He’s been gone 40 years
Legendary American film star John Wayne died on June 11, 1979, or 40 years ago today. Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa.
How did he become the ‘Duke’?
As a boy, Wayne’s family settled in Glendale, Calif. He received his distinctive nickname “Duke” while living there. He had a dog by that name, and spent so much time with his pet that they became known as “Little Duke” and “Big Duke.”
An actor soon thereafter
Wayne received his first leading film role in “The Big Trail’’ (1930). Working with famed director John Ford, he got his next big break in “Stagecoach’’ (1939).
First Oscar came later
Wayne won his first Academy Award for Best Actor for “True Grit” (1969). He played Rooster Cogburn, an eye-patching drunkard and lawman, who helps a young woman track down her father’s killer.
A football player at first
Wayne earned a football scholarship to the University of Southern California, where he started college in the fall of 1925.