John Wayne: How Glen Campbell’s ‘Good Deed’ Helped The Duke Win His Only Oscar

by Matthew Wilson

John Wayne spent most of his career without ever winning a coveted Academy Award. But he finally got Oscar Gold with a little help from Glen Campbell. Or at least, Glen Campbell liked to believe that he helped Wayne in the eyes of the Academy.

Both Wayne and Campbell starred in the classic film “True Grit” in 1969. Wayne played Rooster Cogburn, giving an award-winning performance. Meanwhile, Campbell starred opposite Wayne as La Boeuf. And the late country singer once admitted he probably shouldn’t quit his day job.

After Wayne won the Oscar, Campbell joked that he did the Duke a “good deed” by starring with him in the movie. Campbell considered his performance in the classic to be so terrible that it made Wayne looked like the greatest actor on the planet by comparison.

“I made John Wayne look so good in a movie,” Campbell said, “that he won his only Oscar.”

Campbell only took the role because he wanted to star in a movie with Wayne. Because when John Wayne came calling, you couldn’t turn down a chance to play opposite the cowboy.

John Wayne Won His Only Oscar

John Wayne by his later career had given up on ever winning an Oscar. Even after he was nominated for “True Grit,” he steeled himself against disappointment. During an interview of that era, Wayne discussed how he was proud of his performance no matter what.

“Well, whether or not I win an Oscar, I’m proud of the performance,” Wayne told Roger Ebert. “I’d be pleased to win one, of course, although I imagine these things mean more to the public than to us. There are a lot of old standbys who don’t have one. That comedian… what the hell is his name? Gary Grant. He never won one, and he’s been a mainstay of this business.”

It was the first time he had been nominated for an Academy Award in nearly 20 years. Previously, Wayne lost out on the award in 1950. He had been nominated that year for his role in the film “Sands of Iwo Jima.” The award ended up being a high point during his later career.

The actor faced the loss of several of his friends, battles with cancer, and getting older. But the Academy Award stood as a bright point, and the Duke felt moved.

“Wow, if I’d have known that, I’d have put that patch on thirty-five years earlier,” Wayne said during his acceptance speech.