John Wayne Was Considered ‘Substitute’ Father for a Hollywood Icon

by Keeli Parkey

Throughout his legendary career, John Wayne inspired countless fans and touched the lives of many people. He even came to be viewed as a father figure by a young man who would go on to become a famous Hollywood icon himself.

That actor was Chuck Norris.

And, according to an interview posted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, John Wayne was more than just someone Norris admired. In fact, the Duke was viewed by Norris as a “substitute father.”

Norris said during the interview that watched John Wayne’s movies in his youth. In those movies, he found a man who served as a father-figure to the youngster. His biological father was reportedly an alcoholic.

He abandoned Norris and his family when Norris was 10 years old. The family was living in Ryan, Oklahoma, at the time. His mother later took Norris and her two other boys to live in Torrance, California.

Chuck Norris is not the actor’s actual name. The name he was given at birth was Carlos Ray Norris, according to the article.

Steve McQueen Suggested Chuck Norris Pursue a Career in Movies

John Wayne wasn’t the only legendary Hollywood leading man who played an important role in Chuck Norris becoming a successful actor. That other actor was the famous Steve McQueen.

According to the article, Norris studied karate while he served in South Korea during his time in the Air Force. He said he decided to learn the discipline to aid in his future career search.

“I studied it because I wanted to be a police officer when I got home, and I thought it would help,” Norris reportedly said.

However, he didn’t become a police officer after his military service ended. What Norris decided to do was open karate schools in California.

Turns out, Steve McQueen and his son, Chad, ended up being students of Chuck Norris. McQueen was impressed with the teacher and urged Norris to try to have a career in the movies. McQueen also offered Norris some good advice, according to the article.

“He told me that I should think about projecting a presence, and never do a part that had a lot of dialogue,” Norris said. “He told me, ‘Movies are visual, and when you try to verbalize something, you’re going to lose the audience.’ He said to let the character actors lay out the plot, and that when there were important things to say, you say it, and people will remember.”

Many, many films and popular television shows, including “Walker, Texas Ranger,” followed for Chuck Norris. And, as the article notes, Norris has played a familiar character throughout his career. This character is the “soft-spoken loner who let his fists and feet do the talking.”

The actor has come a long way from being the young boy who looked at John Wayne as his “substitute father.”