The “John Wayne: An American Experience” exhibit opened in Fort Worth, Texas Stockyards, in late 2020. It boasts 10,000 sq. ft. full of Duke nostalgia. With everything from costumes he wore in his movies on display to letters he wrote, it’s the largest concentration of John Wayne memorabilia anywhere in the world. And who do we have to thank for the collection? Wayne’s youngest son, Ethan.
Ethan Wayne recently posted a video to Instagram in which he gave a visual tour of the exhibit and explained some of the background.
You can watch Ethan below.
In the video, he recalled how they discovered the treasure trove in the first place. After his older brother, Michael passed away in 2003. The responsibility of managing the family company fell to Ethan.
“We noticed a lot of money going to a storage facility. Se we made an appointment, we went out and it was sort of an Indiana Jones-style boxes,” Ethan said in the Instagram video. “They pulled some down, we start going through it, first thing was plastic cups. And then there was toilet paper. You start thinking ‘Oh, it’s a bunch of junk’ and then we realized, wait a minute, an Academy Award. This is something significant.”
Why Fort Worth for the John Wayne Exhibit?
Something significant indeed. They hit the mother lode of authentic John Wayne stuff from throughout his career. Thankfully, the family itself was able to access and recover all of their loved one’s items. But why Texas as the location for the John Wayne exhibit? Apparently, Wayne loved Texas.
“The one film he put his heart and soul into was The Alamo. He backed that film personally and professionally and ended a decade-long relationship with Republic Pictures with it,” Ethan told Texas Highways in 2020. “It’s a very American story and a very Texas story. There’s a long and deep connection with the West and some of the characters he portrayed onscreen.”
Watching Duke’s Movies Today Creates the Same Feeling as Decades Ago
The John Wayne fans are absolutely still out there in major numbers. And in addition to watching him on screen, now they can appreciate the work he did in films by actually going to explore his physical legacy.
“To this day, people can watch a John Wayne movie, and it’s still aspirational. When somebody comes to the exhibit, I want to make sure that they get 72 years of John Wayne,” Ethan said.