John Wayne: The Cowboy Icon Had an Affectionate Nickname for Collaborator John Ford

by Halle Ames

Legendary cowboy John Wayne had a close relationship with notable director John Ford. Here is the nickname the actor gave him.

John Wayne and John Ford grew very close over the years. In addition, the two stars worked together on 23 films reports the Atlantic in 2017.

According to the article, John Ford first noticed Wayne working as a prop boy on the set of Mother Machree in 1928. Although Wayne later claimed that he has “no desire” to be an actor, he was just trying to make some money. However, Ford decided that he wasn’t ready to be on the big screen.

Director Raoul Walsh is the one that gave John Wayne his big break. In 1930 Wayne was cast as Breck Coleman, the lead in The Big Trail.

Although Wayne and Ford eventually joined forces in 1939, in what is generally regarded as John Wayne’s biggest films, Stagecoach. The western movie made John Wayne a household name and led him to become one of the biggest stars Hollywood has ever seen.

John Wayne’s Nickname For His Dear Friend

Jeremy Roberts wrote an article in 2017 on John Wayne and John Ford’s relationship. Ford was thirteen years older than Wayne, however, that didn’t stop the cowboy from giving his friend an endearing nickname.

“The John Ford ones were amazing,” said Michael Goodman about the research for his book John Wayne: The Genuine Article. “Some of those had been read before because they came out of the Ford archive. Duke affectionately called him “Coach.”

Goodman reveals that John Wayne looked up to John Ford as a director and mentor. He found several letters that the Duke wrote to Ford throughout the years. It was apparent the two remained close despite their demanding work schedules.

“He adored Ford, who was his mentor and whom he initially hoped to emulate as a film director himself. I found three different letters from three different time periods where Duke wrote Ford for the express purpose of apologizing to him for not returning his phone call, believe it or not.”

Upon the completion of his in-depth book on John Wayne, Roberts asks Goodman about the topic he chose. He asks the author if there was one area that particularly piqued his interest. Furthermore, what he would ask Wayne if he were still alive today.

“Now that I’ve done this project, though, I suppose my questions would be far different. Based largely on my interest in politics and national affairs, I probably would have asked him how he was able to enjoy such deep and abiding and personally satisfying personal relationships with people with whom he fundamentally disagreed on key issues, including with his best friend, John Ford.”