May 26th marks the centennial birthday of one of the most prominent actors of the 20th century. He inspired a generation as an action hero — Marion Morrison aka John Wayne.
John Wayne was the largest action hero in Hollywood for most of the 20th century and an inspiration for the “Greatest Generation.” He was an American icon whose movies were about good overcoming evil, while always getting the girl. A bit of a clique, John Wayne’s movies help American lose themselves when the United States was in a pitch battle with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. John Wayne reminded Americans why this country is great and what it is to be a patriot.
My love for the Duke started as a young boy sitting and watching movie after movie each Saturday. I can only thank one man for opening the world of the Duke to me, my ailing father. Now in my mid-thirties, I still enjoy taking a few hours out of a day to watch any of my favorite Duke movies.
To help celebrate the centennial birthday, several events are taking place at John Wayne’s birth place, Winterset Iowa. Starting on May 25th-27th a plethora of events will be occurring:
- Chuckwagon Supper Friday at the Birthplace
- Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new John Wayne Museum
- Old-Fashioned Hometown Parade
- Michael Martin Murphey Horseback Spectacular Concerts
- John Wayne Birthday Wild West Review
- Riders in the Sky concert
- Horse Clinician Sam Powell
- Cowboy Symposiums
- Free John Wayne movies on the silver screen
If you can not make it to Winterset, Iowa, you can also find other events throughout this year celebrating the Duke’s birthday at his adopted home town of Newport Beach, CA. I also recommend picking up his book John Wayne: American if you would like to know more about this screen legend.
To mark the occasion, I have come up with my favorite 15 Duke movies. Please feel free to pick, debate or agree with my list. Once you have done that, let me know your Top 15 and why.
My Top 15 John Wayne Movies
- The Searchers
- The Quiet man
- Fort Apache
- She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
- Horse Soldiers
- In Harm’s Way
- The High and Mighty (tied with) Island in the Sky
- Donvan’s Reef
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
- Rio Bravo
- Operation Pacific
- North to Alaska
- The Longest Day