Friday, April 14, 2017

Veterans hated John Wayne

I don't think people know this now, but a lot of World War Two veterans couldn't stand John Wayne. They hated him because he dodged the draft while playing a war hero in the movies.

Back in the '70s, when we had local talk radio, war veterans would call in and talk about it.

There are different explanations for Wayne staying out of the war. One was that his career was just beginning to take off when the US entered the war and he didn't want to join right then, then his career was going so well he didn't want to walk away and join the Army.
When he appeared before his draft board, he argued that he was the sole support for his wife and children. He didn't mention that he was about to get divorced because he was sleeping with Marlene Dietrich. He falsely claimed that a studio threatened to sue him if he got drafted and he later said he thought he could better serve his country by being a movie star.

Everyone knew he was a draft dodger. I don't blame him. But that may be one reason he became such a rabid McCarthyite in the '50s. He thought it would make up for it. He blamed the Communists for his not getting an Oscar (he finally got one in 1969). He couldn't imagine it was because of his lousy acting. He told Playboy magazine that he was a white supremacist.

I never understood his appeal. I never liked his looks, he walked funny and had weird speech patterns. But looking at some of the terrible cowboy stars of the '30s and '40s, maybe he wasn't so bad.

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