John Wayne: Hilarious Story About How the Cowboy Icon’s Production Company Got Its Unique Name

by Matthew Wilson
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After starring in numerous films, John Wayne started his own production company. And the origin of its name is a pretty funny story.

Wayne wanted to title the production company Batjak initially. It was based upon a fictitious shipping company in “Wake of the Red Witch,” a 1948 film starring Wayne. When Wayne decided to start his own productions, he wanted to give ode to the film and his cinematic past. But the production company ended up with the nam “Batjac” instead.

Fans of the Duke can thank an oversight on the part of a secretary. A secretary accidentally made a spelling era on the paperwork for the company. Wayne didn’t want to upset the secretary by pointing out the mistake. So he went with Batjac as the name of his company instead. Wayne’s manners meant the title stuck and became Wayne’s production company.

John Wayne and His Production Company

Always the hard worker, Wayne started producing his own movies. Wayne initially founded the production company with producer Robert Fellows in 1952. They called the production company Wayne/Fellows Productions. But Wayne changed the name to Batjac after Fellows left the company.

Wayne’s production company funded a number of Wayne’s classics including “Hondo,” “Big Jake,” and “The Green Berets” as well. The last film that the company produced of Wayne was his detective crime thriller ‘McQ” in 1974. Of course, one of the studio’s biggest productions was “The Alamo.”

“The Alamo” was a passion project of Wayne’s. He had tried for years to find a Hollywood studio to make the film, which he wanted to direct. Making a movie about “The Alamo” was probably on Wayne’s mind when he decided to form the production company, to begin with.

Eventually, Wayne got his chance to make the film in 1960. Almost immediately that production faced numerous challenges including a murder. It certainly felt like a cursed production from the very beginning. Wayne starred and directed the film, acting in a dual capacity. He was probably just thankful that the film ultimately made its way to theaters.

In addition to Wayne’s films, the production company also produced other films that didn’t star Wayne as well. When the actor passed away in 1979, he left the company to his son Michael. Michael managed the production company and Wayne’s films until his own death in 2003.

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