John Wayne’s Son Believes the Duke Would Have Been President If He Finished College

by Josh Lanier

John Wayne was a leader in everything he did, his children remembered. He was a general on the football field in his youth, and lead massive movie productions later in life. They believe that had he been able to finish college, he likely would have put his charisma and talents into politics and could have been president of the United States.

Ethan Wayne and Patrick Wayne, along with their sister Marisa Wayne, discussed his legacy on the Gritcast, a podcast dedicated to The Duke.

Patrick Wayne explained that his dad didn’t set out to be a movie star. He wanted to be a naval officer. In high school, John Wayne wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. But he lacked the political connections needed to get in, Patrick explained. So, instead, John Wayne attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. But he lost that scholarship in his sophomore season when the team cut The Duke after he injured his shoulder surfing. That’s when he focused his attention on the entertainment industry.

Whatever path he chose, John Wayne would have been a success, his kids believe.

“If he had gone to the Naval Academy, he would have been the head of the Joints Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon,” Patrick Wayne said. “If he had finished college, he would have been the president of the United States. This guy was going to succeed someplace. He landed on his feet in the movie business. …. The rest is history. I think the world is a better place because he’s got this body of work that people are still enjoying.”

John Wayne ‘Was a Glue For Our Country’

John Wayne movies have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. His kids believe that’s because people are searching for a “home base” to escape the political and social upheaval in the country.

In the same episode of the Gritcast, his kids said they believe everyone can find something to enjoy in his movies. People can put aside their differences for a few hours whenever his movies are on.

“(His movies are) a glue for people who have different, disparate points of view,” Patrick Wayne said.

“I think he was a glue for our country,” Ethan Wayne interjected.

A lot of that, they believe, was because John Wayne represented the American ideal. His characters were aspirational and reinforced “the core foundations of the United States,” Marisa Wayne said.

“Beyond Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne represented the value set and the character of our country,” Ethan Wayne added. “… He inspired people to be better and to embrace those character traits and value sets that he represented on screen because he took the best of us as a people and put that into one guy.”