Kirk Douglas Explained Why He Didn’t ‘See Eye-to-Eye’ with John Wayne in 1971 Interview with Dick Cavett

by Joe Rutland

Kirk Douglas and John Wayne were two of America’s finest actors. Yet there were things that Douglas didn’t “see eye-to-eye” on with Wayne.

During a 1971 interview with talk-show host Dick Cavett, Douglas talks about that point. First, though, Cavett mentions a then-recent “Playboy” interview where Wayne said he didn’t think it was bad that we took the land away from the Indians (Native Americans).

Cavett said Wayne said it was “because a lot of people needed land and the Indians were being selfish and thought that they ought to have it.”

Kirk Douglas Doesn’t Want Conversation About John Wayne

Then Douglas simply says, “I don’t want to get involved in a conversation about John Wayne.”

“I’ve made quite a few pictures with John Wayne and, by the way, I’ve always called him John,” Douglas said. “Everybody calls him Duke. We have never seen eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”

Douglas said that, professionally, he thinks Wayne is “one of the most professional actors I’ve ever worked with.”

He mentions working with Wayne on “The War Wagon,” “In Harm’s Way,” and “Cast A Giant Shadow.”

“That was a picture done in Israel (and) Wayne was the one who set it up,” Douglas said. “Wayne is the one who called me in London. ‘Hey Kirk, I think this is a part you ought to play.'”

Douglas Says He Never Talks Politics With Wayne

Douglas told Cavett that when he and John Wayne work together on a picture, they’ll have dinner together just one night.

“We get along well, we never discuss politics,” Kirk Douglas said. “But he’s the first guy on the set, the hardest worker I’ve ever worked with, and I think he’s quite a character.”

Wayne died from cancer on June 11, 1979, at 72 years old. Douglas died on Feb. 5, 2020, at 103 years old. Cavett, though retired, remains alive at 84 years old.

Take a look at this portion of Dick Cavett’s interview with Kirk Douglas from 1971.