John Wayne: How Many Oscar Nominations Did the Iconic Actor Receive?

by Matthew Wilson

John Wayne may have starred in countless movies during his long and iconic career. But he certainly didn’t feel the love from the Academy Awards. In fact, Wayne received very few nominations and even fewer wins during his 50 plus year career.

Wayne starred in over 170 films during his career. But according to his official website, Wayne only garnered three Oscar nominations for his career. It’s a slight that many of his fanbase would call blasphemy. So which films put Wayne in contention for Academy Award gold?

Wayne was first nominated for Best Actor for “Sands of Iwo Jima” in 1949. He wouldn’t have another nomination for another decade. This time, Wayne’s work behind the camera caught the Academy’s attention. His film “The Alamo” got a Best Picture nomination in 1960. Given a hard and at times cursed production, Wayne was probably happy his film got recognized. “The Alamo” was a passion project, years in the making for the actor. He directed and starred in the production.

John Wayne Won an Oscar

Both John Wayne and the Academy Awards got their start in 1929. But they didn’t cross much over the ensuing decades. In fact, by his later career, Wayne had settled on the fact that he would never win an Oscar. He believed he would be an actor of the people for the rest of his career.

So when his film “True Grit” started to gain recognition, Wayne set himself up for failure. He wouldn’t entertain the idea that he might actually win.

“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.”

But win, Wayne did. The Duke garnered the only Academy Award of his career for playing the one-eyed, tough as grit U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Approaching the stage, Wayne felt a little moved and overwhelmed to finally get the award. But he handled the matter in his usual manner. Wayne said, “Wow, if I’d have known that, I’d have put that patch on thirty-five years earlier.”

“True Grit” ended up being one of Wayne’s most well-known movies, and he reprised the character in a less successful sequel.