John Wayne’s Children Discuss His Enduring Legacy 40 Years Later

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Ethan, Patrick, and Marisa Wayne are sharing more anecdotes of their father’s life and their experiences with him on the John Wayne Gritcast. Around the 43 minute mark, Wayne’s children discuss his legacy 40 years later. They talk about the ways other celebrities and fans treated them as the children of John Wayne, as well as his legacy.

The three make it known that they didn’t really understand that people were treating them differently. Patrick Wayne recalls that he thought the attention and adulation he received was “creepy.” Ethan puts it well when he says Patrick was “catching a lot of light that was shining on him [John Wayne].”

Marisa Wayne recalls thinking that the adoration people had for her father was well-deserved, that’s how she felt about him. She loved her father immensely, so to her, it made sense that people treated him with love and respect.

Ethan Wayne tells his siblings that he “didn’t really get” the attention. He didn’t understand the popularity because to him, John Wayne was just his father. Ethan says that life was normal for him around the house or at remote filming locations. There weren’t a lot of fans around that gave him the sense that his father was anything other than just that. He says, “I didn’t get it right away.” They weren’t “country club kids,” they were Hollywood royalty, of course, but, according to them, it never felt like that.

John Wayne’s Incredible Legacy

Patrick describes John Wayne as “so much more than the guy he played on the screen.” The three seem blown away that it’s been 40 years since their father passed, and people still love him like they did when he was alive. Maybe even more so.

They discuss on the podcast how they were going to move on when John Wayne died, “We made a deal to use our dad’s name to raise money and create awareness about cancer research,” Patrick says. “Never in our wildest imaginations, [did we think] that we would be sitting here, 40 years later, and his name still has resonance and it still has meaning.”

Ethan chimes in to lay out their father’s incredible legacy. He says, “There’s the film career. The films are still viable, people love them.”

His films had adventure, romance, humor, and wisdom, and have lasted all this time. Ethan goes on, “Now he’s got the legacy in cancer [research].” Training programs for doctors, vaccines, fellowships. His legacy has surely been cemented.

Ethan says that shows and movies nowadays are some of the best being produced. However, there’s really no one to look up to like there was in John Wayne’s time. “They’re not really aspirational,” he says of today’s actors. And it seems like John Wayne became aspirational without even meaning to, at least to his adoring children.