John Wayne by Ethan Wayne
** My father was tough but very loving.
Date: 4/7/2020 6:50:20 PM ( 8 mon ) ... viewed 260 times
John Wayne by Ethan Wayne
I was born in 1962, at the height of my father’s career. He named me after Ethan Edwards, his character in The Searchers, which many consider to be his best role.
My father was tough, but very loving. He was old school. I don’t know how else to describe it. He didn’t talk much, but he could make his few words very, very impactful and meaningful. Other actors fight for lines; my dad tried to remove as many words as possible. His friends called him Duke, his childhood nickname. It was the name of his dog, an Airedale. Dad used to deliver papers with Duke. The local firemen called the pair Big Duke and Little Duke. The name stuck. He told me, “Now when someone calls me John, I don’t even turn my head.”
In his free time, his life was centred on the ocean. We had a converted Second World War minesweeper called Wild Goose and every summer, we would sail up to British Columbia and Alaska. Every winter, we would take it down to Mexico.
When he wasn’t on the boat, Dad was working. So I was raised on movie sets. They were rugged in those days. Our family would stay either in a small rented house or in a little motel. I had a tutor three hours a day, but I learned a lot from my father, too. He never told me “do this” or “do that”, but led by example. You never wanted to disappoint him.
Once when we were at a friend’s ranch, he asked me to drive to the house in an old pick-up truck and grab some things for him. I was 12. I got the truck stuck and I had to go tell him. He was in the middle of a card game. He didn’t get up or offer to help. It was clear that I was expected to figure out how to get the truck out on my own.
Some of my proudest moments came from living up to my father’s straight-ahead toughness. When we were in Cabo or La Paz, Mexico, we’d anchor the boat far from the shore and swim in. It was about a 25-minute swim. I remember once, when I was seven or eight, swimming into a bunch of sea snakes and saying, “Holy crap. There are sea snakes here, Dad!” He replied, “Yeah, just keep swimming, kid.”
Once we made it to shore, we walked around until our clothes dried. He gave me a big hug and said, “Good job, Big Stuff.” I was just so proud to have made it through, proud to be my father’s son.
My father died on 11 June 1979. I was 17. At the time, it was just him and me alone in the house; my mother had moved out. That day, he said he wasn’t feeling well, so I drove him to the hospital. As we pulled up, there was a crowd of photographers waiting for him so we had to go through the back. I was worried, but I was also a naive teenager and thought he was going to be OK. He just always got through things. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the last ride I would ever take with my dad.
Ethan Wayne is the chairman of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and president of John Wayne Enterprises
** While I never met John personally, but I have been to his house in Balboa Beach, Cal and have seen his Minesweeper - Always enjoyed his straight talk and honest comments. He did seem to be connected or want to put on the air of " Do You know who I am " scenario like many of the rich and famous people!
I have met quite a few, President, Actors, Admirals, Church leaders and powerful mainline Industrial leaders and Presidents of large Corporations!
If you get the chance read some of his great comments and saying - so true to life! Thank You Duke!
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