John Wayne~The Life & Legend

John Wayne, who made 162 feature films, was one of the 20th century’s biggest Hollywood stars. Here are 10 things we learned about the Oscar-winning actor from an impressive new biography by Scott Eyman. Martin Chilton-The Telegraph Culture Editor john_wayne_life_legend

He cheated at chess; John Wayne was actually very good at chess (film director and experienced player Josef von Sternberg “was livid” when beaten by Wayne) and the actor had a chessboard permanently set up on his 136ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: “Who the hell cares if he’s queer? The man plays great chess.” Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing chess against Robert Mitchum (Wayne had huge hands and would carefully slide a piece into a different position as he made a separate move) and Mitchum eventually plucked up the courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied “I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set ’em up, we’ll play again.”
He loved literature; Wayne liked the novels of Agatha Christie but his two favourite books were written by Arthur Conan Doyle and both are historical novels – The White Company (1891) and Sir Nigel (1906) – both set during the Hundred Years’ War. Wayne was also a fan of Charles Dickens and if the actor agreed to a business deal, he would always say “Barkis is willing!”, a phrase used by Mr Barkis when he tells David Copperfield that he is ready to marry Peggotty.JohnWaynesummary_2874969b
Just call him MMM or Duke but never Marion: Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison (on May 26, 1907) and earned the lifelong nickname Duke, after Big Duke, the family dog. Big Duke, an Airedale, would chase fire engines, and the firemen christened Wayne Liitle Duke, which was shortened to Duke. Wayne said: “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 if his closest students. I have to be. I make a living out of him.”
John Ford called him a “poached egg:” Ford’s four Academy Awards for Best Director (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) are a record but he missed out in 1939 for Stagecoach. His behaviour on set angered Wayne, who said of the director “I was so f–king mad I wanted to kill him”. Ford kept baiting Wayne during filming, yelling at one point: “Don’t you know how to walk? You’re as clumsy as a hippo. And stop slurring your dialogue and show some expression. You look like a poached egg.” Privately Ford said of Wayne at the time: “He’ll be the biggest star ever”.stagecoach 12Wayne was once a sports journalist: Wayne was born in Iowa but went to the Glendale Union High School in California, where he played for the football team. Although he was seen as sporty, he also did well academically. He was part of the high school debating team and president of its Latin Society. He graduated with an average score of 94/100. He was also a member of its newspaper staff and wrote sports reports under byline ‘M.M.M’.

Wayne was a strange political beast; John Wayne was known for his right-wing views (he was scathing about actress Jane Fonda’s anti-Vietnam war pronouncements) and was a fervent supporter of President Richard Nixon, insisting in 1971 that “Nixon is too great a man to be mixed up in anything like Watergate.” But Wayne also liked debating politics with the actor Paul Newman, who would send him political essays written by progressive liberal thinkers.John Wayne Smoking

He was a deeply superstitious man; Among the many things (normally wives) that made a volatile Wayne fly off the handle was the act of anyone leaving a hat on top of a bed. Also, no one in his family was ever allowed to pass salt directly to Wayne, it had to be placed on the table instead and then he would reach for it. He was not superstitious about his smoking, though, getting through five packets of cigarettes a day, something that brought him first a persistent hacking cough and later lung cancer.

Don’t wet on his blue suede shoes; When he first met Michael Caine, Wayne gave him some friendly thespian advice. “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too f—— much”. He then baffled the Brit by adding “and never wear suede shoes”. When Caine asked “Why?”, Wayne replied: “Because one day a guy in the next stall recognised me and turned towards me and said ‘John Wayne you’re my favourite actor! And p—-d all over my suede shoes. So don’t wear them when you’re famous, kid.”

He was in awe of Churchill; Wayne would often tell friends how highly he thought of Winston Churchill and had a complete set of the British Prime Minister’s prose on his bookself.

Wayne was a gracious winner; When he won his Best Actor Oscar for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969), Wayne whispered in presenter Barbra Streisand’s ear “beginner’s luck”. Wayne later spent the night drinking with Richard Burton (who had been nominated for playing King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days), having knocked on the Welshman’s door, thrust the Oscar statue at him and shouted: “You should have this, not me.”jima_2874943kMore Here Of Interest in the Washington Times Book Review: ‘John Wayne: Life and Legend.’  

Well it looks like another book order is going into Amazon. “The hell it is!”    Yours Aye.

Merchant Marine Captain Tom Wilder

Yesterday I was so tired that I fell asleep on a small bunk in a compartment next to the engine room. So tired that the clanking of the engine seemed to be in the far distance, I couldn’t even smell the heavy oil and heated diesel fumes that normally permeate the air, possibly because the heavy door to the compartment was closed.

The heat was almost unbearable; I was soaked to the skin, even though I had a small punkah-louvre above my head blowing a cool breeze over my body. The low audible hiss of air mixed with the rhythm of the far distant engine was enough to lull my tired bones back to sleep. A different noise brought my senses back to a dull awakening, it was the clanking of pipes, hot water pipes, expanding and gurgling with air trapped within; the same pipes that ran under the wooden frame of the bunk.         Click pic to enlarge…punkahlouvreAs I lay floating semi-conscious, another sound entered my head, a strange sound I’d never heard before… ‘pitter – patter – pitter – patter –  puff – puff  ~  pitter –patter – pitter – patter –  puff – puff ~ pitter – patter – pitter – patter –  puff – puff’ It was coming from beneath the wooden bunk? I slowly eased my self onto the warm deck and knelt down next the sliding storage door, and opened it.

There was Nipper running along the hot water pipes with his little paw’s making the noise ‘pitter – patter – pittter – patter’ then he quickly stopped to lift his front paws up so he could blow cold air on each of them ‘puff – puff’ I grabbed him and pulled him out just as the heavy compartment door opened; there stood Merchant Marine Captain Tom Wilder filling the whole door frame. In an unmistakable John Wayne drawl he said “So-I-see-yer-found-yer-dawg”? I stared at him as I held Nipper, except it wasn’t Captain Wilder, it actually was John Wayne… “Yes mate, I found him under my bunk” came my reply!bloodalley6I woke up from my dream with a jolt, (‘yes mate, to John Wayne’)? I was sweating, really sweating, I swung my legs around off the bed and put my feet onto the floor and sat up. The sun was just breaking and I was burning up, I needed a long gulp of water so I headed off along the landing to the bathroom. I could still hear clanking and banging, then I touched a radiator as it dawned on me… the central heating had kicked in for the first time since the last day of winter, and there was air trapped within the radiators and pipes. I must have brushed past the thermostat control prior to turning in (I had, and it was set up on 30 degrees)! Half dazed and disappointed, Nipper brought me back to reality by stretching up and raking his claws down the back of my legs, it looked like we were all going out for an early leg stretch around the fields.432Blood_AlleyBefore anyone recommends I need to see a trick cyclist psychiatrist, allow me to explain some thing. Prior to turning in I caught an old classic movie ‘Blood Alley’ with John Wayne & Lauren Bacall. What better way to accompany a film, except with a pot of tea, and cheese & crackers? After which, falling asleep exhausted with a clattering central heating system on full blast, stood side by side with John Wayne, fighting Chinese communists on the dangerous waters of the orient in a clapped out paddle steamer, with trusty Nipper only a whistle away.images  

It doesn’t get much better than that, unless I watch ‘The Quiet Man’ before I turn in tonight… with a pot of tea, and cheese & crackers…

Yours Aye. 

Bacon, the Ultimate Motivator

On this post on the squeezy bottle of bacon, Ex Bootneck had a story about the HMS London’s storage space. And a special delicacy:

Just cancelled the order for 200 piglets, as well as a 40-foot container (that would have been buried in a secret location as part of my ‘prepping’ program)!

The not so stupid thing is all you need is a hair brained idea, as well dedication for it to work in a ‘niche’ market. It could have, would have, taken off except in the most obvious countries (Allahu Akbar)!

But seriously… squeezable bacon?

Which reminds me…

On board HMS London the RM Detachment’s storage space was registered as a ‘half store’; not in length but in height. The measurement from the deck to the deck head above was only 5 feet. It was literally used for storing items that were considered for occasional use.

My marine storeman was suffering from ‘delhi belly’ after our Port visit to Gibralter; just as the ‘Jack Dusty’ Chief presented each department with a 100% stores muster. I was given a young ‘short’ RN stores scribe to assist me in the delicate task of moving around the store on shuffleboards, whilst counting ‘bullets, beans and bayonets’. (The store also had 1 inch cleats welded everywhere, which must have been a throw back to its original build. They were all painted white to blend in with the interior, which lent itself to the fact that the ‘half height storage area’ was an after thought for the RM Detachment.

The vertically challenged scribe was ‘very keen to see every thing green’, as he had aspirations to apply for the RM’s. With the store temperature at 90 deg’s (with no air con) I was rapidly losing the will to live. I could hear the ‘wisssshhhhhhh’ of air pouring from the punkah louvers and went to sit by one for respite, just as my head made contact with a cleat, full contact; the noise and echo of which must have scattered the pod of dolphins skimming alongside the ship!

I used the universal ‘fast-action-magic-hand-rub’ to take the pain away as I swore through clenched teeth. I now knew why my marine storeman was nicknamed ‘lumpy’!

The scribe fell silent (suppressing a smile) until I had finished my rant; He then stated the bleeding obvious in his cockney twang, (which I will convert to Queens English); “that must have hurt Colours”?

(The rank of Colour Sergeant = Colours. Each ships detachment required a Colour Sgt as its Detachment Sergeant Major).

We continued counting maps, compasses, bayonets, mags, torches, etc, etc. All the while the scribe kept saying “eer Calars, wossis, wossat (he was a Londoner, a true cockney; what he was really saying in Queens English was “here Colours, what’s this, what’s that”)!

A metal shelf locker draw had become stuck, so I levered my knee against the half locker and pulled, it gave way swiftly as I flew back onto a white camouflaged cleat “yoo awight Calars” (“are you alright Colours”)… It took me against the lower temple, again I used the universal ‘fast-action-magic-hand-rub’ to take the pain away as I saw the universe explode in front of me. The draw was full of “wossis, wossat” items that the scribe was mystified and intrigued by.

I could see he was quietly enjoying himself, he would have a few ‘dits’ to spin later back in his mess deck, as he and his fellow scribe’s quaffed their ‘tinnies’ of ale.

The morning progressed quickly and painfully and I was ready for ‘stand-easy’; the traditional 30 minute mid morning break also known as cavalry time as it starts at 10-to-10, (repeat it several times and pitch the sound up and down; imagine John Wayne asking for the bugler to play the cavalry charge).

Having recharged my batteries, as well as counted lumps, I once again jumped into the fray, supported by my trustee side-kick; the scribe. The morning rode into lunch offering a further respite from the half hellhole.

The afternoon started well; with the exception of my scribes incessant chatter of “eer Calars, wossis, wossat”. Each time a locker was pulled open I dreaded it being an object green, as opposed to navy blue. I pulled myself around a corner unit to view the last half locker, when I misjudged distance and took (not a direct hit) but one of those nasty ‘top of the head scrapes’ that you occasionally sustained when you enthusiastically jumped through a hatch opening.

My eyes closed with the pain; I rubbed furiously back and forth; the ‘fast-action-magic-hand-rub’ had run out of power…
A little head popped from around the corner and piped, “wot agin Calars”. I wanted to tear the half locker away from the bulkhead and reach up to force the deck head another foot higher.

The draws and shelves within contained paraphernalia for use in escape and evasion as well as ‘odds & sods’. “Cor wassat en Calars’? (Meaning; Wow, what is that then Colours), the scribe’s eyes lit up once again at some thing green. I looked at him and casually picked up an olive green, palm sized squeezable tube of ‘dark olive’ camouflage cream, and said “its jungle chocolate”! I screwed the top off and said, “here try it”.
He opened his mouth and I placed the end of the tube on his lower lip and squeezed a big portion of ‘jungle chocolate’ into his yawning orifice.

The scribe’s brain was telling him it was ‘jungle chocolate’; his taste buds were telling him that it was tasteless odourless goo that was most certainly not edible. I replaced the top and handed the container to him.

“There you go mate, that’s yours, you can now secure for the day, don’t swallow that until you read the directions on the pack-then decide”.

His face was a picture; we were equal in our ‘dit’ for the day. He scurried off as I secured some high vis paint and paint brushes from the Bosun’s mate. Upon his recovery young ‘lumpy’ was detailed to paint every cleat within the ‘half store’.

For all of those who have served aboard a ‘man of war’ you will understand the unforgiving feeling of flesh-covered bone against hard steel. The school of hard knocks.

Sadly the vertically challenged scribe fell below the regulation height required of the Corps.

For any teens or children looking in, I would say that eating camouflage cream is not recommended, it is not jungle chocolate; though it could possibly taste like squeezable bacon without the bacon flavour.

Yours Aye.

John Wayne, the Green Berets, and Generation Z

The Military Channel has a special called An Officer and a Movie. And I just watched one of the current features, The Green Berets, starring John Wayne. Guess what car popped up? You bet, the world’s most beautiful car, none other than the Citroen DS:

The movie “Green Berets” with John Wayne and a Citroen DS

Joining Lou Diamond Phillips, the host, was Green Beret Major Rusty Bradley, a veteran of 5 tours in Afghanistan. He speaks of his admiration for current and past Green Berets. 

As for the movie, I’d never seen it. And the fact that it was put out in 1968 speaks volumes about John Wayne. Of course, the other actors pale in comparison to the Duke, but Bruce Cabot’s Colonel tricked me. I just imagined the casting director grabbed some grizzled Colonel to cameo the role.

Aldo Ray was good as Sergeant Muldoon. Bet you did not know Mr. Ray was both a frogman (SEAL) and a Berkeley grad: Aldo DaRe was born in the borough of Pen Argyl, in Northampton County, Pennsylvania on 25 September 1926. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, served as a US Navy frogman during WWII and saw action on Iwo Jima. You know what this means, right? Jokes about Berkeley grads will no longer be tolerated.

I work with a Senior Chief and she mentioned that her son, all of nine years old, is a John Wayne fan. Yes, Senior is married to a Master Chief, but has done nothing to encourage the young American to pursue his cinematic hero. This fact alone has given me faith in the world. Carry on, Generation Z. . .

Full Metal Jacket Meets Lord of the Rings

I’ve gone through Navy Boot Camp and OCS. During both, I had my hair cut many times. And at each, the clippers were a little dull. I felt like a chicken being plucked. Not that I cackled or crowed, but rather, I cooed gently to myself.

What if they had some device, like a robot, that could barber the recruits? They may soon:

The drastic change of image that comes with having your head shaved is scary enough – but one man doubled the terror by letting a robot do the job for him.

The robot was a Multi-Arm UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) from U.S company Intelligent Automation (IA) in Maryland – and is usually deployed to tackle IEDs, check backpacks for bombs and breach doors.

So how did our pal, the robot, do? Not so hot:

The operator was able to communicate with Tim through a female avatar on a nearby screen.

The end result was not the most professional, but at least Tim got through it unscathed.

The UGV is a hi-tech military robot that the U.S Army uses to make bombs safe – but it can also handle small tools and is so dextrous that it’s even capable of tying knots.

Nevermind about the robot barber at boot camp. I’ll stick with the dull clippers, thank you.