For John Wayne, movies were a family business.
He didn’t force his children to follow in his footsteps. But growing up around movie sets gave some of them a unique perspective on the entertainment industry. The Duke’s eldest son, Michael, fell in love with film production after he worked on “The Quiet Man” in 1951. In the years following, Michael Wayne produced a number of his dad’s most popular films.
Michael Wayne was the product of John Wayne’s first marriage to Josephine Saenz. He was born in 1934 and quickly took a liking to his father’s line of work. He eventually earned a position at the head of John Wayne’s production company, Batjac Productions, working as a producer.
As the Duke’s career progressed, so too did Michael’s. Wayne loved having his family work with him. And for good reason. According to his second son, Patrick Wayne, Michael always had his dad’s best interest in mind.
“Michael was his own man and tried to watch out for other things besides just the film production side of things. But in the end, he did what my dad wanted him to do, and he always tried to look out for my dad,” Patrick Wayne wrote in “The Genuine Article.”
In a bottom-line business like entertainment, having someone so loyal in such a powerful position was a major positive. And the relationship between Michael and his dad led to a number of films many remember fondly.
Classic John Wayne Film ‘The Alamo’ – 1960
The first project on which Michael and John Wayne collaborated was “The Alamo” in 1960. Though he was just in his mid-20s, Michael was included as an associate producer. The film was a John Wayne-directed effort to retell the famous story of the defense of The Alamo in 1836.
‘McLintock!’ – 1963
A few years later, however, Michael Wayne graduated to the title of producer. John Wayne starred as G.W. McLintock opposite Maureen O’Hara. And to round out the family dynamic, Patrick Wayne played the role of Devlin Warren in the film.
‘The Green Berets’ – 1968
Another classic offering from the Duke. Michael Wayne was credited as a producer on the war drama that depicted Wayne as Col. Kirby, who was tasked with carrying out a mission in South Vietnam. Patrick Wayne once again appeared. However, this time as Lt. Jamison.
‘Big Jake’ – 1971
In “Big Jake,” John Wayne plays grandpa Jacob McCandles. He sets out to exact justice on the gang who kidnapped his grandson. The film was another collaboration between father and son, with Michael Wayne producing.
John Wayne Was a Family-Oriented Man
From Michael Wayne producing to Patrick Wayne starring, John Wayne made a point of including his family in his work. With how busy his iconic acting career kept him, it was a great way for him to spend time with his kids.
Even Ethan Wayne, who was born nearly 30 years after older brother Michael, was given opportunities. He starred as Wayne’s grandson, Little Jake, in the 1971 film “Big Jake.”