John Wayne

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The Duke takes his place in history.

John Wayne, one of America's greatest actors and directors of all time. His fame and superstardom led to many problems in his career. His image as an icon of American individualism and the frontier spirit has overshadowed his career to such an extent that it is almost impossible for the fans and writers to separate Wayne the legend from Wayne the actor and Wayne the man.

Before the start of his movie career he played football at USC under his birth name, Marion Michael Morrison. He held many behind-the-scene jobs at Fox before moving in front of the cameras in the late 1920's in a series of small roles. Director John Ford, who befriended " the Duke", recommended him for the lead role in Raoul Walsh's western epic, The Big Trail. Wayne did not let the stardom go to his head. He spent the rest of the decade making his way through a series of low budget films whose failing budgets and quick shooting schedules did little to advance his career.

In 1939 John Ford gave Wayne another break by casting him as the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach. The roll threw Wayne into the top ranks of the movie stars and finally, in the 1940's, his legend began to take shape. Relieved from military duty due to physical problems, Wayne became the film industry's hard-core soilder, but had that compassionate side. Movies released during the war, such as Flying Tigers (1942), The Fighting Seabees (1944) and Back to Bataan (1945) left Wayne with some pretty big shoes to fill.

The movies that he made at the end of the decade were the ones that established him as an actor of merit.

Howard Hawks emphasized the willful side of Wayne's screen persona by...