Watch John Wayne’s Final Interview

by Halle Ames

Legendary western film actor John Wayne died in 1979, but today we take a look back on the icon’s last interview five months before his passing.

The video depicts John Wayne’s extravagant life, which includes his massive yacht and elegant house. It wasn’t always this lavish, though.

Wayne was born under the name Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. He didn’t acquire the nickname John Wayne until he made it to Hollywood with his first lead role in the 1930 film, The Big Trail.

Growing Up

When asked if he was lonely when he moved to Southern California at the age of five, John Wayne said he was just the opposite.

“Absolutely not. It was so thrilling to come from Iowa, which was flat rolling country, and suddenly when you’re about 50 miles from Pikes Peak. I saw Pikes Peak, and I said, ‘Boy, that’s terrific, well that’s a mountain. What is that? Snow? Yes. Let’s go over there.'”

Growing up, John Wayne excelled in sports and even received a scholarship to play football at USC. However, the University revoked the scholarship after a bodysurfing accident.

Like any high school or college student faced with challenging life decisions, Wayne wavered on what to do with his life.

“Actually, I wanted to go to the Naval Academy, and then I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.”

John Wayne then met director John Ford, who was taken back by his horse riding abilities and brawn, making him the perfect stuntman. The pair worked together in 149 films.

“I know I’m a good actor. I’ve been at it for 50 years. I should have learned something.”

When asked if Marion Robert Morrison started to turn into the John Wayne we see and love on screen, he said yes. He admits that, like his character, he also likes drinking, women, fighting.

“What they have become to expect of me, I try to be on the screen. I remember when I was a young man, and we were making a picture in which Harry Carary was playing my father. It was Shepherd Of The Hills, and we’re talking about pictures, and you know, I was imbued with the idea that I wanted to play every kind of part.”

John Wayne Reveals Best Advice

As for the best advice John Wayne received, it came as a surprise from his friend, Harry Carey’s wife. It made him realize that he needs to live up to his audiences expectations.

“She said, ‘Would you like to see Harry Carey different?’ and I said ‘no, of course not.’ And she said, ‘Well then, why don’t you wise up? The American people have taken you to their hearts, and they expect a certain thing out of you. Don’t disappoint them.’ And I think it’s the best advice that was ever given in my life.”

When looking back on John Wayne’s old movies, he admits it makes him upset with nostalgia.

“Well, it’s kind of irritating to see I was a good-looking 40-year-old man, and suddenly I can look over here and see this 71-year-old. And I’m not squawking, but you know, let’s say you kind of thing, God, it was pretty wonderful there.”

John Wayne battled stomach cancer for more than a decade, although he made attempts to beat the disease by enrolling in a cancer vaccine study. He died at the age of 72.

He appeared in 179 films and TV productions throughout his career.