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Simple Gems From a Plain-Talking Duke

June 10, 1988|JOSEPH N. BELL

John Wayne was probably the most outspoken public figure in the entertainment business. Because he practically never hedged a question and invariably had strong opinions, he built up a body of Wayne folklore as pithy as it was provocative. Here are some examples of vintage Wayne, culled from my interview notes over a period of more than 10 years:

On movies: "I read someplace where I used to make B pictures. Hell, they were a lot farther down the alphabet that that. But they weren't as far down as R and X. I think any man who makes an X-rated picture should be made to take his own daughter to see it."

On heroes: "From what I see of the world today, the kids could use a few heroes. Even our sports pages are full of guys who refuse to report for practice or get busted or jump out of bushes at little girls. I don't know where the kids are going to turn for heroes anymore. Every cop and sheriff you see on the screen these days is a heavy. The townspeople are always a bunch of jerks while the unwashed guy on the motorcycle with the funny cigarette--a character who hasn't done one constructive thing in his life except maybe throw ketchup at poor old waitresses--is your hero. You can always tell the bad guys these days. They're the ones who work for a living. . . . "

then do what I think is right. I find very few of the so-called liberals who are as open."

On politics: "I can't stand politics, but I keep getting hooked into them all the time. They say I'm a right-winger, but I consider myself a liberal because I listen to everybody's point of view and try to reason it out in my own mind and then do what I think is right. I find very few of the so-called liberals who are as open."

On young people: "I believe 99% of America's youth are a credit to their folks, a pride to their country, and should not be blamed for the 1% that waves a white flag at life."

On the press: "There's a feeling comes over a man like me when I meet with the press that I've disagreed with for so long. It's the same feeling that comes over a 3-pound hen when she lays a 4-pound egg: No matter how it comes out, I gotta get hurt."

On athletics: "Football taught me one basic lesson that's stayed with me all my life: If the player on the other side of the scrimmage line is as good or better than you, you don't care what color, religion or nationality he is; you respect him. I've always tried to live that way. But I guess the most important thing I learned playing football at USC was that it would have been foolhardy to go out into the world with a name like Marion."

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