His parents knew him as Marion Robert Morrison, while others know him simply as The Duke. But for the late actor and filmmaker John Wayne’s kids, he’s simply ‘Dad’.
Wayne becomes an American icon starring in dozens of films made during what’s famous as the Golden Age of Hollywood. His career starts taking off in the silent film era of the 1920s. It continues to flourish throughout the American New Wave movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Wayne would remain active in Hollywood until his death in 1979 at the age of 72.
In total, he appeared in 179 movies and television shows. Throughout his career, he is one of the top box-office draws. He appears alongside other influential and significant Hollywood players of this important era in cinema.
Born in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907, Wayne would spend most of his childhood and teen years in Southern California. He loses a football scholarship to the University of Southern California following a bodysurfing accident. John starts working for the Fox Film Corporation. At first, he receives minor roles, but he gets his big break in the 1930s The Big Trail.
He achieved stardom just a few years later when he appeared in John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach. After that, John Wayne was a household name. He appears in dozens of groundbreaking and significant Western and Action films. It includes Tru Grit, Rio Bravo, The Longest Day, and The Shootist.
Wayne married three times and had a total of 7 children. His turbulent marriages are sources of frustration for him. Wayne is a bigger fish to fry when it comes to his personal troubles.
After his death, Wayne’s grave would remain unmarked for decades, raising quite a few eyebrows. In 2019, a 1971 interview in which Wayne says racist remarks against Black people and Native Americans. A further call into question his legacy. Unable to defend himself from the grave, Wayne’s children have been fighting his battles for him in the decades since his passing.
Join Facts Verse as we check in with John Wayne’s 7 kids. And see what they have been doing in recent years to defend their father’s name.
Born November 23, 1934, John’s first child, Michael Wayne, would take over as president and chairman of The John Wayne Foundation following his death. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Michael started his movie career working as a production assistant on The Quiet Man. He would later join his father’s production company, Batjack Productions, and would help make films like 1960s Alamo and 1963s McLintock!
Having a reputation for being a savvy businessman, Michael served on the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund before joining the board of The John Wayne Foundation. He would later found the John Wayne Institute at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.
Although he primarily worked behind the camera, Michael also occasionally appeared on screen. His final acting role was playing the character Hayden in 1991’s The Lost Platoon. He passed away after having a heart attack on November 23, 1934.
Mary Atonia Wayne LaCava
Born on February 25, 1936, in LA, LaCava, who went by Toni, was John’s first daughter. Like her brother Michael, she made a minor uncredited appearance in The Quiet Man and made another cameo in The Alamo.
Toni married Donald La Cava in 1956. She and her husband would go on to have 8 children. Toni spent the remainder of her life out of the spotlight before passing away on December 6, 2000. Join Facts Verse as we check in with John Wayne’s children. And see what they have been doing in recent years to defend their father’s name.
The Duke’s second son, Patrick Wayne, was born on July 15, 1939. Much like his father, Patrick has enjoyed a prolific acting career appearing in features like The Searchers and Mister Roberts. Patrick is especially famous for his many roles in sci-fi and adventure films like The People That Time Forgot and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.
Patrick has made more than 40 films, including 11 with his dad. Later on in his career, Patrick hosted the 1980 variety program The Monte Carlo Show and the 1990 reboot of Tic-Tac-Dough. These days, Patrick has retired from acting and currently lives in Arizona.
Melinda Wayne Munoz
While Melinda, like her siblings, made a couple of appearances in films as a child, she didn’t end up pursuing an acting career as an adult. In 1964, she marries a man, Gregory Robert Munoz. They had five children together before getting divorced in 1985. Currently, Melinda resides in Newport Beach, California, on Balboa Island.
After appearing in several of her dad’s films as a child, Aissa, born March 31, 1956, grew up to be a high-profile attorney in Southern California.
According to her bio on her website, Aissa works as a trial attorney and has received training to be a criminal prosecutor for the city of LA.
A lifelong conservative, Aissa publicly endorsed Donald Trump in the Republican Primaries during the 2016 United States presidential election. Join Facts Verse as we check in with John Wayne’s children and see what they have been doing in recent years to defend their father’s name.
John Ethan Wayne
Better known as Ethan Wayne, this American actor is John’s third son. He was born on February 22, 1962, and grew up in Newport Beach, California. Ethan’s name chooses in direct relation to his father’s character, Ethan Edwards, in 1956’s The Searchers.
His first appearance in a film was playing the grandson of his dad’s character in Big Jake. After John’s death in 1979, Ethan started doing stunt work, first appearing in The Blue Brothers. He then resumed working as an actor, appearing in the 1981 films Longshot and Scream.
Ethan’s later roles included appearances in the television movie The Alamo: 13 Days To Glory, the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful, and 1987s The New Adam-12. In 2014, he features on History Channel’s Pawn Stars as an expert on John Wayne memorabilia.
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Marissa was born on February 22, 1966, in Burbank. Just like her brothers and sisters, she made several cameo appearances in her father’s films. Unlike Ethan and Patrick, however, she didn’t end up pursuing acting as her career path. In 2005, she got married to a man named Tony Ditteaux. The couple has since had two children together.
Wayne’s Grave Location Remained A Mystery For Years
After John Wayne succumbed to stomach cancer in 1979, his funeral was kept very private. John’s family didn’t want The Duke’s farewell ceremony to become a media fiasco, nor did they want his grave to become a pilgrimage site for his fans. Wayne wanted to die with dignity. So they became dedicated to making sure that his wishes were upheld as much as possible.
John’s grave was left unmarked for nearly two decades, and out of respect for his family, the cemetery where he was buried never disclosed his grave’s location.
Thanks to the internet, however, we now know the exact location at the Pacific View Memorial Park Cemetery in Corona Del Mar, California were John was laid to rest. A little bit of net sleuthing will easily take you there if you’re curious.
The Duke’s Kids Continue To Defend His Legacy
As we mentioned at the outset of this video, two years ago John Wayne’s memory was tarnished when a 1971 interview with Playboy resurfaced that quoted him as saying that he believed in ‘white supremacy’. Wayne also said that he felt no remorse for the Native Americans who lost their traditional homes. He went as far as to say that the ‘Indians’ were selfishly trying to keep the land that is now the United States for themselves.
In her father’s defense, Marisa Wayne told Closer Weekly in 2020 that while her father certainly was opinionated, he still respected people if they disagreed with him. She went on to say that John had the ‘ability to see both sides of the story’. Join Facts Verse as we check in with John Wayne’s children and see what they have been doing in recent years to defend their father’s name.
Ultimately, Marisa wanted to emphasize that her dad wasn’t, as she put it, a ‘right wing hard ass’.
Just months after protests erupted at the University of California over Wayne’s racist remarks, the college agreed to remove a tribute to the late actor that sat on the facility’s grounds. A movement then gained traction to rename John Wayne Airport and remove The Duke’s statue which can be found out front.
Aissa Wayne also was interviewed by Closer. She said that while her father’s comments have offended many people, he was still in her eyes, someone that ‘loved people’. She described him as a man that cared for his fellow humans and as ‘people person’.
Ethan Wayne emphatically told the Outlet that his father was not a racist. In his statement, Ethan said that John was someone who believed that everyone deserved an equal opportunity. He further insisted that his father would call out bigotry whenever he saw it and hired people of all races, sexual orientations, and nationalities.
Now that you’ve heard what John Wayne’s kids had to say about him, what are your thoughts on The Duke? Do you think he really was a racist? Or do you think that his comments merely reflected the attitude of a different time and were taken out of context? Share your thoughts with us in the comments down below. Join Facts Verse as we check in with John Wayne’s children and see what they have been doing in recent years to defend their father’s name.
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