While taking a stroll down memory lane, The Cowboys star Bruce Dern hilariously recalled the one time John Wayne showed up to Harvard in a tank.
During the interview, Bruce Dern spoke about how John Wayne won the Hasty Pudding Award for the Worst Actor of the Year. Wayne responded by being the first actor to ever accept the award and he do so in the most creative way. “He went to his friend at the Pentagon and they gave him a tank,” Dern explained. “And he went right downtown and into Harvard Square in the tank.”
Bruce Dern then declared that following the trip around Harvard in a tank, John Wayne got his award. “He accepted the Hasty Pudding Award for being the worst actor of the year. I mean, that’s great. We don’t have people that do stuff like that anymore.”
Bruce Dern also spoke about working with John Wayne. “Oh, I loved him. You know why I loved him? Because he loved to make movies. I loved to make movies. I love the day-to-day making of a movie.”
Bruce Dern and John Wayne starred in the 1972 film The Cowboys. According to IMDb, the film follows rancher Will Andersen as he is forced to hire inexperienced boys as cowhands in order to get his herd to market on time. However, the situation gets a bit dangerous when a gang of cattle rustlers trails after them.
What Caused John Wayne to Appear on Harvard’s Campus in a Tank?
In January 1974, John Wayne met with some liberal elites, also known as the “most hostile” students on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. They eventually challenged him to make an appearance on campus for the Hasty Pudding Award.
Among the students that challenged John Wayne referred to the actor as the biggest fraud in history. In response, Wayne decided to make an appearance for some debates, the Worst Actor of the Year Award, a roasting of some sort, and then Q&As.
To make the experience as memorable as possible, John Wayne rode into Harvard’s campus in a tank. It was noted that the members of the Troop D of the Fifth Armored Cavalry were there with Wayne. They were dubbed the Black Knights.
Wayne and the military personnel arrived on campus to be greeted by unhappy anti-war protestors. Another group that was protestors against Wayne on behalf of Native Americans also gave an unfriendly greeting to Wayne as he approached the campus. There were also protestors that just weren’t fans of the actor’s political opinions.
However, none of the protests got to Wayne and he ended up at Harvard Square Theater. The experience was … interesting to say the least for Wayne.