John Wayne (also known as “the Duke”) is one of the most popular and well-known actors out there. He is also a very popular American icon. Here are seven facts about his life that are likely to surprise you.
1. Joseph Stalin wanted John Wayne Killed
Joseph Stalin ordered the KGB to assassinate John Wayne due to his anti-communist stance. Stalin believed it to be a threat to the Soviet Union. However, the FBI knew about the plot and intercepted the hit men hired to kill him. Nikita Krushchev, who canceled the order when he met Wayne in 1958, said: “That was a decision of Stalin during his last five mad years. When Stalin died, I rescinded that order."
Via The Guardian
2. He has been awarded two medals by the United States government
In 1979, Wayne was awarded the Congressional Medal and then, in 1980, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Via Master of Trivia
3. John Wayne was not his real name
He was born Marion Morrison, which he did not like. Studio executives in 1930 gave him the new name of John Wayne.
Via The Chive
4. John Wayne was actually bald
5. John Wayne never served in the military
While John Wayne has played numerous roles as someone in the military, he never actually served. He was too young to serve in World War I and when World War II started he was just becoming famous. He also suffered from several health issues that, had he undergone a physical, he more than likely would have been classified as 4-F or unacceptable for military service. Wayne was classified as a 3-A (deferred for family dependency) - but, this was not by his choice as the Republic Studio actually requested it. In 1943, John Wayne did try to enter the Marine Corps and get attached to O.S.S., which would eventually become the C.I.A. While he never was in the military, his movies and USO tours helped the morale of the men fighting the war.
6. After filming one of his movies, half the people on the set were diagnosed with cancer
In 1956, Wayne filed the movie The Conqueror. It was filmed in Utah, downwind of one of Nevada’s nuclear test sites. A total of 91 out of the 220 people involved in the movie would die of cancer. This includes John Wayne, director Dick Powell, and every leading supporting cast member, but that number does not include extras or people involved in the filming of the movie.
via Reel to Real
7. He has been a lead in more movies than any other actor
John Wayne has been in 175 movies total. Out of those 175 movies, he was the lead actor in 142 movies - which is more than any other actor.
Via Master of Trivia
Bonus Fact: John Wayne and Ronald Reagan were really good friends
They were both part of an organization of conservatives who wanted to stop communists from working in the film industry. Wayne was a huge supporter of Reagan when he ran for governor and also when he ran for president. Reagan also wrote a biography about John Wayne.