John Wayne. “And also, when I was having such trouble on television, he sent me a telegram that said, ‘Don’t let the b—ds get you down’. Signed, John Wayne.”

Barbara Walters further revealed that during her interview with John Wayne, she had asked him about the states he previously made about men being dominant figures in a relationship. Wayne not about stated, “Well, if this country had stayed the way it was, and if we hadn’t made it so tough for a family to keep up their type of living [that] their wives had to go to work, I would think it would be more pleasant. I think it’d be more pleasant for the lady, as well.”

Meanwhile, when asked if the cancer that he was battling at the time changed him in any way, John Wayne revealed, “I spoke to the man up there on many occasions, and I have – but I’ve had deep faith that there’s a supreme being. There has to be. The fact that he’s let me stick around a little longer — or she’s let me stick around a little longer — certainly goes great with me. And I want to hang around as long as I’m healthy and not in anybody’s way.”

Wayne ended up passing away on June 11, 1979. He was 72-years-old at the time.