John Wayne always got down and dirty when he wanted to. The Duke may have played a cowboy, but he wasn’t afraid of solving problems with his fists. Just take this image from one of the actor’s early movies. In 1942’s “The Spoilers,” Wayne’s character got into an all-out brawl.
The John Wayne Estate remembered the Duke’s penchant for fights by sharing a vintage still from the movie. And viewers can see a snapshot of Wayne delivering a hell of a right hook. The actor knocked his adversary dead with a clean punch.
On Instagram, the estate wrote: “‘I decided I was going to drag the bad guy to his feet and keep hitting him.’ (John Wayne pictured here in The Spoilers in 1942).”
Of course, Wayne didn’t just put up his dukes for the camera. He also liked to fight in real life as well, and according to his grandson, that sometimes got him into trouble. The actor often had sparring matches with his best friend Ward Bond.
“It’s funny, my mom always portrayed my granddaddy as somebody who was willing to stand up for the little guys,” Brendan Wayne said. “But he also just liked to fight. He and [frequent co-star] Ward Bond used to fight all the time.”
Well, during one particular match, things got heated between Wayne and Bond. And Wayne’s friend tried to hit him with a cue-ball.
“He and Ward Bond were fighting at the Hollywood Athletic Club,” Brendan Wayne said. “Back when it was a place where guys stayed in between fights with whoever they were loving. Ward threw a cue ball at John and it went through the window.”
Instead, the pool ball ended up smashing into a car window outside. A by-passer was shocked to see Wayne emerge from the building as much as he was about his window.
John Wayne Referees a Fight
But John Wayne just loved fighting in general. In fact, he even refereed a fight a year after 1942’s “The Spoilers.” Late actor Hugh O’Brian recalled Wayne visiting and refereeing a fight he had while in the Marine Corps. Wayne loved watching a good fight.
“(In) 1943 John Wayne was really emerging. He was not the kind of star that he became … But, everybody knew who he was, but he was still kind of the fresh thing,” O’Brian said. “To make a long story short, he gets into the ring and he looks at this skinny runt and he looks at this other giant. I think it’s one of the few times I ever saw John Wayne look up at anybody.”
O’Brian got a little help from the Duke when fighting another Marine.
“He climbs out of the ring instead of staying inside the ring to referee,” O’Brian recalled. “(John Wayne) goes down and he goes to where the timekeeper is. He picks up the gong. Rings it – rings the bell – to start the fight and that was it for almost 15 minutes.”