John Wayne Once Made a Secret Cameo in an Iconic TV Western Series

by Emily Morgan

While Western fans remember John Wayne for his illustrious career in films, he also made occasional appearances on TV as well. You may not have realized it, but The Duke had a secret cameo in an iconic TV show. 

While the Western legend booked roles occasionally on TV, he took one that you may not have heard about, in which he hid in the shadows. John Ford directed an episode of “Wagon Train” titled “The Colter Craven Story.”

In this particular episode, viewers learn how Major Seth Adams became a major. Ward Bond, the actor who played Admas, was a longtime friend of The Duke. During the episode, audiences can see Adams with General William Tecumseh Sherman after the battle of Shiloh. Sherman, who’s got a beard and his Union Army uniform, stands in the shadows, making it hard to discern who the actor is— yet there’s a tell that gives it away: Wayne’s signature rough, raspy voice. On IMDB, he’s credited under the name “Michael Morris.”

Even though he was doing it as a favor to his friend, it also made for a good experience. Two years later, Wayne would reprise the role in the film, How the West Was Won.

John Wayne’s Cameos Throughout the Years

In the 1960s, John Wayne was well on his way to paving his legacy as a Western film star. By that year, he had recently starred in Rio Bravo and followed that up by directing, producing, and starring in The Alamo

Even though he had little use for minor TV roles, Wayne couldn’t turn this part down when a star of the same caliber came to The Duke. Lucille Ball asked him to make a cameo in her hit series, “I Love Lucy,” in the episode titled “Lucy and John Wayne.”

 A decade later, he made another cameo on “The Beverly Hillbillies” at the end of “The Indians Are Coming.” Years later, he showed up on “Maude” in “Maude Meets the Duke.” 

In 1977, his voice even appeared in the blockbuster film Star Wars, yet fans would have a tough time recognizing his voice. In the first act, when Luke and Ben look for Han Solo, an informant named Garindan rats out the heroes to the Imperial troops. The informant is an alien wearing a black hooded robe with goggles. The robed figure with a squeaky voice is, in fact, the Duke himself.