Today, we know John Wayne as a film icon. For many, he is the quintessential movie cowboy. Furthermore, we know that he carried that stoic persona over into his daily life. However, before The Duke was a movie star he was an extra in several movies.
John Wayne appeared on screen for the first time as an extra in the 1926 silent film Brown of Harvard. For the next few years, he appeared as a background actor and in bit parts. Then, he got his first big role in the silent 1930 western film The Big Trail. That movie was a flop. However, it gave Wayne a real start in the world of acting.
Nine years and several films later, John Wayne landed his breakout role. He played Ringo Kid in the 1939 classic western film Stagecoach. That movie was a success and went on to influence several great filmmakers. For instance, master director Orson Welles said that he watched Stagecoach more than forty times while preparing to make his magnum opus, Citizen Kane, according to IMDb. Welles called the classic western a textbook example of filmmaking. Citizen Kane has gone on to be called one of the best films ever made. This shows the level of skill that went into making Stagecoach.
It wouldn’t have been near as good without its powerhouse cast, though.
John Wayne’s Oscar-Winning Stagecoach Co-Stars
Stagecoach featured three Oscar-winning actors. However, not all of them took home trophies for the classic western. Other than John Wayne, Claire Trevor and Thomas Mitchell would go on to win Academy Awards after Stagecoach.
Thomas Mitchell was the only member of the cast to take home an Oscar for Stagecoach. He won in the Best Supporting Actor category. However, there were a couple more nominations and one win for the film. For instance, Richard Hageman, John Leipold, Leo Shuken, and W. Franke Harling won Oscars in the Best Music (Scoring) category for Stagecoach. The film was nominated in the Best Picture category. John Ford almost took home the Oscar for Best Director. The film was also up for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing. Neither John Wayne nor Claire Trevor were nominated for Academy Awards.
John Wayne didn’t win his first and only Oscar until 1970. He took home the trophy for Best Actor for his role in True Grit. Claire Trevor didn’t have to wait nearly as long as her Stagecoach co-star. Her role in the 1948 film Key Largo won her an Oscar for Best Actress.