Flashback: John Wayne Honored By Kirk Douglas And Frank Sinatra Days Before His Death
Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra put politics aside to honor the Hollywood legend John Wayne days before he died back in 1979.
The Hollywood legend John Wayne sadly passed away on June 11, 1979 at the age of 72 after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer, but he is still missed by millions of fans to this day. It has just been revealed that weeks before Wayne died, the stars Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra stepped up to pay tribute to him in a truly beautiful way.
John Wayne (May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979). pic.twitter.com/GjkwemcOSF
— Juan Ferrer (@JuanFerrerVila) May 26, 2021
Hollywood Honors Wayne
The Express reported that Wayne was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on his 72nd birthday on May 26, 1979. Though Wayne was famously conservative, both Democrat and Republicans in Hollywood came together to support him getting this award by describing him as an American patriot.
Douglas and Wayne never agreed about politics, as the former was a lifelong Democrat. Despite this, knowing that Wayne was about to die, Douglas put politics aside to say that the man who was nicknamed The Duke deserved this honor.
“I strongly believe that John Wayne should receive the Congressional Medal of Honor,” Douglas said at the time. “He is an authentic chunk of Americana. His personal and artistic life represent the best qualities of America admired by people around the world.”
“He has always been a strong force for the American way of life,” he continued. “He has personified that force privately and artistically for many, many years. The world would applaud -the action of bestowing this medal on a great American.”
KIRK DOUGLAS talking about his relationship with John Wayne, "we have never seen eye to eye on a lot of things." pic.twitter.com/ntK5MEpzve
— All The Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) April 9, 2023
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Related: John Wayne Once Blasted Kirk Douglas For Playing A Role He Deemed “Weak” And “Snivelling”
Sinatra’s Tribute To Wayne
Sinatra had been a Democrat for decades before switching to the Republican Party in the early 1970s, and he also publicly supported Wayne being given this honor.
“For over half a century, Mr Wayne has served honorably as America’s symbol to the world of the highest morals and prudent standard of our society,” he said. “No man’s lifetime of work has better expressed the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“No man’s lifetime of work has given more proof to the world that our flag is still there,” Sinatra added. “John Wayne is in truth a star-spangled man whom so proudly we hail.”
One of our favorite films with Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Yul Brynner, and Frank Sinatra. The true story of lawyer and West Point Colonel, Micky Marcus from Brooklyn -who became the first leader of the Israeli army. Killed in the war for Independence. l pic.twitter.com/ylKQ5bgfIK
— SAFE CUNY (@SAFECUNY) June 25, 2022
Related: Angie Dickinson, 91, Reveals What Working With John Wayne Was Really Like – ‘He Was So Generous’
Ronald Reagan Weighs In
Another tribute came in from the Hollywood star Ronald Reagan, who Wayne sadly never got to see become president.
“I can simply say that there is no one in America I can think of more deserving of the special honor you are now considering than John Wayne,” Reagan said. “There is no one who exemplifies the devotion to our country, its goodness, its industry and its strengths better than John Wayne.”
“Duke Wayne’s service to our country, not only in his chosen profession, but as a public servant in the truest sense of the term, certainly qualifies him for this honor,” he continued. “It will be a tribute not only to John Wayne, the man, but also to those high standards and ideals to which he is dedicated.”
Bob Hope, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. (1973) 😎 pic.twitter.com/4QEBalFQQi
— Groovy History (@GroovyHistory) May 7, 2019
The bipartisan support of Wayne was shown once again in 1980, when the liberal President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
We’re living in a time in which American patriots are hard to find in Hollywood, so Wayne’s love for his country is even more inspiring today decades after his death. We’re glad to see that Hollywood was able to come together to honor Wayne in the weeks before his passing, as it’s impossible to imagine the entertainment world rallying behind a conservative star in this way today!
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