Wayne was an American actor and filmmaker who became one of Hollywood’s most popular icons through his starring roles during the ‘Hollywood Golden Age’. He is especially known for his appearances in Western and war films, his career having flourished from the silent era of the 1920s through the American New Wave that began in the mid-Sixties. In total, Wayne — whose real name was Marion Robert Morrison — starred in 179 film and television productions.
The legendary actor sadly passed away in 1979 aged 72, and 20 years later was selected as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute.
This weekend, his hit film, ‘The Searchers’ aired on BBC Two, a Western drama located at the heart of Monument Valley filled with revenge and reconciliation.
Much has been said of Wayne and his life since his death, including his personal and intense relationships with co-stars and his financial woes.
A more bizarre aspect of Wayne’s personality was noted in a Daily Telegraph listicle about facts otherwise unknown about him.
John Wayne: The star held many superstitions (Image: GETTY)
Fame: Wayne (second from left) pictured with Ronald Reagan and Frank Sinatra (right) (Image: GETTY)
One noted how he was “deeply superstitious”.
Martin Chilton, formerly the publication’s culture editor, wrote: “Among the many things (normally wives) that made a volatile Wayne fly off the handle was the act of anyone leaving a hat on top of a bed.
“Also, no one in his family was ever allowed to pass salt directly to Wayne, it had to be placed on the table instead and then he would reach for it.
“He was not superstitious about his smoking, though, getting through five packets of cigarettes a day, something that brought him first a persistent hacking cough and later lung cancer.”
The Big Trail: A young Wayne pictured on the set of The Big Trail in 1930 (Image: GETTY)
Wayne would go on to defeat the cancer, undergoing a successful surgery to remove his entire left lung and two ribs.
His business associates attempted to dissuade him from making his illness public for fear it would cost him work.
But Wayne ignored them and announced he had cancer, calling on the public to get preventive examinations.
Five years after his diagnosis, in 1969, he was declared cancer-free.
Mr Chilton gave a string of further, often whacky and niche facts about Wayne, including some of his advice to decorated actor Sir Michael Caine.
He told the British star: “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too f much.
Hollywood: He is considered one of the greats of Hollywood’s Golden Era (Image: GETTY)
Pilar Wayne: Pictured with his Peruvian actress wife in 1956 (Image: GETTY)
He then baffled Sir Michael by adding: “And never wear suede shoes.”
When asked why, Wayne replied: “Because one day a guy in the next stall recognised me and turned towards me and said ‘John Wayne you’re my favourite actor!’
“And p***** all over my suede shoes.
“So don’t wear them when you’re famous, kid.”
When Wayne won his Best Actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, 1969, he is said to have whispered in Barbra Streisand‘s ear “beginner’s luck”.
John Wayne children: Pictured with his daughter, Aissa, on the set of The Alamo, 1960 (Image: GETTY)
He later spent the evening with the Welshman Richard Burton, who had been nominated for playing King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days.
Having knocked on Burton’s door, he thrust the Oscar award at him and said: “You should have this, not me.”
Wayne’s enduring status as an iconic American was formally recognised by the US government in the form of the two highest civilian decorations.
On his 72nd birthday he was awarded the Congressional Gold Media, with Hollywood figures and American leaders from across the political spectrum having testified to Congress in support of the award.
True Grit: He won an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 hit (Image: GETTY)
Then, in 1980, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.
Three years earlier he had attended Mr Carter’s inaugural ball “as a member of the loyal opposition” as he described it.
Nine years after his death, in 1988, he was awarded the Naval Heritage Award by the US Navy Memorial Foundation for his support of the Navy and military during his film career.