John Wayne’s unbelievable moment with Richard Burton after winning his True Grit Oscar
JOHN WAYNE won his only Oscar for True Grit, but did you know the incredibly surprising personal confession he told fellow Best Actor nominee Richard Burton at the 1970 Academy Awards?
After decades as a Hollywood star, John Wayne’s Oscars moment finally came when he starred as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. After reading Charles Portis’ novel, Duke actively campaigned for the starring role in the 1969 movie, which saw him collaborate once again with director Henry Hathaway. A year later, the 63-year-old picked up his Best Actor gong at the Academy Awards for the film, admitting: “Wow, if I’d have known that, I’d have put that patch on 35 years earlier.”
Wayne even whispered in Barbra Streisand’s ear as she handed him the Oscar: “Beginner’s luck”.
Yet despite his Academy Award win and True Grit’s commercial success, the Western legend wasn’t happy with the finished product.
When promoting the movie in the summer of 1969, he told interviewers of the “better” films he’d starred in previously, including John Ford’s Stagecoach some 30 years prior.
Wayne also couldn’t stand 21-year-old Kim Darby’s performance as 14-year-old Mattie Ross, and the co-stars barely spoke off-camera.
Duke had initially promised the role for his daughter Aissa Wayne, but Hathaway refused to cast her.
Even though Darby was instead, the director didn’t like her and believed she was wrong for the role.
Despite all this, the Mattie actress praised Wayne saying how wonderful he was to work with, although did tell producer Hal B Wallis that she never wanted to work with Hathaway ever again.
Aside from Darby, Hathaway hated singer Glen Campbell’s “wooden” performance as LaBoeuf and believed he was only cast so True Grit would have a hit theme song to promote the movie.
Originally, Elvis Presley had been the original choice for the role, but The King’s manager blocked the casting.
It turns out Colonel Tom Parker wanted top billing above Wayne for his client, something he was always uncompromising on to the detriment of Elvis’ acting career.
As a result of all his issues with the movie, when picking up his Oscar, Wayne bumped into fellow nominee Richard Burton with a very personal confession. The True Grit star personally told the Welsh actor he should have won for his portrayal of King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days instead of him.
Duke had taken a break from shooting Rio Lobo to fly back to Hollywood to collect his gong, but when the star returned to the set, he discovered a touching sight that brought him to tears.