John Wayne Stalin KGB
John Wayne Stalin KGB

John Wayne is a true American icon. It simply doesn’t get more Americana than this tall, gun-slinging, communist-hating patriot. Here are some little known facts about The Duke, John Wayne. 

John Wayne facts football

John Wayne’s Football Career

John Wayne was 6’4″ tall. His massive size helped him on the football field. The Duke had a football scholarship to the University of Southern California where he was an offensive tackle.

His coach got him a job at Fox Studios as a laborer. When Wayne badly injured his shoulder while body surfing, the coach removed him from the first string and denied him meals.

This forced Wayne to drop out of school and focus on his job at Fox, forever changing his life.

Stalin Ordered His Assassination

Joseph Stalin was enraged that John Wayne’s films were anti-communist. The Soviet dictator ordered a hit on the movie star. He even sent two KGB assassins to the United States to kill Wayne in 1951.

The FBI stopped the hitmen before any attempt was made. The KGB also ordered a sniper attack on the Duke when the star visited Vietnam in 1966.

When Wayne met Nikita Khruschev, the Soviet leader apologized for the assassination attempts. “That was the decision of Stalin in his last mad years. I rescinded the order,” the dictator said.

The Truth About John Wayne’s Real Name

Marion Robert Morrison was his given name at birth. His parents later changed his middle name to Mitchell because they wanted to name his younger brother Robert.

Young Marion took his Airedale Terrier named Duke with him everywhere. Local fireman started calling Marion “Little Duke” and the nickname stuck. He preferred this as he didn’t like the name Marion.

What The Hair?

John Wayne wore a toupee on film. His hair began thinning in the 1940s. He preferred wearing a hat on screen rather than a toupee.

When he wasn’t doing the Hollywood thing, Duke wouldn’t skip the phony hair. “If I wasn’t in show business, I wouldn’t even wear the damn thing.” He simply saw it as a prop.

He never was embarrassed about his hair line. In 1974 while speaking at Harvard, a student asked “Where did you get that phony toupee?”

The star replied, “It’s not phony. It’s real hair. Of course, it’s not mine, but it’s real.”

John Wayne facts toupee

The Chess Player

John Wayne was an avid chess player. He always had a chess game going on movie sets.

Duke would use his huge hands to secretly move chess pieces when playing Robert Mitchum. When Mitchum finally confronted Wayne on the cheating, Wayne said, “I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set ’em up, we’ll play again.”

John Wayne facts Congressional Medal & Presidential Medal of Freedom

John Wayne Was An Honored Medal Recipient

John Wayne was awarded the Congressional Medal in 1979 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.

Upon posthumously awarding the Medal of Freedom to Wayne, President Carter stated, “John Wayne was both an example and a symbol of true American grit and determination. Through his countless film roles, ‘The Duke’ still leads millions on heroic adventures on behalf of fairness and justice. He embodies the enduring American values of individualism, relentless bravery and perseverance in pursuit of what is right. He was the quintessential patriot, and will especially be remembered whenever our Nation faces a challenge calling for steadfast courage.”

The Duke Was Superstitious

Duke was very superstitious. He wouldn’t get angry often, but his superstitions would get the best of him. If someone left their hat on a bed, they were sure to earn a tongue lashing from Wayne.

He also was superstitious about salt! He wouldn’t allow anyone to pass him salt. They had to set it down ow the table and then he would pick it up.

Wayne filmed over 170 movies. The video above has one of The Duke’s most memorable quotes. It’s a great reminder why he is so revered long after his 1979 death.

We hope that you enjoyed this little-known facts about the American legend that is John Wayne!

Source: Listverse

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