John Wayne Once Starred in a Western Opposite a Famous Child Star

by Joe Rutland
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When director John Ford put together a stellar cast for “Fort Apache” that included John Wayne, there was another famous star in the mix.

Now those who saw the movie when it first hit movie screens in 1948 knew about Shirley Temple. Temple became a darling of the cinema as a child, starring in some of the funniest movies in the 1930s. Reportedly, Temple was the No. 1 draw at the box office between 1935-38.

By the time “Fort Apache” came around with John Wayne and Henry Fonda among the stars, Ford wanted Temple in the movie. Ford had directed Temple in the 1937 film “Wee Willie Winkie.”

John Wayne Portrays Kirby York In John Ford-Directed ‘Fort Apache’

Temple, though, was no longer a child. She was an adult and married to co-star John Agar. In fact, Temple was pregnant during the filming of the movie. Their marriage would last two years.

John Wayne portrays Capt. Kirby York and Fonda plays Lt. Col. Owen Thursday, who happens to be the father of Temple’s character Philadelphia Thursday. Temple was a personal favorite of director Ford and he made sure the one-time child star had a role in this now-classic western.

Later in life, Shirley Temple Black would become the United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989. Temple died on Feb. 10, 2014, at 85 years old.

Wayne Took An Opportunity To Call TV Star Mark Harmon A ‘Rebel’

It’s amazing to think that John Wayne, who died in 1979 from cancer, played college football during his pre-movie days. But it’s true.

Wayne, who went by his birth name of Marion Morrison, actually played offensive tackle for USC. In 1973, Wayne was attending an event hosted by the National Football Foundation in Los Angeles. He was going to receive the Gold Medal from the organization.

At the same event, Mark Harmon, who played quarterback at UCLA, also was going to be honored. Harmon, though, didn’t realize the event was a, well, let’s just say it called for people to look sharp. With little time on his hands, he rushed across the street from the event, grabbed the first tuxedo he could rent, and went back to the event.

Harmon said in a 2019 interview with Parade Magazine that the tuxedo was a dark grey suit with a frilly shirt. Harmon wore it “and John Wayne called me ‘rebel’ all night.”

These days, Harmon is better known for his long-time role on “NCIS.”

A pretty wild story where Wayne, who was known to be a bit of a rebel himself, calls someone else one, too.

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