May 26, 2020

20,000 vinyl LPs 224: John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her


Today, May 26, is the birthday of Marion Robert Morrison who was born in 1907; he is better known as John Wayne aka "The Duke".      

In 1973, Wayne paid tribute to the United States with a recording of patriotic poems. So, drawing from my record collection, of all the albums I have with him, one way or another, what better representation for him than America, Why I Love He?    

The poems have musical accompaniment, conducted by Billy Liebert of Sons of the Pioneers, that ranged from slow and reverent, to easy listening with chorus, to easy country/western.

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP front cover
photo of album cover by Styrous®

Wayne was a college football player before he was discovered by film director Raoul Walsh who said he liked Wayne's looks, way of moving and easy-going attitude. John Ford also laid claim to discovery of Wayne. Walsh cast him in the first widescreen spectacle, The Big Trail (1930).  

The Big Trail poster (1930) 

Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, but grew up in Southern California. He was part of his high school's football team and its debating team but he lost a football scholarship to the University of Southern California as a result of a bodysurfing accident.     

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP back cover
photo of album cover by Styrous®

While working for Fox Film Corporation in bit roles, Wayne was given on-screen credit as "Duke Morrison" in Words and Music (1929). Director Raoul Walsh saw him moving studio furniture while working as a prop boy and cast him in his first starring role in The Big Trail (1930). For his screen name, Walsh suggested "Anthony Wayne", after Revolutionary War general "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected it as sounding "too Italian". Walsh then suggested "John Wayne". Sheehan agreed, and the name was set. Wayne was not even present for the discussion. His pay was raised to $105 a week.           

My favorite film with Wayne is The Quiet Man (1952); I suppose it's because it was not another typical western stereotype, although, it was "John Wayne". No matter what role he played it was always as "John Wayne."        

The Quiet Man (1952) 
movie poster

The major reason I like the film is Maureen O'Hara, one of my film idols. Her red hair and emerald-green eyes were totally fascinating for me. However, those were not what first attracted me to her; I saw her in the brilliant 1941, black & white film, How Green Was My Valley.        

movie poster

During the war he wanted to enlist, however, Republic Studios, who he was working for at the time, was emphatically resistant to losing him since he was their only A-list actor under contract. Herbert J. Yates, President of Republic, threatened Wayne with a lawsuit if he walked away from his contract, and Republic Pictures intervened in the Selective Service process, requesting Wayne's further deferment. By many accounts, his failure to serve in the military later became the most painful part of his life. His widow later suggested that his patriotism in later decades sprang from guilt, writing: "He would become a 'superpatriot' for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home.       

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Wayne appeared as a guest on radio programs, such as: The Hedda Hopper Show and The Louella Parsons Show. He made a number of appearances in dramatic roles, mainly recreations for radio of his own film roles, on programs like Screen Directors Playhouse and Lux Radio Theatre. For six months in 1942, Wayne starred in his own radio adventure series, Three Sheets to the Wind, produced by film director Tay Garnett.               

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Director Robert Rossen offered the starring role in All the King's Men (1949) to Wayne. Wayne refused, believing the script to be un-American in many ways. Broderick Crawford, who was eventually cast in the role, won the 1949 Oscar for best male actor, ironically beating out Wayne, who had been nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949).

He lost the leading role of Jimmy Ringo in The Gunfighter (1950) to Gregory Peck due to his refusal to work for Columbia Pictures because its chief, Harry Cohn, had mistreated him years before when he was a young contract player. Cohn had bought the project for Wayne, but Wayne's grudge was too deep, and Cohn sold the script to Twentieth Century Fox, which cast Peck in the role Wayne badly wanted but for which he refused to bend       

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP gatefold interior
photo by Styrous®

One of Wayne's most popular roles was in The High and the Mighty (1954), directed by William Wellman, and based on a novel by Ernest K. Gann. His portrayal of a heroic copilot won widespread acclaim. Wayne also portrayed aviators in Flying Tigers (1942), Flying Leathernecks (1951), Island in the Sky (1953), The Wings of Eagles (1957), and Jet Pilot (1957).         

His last film was The Shootist (1976), whose main character, J. B. Books, was dying of cancer—which Wayne himself succumbed to three years later. The Shootist (1976) contains numerous plot similarities to The Gunfighter of nearly thirty years before, a role which Wayne had wanted but turned down.           

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP gatefold interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Throughout most of his life, Wayne was a vocally prominent conservative Republican in Hollywood, supporting anti-communist positions. He took part in creating the conservative Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in February 1944, and was elected president of that organization in 1949. An ardent anti-communist and vocal supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee, he made Big Jim McLain (1952) with himself as a HUAC investigator to demonstrate his support for the cause of anti-communism. His personal views found expression as a proactive inside enforcer of the "Black List" denying employment and undermining careers of many actors and writers who expressed their personal political beliefs earlier in life. Declassified Soviet documents reveal that, despite being a fan of Wayne's movies, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin according to some sources contemplated the assassination of Wayne for his frequently espoused anti-communist politics.         

In 1960, he joined the anti-communist John Birch Society but quit after the organization denounced fluoridation of water supplies as a communist plot. Wayne supported Vice President Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1960, but expressed his vision of patriotism when John F. Kennedy won the election: "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job." He used his star power to support conservative causes, including rallying support for the Vietnam War by producing, codirecting, and starring in the financially successful The Green Berets (1968).      

In May 1971, Playboy magazine published an interview with Wayne, in which he expressed his support for the Vietnam War, and made headlines for his opinions about social issues and race relations in the United States:      
"With a lot of blacks, there's quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people. ... I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."  
In the same Playboy interview, Wayne calls the two lead characters in Midnight Cowboy "fags" for the alleged "love of those two men". He also responded to questions about whether social programs were good for the country:  
"I know all about that. In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself—but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man's responsibilities, he finds that it can't work out that way—that some people just won't carry their load ... I believe in welfare—a welfare work program. I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim."     
He's also reported to have said, "I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."           

In March 2019, the Playboy interview resurfaced, which resulted in calls for John Wayne Airport to be renamed. John Wayne's son Ethan defended him, stating, "It would be an injustice to judge someone based on an interview that's being used out of context." In October 2019, USC student activists called for the removal of an exhibit dedicated to the actor, citing the interview.                

Due to his status as the highest profile Republican star in Hollywood, wealthy Texas Republican Party backers asked Wayne to run for national office in 1968, as had his friend and fellow actor Senator George Murphy. He declined, joking that he did not believe the public would seriously consider an actor in the White House. Instead, he supported his friend Ronald Reagan's runs for Governor of California in 1966 and 1970. He was asked to be the running mate for Democratic Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968, but he immediately rejected the offer and actively campaigned for Richard Nixon; Wayne addressed the 1968 Republican National Convention on its opening day.           
Do you have any questions as to why I might have thought this album was perfect to represent him? Also, in the present political climate it was needed.    

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP gatefold interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Among the cast and crew who filmed The Conqueror (1956) on location near St. George, Utah, 91 cast/crew members developed some form of cancer at various times, including stars Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendáriz, and director Dick Powell. The film was shot in southwestern Utah, east of and generally downwind from the site of recent U.S. government nuclear weapons tests in southeastern Nevada. Many contend that radioactive fallout from these tests contaminated the film location and poisoned the film crew working there. Despite the suggestion that Wayne's 1964 lung cancer and his 1979 stomach cancer resulted from nuclear contamination, he believed his lung cancer to have been a result of his six-pack-a-day cigarette habit.    
John Wayne died of stomach cancer on June 11, 1979, at the UCLA Medical Center. His body was buried in the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach. According to his son Patrick and his grandson Matthew Muñoz, who was a priest in the California Diocese of Orange, Wayne converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death. He requested that his tombstone read "Feo, Fuerte y Formal", a Spanish epitaph Wayne described as meaning "ugly, strong, and dignified".           

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP gatefold interior detail
detail photo by Styrous®

America, Why I Love Her 

You ask me why I love her? Well, give me time, and I'll explain...
Have you seen a Kansas sunset or an Arizona rain?
Have you drifted on a bayou down Louisiana way?
Have you watched the cold fog drifting over San Francisco Bay?

Have you heard a Bobwhite calling in the Carolina pines?
Or heard the bellow of a diesel in the Appalachia mines?
Does the call of Niagara thrill you when you hear her waters roar?
Do you look with awe and wonder at a Massachusetts shore...
Where men who braved a hard new world, first stepped on Plymouth Rock?
And do you think of them when you stroll along a New York City dock ?

Have you seen a snowflake drifting in the Rockies...way up high?
Have you seen the sun come blazing down from a bright Nevada sky?
Do you hail to the Columbia as she rushes to the sea...
Or bow your head at our struggle to be free?

Have you seen the mighty Tetons? ...Have you watched an eagle soar?
Have you seen the Mississippi roll along Missouri's shore?
Have you felt a chill at Michigan, when on a winters day,
Her waters rage along the shore in a thunderous display?
Does the word "Aloha"... make you warm?
Do you stare in disbelief When you see the surf come roaring in at Waimea reef?

From Alaska's gold to the Everglades...from the Rio Grande to Maine...
My heart cries out... my pulse runs fast at the might of her domain.
You ask me why I love her?... I've a million reasons why.
My beautiful America... beneath Gods' wide, wide sky.   

John Wayne ~ 1973

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP, side 1
photo by Styrous®

John Wayne ~ America, Why I Love Her
vinyl LP, side 2
photo by Styrous®


Side 1:

A1 - Why I Love Her - 2:56
A2 - The Hyphen - 2:29
A3 - Mis Raices Estan Aqui (My Roots Are Buried Here) - 2:41
A4 - The People - 3:46
A5 - An American Boy Grows Up - 4:29

Side 2:

B1 - Face The Flag - 3:52
B2 - The Good Things - 2:40
B3 - The Pledge Of Allegiance - 4:19
B4 - Why Are You Marching, Son? - 3:58
B5 - Taps - 3:01


    Engineer – Pete Abbott
    Arranged By – Billy Liebert
    Conductor – Billy Liebert
    Lead Vocals – John Wayne
    Producer – Billy Liebert


Voice recorded at Manzell Studios, Hollywood, California.
John Wayne ‎– America, Why I Love Her
Label: RCA ‎– LSP-4828
Format: Vinyl, Album, LP
Country: US
Released: 1973
Genre: Non-Music

Viewfinder links:                      
Susan Hayward         
Hedda Hopper         
John Fitzgerald Kennedy         
Agnes Moorehead     
Fred Neil ~ A Midnight Cowboy         
Dick Powell         
John Wayne  
Net links:                      
John Wayne Filmography      
Architectural Digest ~ Look Inside John Wayne's House        
The Atlantic ~  How John Wayne Became a Hollow Masculine Icon     
National Review ~ John Wayne: The Hero We Need Now
The Second Disc ~ Reissue Theory: John Wayne, America, Why I Love Her 
Texas Monthly ~ John Wayne, Texan?          
USC News ~ John Wayne, an American Icon           
Washington Post ~ John Wayne: American          
YouTube links:                      

John Wayne ~     
         America, Why I Love Her
         An American Boy Grows Up       
         Face The Flag      
         The Good Things          
         The Hyphen
         Mis Raices Estan Aqui (My Roots Are Buried Here)    
         The People      
         The Pledge of Allegiance
         Why Are You Marching, Son?       
Outrage after John Wayne's old interview resurfaces (10:29)          


I believe in white supremacy until 
the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. 
                           ~ John Wayne

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, May 26, 2020