John Wayne stayed busy throughout his career. He was seemingly always working on a film or preparing for a role, but his granddaughter says he took care to make sure he spent as much time as he could with his family. Whenever he wasn’t on set, he was with his with them.
Anita La Cava Swift, Wayne’s oldest granddaughter, said she spent the first year of her life living with her granddad as her parents’ built their home. She remembers watching movies with him in the living room, going out on his boats, and visiting him on movie sets.
“If he wasn’t working, he was with his family,” she told American Cowboy in 2014. “He always made sure that every kid got their birthday present and their Christmas present—he loved Christmas—and that everybody came and visited.”
But one of her favorite memories was when the tables were turned, and she was the star of a show.
When I played Fagin in my eighth-grade production of Oliver Twist, he was doing a movie with Warner Bros. at the time and I never thought that he would be able to come see me in the play. But one night somebody said ‘John Wayne is here!’ Afterward, I received a bouquet of flowers and a telegram that read: ‘I want to sign you to a contract. —Lou Wasserman.’ Well of course I knew it was from him, and every night for the rest of the play’s run he sent me a telegram pretending to be somebody else. ‘You were terrific. Forget Lou Wasserman. I want you. —Louie V.,’ things like that. He was so cute that way.Anita La Cava Swift, American Cowboy
The Duke had already made good on his promise, though. Swift, appeared in The Alamo as a baby, she said.
Schedule for The John Wayne ‘Duke Days of May’
If you’re wanting to revisit some of John Wayne’s films, the INSPO network is showing some of his classics every weekend. It’s a great way to relive some of his biggest on-screen moments or introduce someone to his body of work.
This weekend schedule is as follows:
- McClintock, Friday, May 21st at 8 p.m. EST
- The Fighting Seabees, Saturday, May 22nd at 8 p.m.
- The Undefeated, Sunday, May 23, at 8 p.m
You can see a full list of the films that are part of this year’s Duke Days of May here.