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The Values of a Legend

Decades after John Wayne’s final movie, his legacy lives on. Sure, the man could act in a way it seems no one else ever could. But Wayne is remembered and beloved for more than just his ability to act- it’s his core set of values that continue to make the world stop and take note today. Although he had many values, there are five that, when combined, reflect the true character of John Wayne: strength, courage, commitment, honor, and patriotism.



Strength: Wayne always loomed large. He was 6’4” in person, and perhaps seemed even larger and more powerful on the screen, largely due to the cast of characters he played over the years. In fact he’s rumored to have said to film directors, “You can make me anything you want. Just don't make me petty or small.” Thus his character on screen was just as strong as off.



Courage: In the 1960s, Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was so bad that he underwent an operation to remove one of his lungs. Publicists warned him not to let this be known to the public, so shortly thereafter Wayne called a press conference to say this: “They told me to withhold my cancer operation from the public because it would hurt my image. Isn’t there a good image in John Wayne beating cancer? Sure, I licked the Big C.” He was courageous even in the face of disease and potential negative public opinion.



Commitment: John Wayne’s final film was The Shootist. During the filming, Wayne was ill. He carried an oxygen tank around with him and paused between scenes to use it to catch his breath. Despite this, Wayne didn’t not quit the film. He continued onward until it was finished.



Honor: Wayne stood by his beliefs, regardless of how others felt about them. He filmed several movies like The Green Berets and Big Jim McLain that went against the public opinion of the time, simply because they represented his own opinions. He wouldn’t stand for anyone doing something he thought was wrong.