Reader Blind Item – Old Hollywood
This permanently A list immediately recognizable Oscar winning actor was not a good person.
He was a bully, a blowhard, and a racist.
He was also a coward who dodged military service in World War II.
In the early 1960’s, he received his comeuppance while working on a movie with this also recognizable Oscar winning actor who’s war record in the Pacific theatre is the stuff of legend. One of the few men in his company to survive combat, he was gravely injured and received several decorations and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The director on this movie was also a multiple Oscar winner and also had distinguished military service including a purple heart.
The war hero actor and the director spent the whole time on set mocking the war record or lack of one of the blowhard actor but he couldn’t do anything as either man would have easily beaten the crap out of him.
Phony tough guy meets real life tough guys.
Draft dodger: John Wayne
War Hero: Lee Marvin
Director: John Ford
Movie: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Was John Wayne a draft dodger?
In your book The Straight Dope you were asked whether John Wayne had ever served in the military. You said no–that though Wayne as a youth had wanted to become a naval officer, “during World War II, he was rejected for military service.” However, it may be more interesting than that. According to a recent Wayne bio, for all his vaunted patriotism, Wayne may actually have tried to stay out of the service.
Virgiejo, via AOL
John Wayne, draft dodger? Oh, what delicious (if cheap) irony! But that judgment is a little harsh. As Garry Wills tells the story in his book John Wayne’s America: The Politics of Celebrity (1997), the Duke faced a tough choice at the outset of World War II. If he wimped out, don’t be so sure a lot of us wouldn’t have done the same.
At the time of Pearl Harbor, Wayne was 34 years old. His marriage was on the rocks but he still had four kids to support. His career was taking off, in large part on the strength of his work in the classic western Stagecoach (1939). But he wasn’t rich. Should he chuck it all and enlist? Many of Hollywood’s big names, such as Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Clark Gable, did just that. (Fonda, Wills points out, was 37 at the time and had a wife and three kids.) But these were established stars. Wayne knew that if he took a few years off for military service, there was a good chance that by the time he got back he’d be over the hill.
Besides, he specialized in the kind of movies a nation at war wanted to see, in which a rugged American hero overcame great odds. Recognizing that Hollywood was an important part of the war effort, Washington had told California draft boards to go easy on actors. Perhaps rationalizing that he could do more good at home, Wayne obtained 3-A status, “deferred for [family] dependency reasons.” He told friends he’d enlist after he made just one or two more movies. – Read more here