John Wayne was one of the most charismatic, prolific and popular film stars of his generation. But Duke owed much of his career to a genuine gunslinger who had experienced the Wild West for real. Here’s a look at how a chance meeting inadvertently changed the course of the Hollywood Western.
Born Marion Morrison in Iowa in 1907, John Wayne studied law at the University of Southern California, where he also played football. Both his legal and sporting ambitions were cut short, however, when he broke his collarbone while bodysurfing and was subsequently stripped of his scholarship. Still, the accident proved to be somewhat of a blessing in disguise, as acclaimed director John Ford would ultimately go on to employ Wayne as a prop boy.