He worked hard to create his image.
John Wayne changed his name from Marion Morrison, learned his famous walk from actor Paul Fix (the sheriff in The Rifleman), and his acting style from the actor Harry Carey Sr. He and stunt man, Yakima Canutt, developed the 'movie fight'. Prior movie fights were just free swinging brawls.
He was also mentored by other stunt men in riding and western skills. He then carefully choose movie parts to mold a consistent image (notice the bull horns in the photo) and started his own movie company so he could continue to protect his image and finances.
Charlton Heston said, “The greatest thing that John Wayne ever did was to turn himself into a legend.” Wayne's career was a well thought out plan of image creation. So much so that Wayne's son Michael had to clarify by saying, "My father wasn't a cowboy, he wasn't a soldier, he wasn't Davy Crockett, he was a movie star."
Burt Reynolds said, “John Wayne worked hard at being John Wayne.” Bruce Dern, who worked with Wayne on 'The Cowboys' said, "He worked harder than anyone. He was the first one on the set and the last to leave, and he only had one lung."
Ron Howard who worked with Wayne in 'The Shootist' said, "He would work for hours on one line trying to decide which way to say it best."
Wayne's work ethic was incredible. He was the lead in 142 of his over 200 film appearances. With a total of 25 years on the 'Top Ten Money Makers' list, he beat Clint Eastwood (21 appearances) into second place. After seeing Clint Eastwood being manipulated by the crazy woman in 'Play Misty for Me', Wayne told Eastwood, "You shouldn't play weak character parts like that. We have to project a strong image to audiences."
Protecting his image till his last movie, 'The Shootist', he refused to follow Don Siegel's directions to shoot one of four gunfighter attackers in the back. "Clint Eastwood would," Siegel (Dirty Harry) told him. "I don't care want that youngster would do. I never shot a man in the back in any of my movies."
Also on this site: Sinatra & Wayne Refused Dirty Harry :urlm.in/oyln
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