John Wayne - Rooster Cogburn 

His father Clyde was a pharmacist with a lung condition which required him to move wife Mary and son Marion to the warmer climate of southern California where they tried ranching near the Mojave desert. Till the ranch failed he and his younger brother Robert swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. Next the family moved to Glendale where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers, and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). 

He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne. His first featured film was Men Without Women (1930). 

After more than 70 low-budget adventures, mostly oaters, Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939), the movie through which he emerged as a major star. He appeared nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions. From 1942-3 he was in a radio series "The Three Sheets to the Wind" and in 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, later becoming its president. His right-wing political stance was also reflected in Alamo, which he produced, directed and starred in. His superhawk stand was enshrined in Green Berets, which he co-directed and starred in. In 1963 he had a cancerous lung removed; in 1978 there was open-heart surgery; in 1979 his stomach was removed. 

He received the Best Actor nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and the Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969). A Congressional Medal was struck in his honor. He is perhaps best remembered for his parts in the cavalry trilogy -- Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950).

Interesting fact about John Wayne:

  • He stood 6 foot 4 inches tall.