John Wayne’s Children Discuss Growing Up in Lime Light and Fan Encounters

by John Jamison

Marisa Wayne went along with all of the hype around dad when she was a kid. Why wouldn’t people adore this man she loved so much? John Wayne took Marisa to get ice cream, put up Christmas decorations with her—he was awesome. It makes total sense that all of these fans would lose their minds around him. It wasn’t until she grew up a bit that she realized they admired the man for very different reasons.

On the first episode of Gritcast, a podcast released at the end of September, Patrick, Ethan, and Marisa Wayne talk about all things Duke. Their perspective is unique. Better than any documentary someone could hope to make. They were the ones who led lives as the children of John Wayne, after all.

At one point during the episode, the Wayne brood discussed the topic of being admired solely for the fact that they are John Wayne’s kids. They took it a step further, talking about what it felt like to encounter fans on the street.

“It was strange as a young person meeting these people and getting all this adulation about ‘oh my god, you’re so wonderful’ and everything. I didn’t even know these people, and it was creepy to me. I didn’t get it at all. I didn’t understand that it was just because they were so crazy about my father,” said Patrick Wayne.

Ethan didn’t understand it at a young age either. Someone tried to explain it to him once, likening his association to John Wayne to being a royal family member. And that’s probably the most accurate way to describe all of the attention they received growing up. They were Hollywood royalty, like it or not.

Marisa Wayne Could Have Cared Less About John Wayne Starring in Movies

For Marisa Wayne, John Wayne didn’t need to do anything but be her dad. The iconic Western star known the world over was just that—Marisa’s dad. Like her brothers, she didn’t quite understand the way fans felt about her, or her dad for that matter, when she figured out that they loved him because he starred in movies.

There’s no denying how much love there was and still is for John Wayne and his legacy among the public. But nothing can come close to the familial love shared by the Wayne kids and their dad. The Duke’s fans didn’t even know him at the end of the day. They admired a public persona.

It wasn’t until more recently that Marisa began to appreciate the public’s love for her dad. At first, it was a weird thing to confront. But now, more than 40 years after his death, John Wayne is still a favorite Hollywood figure of millions.

“That’s what hits me. It’s like wow. That’s the impact,” Marisa said.