Wayne knew this only too well at the age of 65 when shooting 1973’s Cahill: US Marshall.
Duke suffered from emphysema on his single remaining lung and being significantly weakened, was forced to use a stepladder to climb onto his horse in the movie.
As for riding shots from a distance, Wayne’s Cahill was doubled by Chuck Roberson. Sadly the star ended up dying of stomach cancer himself in 1979, but continued to speak highly of Ford in his final years.
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Wayne told Roger Ebert in 1976: “Up until the very last years of his life … Pappy could have directed another picture, and a damned good one. But they said Pappy was too old. Hell, he was never too old. In Hollywood these days, they don’t stand behind a fella. They’d rather make a goddamned legend out of him and be done with him.”
Ford was truly a complex character. Brilliant and eccentric, he would chew through the corners of a dozen handkerchiefs while smoking a pipe each day.
For all his talents he was also known for having a furious temper and would bait his actors to get better performances out of them.
On set, he also discouraged chatting and bad language in front of women and insisted on an Earl Grey tea break each afternoon.