Preserving the Legacies of John Wayne
Ethan followed in his father’s footsteps as an actor, starring in popular TV shows The Bold and the Beautiful, The New Adam-12, and others, with appearances in movies including The Blues Brothers, Scream and The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory. Today, he has put his acting career on hold and devotes his time to keeping his father’s legacies alive—a task that is at once daunting and inspiring, and one that Ethan tackles with a passion.
A Tribute to an American Icon
Every film John Wayne made is a legacy unto itself, and now with the opening of the 10,000 square foot exhibit, “John Wayne: an American Experience,” located in Fort Worth, Texas, fans can immerse themselves in his life and career—from his costumes to his personal letters, to notes on scripts, and even that eager, young prop boy’s union card.
“My job at the exhibit is to just showcase him. Not put any words in his mouth, let him do all the talking…I just want to try to do my best to present him in a way that’s appropriate for the man and lets the man speak for himself, Ethan says, “The exhibit is beautiful.”
Giving Back for Generations
John Wayne died of cancer on June 11, 1979, but before he passed, he held his family to a promise.
“When he was dying, he asked my brothers and sister and I to use his name to help the doctors fight cancer. And so, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation is another legacy of his,” Ethan says, “And if you come through the exhibit, you’ll see not only a filmography on one wall, but you’ll see a list of all the surgical oncology specialists that have been trained by John Wayne [Cancer Foundation].”
The exhibit features nearly 200 fellowship-trained cancer doctors and researchers who have brought cutting-edge training back to their patients. In addition, the foundation offers cancer awareness education and camps for kids with cancer.
About the foundation, Ethan says, “This is something that John Wayne did when he was sick, you know, laying in bed, with just a gracious act, just asking for that to happen.”
Tough Guy, Heart of Gold
He was opinionated and demanding. He had high standards and held people accountable to them. But there was also a soft side to John Wayne.
“He was all about second chances. He was all about fun, and humor. He was very compassionate. He just gave, and gave, and gave, and gave, financially, emotionally, with his time,” Ethan says, “Yeah, he was a special guy.”
“Nobody should come to the movies unless he believes in heroes.” – John Wayne