Synopsis by John Patrick Sheehan
This edition of Biography, the long running documentary series from A&E, explores the life of legendary "tough guy" John Wayne. Born Marion Michael Morrison, he attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. Wayne worked as a set laborer and assistant propman on the Fox lot. After a succession of small parts in low-budget, matinee-fodder Westerns films and serials, he achieved stardom as the Ringo Kid in John Ford's 1939 classic Stagecoach. The critically acclaimed film would garner seven Academy Awards nominations and help catapult John Wayne into stardom. He went on to make over 150 films, typically starring as a tough but warm-hearted gunfighter or lawman. In the coming decades, Wayne's persona--both on and off the screen--became symbols of the American spirit. Classics of the Western genre include She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Man who Shot Liberty Vallance, and True Grit. Later films include urban cop thrillers such as McQ and Brannigan. He also directed The Alamo and The Green Berets. His final performance was in The Shootist, portraying a legendary gunfighter dying of cancer - a poignant film, as he fought against lung and stomach cancer himself, finally succumbing to the disease in 1979.