John Wayne…..The Wild Goose and……….America
Well my 36 loyal readers someone recently asked me why my articles contain so many stories about music and the military, and no, I didn’t take this as criticism or as a knock on my very un-motorcycle topics. I explained to my new friend that music and motorcycles have a very interesting and almost constant relationship with each other, and as we all know the military is a part of America’s motorcycle history. Our m/c clubs and their popularity of use was directly influenced and created by the men and yes, the women who came back from the epic time that was World War II. These were also the people who kept America “the” greatest free democracy in the world, and then came the soldiers from the Korean War, the Vietnam war and our recent Middle East conflict’s and so many men and women that served who make up the motorcycle community today. The biker community seems to be a very pro-American and very patriotic bunch as a whole, much more so than most of our populace seems to be today, and my new buddy nodded in agreement. That brought us to the topic of movies and politics and the roles they both played not only in America’s history but also the militaries, and how the U.S. is perceived world wide through film and policy. And you know it occurred to me, Mr. 500, that I never write of politics though I often speak of them. Much like my writing “Idol” Ernest Hemingway, I never use my writings as a platform for my religious or political views or to futher commercial endeavors. As you all know I will be leaving my writing career to move on to being an international marimba star in a few months and I wouldn’t change my writing style to try and influence you now my 91 loyal readers. But since we are on that “topic” I’d like to point out that in 5 months you will either “put up or shut up” you will get to exercise your right to vote. Suffice to say I believe anyone that could be my President: A) should have served in a military branch or have an amazing knowledge of its dynamics, B) should have a continuous track record of un-wavering votes, real convictions and a record of doing something before office and C) should surround themselves with the smartest, sharpest and best minds they can pull together. I personally will vote for the best candidate for the job of running the greatest superpower on earth (for now). But being true to not making this a “personal” rant I am going to tell you of my thoughts and views by introducing you to my favorite actor and maybe of our great nation (remember where we started!) One who has come to be known as a “super patriot” with very outspoken views, who did not serve but yet caused millions to “don” the uniform of the United States. As of 2012, this actor was named the top money making star ever with over 250 movies to his credit of which 142 would be lead roles.
Marion Mitchell Morrison born May 26,1907. A top box office star for thirty years who has become an American icon and a symbol of the true American hero both in films and off screen. Born in Winterset, Iowa his family would move to Los Angeles when “John Wayne” as he would become known as, was four. Wayne’s father was a pharmacist in Glendale, Calif. and it would be there that young Marion would get his famous nickname “Duke” as he was always seen in the company of the families large Airdale Terrier “Duke” and he was often called “Lil Duke” by the local firefighters, preferring “Duke” to his given name Marion. The nickname would stick his entire life.
In a very meaningful note he would apply to the U.S. Naval Academy but was not accepted, instead he chose the USC Trojans, majoring in pre-law. He would receive a full football scholarship as he excelled at the sport in High School. But Duke would injure himself in a surfing accident (breaking his collarbone) and lose his USC scholarship and have to leave school due to a lack of funds. A debt laden Duke would find a part time job in the prop room at Fox Movies and would then be shuffled into bit parts in “B” rated western films. It would be here that he would meet the director that he would forever be associated with and that would be John Ford. From 1926 through 1938 he would toil away in small roles and stunt work, but become well known for his dedicated work ethic. It would be during this period that the stage name “John Wayne” would be “invented” by Director Raoul Walsh. Duke himself was not even present for this decision. But it would be the John Ford movie “Stagecoach” (1939) that would put him on the “A” list of movie stars, and the rest my friends is history. Wayne would appear in more films then any other actor of the sound era and to this day he is the only actor to appear in every edition of the annual Harris Poll of Most Popular Film Actors and is the only actor appearing on the list after their death. He has been in the top ten of this poll for the entire 18 years since this award was created in 1994 (15 years after his passing). I’m not going to rehash all his great western roles, his amazing war movies or his other performances that made him a mega star, you my friends have your favorites. He was and still is according to numerous polls America’s true hero. He taught right from wrong and good from evil both on the screen and off. Wayne was approached by Mel Brooks to play the part of the Waco Kid in the film “Blazing Saddles” after reading the script he said “I can’t be in this picture it’s too dirty….but I will be the first in line to see it” showing the sense of humor Wayne was famous for in his personal life. By the time of his last film “The Shootist” Wayne would still refuse to allow his character to shoot a man in the back as was originally scripted, saying, ” I’ve made over 250 pictures and never shot a guy in the back, change this scene”, and they did. By mid career Wayne had made a larger than life image and as it grew he selected roles that would not compromise his off screen image. His rise to being an epic movie hero would be through movies such as “The Longest Day”, “The Green Berets”, “The Alamo” and “Sands of Iwo Jima” (Waynes footprints at Grumman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood were cast in actual sand from the beaches of Iwo Jima). Wayne was (and still is) an icon to all the branches of the Armed Forces. Many veterans have said their reason for serving is at least in some part due to watching the Duke’s movies andhis unwavering patriotism. John Wayne was exempt from military service due to his age (he was 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor) and family status (married with 4 children). There is documented proof that he repeatedly wrote asking to be placed in John Ford’s front line military unit filming the war action (no “cake” service they would lose 12 men) but was rebuffed by Ford over and over. Republic Studios was also not going to let Wayne “into the action” and would interviene in the Selective Service process by requesting Wayne’s deferment. Even the military saw the Duke’s influence and effect on positive morale with his tours of the U.S. bases in the South Pacific in 1943 and 1944 and his role in recruiting thousands of new soldiers, his “American hero” status was more than he could contribute as one man fighting. As proof of this my 38 loyal readers when Emperor Hirohito (who led Japan in World War II) visited the U.S.A. in 1975 he asked to meet John Wayne who had become the symbolic representation of his former enemies might and fighting spirt. That is truly a statement to what Mr. Wayne contributed to the American effort in World War II.
The Duke would also tour bases in war zones in Korea and Vietnam as both these wars unfolded and even with the U.S. being so divided in the 60′s and 70′s by the Vietnam War and with John supporting the engagement (his movie Green Berets would be the only pro war movie made during this time and was financed by Wayne’s own money) He would still remain the number one box office draw of both decades, showing that U.S. citizens of all ages valued his honesty and patriotism. Even critics of his performances and politics saw him as the American resource that he had become and gave him respect. Abbie Hoffman the radical of the 60′s said “I like Wayne’s wholeness, his style, his singularity”. The Liberal New York Times when reviewing “The Cowboys” (1972) did not like the film itself but said “Wayne is of course, marvelously indestructible and he has become an almost perfect father figure.” Wayne was said to be a conservative Republican for most of his life. Originally a socialist in collage (1925) he voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) in 1936 and admired his successor Democrat Harry S. Truman. An ardent anti-communist and a vocal supporter of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, he would make the 1952 movie “Big Jim McClain” to show his support for the anti-communist cause. Recently de-classified Soviet documents reveal that despite being a huge fan of Wayne’s movies, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin ordered Wayne’s assasinnation as a result of his frequent anti-communist politics. Wayne made an interesting and controversial Playboy interview in 1971 and was asked if entitlement programs such as Medicare and Welfare were a good thing for the country, to which the Duke replied, “I know all about that. In the late 20′s when I was a sophomore at USC , I was a socialist myself, but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man’s responsibility, he finds out it can’t work out that way, that some people just won’t carry their load. I believe in welfare, a welfare work program. I don’t think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I’d like to know why well educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I’d like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the Judicial sob sisters. I can’t understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.”
Wayne was asked in 1968 to run for the office of President, but he declined joking that he did not believe the public would seriously consider an actor in the White House, he instead supported his friend, Ronald Reagan’s run for Calif. Governor in 1966 and 1970. He was a member of the anti-communist John Birch Society and a 32nd degree Free Mason. Wayne would often go against his Republican party’s line “if he thought it was the right thing to do” siding with Democratic President Jimmy Carter to return control of the Panama Canal back to that Country. John Wayne received the two highest civilian decorations that can be awarded, The Congressional Gold Medal and The Presidential Medal of Freedom.
No one can deny John Wayne’s accomplishments or his star power today 33 years later, his ideals, his goals and his standards made him not only an American hero but a hero to the world. Not far in our country’s past the entire world knew when they dealt with America they were dealing with the “spirit” of John Wayne and I must sadly say my 23 loyal readers its too bad we have lost that spirit, that “bravado” and the ability be looked up to and respected by “The World”. I think we have traded these values in electing leaders who at best were “community organizers” that never took a stand or accomplished anything. Wayne transcended 40 years of change in America, 3 different wars but seemed to be admired by all. It would be in his final movie in 1976 “The Shootist” (and John Wayne knew this) that he would play an aging gunfighter living in a changing world who was dying of cancer and in it he would tell a young Ron Howard “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them”. It is said by so many that Duke’s personality and sense of humor were very close to what the general public saw on the big screen. I wish the public servants we have now or in the future would take a page from him, from the city level to “Barry Hussein” who sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Barry’s amazing to watch, our “Head Dude” flip-flop, pose and “make things up” just to get votes, are any of them any better? I don’t know, but I’m all for the “hope and change” bandwagon. I hope the next President is better and if he is not I will “change” him out too. And don’t tell me its a “race” thing, I would vote for Colin Powell or a Condolezza Rice in any election, if they would run my good readers.
The problem is my friends anyone that can lead the country, do what needs to be done and has a track record of turning businesses around, won’t run for President, too many skeletons, too many little mistakes they made in High School or College. The current bullshit press corps and left and right faction groups will tear them, their families and their lives apart. Its a helpless feeling knowing you’re almost powerless to affect this change but we have to try till we find one thats great enough and smart enough for two terms.
You know my friends my writings have always been of multiple subjects or a trio of stories, me having the belief that four pages of one subject can’t be interesting or be easily read in one sitting, but then I have never written of my idol John Wayne or of politics or made any opinions on the “State of the (current) Union” and then our piss poor national press, both printed and visual decided to say that “Barry Obama” was trying to “out John Wayne” Mitt Romney, really? This all being over Obama Bin Laden’s search and killing, oops I meant “Osama” which actually began a decade ago under Bush’s watch and was a credit to our military and the Navy Seals more than anyone sitting in the White House…… and neither are John Wayne I assure you. And the focus now should be on the world’s economy and more importantly the United States economy which is now at or almost below the great depressions level in some regards. The current leader seems to be a spin machine, I warn you my good readers this gas price drop is purely a re-election ploy, would others do it, I’m sure, but we have to keep changing these guys out and keep hoping the next one gets it right.
We need a leader, we need a straight shooter and we need someone with long standing convictions and passion, right or wrong don’t be a jelly fish.
“Barry O” is not our guy, he’s had his four years, un-employment is at a “true” 12-14 plus percent, he has been the most “devisive” President in history, dividing by race, class and religion just to hear himself talk, will anyone else be better, we’ll have to see. We can’t tax only the rich to get our way out of this, we can’t all be driving electric cars and we have to cut down the fraud in entitlement programs. There are now almost 50 million people on food stamps and the current government’s views on our health care have far reaching problems on what the government can “make us buy”.The debt has risen $5.3 trillion dollars in Barrys term, yes you can say he inherited some of his troubles but go back and look at his promises.
We my good friends, we are at a tipping point and it amazes me that we the greatest nation on earth can not get a proper leader. Is it the press and their un-relenting smear campaigns, is it the liberals? The right wing or is it just to corrupt at all levels? Why can’t we have voter I.D. cards and why can’t we enact term limits on the House and the Congress, the President gets 8 years max, they should get no more, and get rid of the electorial collage, one vote for one person may the best candidate get the most, that’s my hope for change. Here’s a very interesting interview with John Wayne in 1975 when he was asked about his views on Liberals and Socialists and you know I find it an amazingly accurate take on our current predicament 37 years after the “Duke” laid it out there. “I always thought I was a liberal but I came up terribly surprised when I found I was a right wing conservative extremist……. When I have listened to everyone’s point of view that I have ever met and then decided how I should feel. But this so-called new liberal group…….. they never listen to your point of view and they make a decision as to what you think and they’re articulate enough and in control enough of the press to force that image out to the average person. For some reason, maybe it’s these pictures, they have not been able to do that with me……. in spite of what they say people have not taken sides. It has not affected my career, my popularity in spite of the fact that they’ve tried to make them do it……. There isn’t a hell of a lot we can do to change human behavior. We keep making laws to try to change human behavior but we can’t do it. You’re being conned into Keynesianism and Socialism now but it isn’t going to stop the greed. If you take $12.00 dollars and give a dollar to every son of a bitch in the room, you come back a year later and one of the bastards will have most of the money. It’s just human nature. We’re never going to whip it with a lot of laws……. I think when you make people conscious as communication gets better and you make people conscious of people in trouble, starving or something like that……. the average person will help but of course you’ve got so damn many charities and there’s so much professionalism you know, if you have a charity you hire a professional to work up the charity and by the time you get the money, you get $4.00 dollars for the recipient and $400.00 dollars for the administrators . So I mean…….. Christ, I think there are people who try to affect a thinking where they know more then some other son of a bitch and try to put a false impression on what human nature is. We’ve proven we go back to hop at the first opportunity just throw out the a little fish…… and “Bam” they’re out there to grab it.
So, we are optimistic, we have to be optimistic…….Christ what else would there be in life if you lose optimism?”
I do want you my interested readers to pull up the “You Tube” interview it means so much more in Wayne’s voice, and please look up “Keynesian Economics”. John Wayne was so much brighter and smarter then he was ever given credit for, only those close to him knew his brilliance. You know my 4 loyal readers (see what politics do for a writer’s popularity?) not only did the Duke influence my social, political and patriotic views, he was my father’s favorite actor and I’m proud to say I met John Wayne when I was seven, still have the autographed picture in my office. But I also have one other link with Mr. Wayne and that is the fact that we both have/had a true love of fishing and mostly of boats and we are going to explore what is said to be Wayne’s most cherished and prized possession to the day he passed and I am speaking of his yacht, “The Wild Goose”. John Wayne loved his boat, a 139 foot former minesweeper that was built in 1942. A very utilitarian and military looking “yacht” which suited Duke’s personality to a “tee”. Wayne would buy the vessel in 1962 for $110,000 dollars. The great aging yacht was said to be his proudest possession as well as being his private retreat and playground. It wasn’t so much a pretentious statement as it was where it could take him, away from Hollywood, politics and his stardom. And few stars would have the grit to take on such massive pain in the pocket book. Powered by her original 500 HP Detroit Diesels ( the same as used on WW II subs) which he would keep along with much of her vintage and war time fittings. She would have all her overheads raised 6-8 inches to accommodate our stars 6′ 4″ height and all cabins and the main salon would be made larger in a $3- million dollar refit. Duke’s two must haves would be a walk-in-cooler to be loaded with his favorite food (N.Y. strip steak) and a poker table. He would cruise the Wild Goose between Newport, Calif. (her home port) and as far North as Alaska and British Columbia and as far South as Mexico and Central America. He became an avid fisherman and enjoyed running the yacht’s ski boat, said one Captain “he must have racked up about a million miles on it, all at full throttle”.
With chess being one of his favorite games he would play for hours with her Captain and crew of seven or with one of the locals or possibly with Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin or Richard Nixon, just some of his noteworthy pals. Many say he would just fall asleep on the aft deck while reading one of the hundreds of books the yacht would carry in her library. Here aboard the Wild Goose he wasn’t the massive larger than life six shooter toting cowboy, but a man who loved his boat almost as much as his country. Aboard he often wore shorts and his old battered Captain’s hat. He would often drink coffee with his fellow boaters and invite all who anchored near him over to socialize reguardless of their class or status. Every sailor that met up with Wayne described him as a “down to earth” guy who seemed to disdain pretentious people, for aboard his yacht he was treated as a sailor, not as the epic star he really was. When Wayne was filming he made arrangements to fly in and meet the yacht on weekends it was that important to him. Although he was known to sip Brandy, it was said that Tequila was his favorite drink aboard. Ethan Wayne (named after John’s character in The Searchers) who was his youngest son would almost grow up entirely on the Yacht, as would his sister Marissa .
Wayne married three times (all to Latin women), he would divorce twice. He would have four children with his first wife, his second wife would try to shoot him and then have three more children with his third wife Pilar Pallete (from Peru) who would be with him most of the time he had the yacht and during his battle with cancer. It was said that the only “time” could ever beat John Wayne. His six pack a day smoking habit caught up with him only a year after buying the Wild Goose, with him losing a lung in 1965, he would then undergo open heart surgery in 1978 and the “Big C” as he put it would cause him to lose part of his stomach in 1979. Wayne would sell his beloved yacht to LA attorney Lynn Hutchins in a handshake deal just prior to his death for a fraction of her worth. Less than two weeks before he passed Wayne found out both motors were being rebuilt, after he told the new owner ” she was in good shape”, Wayne wrote a check for $40,000 dollars to cover the repairs. John “Duke” Wayne, father, actor, yachtsman and true American would pass away at the UCLA medical center on June 11, 1979 at age 72. You see I think you and I are a lot like John Wayne, we will listen to everyone’s point of view and make our decision regardless of party lines. But you know my 12 loyal readers, I know I cannot keep spending my AmEx, my Visa, my Discover Card asking them to “raise my limit” when I max out, and all at 18 percent, next I lose my credit rating and then I lose my business and next my truck just to keep the debtors at bay and then they come and take my land and “the lil white house”. And in a nutshell that is what the current “big government” is doing. Slick Barry and his “Eric Holder’s” should be called the “Teflon Gang” because no matter what wrongs or blunders are made “nothing sticks” to the whole lot. The hold this administration has over the mainstream media is amazing, what has happened to “objective and fair reporting?” The GOP guy is very religious and has led two major companies back from the brink of ruin, and made another firm huge. In 2002 he turned the financially troubled Winter Olympic Games into a success and while Governor of Mass. (2002-2006) he eliminated a projected $1.5 billion dollar deficit and yes he had his own health care “experiment” there. He would lose the 2008 Republican nomination to John McCain. And yes my good friends, he has had his flip-flops and issues like all who will ever run. Guess he has ‘Main Street” values and did a few bonehead things in his youth, but hey didn’t we all? But like the Duke we know where he stands, he’s done something through out his life that can be documented, he has a traceable history and human flaws, I can’t say that about our current “leader”. And my friends right now we need a “tested” business mind with experience to lead this company called America. Let the states handle the social stuff for now the “Feds” do not need to be involved in everything. I’d like a John Wayne to run the country, but they are not making those heroes or men any more and today’s press would maul them beyond recognition. I’m like John Wayne in many ways, I don’t like to write about politics or get into the “mess” but I felt I must do something to help the cause of this great nation, help it get back on the right track. In the 7 minutes or so it took you to read this, America racked up $25 million dollars in debt, that’s all we need to be thinking of because I promise you the “loans” are coming due one day.
Wayne’s politics and business deals were characterized by a private code of beliefs in such things as individual responsibility and honor, loyalty to friends, patriotism and an adherence to the American dream of free enterprise, hard work and reward regardless of race or religion. As Wayne’s character Sgt. Stryker said, “Life is tough, but its tougher when your stupid”……………… don’t be stupid my patriotic friends.
Robert “777″ De Moss