In Westerns, there’s no one tougher than John Wayne. But that may not always have been the case for the actor in real life.
Certainly, The Duke was tough and gritty onscreen. With roles in movies like Hondo, The Shootist, True Grit, and How the West Was Won, Wayne proved his acting talents. But, perhaps, one of his greatest scenes took place in real life. During an interview, Wayne’s fraternity brother, Ralf “Pexy” Eckles shared a hilarious story about John Wayne. He said that Wayne once got out of a college fight by putting ketchup in his mouth and letting it leak out.
“The guys let him go because they thought he was bleeding,” said Eckles. “He would have got away with it if he hadn’t started to laugh.”
Now that is acting talent right there!
John Wayne Was Actually A Really Funny Guy In Real Life
John Wayne built his career on being a stern and hardy man. Yet, in real life, he was a really funny guy. In fact, when he wasn’t filming movies, Wayne frequently played pranks on his co-stars and family.
According to the John Wayne Official website, the Duke once played a prank on his stuntman, Terry Leonard. The two worked together on the film The Train Robbers in 1973. After a week of filming, Leonard went to the bar on a Saturday night. While there, he got into a fight with another patron and injured his knee. He was scheduled to film a big stunt scene the next day and was very worried that The Duke would be upset. So, Wayne decided to play into his stuntman’s fear. He sent the assistant director to Leonard’s trailer the next day and had him say, “Mr. Wayne needs to see you right away.”
“I’m thinking, I’m going to get fired,” said Leonard. “I was petrified because I didn’t know him that well yet and was supposed to be conducting myself in a dignified manner. So, I go to see him and he says, ‘I hear you had a little trouble Saturday night.’ I said, ‘Yes sir, I was trying to defend myself.’ He looked at me, smiled, and said, ‘Sounds to me like you are the real John Wayne.’”
Wayne Also Pranked His Own Daughter
Not even John Wayne’s family was safe from his pranks. According to his daughter, Marissa, Wayne also played a prank on his other daughter Aissa. While filming Brannigan, Wayne moved his family to a rented house in London. Aissa was convinced that the house was haunted. So, Wayne decided to torment his daughter, jokingly of course.
“He put my sister and her friends on the top level,” said Marissa. “In the middle of the night, he would go up there and move stuff around and tilt paintings on the wall to make it look like there was a ghost doing all this. She came tearing down the stairs to [tell everyone], and he’d just roll his eyes, saying she was imagining things. Then, he’d give me a quick wink.”