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  THE CRIMSON CORRAL: Western Memories
 
JOHN WAYNE
Birth name: Marion Michael Morrison
Born: May 26, 1907- Winterset, Iowa
Died: June 11, 1979 - Los Angeles, CA (lung & stomach cancer)

By Tom Mason

"Overland Stage Raiders," Republic 1938. John Wayne and Louise Brooks.I first saw John Wayne in person when I was at UCLA (1961). He attended a scholarship assembly sponsored by Hugh O'Brien. He was a guest presenter and when he strode down the aisle to the stage all I could think of was how much taller he was in person, he was gigantic.

When next I met him I was working as a broadcast engineer at KABC-TV in Los Angeles. Wayne was on one of our morning talk shows called AM-L.A. (circa 1973) plugging a hair restorer product that he had invested his money into. (subsequently it went broke) But the host asked him why he wore a toupee in his westerns and Mr. Wayne up and replied candidly. "I don't think I need to inflect my baldness on my audiences, so I wear a rug."

"Rooster Cogburn," Universal 1974.My next meeting with him was at the time the ABC Network celebrated its 25th Anniversary (circa 1975) with a giant telecast uniting all its stars, past and present. Mr. Wayne was to introduce all the TV western starts that ABC had presented over the years. He was in his dressing room and had to be fitted with a wireless microphone. He was nervous because he knew that he was not in control of what was to happen. He was pacing up and down his dressing room in his jockey shorts with his toupee sitting on a plastic head. He had a drink in one hand and was bellowing out questions that none of us engineers could answer, but other than that he was very congenial and apologized for his bare head and uneasiness. Even then he was impressive.


Tom Mason


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