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on 28 March 2017
I have read many books about John wayne and thought this one would be just the same. However, it contains many small 'titbits' of info that I had not read before. Although small, these little anecdotes make the character seem more human, rather than just a movie star, and gives more clarity to some of the events in his life. Well worth the read and it added to my knowledge of the man.
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on 23 March 2017
dad is a big john wayne fan so a great read
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on 4 August 2017
Excellent item. Not read it yet
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on 1 July 2014
First off, the rough cut pages people, is a style, not a quality control issue, so marking the book down because of that is pure ignorance.

Telling a tale of a life is always hard, that is why autobiographies don't always work, it is hard to be self objective or critical. So they become anecdotal.

Biographies can also fall flat by being either too critical, or too gushing.

Here, Scott Eyman has achieved a wonderful balance sorting fact from fiction, present Wayne as a thoroughly decent human being with lots of faults.

If you are interested in the western, the period Wayne worked in, and movies generally you will enjoy this immensely well written work.

There wasn't a part of this book I didn't enjoy, it really goes into Wayne the man, with all his good points, bad points, and foibles. You even get a different perspective of his political views and why he held them. Eyman does not judge, he lets Wayne tell you himself.

It is a terrific book, very, very readable, full of enough new facts and anecdotes to leave feeling that, yes, I would love to have known Wayne.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2014
"The guy you see on the screen isn't really me. I'm Duke Morrison, and I never was and never will be a film personality like John Wayne. I know him well. I'm one of his closest students. I have to be. I make a living out of him." Scott Eyeman's biography, written with Duke's cooperation, delivers the stories of the man and the myth, helping us see the reality of both.

Duke Morrison came from a family without money or influence. From an early age he worked to support them and himself. Duke was hardworking throughout his life and often seemed more comfortable during long hours on the set than when relaxing between projects. The "story" was that Duke never planned on being an actor until he was discovered by director John Ford. In fact, he acted in plays during high school and college, worked as a stunt man, and appeared in several unremarkable films before getting his big break in Stagecoach. From then on he lived both a very public and a very private life.

Eyeman's biography discusses Duke's professional projects, the people he worked with, and some of his business ventures. It also explores his private life and family relationships. A few highlights:

- A talented athlete who could have made a career out of football, Duke lacked the "killer instinct" necessary to excel. He just didn't want to hurt anybody.
- Duke wasn't handy around the house. "I don't do light bulbs. I make enough money to call professionals."
- He believed that the John Wayne persona was important to his audience and would not accept any roles that might diminish it. This was a public service he expected of himself. Roles he turned down included the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles and the bomb-riding Major Kong in Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.
- He used his boat, The Wild Goose, to make sure he saw his children and grandchildren regularly. "You know how kids are. The only way you can have them is if you have something they want that no one else has."
- Everyone was treated well on the set of a John Wayne movie. Duke told his kids: "Never lose the common touch. Never think anyone is better than you, but never assume you're superior to anyone else. Try to be decent to everyone, until they give you reason not to."
- Batjac, his production company, was supposed to be named `Batjak.' When it was typed incorrectly by a legal secretary preparing the incorporating documents, Duke let it stand rather than make a fuss. "I liked it better with a `k' but leave it as it is. It's no big deal."

And it includes a few observations by a veteran actor about his craft:

- "The trick to achieving competence at quick draws and twirls is to practice while kneeling on a bed. You will drop the gun three hundred times, but you won't have to bend over three hundred times, which makes all the difference."
- "I have very few tricks. Oh, I'll stop in the middle of a sentence so they'll keep looking at me, and I don't stop at the end, so they don't look away, but that's about the only trick I have."
- "I think the best actor in the world today is James Garner. He can do anything--comedy, detective. Just his facial expressions alone are enough to crack you up. They rave about Brando and Scott, but they couldn't hold a candle to him."
- "I've played the kind of man I would have liked to have been."

Duke Morrison and John Wayne lived by the words that introduced their last movie, The Shootist: "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them." This is an excellent biography that presents the Duke's strengths, weaknesses, achievements, and regrets. With neither adoration nor apology.
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‘The Life and Legend’ written by Scott Eyman is just released biography of the man who became an icon of a particular time, the personification of Western films and a symbol of a macho American man on whom many women still fantasize – one and only John Wayne.

Marion Mitchell Morrison, better known for his movie name John Wayne, was born at the 20th century beginning, at the right time to become one of the most famous actors of all time, when mainstream movies were still far more than just desire to earn money as quick as possible. And although he later told how he became an actor almost by accident, it seems that he only wanted to draw a little extra attention because he wanted to become actor for most of his young days due to which he decided to study drama.

In addition to becoming a synonym for Western movies in which he fought against injustice and villains showing how man with his courage, integrity and strength can improve the world, Wayne became a symbol of America and the birth of the American dream that his movies celebrated. Since Wayne appeared on the scene he was linked to the conservative right-wing currents and even though he was called out by those with other attitudes he didn’t abandon his political beliefs until the death back in 1979.

Wayne didn’t have any aspiration to become a politician although if he decided differently similar to some of his colleagues he would certainly be successfully due to his popularity. His life story other than the one in the movie world was also very interesting, he sought marital happiness three times, and his romantic affair with Marlene Dietrich is hard to be imagined when we remember unbreakable men he had always acted in his movies.

Scott Eyman managed to make a good overview of Wayne’s life using records of many conversations he had with actor himself, but also with his friends such as Henry Fonda or John Ford, his children and wives, and rest of Wayne’s family. Though I didn’t read any other Wayne’s biographies, Eyman stated he used many previously unpublished documents of people who worked with him or were his friends which both more precisely describe his private and business life.

In my opinion the author well-judged that it’s not necessary to go into detail about every movie that Wayne filmed, while on the other hand at times it seems as Eyman was not at all times equally objective about the events of actor’s life.

Those readers who hope to find in the book some startling discoveries or the incredible truths might be a little disappointed, but still it is a book that in a very good way reflects a time in American history and a man who perfectly personifies it with his cinematic heroes and his personal life.

In this sense, ‘The Life and Legend’ is certainly recommended reading for all fans of the character and work of John Wayne, all those who want to learn lesser known parts of his biography because regardless of his errors we learn about on the book pages, Wayne with his appearance is, and certainly will remain for some time, a benchmark for male actors.
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on 10 June 2014
I have many books on John Wayne but this by far the best.It is very readable and captures what it was about him that makes him still a huge name 35years after his death.It is not a hagiography but a warts and all tale that is a fine read and I have to say it brought tears to my eyes at the end.It is a brilliant book and for fans o f the Duke I highly recommend it.
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on 9 September 2014
Scott Eyman has performed biographical alchemy, turning an icon into a human being into an even greater icon. I used to disparage Wayne as an actor and despise his politics but Eyman's book shows the evolution of both in a way that makes the man more understandable and the myth a more admirable construct. There's no trace of apologia in describing Wayne's participation in the McCarthy Era blacklist or his simplistic view of the Vietnam War. He pops off the page as a political neanderthal with personal traits - loyalty, honesty, even modesty - we can all admire. Most of all, best of all, Wayne is a history of the movies. I'd forgotten how far back he went in 20th Century filmmaking: a prop man in silent films, a yeoman actor laboring for years in a hundred B-Westerns, all the while learning to become a producer, director and star of unequal magnitude. He was a man who loved making movies more than anything in life. If you love movies, this book shows you have to find a place in your heart to love John Wayne.
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on 26 November 2014
Quote -

"First off, the rough cut pages people, is a style, not a quality control issue, so marking the book down because of that is pure ignorance."

No it's not ! I too immediately returned the first book delivered as sub standard in condition, If it's supposed to look like this then it should clearly state it. Why anyone would want to issue a book in this condition I do not know. If it's a "style" then it's a poor one, If you wanted it to look rough and ready you should have torn the cover and cracked the binding in a few places as well, just to make a good job of it. For those who want to see the Style I've attached photos.

Saving grace ? A very well written book about one of the 20th centuries (IMO) greatest actors.
review image review image
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For me some of the finest films have been westerns, particularly classics like 'Butch Cassidy', 'Magnificent Seven' and 'The Searchers' starring John Wayne in his finest role, a performance that should have won him an Oscar.

Numerous books have been written about Wayne, born Marion Michael Morrison, a name he quickly changed once in Hollywood in the 1930's making scores of western with names like 'Pals of the Saddle'. As Eyman says in this latest account it was Ford's 'Stagecoach' that paved the way for his subsequent success in films like 'Red River' and the 'Alamo'. He fails to tell us that Wayne financed the latter with $150,0000 of his own money. By 1969 he had earned over $400,000,000 for his studios. Despite this record sum he was a prophet (profit) without honour in Hollywood. This was mainly to do with his ultra conservative politics and uncompromising awareness. Later he earned the intense hatred of many actors for his support of Senator McCarthy in the 1950's and that politician's witch hunt against communists. He allowed himself, with many other actors who tried later to deny their involvement, to become a figurehead of red-baiters. In 1970 all was forgiven and at last he got the Oscar he deserved (although for the wrong film)for 'True Grit' a film that many regard as a self-parody.

Wayne was a fund raiser for many leading republicans including Nixon, Goldwater and Reagan. He was encouraged to serve as vice presidential running mate to Wallace in the 1968 campaign but refused. He was known as a strong supporter of the Vietnam war; his production of 'The Green Berets' glorified the war.

He married three times. He lived with his third wife, Peruvian born Pilar Palette and three of his seven children in a vast 11 room, 7 bath home on the Gold Coast of Newport Beach, California, a gorgeous place. He also owned lucrative mineral rights in the Congo. Among his possessions was a converted US Mine Sweeper that saw service in the war. Late in life he was diagnosed with lung cancer. For someone who smoked on average 60 cigarettes a day this was hardly surprising. He continued to smoke after the operation.

In his 6o's he said he loathed most of the films being made particularly sex films which he described as garbage. He also derided ratings, and said he was not surprised families were staying home to watch tv.

At 6 foot four and 244 pounds he cut an imposing figure on screen despite his toupee. For years he was a phusical giant among the likes of Alan Ladd, Bogart and Cagney. In 1995, 16 years after his death, he still ranked in polls ahead of Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks. He was as this book reminds us a screen legend. Even more, he was a cultural phenomenon. His image stands as a reminder of America's frontier past. For many the Duke remains emblematic of strong, silent manhood, of courage and honour in a world of timidity and moral indifference. Fortunately, his screen persona has grown to cover his private identity for His real self was not too admirable, wife beating and drunkenness were all too frequent as was his regular philandering. On the other hand he was known for his generosity when friends were in trouble.

Given his film appearances he surprisingly had no love of horses and never rode for pleasure. His favourite pastime was chess, which he played at a high level. Eyman says he could have become a very successful lawyer. Certainly he was a good scholar as well as being a top athlete. Another unusual thing about Duke was his ability to quote Milton by the page.

The majority of his co stars speak favourably of him. Maureen O'Hara said he was a very fine actor and a 'Good friend'. When asked why he never married the gorgeous red head he said:'It would have been like marrying my sister'. She was at his bedside a few days before he died.

He was fond of saying that on screen all he did was 'play himself'. Like Mitchum he avoided service in the armed forces and inevitably became known as a draft dodger.

Wayne was never a sex symbol, indeed many feminists rage at what he symbolises. For many he nurtures the inner child that even mature adults harbour. His persona can be seen as a monument to sexism or as something many males would love to be. The myth serves a purpose. It helps to stabilise society, illuminate existence and add zest to our lives.

Another interesting book about an icon, a symbol of the Old West. The Duke despite his weaknesses comes over as a rather 'nice guy'. He starred in over 150 films many of them directed by the most gifted directors around-Ford and the great two H's,Hawkes and Hathaway.

Although he may still irritate the cultural elite in America his popularity remains undimmed. He was more than an actor. He was in many ways America.
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