WATCH: John Wayne’s Granddaughter Performs Tribute Song to Him in 2007

by Matthew Wilson

When people think of cowboys, they think of John Wayne. The actor is ingrained in pop culture as the tough as grit, honest decent cowboy.

Wayne’s granddaughter Jennifer immortalized him and his career through the power of song. She wrote a song called “God Bless John Wayne” that celebrates the actor’s career and staying power. The tune incorporates western imagery from across her grandfather’s films. It includes lyrics like: “He comes in with two guns blazing / the only man with true grit / he saves the day / he gets the girl / and rides off into the sunset.”

It also examines lessons Wayne taught audiences through his films and urges listeners to follow Wayne’s example. The tune is even more poignant because Jennifer never got to meet her grandfather. He died before Jennifer was born. So she only knows him through his films, stories and the legacy he left behind.

Jennifer performed the song live to celebrate the actor’s 100th birthday in 2007. Jennifer is a professional singer and songwriter. She’s part of the country group Runaway June, which released a popular single “Lipstick” and toured with Carrie Underwood in 2019.

Marion Morrison Became John Wayne

In some ways, John Wayne’s legend became larger than the man himself. Marion Morrison Winter Winterset wouldn’t become John Wayne until after he started his acting career. Before that, he pursued football and a law school degree, but soon gravitated to the pictures.

Over the course of his career, Morrison starred in over 175 films as Wayne. His films created the image of a no-nonsense, tough man that didn’t put up with bullies. While he may not have been a cowboy in real life, the Duke still believed in speaking his mind and doing what was right.

Among his many words of wisdom, he once said, “I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either.”