Why John Wayne Once Attacked Frank Sinatra’s Bodyguard in Las Vegas

by Samantha Whidden

Although he is known for his role in western films, John Wayne also had some well-known rifts with other celebrities of his time. Among them was singing sensation Frank Sinatra. The duo notably did not see eye to eye when it came to politics and they had exchanged heated words over the years. 

However, according to Carol Lea Mueller’s book, “The Quotable John Wayne: The Grit and Wisdom of an American Icon,” the feud between John Wayne and Frank Sinatra become so hostile that at one point, Wayne attacked Sinatra’s bodyguard while they were both in Las Vegas. The celebrities were staying at the same hotel, with Sinatra staying in the room below Wayne’s. The actor at the time was filming a movie while the singer went to let loose and have a good time. When Wayne came back to his room to relax, he would hear the rowdiness of Sinatra’s crew, which would keep the actor up at night. 

Eventually, John Wayne ended up calling Frank Sinatra’s room to ask him to see if the group would settle down. They actually ended up being quiet for a while, before getting loud once again. When Wayne tried to call the room again, no one answered. That was when he lost his temper. 

John Wayne went down to Frank Sinatra’s room and demanded that the group stop partying or else. Although Sinatra remained cool about the situation, his bodyguard was not a fan of Wayne’s demanding remarks. He stood up and told Wayne, “Nobody talks to Mr. Sinatra that way.”

John Wayne looked at the bodyguard and backhanded the other man, who dropped to the floor. The party stopped. Although Sinatra’s response was not documented, he reportedly knew he and his crew went too far that night. 

John Wayne & Frank Sinatra Reportedly Became Friends

Even after the Las Vegas incident, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra became friends. Sinatra would even take his fourth wife, Barbara Marx to visit Wayne’s Newport Beach home. 

While speaking about the duo’s eventual friendship, Marx stated, “They were buddies. I don’t know why, because they were completely different in almost everything. But they liked each other a great deal, and they kidded a lot.”

Marx also shared that when John Wayne was diagnosed with stomach cancer, she and Frank Sinatra visited the actor at the hospital. That was when Sinatra appeared to be devastated to see his now friend in that state. Frank Sinatra eventually spoke about Duke in a positive light. “John Wayne is in truth a star-spangled man who so proudly we hail.”

The John Wayne Twitter account also posted a snapshot of Duke and Frank Sinatra together in 2018 and in 2019.