John Wayne Named His Son Ethan After His Character in ‘The Searchers’

by Joe Rutland

Beloved actor John Wayne had many notable movies to his credit but one of them was The Searchers, where he played Ethan Edwards. Wayne viewed his role in the John Ford film as one of his best. Well, he would make his first name even more meaningful. He would name one of his sons Ethan after his role. A sweet reminder about this comes from INSP TV and its Instagram account on Saturday. They put this out to remind viewers that The Searchers will be airing on the network.

These days, Ethan is quite active in keeping his father’s memory alive. He oversees John Wayne Enterprises while also being a director of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. As you know, cancer played a heavy role in Ethan’s father’s life. The work of this organization helps provide support and encouragement for those fighting it, too.

Ethan Wayne, Son of John Wayne, Appeared In ‘Big Jake’

Yet the young Wayne did have a couple of movie roles in his father’s career. He reportedly had an unnamed role in Rio Lobo and played Little Jake opposite John’s Big Jake. After taking a turn in stunt work, Ethan would play Storm Logan on the CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Another TV role had him play Officer Matt Doyle in The New Adam-12 between 1989-91.

Let’s take a little more of a look at The Searchers. What one line from there is connected with Wayne? Ethan is seen in some scenes saying, “That’ll be the day.” That phrase would be a part of the popular music world. Buddy Holly and the Crickets had a hit song titled That’ll Be The Day. Here’s something else movie fans might be interested to learn. Martin Scorsese said this was Wayne’s “greatest performance.” In an interview with the American Film Institute, he would say that he and his friends went to see the movie upon graduating from parochial school.

“And, there it was in VistaVision,” Scorsese said. “You know, this extraordinary movie. … what happens you go see a Western directed by John Ford, whom by that time I kind of figured out was this terrific director, and (had) John Wayne in it. By that time I had put the two names together. When they were both on a film, it was usually very interesting for boys, particularly.” The Searchers would come out in 1956 and has been a television staple for many years. Turner Classic Movies will air this sometimes in a widescreen version. It lets viewers be able to experience this incredible movie in the comfort of their own homes.