|John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara on the set of Big Jake in 1971|
"Sure I wave the American flag.
Do you know a better flag to wave?"
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56, Arizona
I was shopping in a local antique store recently, when I ran across something interesting. Two large bronze medallions featuring John Wayne framed in two dark wood frames against a dark brown felt backing. My wife made it pretty clear she thought they were ugly and they certainly wouldn't be gracing the walls of the living room. I had to get them anyway. The antique store didn't know what they were, but I sure did. I had told the story about these "medallions" in my first book Famous American Freemasons. In fact, the chapter on John Wayne was the first chapter I wrote in that book. You see, these aren't just "medallions." Let me tell you the story . . .
In 1976, John Wayne began filming the movie The Shootist. It is a film about an aging gunfighter, J.B. Books, who learns from the local physician, played by Jimmy Stewart, that he is dying of cancer. He decides that rather than die in bed, he was going out in a blaze of glory--and he was going to take a few really bad dudes with him. And what a great cast! Jimmy Stewart. Lauren Bacall. Harry Morgan. Ronnie Howard. Richard Boone. John Carradine.
The irony of that script was that John Wayne really was dying of cancer. Although he didn't know it at the time, The Shootist would be the Duke's last movie. His health was failing when he took the role, and it got worse as they filmed. It was uncertain he would be able to finish it. He was gone off the set for long periods of time . . . first one week, and then two. But finishing that film was important to the Duke and he was determined to do so. And with the help of the director and the assistance of the cast, he did just that. Despite terminal stomach cancer, he finished what many believe to be one of his best screen roles.
Great story, huh?
|They look a little better the way I framed them . . .|
~Todd E. Creason
originally published 5/26/15