Marion Michael Robinson, aka John Wayne, aka The Duke, was born in Winterset, Iowa on May 26, 1907. If he were alive today, he would be 113. But he’s not. Wayne died on June 11, 1979, at the age of 72—famously with only one-fourth of his lung capacity left, though it was stomach cancer that did him in.
No one held the screen like Wayne, and he was one of my grandpa’s favorites. Jack Casey loved Westerns, be they on TV or in a book. I wonder if he pictured John Wayne while reading Louis L’Amour and Larry McMurtry stories. Gramps tore through those books. I once asked him how he read them so fast, and he said he only read the dialog. He figured if something was important, somebody ought to say it out loud.
John Morris Casey died on May 29, 2012, at the age of 87. That night I paid tribute to him by giving The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance a spin. I have no idea if it was or wasn’t one of his favorite Wayne pictures, but I suspect it was. It’s a hard movie not to love, practically perfect in form and content, and Wayne kills, which ain’t easy considering Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, and Vera Miles also star. It’s streaming on Amazon Prime: Print the legend.