Don’t get between the Duke and his sleep. Frank Sinatra found out the hard way that you don’t mess with a tired and cranky John Wayne.
According to “The Quotable John Wayne: The Grit and Wisdom of an American Icon,” Wayne knocked out Sinatra’s bodyguard. The incident happened during a stay at a Las Vegas hotel. Both Frank Sinatra and John Wayne were titans of their respective industries, alpha dogs whenever they walked into the room. So it’s little wonder they didn’t really get along. They were used to giving orders, not taking them.
Wayne and Sinatra probably should have stayed at different hotels. But they found themselves under the same roof on one particular evening. Always busy, Wayne was shooting a new movie. And he retired to his room to get some shut-eye. But Sinatra had the suite directly below Wayne. The singer, often larger than life, was having a bash. The noise was so loud that Wayne found he couldn’t sleep.
Initially, Wayne tried the peaceful approach. He called down to Sinatra’s party, asking if they could keep the noise down. While the phone call initially quieted the party-goers, the noise soon grew greater in volume keeping Wayne up. He tried to call several times. But his phone calls failed to silence the party.
John Wayne Punches a Bodyguard
Sinatra probably wished Wayne hadn’t left his hotel room. But the actor finally decided enough was enough, and he went downstairs to confront Sinatra himself. With all the cowboy gruffness he could muster, Wayne told Sinatra to stop the noise so he could sleep.
Sinatra always surrounded himself with bodyguards for protection. The singer wasn’t a fighter after-all. But one bodyguard made the mistake of getting on Wayne’s bad side. He told the cowboy, “Nobody talks to Mr. Sinatra that way.”
Wayne had a four-knuckled response. Acting as if he was about to leave, Wayne looked at the bodyguard before striking him across the face. The force of the blow was enough to force the bodyguard off of his feet. But the actor wasn’t done yet. He also crashed a chair on top of him, which knocked the guard out.
The entire party went silent after that. And Wayne left. For the rest of the night, the actor didn’t hear a peep out of Sinatra’s gathering and finally got his shut-eye.