STUNTS, STARS & LEGENDS February 2011
A Tribute to John Wayne
by John Hagner (Artist of the Stars)
Of the hundreds of portrait drawings and paintings, have done of Personalities of the Entertainment World, John Wayne is the one I have done the most (56 different poses to date).
Books and magazine articles have been written about the Duke, but few if any have captured his likeness art form.
Wayne was no stranger to Moab and Monument Valley. Since 1939, he starred in one of the best action packed westerns ever ... Stagecoach. It was his big break and made him the star that he remained throughout his career.
John Wayne had completed more films than any other star. Although he played a variety of roles during his illustrious career, he was always the same rugged, two-fisted, iron-willed hero, on the side of the ‘Angels’, whether as a cowboy, military man or athlete.
A fine athlete, Duke did stunt work in John Ford’s submarine saga, Men Without Women, in 1929. He was an, honorary member of the Stuntmen’s Association as well as an inductee (posthumously) in the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, as an honorary stuntman.
Legendary stuntman, Chuck Roberson doubled for Wayne for 3o years.
As Hall of Fame Founder, I have received hundreds of memorabilia pieces over the years of its existence, including several items of the Duke’s, including one of his cowboy hats, which he wore in several films, including The Comancheros, Rio Logo and The War Wagon. Also included in the collection is his scarf, boots, vest, shirt and trousers as well as one of his western pistols, and his red jumpsuit from “Hellfighters.” All of these pieces are on display at the Museum of Moab (on loan from the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame). Addition items of memorabilia there are the original “Indiana Jones” hat, shirt and whip from the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Gene Kelly’s dancing shoes from Singin’ In the Rain, as well as Arnold Swartzenegger’s face mold that his stunt double Peter Kent donated to the Hall of Fame.
A word from John Wayne: “I’m here because I want to be here, make no mistake. I’ve survived in a rough business not by luck, don’t kid yourself, fella, but by out-guessing the other guy as well as out-drawing him! Yeah, I’m a little bitter, but less than I’ve a right to be, since people I expected a hell of a lot more from than you have let me down. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m, not asking for any favors. But, if you don’t mind, I’ll just hang around a little longer, keep the buzzards at bay til I’m ready. And when I’m ready, it won’t be a two-bit chiseler like you that gets the last word”!
That’s a quote from Wayne’s last movie, “The Shootist”, in which he played a legendary gunfighter, John Bernard Books.
“I’’m alive! Not dead!” It is one of those electrifying moments when life and art intersect, when the literal miracle of the real John Wayne’s survival merges with that of the character he played.
FOLKS: All of my life I’ve felt privileged to have had good friends around me, privileged to have been able to do the kind of work I know and love the best, and to have been born, in a country whose immense beauty and grandeur are matched only by the greatness of her people.
For a number of years I have tried to express a deep and profound love for these things; to be able to say what I feel in my heart. I know most of you feel the same as I do about our country. Now and then we gripe about some of her imperfections, but sometimes that’s good. Especially if it gets us working together to make things better. It seems to me we often take too much for granted, and have a tendency to forget “The Good Things About America”.
My hope and prayer is that everyone know and love our country for what she really is and what she stands for. May we nurture her strengths and strengthen her weaknesses so that she will always be a “Land Of the Free, and Home of the Brave”.
For additional information about the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame, contact me at email@example.com, or 435 260-2160. Mailing address: 81 W. Kane Creek Blvd., Moab, Utah 24532. Website: www.stuntmen.org.
Stunt double for John Wayne for 30 years or more, “Bad Chuck,” as he was known in the film industry, was considered tops as a horseman. He came from Texas but his dad headed west and settled in Roswell, NM. He quit school at age 13 and worked at being a cowboy full time. He could drive a four-up team.
In 1940 he had moved, worked a while in oil fields.
Soon afterwards Chuck moved his new family and headed for Culver City, California (his wife Lorraine and a daughter).
World War II broke out and he enlisted in the Army. He was gone for three and a half years. Just prior to that, he worked as a policeman at MGM. While there was a strike at Warner Bros. Studios, a veteran stuntman Fred Kennedy was talking to Chuck about horses. Fred encouraged him to try his hand in films. At that time studios were making a lot of westerns. Fred sent Chuck over to Republic Studios where he’d heard they were looking for big stuntmen. He was hired right away doubling for actor John Carroll in Wyoming starring “Wild Bill” Elliott. At that time another legendary stuntman Ben Johnson was doubling for Elliott.
Chuck worked as a bit player on John Wayne’s Fighting Kentuckian, where he had the opportunity to double for Wayne. That’s where it really began.
Chuck wrote his autobiography, The Fall Guy in 1980. He is an honored inductee in the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame and was foot printed for posterity in 1975 n Palmdale, California where more than 30 other famous personalities of the stunt world and film industry came to be so honored, including Burt Reynolds, Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man), Dale Robertson, Yvonne DeCarlo and many stunt personalities including Yakima Canutt, Richard Talmadge, David Sharpe, Ronnie Rondell, Hal Needham, Helen Thurston, Polly Burson and more. Chuck was also inducted in 1980. He came to Moab as well as Monument Valley with Wayne for The Comancheros and other westerns. He doubled for Wayne in Rio Grande at Monument Valley.
For more information about the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame contact John Hagner (Founder) at 435-260-2160 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hall of Fame’s website is www.stuntmen.org. Go to Facebook and look up Falling For Stars - then Artist of the Stars – then Stunt, Stars and Legends.